Computer for 3D Modeling / Rendering / Visualization


So here is the computer I am getting ready to purchase...

Do you all think the RAM and the GRAPHICS card will be enough for me to produce visualizations and modeling in software such as 3ds Max 2011/2012 & Revit?

Thank you!

It comes with the following:
Apr 11, 11 12:17 pm

double the RAM if you can afford it (buy from Crucial instead of paying Dell's mark-up)

Apr 11, 11 1:04 pm

Looks pretty heavy duty.My system is nowhere near that but I would think it should do the job comfortably.

How much is that costing you? Are you building your system or is it from the brand shown in the picture?

Apr 11, 11 1:05 pm

@rehiggins - This is the HPE510t series computer from HP...I did a little customizing to load it up with the i7 processor. I will definitely check out "Crucial" site though, thanks!

@Rasa - I got this down to 866.64 total with shipping and tax included. As much as I would like to try and build a computer, I am getting it pre-built because I am more comfortable with that. I am also thinking about getting a monitor to keep my final budget to $1,000 . I am mostly focused on getting what I need to do fast 3d rendering and modeling. Thanks for the input!

My main concerns are the RAM and the Graphics Card  -- I hope they will give me the ability to move smoothly through each application and render pretty fast (compared to my 4.00GB RAM, Intel Core 2 Duo @ 1.83GHz). My laptop can't take it anymore!

 Anyone out there with a computer that could provide feedback on their rendering & modeling experiences?

Apr 11, 11 1:50 pm
Token AE

I think you are better off building your own.

I made a utilitarian PC with a Core i7-920, 1GB RAM Video Card, and 18GB PC-12800 RAM for under $900 two years ago, I imagine it is far lower now. 
If the store MicroCenter exists by you, it's worth taking a trip. Their horrific interior design and code-minimum usage of environmental/safety systems really give them the ability to charge lower prices.

Apr 11, 11 2:22 pm

@Token AE - Awesome feedback! I have a friend that may be able to help me build a workstation computer...I will check into MicroCenter as well.

Apr 11, 11 2:52 pm

The cpu is perfect its about 30% faster than the i7-920 and 5-6 times faster than your laptop
if you take the model K there is an integrated gpu that will do the job surprisingly well.The reason for that is that the prossesor is that good and not a bottleneck. In earlier systems before i7s the gpus in 3dsmax were bottlenecked by the cpu.    The GT440 will do better but not that much better. You may add an Ati (amd) 6950 Which is a very good card later. Atis are smoother in 3dsmax viewports than nvidias and this cuda thing nvidias GPU rendering isn't important yet. Your raid 0 is grate but i would put an extra drive for my system install and use the raid for work files . if this extra drive was a solid state it would be grate (not less than 64GB more than 80 at best. Also monitor is important. cheap ones dont do the job. Look for a IPS panel (not TN) with good viewing angles and good color

Apr 11, 11 2:59 pm
Token AE

Use it as a learning experience- everything is fairly easy to hook up on your own if you can follow directions.

I would avoid manufacturers like HP/ Dell/ whoever like the plague. They put far too much junk on there that slows down performance.
Talk to someone while you are at the store- I have found them to be more helpful and knowledgeable than your typical best buy employee. Although, that really isn't setting the bar very high.
Apr 11, 11 3:04 pm

Also, I just got a new workstation for the office and spec'd out systems from several manufacturers (I don't have the time to source/build a machine). BOXX ended up being the cheapest and best system with the DELL option being over twice the price for less power. The other benefit to BOXX is that there's no crapware pre-installed and it's purpose built for 3D modeling/Revit. 

For rendering you need as many processors as you can get with RAM helping for large poly counts and hi-res textures. The video card doesn't really come into play for rendering unless you're doing hardware shaders or realtime renders. The card; however, can cause major problems with the program you're using if it's not supported (or using a driver that's too new or too old) so double-check that Max and Revit support the card.
Using an SSD drive for the system drive would help speed things up as well since part of the bottleneck when rendering is reading from/writing to the drive. 
I'd also spring for the Ultimate or Pro versions of Win7--home is a bit dumbed down

