Recommended Hardware for V-Ray:
Chaos Group posts basic system requirements for each version of their V-Ray rendering plugin on their official website, as well as the standalone variant. However, the focus in each case is on minimum requirements - not what performs the best. Moreover, there are actually two parts of V-Ray: Adv and RT, which each use different hardware in a computer. Because of this situation, we have taken the time here at Puget Systems to perform our own testing to determine what hardware runs V-Ray the best. Based on this testing, we have come up with our own list of recommendations.
V-Ray Next CPU (formerly called Adv) is the 'normal' version of V-Ray, and it uses the CPU to perform ray tracing and rendering. It scales very well with both clock speed and core count, and even across multiple physical CPUs in a single workstation. If that is the version you plan to use, you will want to spend the bulk of your funds on a powerful CPU - or two, if you have a big budget. Theoretically this should scale well to even a quad CPU workstation, but if you need that sort of horsepower (and can afford it) you might be better off with multiple computers running in a networked rendering configuration.
On the other hand, V-Ray Next GPU (formerly RT) began its life as a GPU-based rendering engine. We talk more about that in the next section, but it is worth mentioning that as of V-Ray 3.6 the CPU can now be used alongside the GPU(s) if you wish. Before this, only a basic CPU was needed for V-Ray RT - but now there is a good argument for getting a more powerful processor, especially if you first max-out the number of video cards. We have articles looking at how CPU performance scales alongside GPUs in V-Ray Next GPU, if you want more information.
- Threadripper 3990X 2.9GHz (4.3 Turbo) 64 Core - With 64 cores and greatly improved per-core performance, AMD's latest Threadripper has taken an even further lead over Intel in workstation processor performance - especially with well threaded applications like rendering. Because of its fairly high turbo speeds, this CPU also does well with modeling and animation.
- Any high PCI-E lane count processor - If you are going to use V-Ray Next GPU, then packing in as many video cards as possible is the name of the game. To that end, processors which support a lot of PCI-Express lanes are the way to go... and things like core count matter a lot less. At minimum 1 core per video card (and ideally 2) is important, though, and keeping the high clock speed high helps too.
Recent V-Ray CPU articles:
As with the CPU recommendation above, the choice here depends heavily on which version of V-Ray you plan to use. For V-Ray Adv, nothing special is needed from the video card. Your best bet there would be to select a card that is appropriate for whatever other software you plan to run alongside: Cinema 4D, Maya, 3ds Max, etc.
However, for V-Ray RT the video card selection is the biggest single factor in rendering speed / performance. RT has a couple of different modes, though not all plugin versions support both. An OpenGL mode exists in some versions for use with AMD graphics cards, but the main focus is on the CUDA mode for NVIDIA cards. We have tested that with up to four GPUs and found the scaling to be quite good. Faster cards also perform better, of course, so it really is a balancing act to find the combination of cards that best fit your budget.
- GeForce RTX 3080 Ti 12GB - A great choice if you want just one or two video cards and don't work with overly complex scenes. It is also available with blower-style coolers, enabling use of multiple cards if desired.
- GeForce RTX 3090 24GB - Our go-to recommendation for most GPU rendering customers, the RTX 3090 provides the best performance in V-Ray while also having a tremendous 24GB of memory.
- NVIDIA RTX A5000 24GB - For those who want to stack several video cards in the same system, NVIDIA's professional GPUs are a solid option. The RTX A5000 is the top-end card that can be installed in a set of four in large tower and rackmount chassis within the limits of a 1600W power supply. If you need even more memory, the RTX A6000 has 48GB of VRAM but may be limited to three GPUs.
It is also important to remember NVIDIA's professional-grade video cards, as they can be a better choice than GeForce cards for some users. They do cost more, but for that increased price you get several benefits:
- Higher VRAM options - up to 48GB on the RTX A6000
- Better multi-GPU support - thanks to the use of blower-style cooling systems and more constrained power consumption
- ECC memory on higher-end models - for increased stability
Here is a chart showing performance of the latest NVIDIA RTX A-series cards compared to the previous generation:
Beyond the selection of which card to use is the question of how many. V-Ray scales very well across multiple video cards, but the cooling systems on most GeForce models are not designed with multiple GPUs in mind. For the best overall performance, variants with a single fan that exhausts heat out the back (commonly called "blower" cards) are ideal - and most NVIDIA "professional" cards use such cooling systems. Stacking a few of those will give fantastic rendering performance, though it does require a larger chassis, strong power supply, and plenty of airflow from the case fans.
Recent V-Ray GPU articles:
While the exact amount of RAM you need is going to depend on your particular projects, for V-Ray Next GPU (and GPU rendering in general) we recommend double the amount of VRAM on the cards. So if you have four 8GB cards, totaling 32GB, we would advise 64GB of system memory.
V-Ray Next CPU is more likely to use additional memory, but in the end it comes down to how large and complex your scenes are. RAM is relatively cheap, so erring on the side of caution with 128GB or more is not a bad idea if you are unsure just how much you will need.
With the falling costs associated with SSDs, we almost always recommend using an SSD for the primary drive that will host your OS and the installation of V-Ray and other software. The high speed of SSDs allows your system to boot, launch applications, and load files many times faster than any traditional hard drive. If your budget allows, it is also a very good idea to have a second SSD that can be used to store your active projects to further decrease load and save times.
Since SSDs are still more expensive (per GB) than magnetic drives, we advise using traditional hard drives for long-term or rarely-accessed storage. Using a SSD can be useful in some situations, but most of the time the high performance of an SSD is simply not required for a storage drive.