Mac Pro Advice for 3D Rendering

Discussion in 'Mac Pro' started by LoftyHammond, Dec 19, 2014.

  1. LoftyHammond macrumors member

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    Dec 19, 2014
    #1
    Hello,

    My name is Aatish (just call me Lofty). I'm a currently a mechanical engineering student. I also own and operate my website www.OhSoLofty.com. In my free time, I design body kits and rims for cars. I initially began just rendering stills and posting them to my site, however I now create animations and "promo" videos.

    So far, I've been doing all of this (modeling, rendering, and post production) on my Mid 2012 Retina MBP 15'. I have the midrange, so 2.6gHZ i7, 8gb Ram, gt650m (I think), and 512gb.

    So far, it takes around 45min-1 hour to render stills (@ 3000x3000), and around 12 hours to render a simple animation @720p upto about 90 frames. If I do a close up (say on the rims of the vehicles which are really detailed) I'm lucky if I get done with 15 frames in 12 hours.

    Now, I also use my MBP for school, as well as my website.

    I have an Alienware Aurora (2012) that I've built up over the years...but it's in Chicago while I'm in NY. I could bring it here, however my place is quite small and the Alien is quite big.

    I've been interested in a Mac Pro for a while. 2 Things are holding me back. From reading forum posts, I'm getting the Vibe that the Mac Pro isn't the best for 3D rendering (especially for C4D which is what I use). The other thing is the update cycle. It's been a while since an update has occurred, and I don't want it to be updated right after I get one.

    I'm fixed on the 6-core (possibly getting a storage upgrade).

    So I guess I'm asking for y'all's experience with the Mac Pro and 3D. Anyone use a GPU render plug-in (like Octane or Furry Ball)? Also, from talking with Apple Store employees, I'm expecting an update to be quite soon (within the coming months). Any input?

    Here's a link to my website. This is a render I did on my MBP. Took around 350 hours total:
    http://www.ohsolofty.com/huracn-f5/

    Any help is much appreciated it.

    Enjoy your day, Lads.

    -Aatish
     
  2. EdDuPlessis, Dec 19, 2014
    Last edited: Dec 19, 2014

    EdDuPlessis macrumors 6502

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    #2
    For the best performance and if you want to use Octane or iRay you should get a 4,1 or 5,1 Mac Pro tower with GeForce card and install Windows on it. C4D has an iRay/mental Ray plugin called m4d that utilises GeForce cards for very quick rendering. This forum is a great place for information about that. We can direct you to resellers like OCW, Create Pro or Editbuilder who can build a custom Mac Pro for you and it will be cheaper than buying the 6,1.

    But to be honest you would be best off building a custom PC which are easily upgradable to multiple graphics cards to power crunch your rendering. That's very hard to do on a Mac Pro.
     
  3. LoftyHammond thread starter macrumors member

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    Dec 19, 2014
    #3
    Thanks for the reply.As much as I would like to build a custom PC, the main constraint I have at the moment is space. I didn't know about M4D, will have to check that out. Thanks for the info man!
     
  4. EdDuPlessis macrumors 6502

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    #4
    http://www.m4d.info
     
  5. handsome pete macrumors 68000

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    #5
    This really depends on what rendering engine you'll be using. There are still a ton of CPU renderers out there, and in those cases you'd benefit with more cores.

    Of course GPU rendering has hit the mainstream, but unfortunately Apple's offering of only AMD cards makes the Mac Pro limited in this regard. The 2 renderers you listed benefit from Nvidia cards. I'm not sure which (if any) use OpenCL yet.


    I wouldn't put too much stock into what they say. Apple store employees know virtually nothing when it comes to product releases (at least this far out).
     
  6. Tucom macrumors 65816

    Tucom

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    #6
    Dyson uses Mac Pros for 3D rendering: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0qo-ZXw2k-4&list=UUofLIkht-Y37LByIKGHMVGQ


    If they can use them for serious work, then I think you should be golden. Especially if space is a concern, then the nMP I think is really a logical choice.


    Also, more and more apps are starting to utilize OpenCL, so unless there's a set statement saying that won't happen with the apps you use, chances are you'll be fine.

    Let us know what you go with, and how it works out!
     