Apr 11, 11 5:14 pm

Hi all, Can anyone recommend a good laptop for the same task? I am pigeon-holed at my work to create lot of needless renderings in Revit and 3ds Max. Since i've become pretty decent at it, i've been getting a lot of freelance jobs too. Though i find desktops are more bangs for bucks, i need to have a mobile workstation to work in different places. I've found Lenovo W520 interesting, ThinkPad W520 Intel Core i7-2720QM Processor (2.20GHz, 6MB L3)1 Genuine Windows 7 Professional 6412 15.6" HD+ (1600 x 900) LED Backlit Anti-Glare Display, Mobile Broadband Ready NVIDIA Quadro 1000M Graphics with 2GB DDR3 Memory --> they also offer Quadro 2000M too, i don't know if it's worth $200 more 4 GB PC3-10600 DDR3 SDRAM 1333MHz SODIMM Memory (1 DIMM)8 320 GB Hard Disk Drive, 7200rpm4 Please advice

Apr 11, 11 8:44 pm

@stavrogin - great information -- I really look forward to getting a new desktop computer. I will do a double check on the 3ds max 2012 requirements page for the graphics card.

@Token AE - Thanks, I will have to contact my friend and watch him build his computer...he offered to help build mine. I will keep you all updated on my decision.
@rehiggins - I have never heard of BOXX, or any other similar manufacturers. Thanks for opening up my eyes to other options...I don't like having unnecessary software so I will look into this as well. Do you know of any other manufacturers like "BOXX"?

Thanks all -- any other advice is welcome, as I know several other people may be looking for suggestions as well.
Apr 11, 11 9:53 pm
i r giv up

@Token AE spouted out all of the best suggestions. I have very little to say now. Good job.

@breezviz - you really don't need to watch your friend build a computer to do it yourself. If you have the required manual dexterity to build a chipboard model and the attention span required build a small lego model, you can build a computer by just following instructions either online or the ones that come with each component.
Apr 11, 11 10:05 pm

@fluxbound - Thanks, it is something I have never gotten into but it I know it would be a great experience. Learning more about the essential part of my everyday workflow could make a big change in my production.

Everyone has been so helpful -- any more advice is considered.

I will keep you all updated with my research / decision!
Apr 11, 11 10:27 pm

This site has good reviews for hardware especially related to your field. That site is pretty cool all around though.

Apr 11, 11 10:32 pm

@STASIS -your mobile workstation looks very good. Lenovo is a good firm. My brother uses a 12" lenovo in the construction sites and it stands dust and dirt. I can't give you advice for the VGA, it looks good as is. Double the Ram to 8GB and you are ok.

Apr 13, 11 11:21 am

@breezviz- autodesk will suggest a professional vga Quadro and Fire GL types. Much more expensive. You don't realy need this kind of hardware. I've seen breathtaking artists working with the exact system you are going to build. From these sources comes my info ,

Apr 13, 11 11:30 am


Thanks for your good feedback. I was thinking of buying more Rams separately since Lenovo charges way too much for it.  I noticed that it's on sale at $1600 now (from 2300), i wonder how long that sale last.

Apr 13, 11 3:32 pm

Thanks everyone. I have done so much research and I figured that I would try my best to stay around $1000.00 (including a monitor). I went to BOXX and discovered the workstations. I was impressed, but I don't think I can afford their machines.

@stavrogin- thanks for the information from cgsociety. I am not a master or professional quite yet, but I just need an upgrade from this laptop, so a machine such as the one I posted will probably fit my budget.

@Rasa - The cadalyst website was awesome as well. They have great reviews.

I will keep everyone updated on my final decision.

Apr 14, 11 6:15 pm

Try They have got some great deals there, with goodies like watercooling included.

Apr 15, 11 12:07 am

I'm off to study the M.Arch II at Cornell in June, because I am an international student, and the course will mean travelling between the NYC and Ithaca campus I'm looking at laptops.
After looking at Dell, HP, Asus, Lenovo, BOXX, I've found that Dell seems to be the most cost efficient?
Specs: Intel i7-2720QM, 17.3" Display, 8GB DDR3 RAM, NVIDIA GeForce GT 550M 1GB graphics, 9-cell Battery, 1.0TB 500GB 7.2k HDD x 2
With coupons I found online the total price (free shipping) comes to a total of $1,330 USD (not sure if I need to pay tax of this?)
2 things i'm undecided about:
#1) 900p vs 1080p display? (+$100)#2) GeForce® GT 550M 1GB vs GT 555M 3GB (+$150)
Thanks for your input!

