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What’s The Best Render Engine for Blender?

Blender is a popular 3D modeling program because it’s free and it’s an open-source software. It has a ton of features that support simulation, compositing, rendering, motion tracking, modeling, and animation. Game production and video editing are also possible with Blender, so it’s no surprise that it’s the most widely used software for 3D artists all over the world.

But with its ecosystem comes its downfall as Blender doesn’t really provide you with a powerful rendering solution. Thankfully, it can make use of a third-party rendering engine.

In this article, we’ll show you the best render engines for Blender and why they’re the best right now.

What’s a Rendering Engine?

Sample 3D Rendering Best Render Engine

A 3D rendering engine, or render engine, is software that converts your 3D scene into an actual model or animation. Rendering is the final stage of the animation or modeling process as animators and modelers add in the finishing touches such as shading and texturing process, motion blur, and other forms of visual effects.

There are three rendering methods used by 3d artists:

  1. Wireframe – This is a production of an object’s structural frame. It has no surfaces to cover it. Rather, it’s made up of lines and points that shape to the object’s contour.
  2. Solid – The quickest way to render 3D models and makes use of geometrical shapes to form the object.
  3. Surface – This is where the object’s surfaces and edges are defined.

What’s The Best Rendering Engine For Blender?

Listed below are the most popular rendering software used in conjunction with Blender. This list is not arranged in any particular order.


Cycles Best Render Engine

How Much Does Cycles Cost?

Free to use

What Are Its Features?

Cycles is one of the more popular choices of rendering engine for Blender because of its features and production capabilities.

Cycles is a path tracer render engine, or path tracing engine if you will, so it’s good at simulating complicated movements coming from light bouncing off of surfaces and its many reactions.

It also has powerful PBR shading nodes, vector displacement, realistic subsurface scattering, volume scattering and absorption, caustics, and more. Cycles is also constantly updated by its publisher so you can expect it to always have the newest and latest features.

Cycles also supports Multi-GPU rendering from both Nvidia and AMD graphics cards, and also hybrid GPU rendering and CPU rendering (GPU+CPU rendering).

What Can’t It Do?

Cycles currently lacks in caustics, so other rendering software might outperform Cycles. There’a no light linking available in Cycles, which is popular amongst its competitors.


Redshift Best Render Engine

How Much Does Redshift Cost?

$23 a month, or $274 a year (converted from EUR)

What Are Its Features?

Redshift is considered to be a powerful 3D render engine used by the people behind American Gods, and is coming to Blender for use. Redshift license holders are free to try out their beta version for the Blender extension.

Because of its biased rendering and architecture, Redshift’s GPU rendering is super fast, albeit sacrificing computation accuracy. Users get full control and customization so they get the visual fidelity they need.

Other features of Redshift include hair rendering, displacement and tesselation, volumetric rendering, and more.

What Can’t It Do?

Some functions may not be available from the present version of the addon. These functions include light-linking and motion blur, but development will still continue until the Blender plugin has the same features as the actual Redshift software.

Chaos V-Ray

How Much Does Chaos V-Ray Cost?

Monthly subscription costs you $70 a month, or you can go for an annual subscription that costs you $420.

What Are Its Features?

Like Redshift, Chaos V-Ray is a rendering engine used by a lot of commercials, film, and even for feature length animation. The rendering power is solid and readily available for many appliations, including Blender.

The Blender V-Ray Plugin is free and open-source, which you can download from GitHub. It’s another story if you want to use both V-Ray and Blender altogether.

What Can’t It Do?

You’ll need to purchase a Render Node License if you want to interface with the V-Ray Standalone Application.


Eevee Best Render Engine

How Much Does Eevee Cost?

Eevee is free to use, and no, we’re not talking about the Pokemon.

What Are Its Features?

One of Blender’s real-time rasterization rendering engine is Eevee. Eevee now comes with Blender 2.80, replacing the software’s internal rendering feature.

Several of Eevee’s features include subsurface scattering, volume rendering, hair support, and a solid Shader-to-RGB node for NPR shading.

But what really makes Eevee great to use is that it focuses on filling in the gaps in the feature sets, providing a viable production rendering solution.

What Can’t It Do?

Eevee does not have genuine path tracing, making it difficult to create a realistic rendering.


How Much Does Workbench Cost?

Workbench is free and is included with Blender

What Are Its Features?

The Workbench Engine is th standard engine that powers Blender’s viewport. It’s responsible for guaranteeing smooth performance for tasks performed prior to rendering, texture mapping, lighting, and shading.

What users like about Workbench is that its features make it easy to handle different tasks at the same time. Tasks such as cavity rendering, outlines, and X-ray options are a breeze for Wokrbench.

What Can’t It Do?

Some Blender users are actually attempting to use Workbench for final rendering, but it’s a lot easier said than done.


LuxCoreRender Best Render Engine

How Much Does LuxCoreRender Cost?

LuxCoreRender is free to use.

What Are Its Features?

LuxCoreRender, formerly known as LuxRender, is one of the most powerful physically correct render engines in the market right now, and yes, it’s open-source.

LuxCoreRender allows you to create physically correct models with ease, thereby outperforming some of the commercial software developed (including Cycles).

Rendering scenes with heavy refractions is what separates LuxCoreRender from the rest of the 3D render engines in the market. It also has light grouping, something that Cycles (a free rendering software) does not have at this time.

