Building your system for VFX ( mostly with Cinema 4D)

With the inevitable abandonment of the professional market by Apple lots of people are switching to windows. And more often than not either building their own workstations or at least picking the components and getting someone to build one for them.

A couple of questions keep coming up in the forums, so i thought i’d write a short article about the main questions.


What processor?

Update 2019: Amd ryzen and Thread rippers have completely dethroned intel performance wise. They have great single and multi core speeds. Also Since GPU renderers are becoming more and more capable, signficanlty less rendering is being done on them. So you might not need all those cores. But for simulating particles and dynamics, still very useful.

So there are 2 main factors to consider when picking a CPU. You have processors with lots of cores, but lower core clock speed. For example the i7 5820K wich has 6 cores, but runs at 3.4ghz and then you have the i7 6700k which has only 4 cores but runs at 4ghz. Generally it seems to make sense to go for 6x 3.4ghz, rather than 4x 4ghz. But that is only true if what you need the power for is multi-threaded. And unfortunately lots of stuff still isn’t multi threaded and runs on only one core. For example the viewport in cinema4d, Xpresso, character rigs, and most of the realtime stuff you see runs on one single CPU core, so you will get a  more responsive viewport while working with a 6700K, but your renders will go slower ( assuming you are rendering with a CPU based renderer, more on that next).

Regarding Xeons. They only really make sense if you are going the Dual cpu route. But the previous issue with clock speeds is still in play. check the single core benchmarks and compare. The xeons usually score significantly less on those.

Check // for how CPU’s score in both single and multi core. Also make sure when googling for cpu scored, that you are looking at cinebench R15 results, not R11.5 ones. They don’t match up. There is also a cinebench R20 now, but there aren’t many cpu reviewed on it yet, so the scores aren’t as useful.

And Just a final note to make this all more confusing. Not all Ghz are created the same. If you check cb scores, you might notice that a 6700k scores more than a 4770k even though it has a lower clock speed. Thats because its a newer generation and its more efficient. So a 5 year old CPU at 3.2 ghz won’t necessarily match a 3.2ghz cpu from this year.

What Video card (GPU)

Nvidia. Not because its faster, but because all these awesome GPU renders that are out run on CUDA, and thats an Nvidia technology. I’ll be writing an article on them later.

You want to go for the GTX series. Quadro cards have no real benefit in Cinema4D or the GPU renderers. ( maya apparently benefits from Quadro cards).

I think rendering is moving mostly towards the GPU. So i’d buy a motherboard with at least 3 pci-x slots. and fill them up as your budget allows. When rendering with a GPU renderer you want as much ram as possible, because you cant use your system ram. Or in the cases where you can use it, is slows down significantly. But honestly its rare that scenes are that large.

PCIe lanes. The amount of lanes your CPU has affects the amount of GPU’s you can run. It is recommended you have 8x for each card, but apparantly some engines allows you to run them at 4x lanes each. Some of those PCIe lanes are reserved for nvme drives and other stuff.. so you have to check that on your CPU spec sheets.

I wrote a more expansive article on what you need to know for GPU rendering here: //

Hard Drives

SSD’s are great. Don’t stress too much on which one, just check tom’s hardware for recommendations, and get that one. Adata are ussually a good budget choice, otherwise go Samsung i think.

There are 2 main types to concern yourself with SATA ssd’s which plug in with a cable, most motherboards support about 6 of them. And M.2 ssd’s which slot in to your motherboard. Most motherboards support 2 or 3 of them. M2 are ussually faster. So put stuff that needs to be fast on them. Video cache, sim cache etc.. For OS and other stuff use the SATA drives.


Just get 16GB for now, but make sure your motherboard supports at least 64GB. Careful don’t cheap out and get the slowest ram, that noticeably lags your workflow. But also don’t go overboard and buy the fastest, because without overclocking you’re not going to feel the difference. Check what your processor supports without overclocking.

If you are getting an AMD ryzen or threadripper, google ” your processor name + what is the best ram” there are some speed matching issues that crop up with the AMD architecture. Lots of tests done for various cpu’s. check this stuff yourself.