Apr 15, 11 3:53 am
i r giv up

Seriously advising against using a laptop as your rendering work horse, especially if you're going into a three year program just now. In the next year and a half to two you're going to see GPU enabled renderers come into the mainstream (Indigo already has some CUDA/OpenCL support, Maxwell has hinted at it, Octane runs on CUDA).
Mobile GPUs only pack a fraction of the processing power (when it comes to rendering performance) as compared to desktops. It has to do with the number of actual processing cores embedded in the card.
Get a cheaper laptop. Get a good home rig, setup VNC/make GoToMyPC trial accounts during exam periods, and render using that. I know this sounds awfully technical, but it pays off exponentially. Designing a coherent, streamlined way of working through grad school will give you a huge advantage over most of your classmates.

Apr 15, 11 10:24 am

Hey fluxbound! really appreciate the input!
Considering that the M.Arch II is 3 semesters - summer in NYC, Fall and Spring in Ithaca, and after graduation, internship in an unknown location - a laptop may be the most efficient option?
Speaking of GPU enabled renderers - has anyone tried Vray 2.0?

Apr 15, 11 5:13 pm

So, I believe my decision is to build this workstation myself -- It will be better for me in the long-run because I will eventually need to know how to add more memory or replace my graphics card...and it will be a learning experience.


Here are my final specs (and all I need is a good monitor, motherboard, and maybe a fan):


Operating system  Genuine Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit
Processor   Intel(R) Core(TM) i7-2600 quad-core processor with Turbo-Boost [up to 3.8GHz, 8MB cache]
Memory   8GB DDR3-1333MHz SDRAM [4 DIMMs]
Hard drive   80GB SSD & 1TB SATA HDD
Graphics card  1 GB DDR3 NVIDIA GTS 250
Primary optical drive  LightScribe 16X max. DVD+/-R/RW SuperMulti drive
Networking  Integrated Ethernet port, Wireless LAN
Productivity ports  15-in-1 memory card reader, 1 USB, audio
Sound Card  Beats Audio (tm) -- integrated studio quality sound

Apr 20, 11 7:56 pm

Yes you are going to need more ram than that. A good rendering can take up a lot of ram while processing. Plus your files (amusing you are an architecture student learning outside stuff) from your educator is going to take up a lot of space man trust i'm going thru it now if you need some bitmaps I got a whole vray material library. Also are you good at Photoshop and after effects? I'm trying to get a hold on it and i haven't purchased looks builder yet,but have training videos. 

Feb 24, 14 4:03 pm
Non Sequitur

MyDream, It's a rather old post you and Aboveandbeyond are responding to. What ever the OP was shopping for is surely outdated by a cubic light-year, maybe even two.

But, for what it's worth, renderings are processed primarily through the computer's CPU, not GPU (graphics card) so throwing extra RAM into a mid-range machine is rather pointless. Spend as much as you can on the CPU, the rest can be added afterwards.

Feb 24, 14 4:34 pm

I built a super pc for $2500.

Here are the specs:

- 32gb ram

- 1 intel i7 3960x hex core processor at 3.8ghz per core

- 1 nvidia graphics card

-1 sabertooth motherboard (windows 8 compatible)

- 2x500gb storage drives

- 1 320gb operating system drive

- windows 7 ultimate

- kaspersky lab antivirus

- Liquid Cooling

RAM, Cooling, Chassis, and power supply all from Corsair.

Feb 24, 14 5:54 pm

Non Sequitur


I had a laptop with 4 gigs of ram and when I snapped on adaptive dmc and set my render settings to what they needed to be it just would shut off. I mean a blank black screen, the laptop's ram ran out so that is what I was trying to tell him. Now the computer that I have now, which has 16 gigs of ram can take anything I can throw at it I have rendered scenes that have taken up 11.4 gigs of ram while rendering.

Feb 25, 14 6:47 pm

and yes your right 2011 is a long time ago.

Feb 25, 14 7:09 pm

The bare minimum is 32GB for 3D modelling and better to use a workstation with 3930K or similar with 6 core. I'm not suppressed your laptop just gave up.  For rendering small scenes  you will be fine with 16GB RAM but 32-64 is more appropriate. If you want to render for example animations then you need a render farm. You can get a small one (for example) from here : or you can find a company who has huge render farm capacity to render any scenes/animations.

Jul 6, 14 6:14 pm

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