At time of writing, LuxCoreRender is a favorite among Blender users.

What Can’t It Do?

Rendering took a long time with LuxCoreRender, but several improvements were made to shorten rendering time. These improvements focused on performance and GPU rendering.


How Much Does Malt/Beer Cost?

Malt/Beer is free to use.

What Are Its Features?

The Beer 3D render engine is free and open-source real-time Non-PhotoRealistic render engine for Blender and built using the Malt backend. Malt/Beer was also crowdfunded by the Blender NPR community.

This 3D render engine might be new to the rendering scene, but it flawlessly integrates into Blender because it was made specifically for Blender. The program’s goal was to improve upon Blender’s Stylized rendering features through the reorganization of shaders.

Rendering NPR scenes with Beer is easy as you’ll find the features such as rim light and soft edge toon ready for blend.

What Can’t It Do?

Like other free rendering software, Beer is still in the early stages of development but you can choose to support the development through crowdfunding. Some features might not be available compared to other render engines in the market.

OctaneRender (or Octane Render)

How Much Does OctaneRender Cost?

OctaneRender has various subscription packages, depending on GPU limit. OctaneRender Enterprise is the most expensive package, costing you 39,95€ (or US$ 40+) per month on an annual subscription.

What Are Its Features?

OctaneRender is one of the first GPU render engines to be released and is popular for its rapid rendering features.

OctaneRender has a spectrally correct and impartial render engine that takes advantage of the RTX graphics cards to create accurate images at rates faster than other rendering engines in the market right now.

What Can’t It Do?

The Octane Render plugin is actually Blender with the OctaneRender engine built in (as opposed to having something like Eevee or Cycles). If you use OctaneRender, you may not be able to use shader nodes and editors from Cycles or Eevee.

How Do You Choose a 3D Render Engine for Blender or any Other Software?

Out of all the rendering engines for Blender we listed, or for any other 3D software, how do you determine which one’s right for you?

These are the factors that will affect your decision in choosing the right rendering software or render engines.

Is It Right For Your Industry?

The biggest factor that’ll determine what rendering software you’ll use is what industry you belong to. Render engines aren’t exactly multi-purpose.

For example, if you’re an architect, you’re going to want to go for a rendering software intended for architectural visualization. You’re more or less using something like Rhino or Autodesk Revit, so you’ll need a rendering software that’s compatible with these software. If you’re doing animation or visual effectss, then you’re probably using Maya, Houdini, or Cinema4D. You’d need render engines that will work with these programs.

The downside here is that some rendering engines are only available to specific applications. Some applications are limited in terms of what they can do, so you’ll need to find render engines that will complement it.

How Flexible Is The Render Engine?

As mentioned earlier, 3D artists will have different needs depending on their industry, so the rendering software must be capable of doing everything (or at least close to everything). And by everything, we mean it should be capable of helping you achieve your rendering goals.

For example, architectural visualization requires billions of polygons to display buildings and interiors as detailed as possible, so you should go for 3D render engines that gives you that.

How Reliable Is It?

Render engines gather all the details that they need from your file in order to produce a single image or a frame of animation. When a software is rendering, it needs to carry out the rendering processes without a hitch. Otherwise, you’d end up with a corrupt output.

Whether you’re rendering a 10-story building with immense foliage or doing visual effects for a short film, the rendering engines you want to work with will need to be consistent and reliable.

When we say consistent, you’d need a very good engine capable of guaranteeing render quality no matter what the project.

What Level of Realism Does It Provide?

On the off chance that you’re a 3D artist that requires photorealistic rendering, then you’d need a rendering engine to give you that. A quick definition of photorealism is how close the 3D subject looks like to its real world counterpart. This could be as a simple as dew mounted on a blade of grass, or an entire workup for a fancy sports car.

Your rendering software must be able to compute for real-world lighting so your light bounces, refractions, and reflections are accurate. The material you’re rendering need sto obey real-world physics too. If you want to render the swaying of hair against the wind, the movements of the photorealistic rendering should be similar to how hair moves against the wind in real life.

How Easy Is It to Use?

Rendering software are not made equal, so the learning curve on how to use some of them will be as different to one another as their real time rendering speed.

How great is this 3D rendering software in turning your sketch into a masterpiece? And how easy will it be for you to create a such masterpiece? 3D artists want to be creative all the time, not spend hours navigating the learning curve of 3D rendering software.

What’s the Cost?

Getting the best rendering tools or engine is one thing, but managing the price is another. Remember when your parents told you about the phrase “not everything in life is free”? Well, it’s the same thing for rendering engines.

Blender has access to free rendering software like Cycles and Eevee, but they can only do so much and might not be able to meet your demands. If you want a powerful rendering engine, then you’d need to accept the fact that you’ll need to pay top dollar for it, whether it’s a monthly subscription or a one-time fee for a perpetual license.

How Fast Is The Rendering Speed?

Real time rendering needs to be fast, period. You don’t want to spend more than a couple of minutes waiting for the rendering to finish. Your rendering engine needs to be able to manage your CPU and GPU power efficiently so you can get it done as quickly as possible.

Other render engines might not be as capable of combining CPU and GPU rendering, so that might slow you down.

James Stephenson

james stephenson profile picJames is a gaming and tech enthusiast. He has been playing computer games since the Commodore 64 days in the 80s. He has worked as a Broadcast Engineer with BBC News and knows a thing or two about building, fixing, and playing with PCs.