Also i notice some people think more ram will make your system faster. This is true to some extent, but its not like adding more ram will make your existing system faster. Think of ram like waiters at a restaurant. If you don’t have enough of them you REALLY need more, otherwise everything grinds to a halt. But once you have enough, adding more won’t help. They will just sit there with nothing to do. Ram is similar. If you don’t have enough it’s going to slow you down a lot because, you computer will have to swap files in and out of ram from your hard drive. But if you have 16gb, and don’t use the whole capacity adding more wont have any effect.


I personally don’t overclock, but if you want to tinker with stuff its a viable choice, often making up for the shortcomings of multi-core processors. But keep in mind that it may void your warranty. Do a lot of reading about before just pushing at numbers. 🙂

Case and PSU

If you are building your own system yourself, don’t skimp on the case, make sure it has screwless everything, will make the whole build a much more pleasurable activity. Youtube reviews of cases are a good place to start with when picking a case.

The size of the powersupply you will need depends on the components you are using, once again google is your friend here. spend a bit extra and get a name brand one, like a corsair ( and not the cheapest one). It’ll run quieter and probably last longer. Also less chance of it getting hit by a surge and frying the rest of your system. Never happened to me, i used to use cheapest PSU’s i could get and lots of them died, but no permanent damage. But the volume is a noticeable difference.

My build

Currently I’m on a ryzen 2700x with a 2060 super and a 1060 in there. AMD’s have this nice bonus of have a single socket design for the last 3 generations, and the 4th gen cpu’s about to come out should work in more recent existing motherboards. I bought a 3rd gen motherboard, put a 2nd gen cpu in it, because it was dirt cheap, and only slightly slower than the 3rd gen equivilant. and if it’s not enough power for me, i can easily plug in a higher end 3rd gen, or 4th gen cpu when they come out. I have 32gb of ram, which is plenty for what i do.

Looking for builds? I approve these 🙂

Here is a great list of builds by Sage:


As October 2020, Asus have some amazing laptops with 4th gen AMD processors which absolutely crush the intel processors, and they seem to be the only Laptop manufacturer to pair them with Nvidia cards. Only major issue is they are mostly sold out. But keep an eye out for the Asus G14 and Asus G15.

The new Acer Triton 500 i think is my personal favorite right now. It comes with some powerful GPU option and looks real slick. It does come with the 20 series of nvidia GPU’s. which aren’t full utilized by GPU render engines yet, but i guess it’s future proofing.

For battery life the Razer Blade seems the undeniable winner in all its Forms. Its basically a black Mac book pro, with real hardware inside and a really ugly font on the keyboard.
read more here: //

I personally got the MSI GS60 with a GTX970M with 6gb of memory on it.  It seemed to be a good balance of price/performance for me. I personally dont really care about battery life. If im doing work i’ll find an outlet, for everything else i have tablets and phones.

The thing that bummed me out most, was the lack of a windows key on the left side of the keyboard.

read more here: https// ( but keep in mind, internals are always updated, so basically just look at the pictures)
update: now with the the 6th gen i7 in the GS60, it support upto 32gb ram. by using 2x 16gb sticks.

Screenshot 2015-10-16 18_30_39-Engadget _ Technology News, Advice and FeaturesScreenshot 2015-10-16 18_31_52-Engadget _ Technology News, Advice and Features

[Update]: For australians, you might want to check out: // they seem to have some nice configurations there.

And finally always remember to do your research, google benchmarks, check forums for feedback on products. Do your homework, things change quickly. Even people who work at computer shops often cant keep up. For example, my 4790k when i bought it, turns out in the combination of the motherboard i bought it was automatically overclocking and then throttling due to heat, had to install new firmware on the motherboard, and then use intel extreme tuning utility to force to just go at stock… And all because i bought the newest thing that was out. Could’ve just went for the 4770k which was tried and true, and only a slight bit slower.

Hope this article helped!


GPU for GPU rendering Octane Thea Indigo etc..

Buying a GPU for GPU rendering? Read this first. I find myself answering the same questions over and over. So here is a summary of what you need to know when buying a GPU for GPU rendering. This information is valid as of writing this, I will try keep it updated as we go along.

