A 3D modeling computer might be the most decked out computer rig you’ll ever build, and for a good reason.
Working with 3D modeling and rendering takes up a lot of CPU and GPU power. And to speed things up, you’ll need the top of the line processor with enough CPU cores for CPU rendering, and a graphics card to help supplement CPU and GPU rendering.
In this article, we’re going to help you build the best PC possible for 3D modeling and rendering, as well as cover some important topics that will help you make the best decision possible.
But first, we need to understand first two things: 3D modeling and 3D rendering.
What Is 3D Modeling?
3D modeling can be defined as is: it’s the creation of 3D models used for different purposes such as animation and design. With the introduction of 3D printers in the market, 3D modeling has become more widespread than ever. People who’re in the business of 3D printing need to work with 3D software to design and prep whatever it is they need to print.
What Is 3D Rendering?
Rendering is the visualization of a 3D game or object or scene using a rendering software. When you’re creating a 3D model or animation, you’re working with the raw file which is not accessible to anyone. Rendering will finalize whatever it is that you’re working on and produce output that’s made available to the public through a variety of file formats.
For both 3D modeling and rendering, the need for a high powered workstation computer is high. Rendering needs a lot of processing power to carry out the necessary mathematical computations required.
Sample PC Builds for 3D Modeling and Rendering
Some caveats here: the budgets listed may be higher or lower than intended, depending on where you are located and the availability of certain parts.
The builds listed here should also be taken with a grain of salt. They’re designed to give you a lot of rendering power for programs such as Blender, Maya, and Modo to name a few.
Lastly, keep in mind that the best computer might depend on the specs, but ultimately, it will boil down to helping you meet your needs the most. The best computer doesn’t necessarily have to be expensive, but it also doesn’t mean you can skimp out on the graphics cards or processors. Remember, a 3d modeling and rendering PC should be considered an investment.
With that being said, let’s go over some sample builds.
$700: A Cost-Effective Build
- CPU: AMD R5 5600G
- Graphics Card: Zotac Gaming GeForce 1650
- Motherboard: ASRock B550M-HDV
- RAM: G.Skill Trident Z RGB Series 16GB (2 x 8GB)
- Storage: 500GB Western Digital SSD
- Power Supply: EVGA 450 W3
The first build that we have makes use of AMD’s budget CPUs and one of the more decent Nvidia GPUs, the GeForce 1650. Combined with 16GB of RAM and a 512GB SSD, you’re looking at a competent rig with enough 3d modeling and rendering power.
$1200: A Balanced Build
- CPU: AMD Ryzen™ 5 7600X
- Graphics Card: EVGA GeForce GTX 1660 SC Ultra Gaming
- Motherboard: MSI PRO X670-P WiFi ProSeries
- RAM: G.Skill Trident Z5 RGB Series
- Storage 1: Western Digital 500GB WD Blue
- Storage 2: Seagate BarraCuda 2TB Internal Hard Drive
- Power Supply: Cooler Master MWE Gold 650 V2 Full Modular
- CPU Cooler: Noctua NH-U12S SE-AM4
Spending a few more hundred dollars from the cost-effective build above would probably yield you a build something like this.
You’re getting a 6-core CPU, one of the more powerful midrange Nvidia GPUs, enough RAM and storage, and futureproof.
If you noticed, you’re getting 2 sets of storage devices: one SSD and one HDD. The SSD will house your OS, software, and other applications. Your HDD will store all your raw files and rendering output.
Unlike the first build, you’re getting a CPU cooler to help keep the Ryzen 7 processor cool while rendering. The computer graphics power is also sufficient for most GPU render engines.
$1700 – High Performance Build
- CPU: Intel Core i5-13600K
- Graphics Card: GIGABYTE GeForce RTX 3060 Ti
- Motherboard: Gigabyte Z790 UD
- RAM: G.Skill Trident Z5 RGB Series (Intel XMP) 32GB (2 x 16GB)
- Storage 1: SAMSUNG (MZ-V7E500BW) 970 EVO SSD 500GB
- Storage 2: Toshiba X300 4TB Performance & Gaming 3.5-Inch Internal Hard Drive
- Power Supply: Seasonic Focus SSR-850FM, 850W 80+ Gold
- CPU Cooler: be quiet! Dark Rock 4
This would probably be considered the best workstation computer because you’re getting an excellent processor with superior clock speed and one of the best graphics cards on the market right now.
With this build, you’re getting a high-performing PC capable of running most of the popular graphics software and 3D modeling software computer programs thanks to the Intel i5 CPU and the 3060Ti graphics card, complemented by 32GB of RAM and enough SSD storage to host any computer program.
$2900+: Professional Setup
- CPU: Intel i9-13900K
- Graphics Card: ZOTAC Gaming GeForce RTX™ 3080 Ti
- Motherboard: MSI PRO Z790-P WiFi ProSeries Motherboard
- RAM: G.Skill Trident Z5 RGB Series (Intel XMP) 32GB (2 x 16GB)
- Storage 1: SAMSUNG 970 EVO Plus SSD 1TB NVMe M.2
- Storage 2: 2x Toshiba X300 4TB Performance & Gaming 3.5-Inch Internal Hard Drive
- Power Supply: Corsair HX850
- CPU Cooler: NZXT Kraken Z73
At this point, money is no longer an issue for you. You want the best graphics card, the best processor, and the best of everything to give you the best computer possible.
You’re getting an i9 processor combined with an RTX 3080Ti graphics card, though you could also upgrade to a 3090Ti too. Speed is everything in this build, from the insane clock speeds to the incredible read/write speeds from your SSD.
As for futureproofing, this beast will last you for at least five years. There’s nothing in the market that could ever be a mile above either the RTX 3080Ti or the Intel i9-13900K.