Great article about GPU scaling in GPU render engines:



Nvidia. All the gpu renderers are nvidia CUDA based. This might change in the future, but right now if you want a fast stable GPU renderer you are stuck with nvidia.

[disclaimer]: don’t install geforce experience, just the drivers and update them manually. There have been reported issues with the software which you really probably don’t need.

[edit]: Getting a lot of feedback about AMD cards. and how indigo and vray support OpenCL.. In todays world and i can only write about today, because the futures change rapidly, it would be irresponsible of me to recommend people to get an AMD card for rendering. If anything it just adds another layer of complexity where it’s not needed. Get an nvidia card and you aren’t losing anything. Get an AMD card, and some engines won’t work, while others not as well as CUDA etc.. OpenCL stuff runs on Nvidia cards just fine and often better than on equivilantly priced AMD cards. But by all means do your own research.


The onboard memory of GPU cards does not stack. ie, 2x 6gb cards, can handle a 6gb scene. 1x 3gb card and 1x 6gb card, can only handle a 3gb scene. So if you have a bigger scene, you will have to disable the smaller card. And for the most part everything needs to fit on the GPU. Octane has out of core textures, which means it keeps the textures in the system ram, which helps at  times, but apparently also slows down the render. And Octane has a Tiled frame buffer in system RAM since 3.x with the aim to reduce the VRAM overhead on each card. Thea has bucket rendering mode, so when you are rendering the final image the buffer doesn’t take up all the memory on the card.

Also be aware of Dual GPU video cards. Some Nvidia cards including the titans. Have 2 gpu’s on one card. Here, the memory has to be halved. It will say it has 6gb of memory on it, but its actually only 3gb per GPU.  the GTX 790 is an example of a card like this.

PCI lanes

Some cpu have less pci lanes then others. This is mostly irrelevant to GPU renderers, as long as you have at least 1 or 2 lanes per card you will be fine. The pci lanes is more important for games.


Once again SLI is irrelevant to GPU rendering. You should not install the sli bridge or enable this in the options.  Furthermore unlike in SLI ( which is only useful for games). GPU render engines don’t care if you have different cards working together. so you can have, 780’s and 980’s and titans all working together. Just keep in mind the memory issue i brought up earlier.

[edit]: if you game with SLI you can install the bridge and enable/disable SLI in the nvidia control panel at will. ( a comment from reddit provided this useful information)


If you are planning on putting multiple GPU into your computer, make sure they have fans that push the hot air out of the case. So either reference coolers, coolers that look like reference coolers or liquid cooled/hybrid cards.

Screenshot 2016-07-13 12_56_49-Google Image Result for http___rog.asus.com_wp-content_uploads_2013_07_matrix-co

Because as you can see above, the traditional fans just expell  the hot air into any direction as long as its away from the card which means the air is being pumped into the case itself so sticks around to heat the whole shebang up. Works fine if you have 1 gpu in your case, but if you have 4 well.. not so fun..

So what you do want, is the cards with heatsinks like this to blow the hot air outside of the case.



Secondary Brands

There are lots of brands that manufacture Nvidia based cards. EVGA, MSI, ASUS and Gigabyte are the largest in the west. EVGA generally has the best reputation for their great warranties and customer support. Asus probably has the worst reputation for Customer support, but they are much loved for their prices and performance. ( I have asus, even though i got burnt with their laptop). Just you know, read the warranty terms, maybe do some googling. This stuff changes very quickly. Some brands become terrible, some get better.

Dedicated Viewport Card

Many people like to have a dedicated video card which isn’t engaged in rendering to handle the viewport and windows desktop. So they will have 3 titans for example to handle rendering and then a gtx 950 to handle the monitors. This stops your system from becoming unresponsive while rendering. While this works in most situations, you might not want to get the cheapest possible card, because cinema4D uses the card that the monitor is connected to to handle the viewport. And possible other programs do the same. C4D’s viewport isnt too stressful on the video card, most of the slow downs you will see will be cause by your CPU, but still something to keep in mind.

Fitting all these cards into your case

There are a couple of things to consider. First GPU’s come in different widths. Most of the cards you will probably be using will take up 2 slots. Some cards take up 3, but they are rare, and probably have the wrong type of heatsink on them anyway. So while you can buy motherboards with 6 or 10 PCi slots, you probably won’t be able to actually fit all the cards into it. Most cases will fit at most 3 cards, so if you want 4 cards, make sure you have a pc case, with alteast 8 pci slots on the back. Note: I’m not talking about the motherboard. the motherboard only needs 4 pci slots for 4 pci cards. ALSO a lot of these cards are really long, so make sure your case has enough clearence to fit them not only next to each other but also length wise. Sometimes the hard drive bays will get in the way.

And also related to fitting stuff in, don’t forget to make sure you have a large enough PSU. Use this website to help //

1080 vs 1080ti vs 1070 etc

Here is some useful info from my friend Sage, check out his builds too!

The difference between a 1080 and a 1080Ti is big. Honestly – the 1080Ti *should* be named the 1090. because its the only “Ti” that’s different from its “parent” card.

the 1080, 1070Ti and 1070 all use the same GP104 graphic processing unit. The 1080 is the “full” GP104, and nVidia’s just disabled and features and cut down specs through binning and stuff to make the other 2 cards. the 1080Ti uses the TitanXp’s GP102 chip. So its actually a “cut down” Titan, in the same way the 1070 is a “cut down” 1080.

For even more reference – the OctaneBench of a 1070 is 117. the OB of a 1080 is 135. so 18 points faster. not insignificant, but not terribly far away.

the OB of a 1080Ti is 185. 50 points faster than a 1080. the OB of a Titan Xp is 197. So theyre close, like the 1070 to 1080 are.

so yeah – rendering on 2 1080Tis is basically the same as 2 1080’s *and* a 1070. if you can afford to get a 1080Ti instead of a 1080 – do that. actually the 1080 doesnt make much sense to buy anymore, the 1070Ti’s OctaneBench is basically the same (134) and while the VRAM speed is worse (GDDR5 vs GDDR5x) you still get the same 8gigs of it. I’d probably say buy a 1070Ti over a 1080.

So there you go, now hopefully you will be able to make a more informed decision 🙂

If you need more info about building a machine for vfx check out the other article i wrote about hardware: //



Razer naga, the shortcut Junkies best friend

Hey guys, so i’ve been asked what kind of input device i use for working with Cinema 4D. and well here it is. Its the Razer Naga 2014 edition. I’ve been using this one for just over a year, and had the previous version of this for about 3 years, before the right click stopped holding. So im a pretty big fan of these mice. This one as you can see has sustained some damange on the buttons, but i only noticed it now when i started taking photos 🙂 just some of the paint coming off, i guess because of all my body oils and sweat, from all the hard work i do =)

12 Extra Buttons

Originally the 12 buttons on the side where intended for gamers so they can cast spells, or whatever they do, but i find them just as handy in every day work.

for example i have the tilt of the Scroll wheel set to copy and paste, ) it can tilt right and left as well as scroll and middle click.

Then i have the top row set to Num Enter ( comes in handy in many places, but the Num one is used because in photoshop it lets you drop a transform quicker), left, right arrow keys  for browsing through image galleries

Row after that is mouse button, 4,5 ( the regular back forward commands, rectangular selection in c4d, v key radial menu). 8 key is bound to F9, so i can set keyframes quickly.

Then the row at the bottom, so the Numbers 1,4,7 are mapped to F8 to play timeline in c4d ( with ctrl it does a render region), F6 top open picture viewer with ctrl.

The rest get mapped as i need them Sometimes i find myself pressing the same thing a lot. so i map that button/or command to one of the other buttons. Its pretty organic.


Really important feature, especially if you are working on multiple screens, or just a really big monitor. what it does basically is this: the slower you move your mouse the less it moves. But the faster you move it, the father it goes. So that way, if you need to click something small, you move your mouse slowly and its very accurate, and when you need to access something on the other side of the screen, you don’t need to do the awkward lift and move thing, you just flick it between your fingers.


My settings for the Razer Naga 2014

My settings for the Razer Naga 2014

Hope this was helpful, if you have any questions shoot.