PC Building Guide – How To Choose Your Computer Components?
The builds above are just templates, so you don’t necessarily have to follow them to the T. Remember, the best PC for you is the one that’s capable of meeting your needs without forcing you to spend too much money.
For the builds listed above, we’ve stuck to the budget specified but you could always mix and match depending on your needs.
How Do You Choose A CPU?
If this article was made a decade ago, we’d have put more thought into choosing a CPU more so than any other component. And the reason being is that the CPU was involved the most in the rendering process.
Now, GPU rendering overtake CPU rendering, but not by a lot. CPU is still as important as ever in the rendering process, but you get better rendering speeds with a GPU in tow. Now you’ll also use the CPU for other things like gaming and productivity-based computer programs so it doesn’t hurt to invest in something that’s futureproof.
A good start would be AMD’s budget processors or something as powerful as an Intel Core i5 processor if you want some computing power without blowing your entire budget.
How Do You Choose Your Graphics Card?
Unlike graphics design, rendering relies on the strength of your graphics card as it determines how fast it will take to complete the process. GPU rendering, so long as it’s available, is ten times faster than CPU rendering.
With power and strength in mind, you won’t want to work with an integrated GPU. A good and solid choice would be one of the Nvidia graphics cards, preferably RTX. But Nvidia GeForce GTX isn’t a bad choice either, so as long as you’re going for a GTX 1660.
But why are we promoting Nvidia GPUs? Why isn’t AMD GPUs being considered?
Between AMD and NVIDIA’s GPU rendering, Nvidia’s CUDA has better rendering performance than AMD-backed OpenCL. OpenCL is available for other graphics, but CUDA is only for Nvidia.
If your rendering engine can support CUDA, you might as well grab an Nvidia graphics card. If the app is split between CUDA and OpenCL, Nvidia is still the ideal pick. Hopefully, OpenCL has wider support, allowing for better performance.
How Do You Choose RAM?
RAM and the rest of the components aren’t going to be your main concerns, as they’ll only minimally affect any active working process.
For the lower-end builds on here, you’ll notice that we’re sticking with 16GB DDR4 RAM while the midrange and high-end builds have 32GB DDR5. Dual-channel RAM kits are affordable and compatible with the latest motherboards. But if you want exceptional performance, you’ll need to shell out more money to get quad-channel RAMs. You’re looking at spending a few hundred dollars for these quad-channel RAMs, but they are the best hardware components for the RAM category. A single RAM kit may not be sufficient for 3d complex modeling.
The rule of thumb is this: you’ll need at least 8GB of RAM if you want to build a computer for 3D modeling and rendering but you’ll want to shoot for 16GB. More RAM doesn’t necessarily hurt and it will help you speed up things.
How Do You Choose Storage?
A computer for 3D modeling doesn’t need as much storage as a computer for video editing or gaming. Modeling files, images, assets, and raw data have smaller file sizes than expected. But it doesn’t mean that you should be stingy about choosing which storage component to use.
But for the purpose of this article, you’ll need to consider using two different devices, each with their own purpose for storage space.
SSDs or Solid State Drives
Your own computer should have an SSD because while it may not affect rendering performance, it does affect how programs and OS load. SSD read and write times are 100x faster than traditional HDD.
At least 500GB of SSD is more than enough for 3d modeling, graphic design, gaming, and more. If you can shell out a few more hundred dollars for storage, get 1TB SSD. As much as possible, you want to store every program on the SSD so they load faster. You can literally do multiple tasks with ease on an SSD.
HDDs or Hard Disk Drive
Unless you’re getting a 2TB SSD, it makes sense to have a traditional HDD to store your files. And HDDs are relatively cheaper than SSDs.You can easily secure 4TB and it’d still be cheaper than paying for a 1TB SSD.
How Do You Choose Power Supply Units?
Power consumption is something that you’ll need to consider for PC building. A budget PSU may not be ideal since your processor and GPU will have more cores and have high clock speed, so their power consumption is high.
Your rendering workstation should work with a high-quality PSU so you don’t get gimped on power limits while ensuring that you’re protecting all the other computer parts.
FAQs about Rendering Process
We’ve talked about the different builds and the process of selecting computer hardware for the PC build.
For this section, we’ll go over some of the major questions on the render process itself and why rendering images need a lot of hardware power.
Why Does Rendering Take Long?
The rendering speed depends on software and hardware, and the options you have in place. Let’s take a look at a sample scene to illustrate why rendering might take long.
Imagine a simple scene, like panning from left to right on a flower. Not a lot of details to work with here. You’ll have some gradients and lighting involved, different polygon angles, and other complex modeling involved.
Your own PC is trying to compute and repeatedly estimate different things at once, ranging from the changing of the color gradients to light bouncing off of reflective surfaces, creating shadows, and so on. Depending on how detailed the flower is, each petal might house hundreds if not thousands of polygons at one time.
To keep it simple, the PC carries out complex mathematical equations on the fly to simulate what the human eye is seeing. A high clocked CPU and a GPU with enough video memory can make short work of rendering compred to another rendering workstation that’s a bit underpowered than the former.
Do You Need a Powerful CPU or GPU?
For the previous section, we were talking about rendering a flower panned from left to right. But what if we’re rendering something complicated, like visual effects or a detailed 3d model of a human being, then you’ll definitely need a powerful CPU.
Processing data at this level will take up a lot of video memory and will work more cores than rendering a flower scene. This will vary amongst different GPU render engines, or any render engine for that matter. What matters here is that you get the CPU with the highest clock speed and as many cores possible that money can buy, sufficient wattage, a decent amount of RAM slots, and GPU with maximum speed.