  7. EdDuPlessis, Dec 19, 2014
    Last edited: Dec 19, 2014

    EdDuPlessis macrumors 6502

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    #7
  8. Tucom, Dec 19, 2014
    Last edited: Dec 19, 2014

    Tucom macrumors 65816

    Tucom

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    #8
    Still rendering. Though a different kind, sure. Also, I imagine they use the Macs for the renders of their vacuums, hand dryers, fans, etc. as well.

    Again, space, and OpenCL implementation will RENDER the Mac Pro to be a very suitable workstation for the OP. See what I did there?


    Even if OpenCL doesn't happen for the apps he uses, would still be a great upgrade vs. what he's using now, and I can't imagine the kind of CPU throttling that's happening on his MacBook.
     
  9. EdDuPlessis macrumors 6502

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    #9
    I didn't see 'rendering' in the Dyson video, I saw Open GL viewport interaction and if there were any rendered outputs there is no indication which app did the final render.

    And Open CL is a joke compared to the aforementioned CUDA based mental ray and iRay renderers. Its cool for video and photo editing but it should not even be compared to 3D rendering engines with three decades of development behind them. Just look at some iRay videos on YouTube to see how crazy it is to get almost real time feedback of complex scenes with high res textures and raytracing.
     
  10. Tucom macrumors 65816

    Tucom

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    #10
    No.

    Obvious bias is obvious; OpenCL is just as capable as CUDA - or else I doubt Apple would be using it. Also, I've read where OpenCL outclasses CUDA. I'm guessing that the ONLY reason these renderers are 'so much better' than an OpenCL based one, is because, as you mentioned, they're heavily coded for and have been using CUDA for years.


    There's no "joke" here. OpenCL is the real deal. Once it gains traction I'm guessing it will just as viable an option as a CUDA based one. We will see, though.


    And then there's the fact I mentioned that if OpenCL wasn't even an option, a Mac Pro would still be a big step up from his MacBook.
     
  11. pertusis1 macrumors 6502

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    Texas
    #11
    Just the shift from a laptop, where sustained renders are limited by thermal dissipation problems, to a desktop like the nMP is going to be a big improvement. I switched from a fairly capable mac mini (no dedicated video card) to a 5,1 Mac Pro a couple of years ago. Although the 'benchmark' score didn't even double, the actual render times improved by about 10-fold or more. And that was with a stock 5770 card. I'll bet the laptop is having to throttle back due to temperature issues.
     
  12. handsome pete macrumors 68000

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    #12
    Why would you recommend a machine that completely doesn't suit the applications he mentioned? Of course a newer computer than the one he has should be an upgrade, but he's much better off buying in respect to his needs.

    If you've been paying attention to the Mac Pro over the last year, then you'd recognize that one of the biggest complaints (if not the biggest) is lack of an NVIDIA option. There's no bias there. It's just a fact that CUDA is much further along than OpenCL right no, much more widespread, etc. Most would like to buy a machine that their software of choice will run best now, and not wait around for OpenCL to play catch up.
     
  13. EdDuPlessis, Dec 19, 2014
    Last edited: Dec 20, 2014

    EdDuPlessis macrumors 6502

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    #13
    It's not going to happen. Microsoft and Linux don't care for it and NVidia doesn't care to optimise for it either. If you look at some of the worlds most powerful super computers many have CUDA and even Xeon Phi alongside the CPUs and I have not heard of Open CL, AMD or Apple being mentioned in the same breath. Let it go, especially because Nvidia has bought Mental Ray and iRay.

    Here's a demo of C4D using Octane render on an eGPU set up using the Titan Z

    http://youtu.be/cPOB9qmPjaE
     
  14. Tutor, Dec 21, 2014
    Last edited: Dec 21, 2014

    Tutor macrumors 65816

    Tutor

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    #14
    Excellent job , but that rendering performance is too old school. Are you doing 3d to make money?


    I have and use Octane Render, Furry Ball and Thea Render, among other GPU renderers, and use them with Cinema 4d as well as other 3d applications. The best of those three for C4D work is currently Octane Render - the 1st of those three out of the gate to support C4D; in second place is Thea Render - the 2nd of those three out of the gate to support C4D; and, of course, third is Furry Ball - the last of those three out of the gate to support C4D.

    Stay away from the 2013 MacPro. You'll spend a lot more money in the end to get it currently capable of supporting a solid GPU animation renderer. Instead, if you want a MacPro, get yourself a used MacPro 2009 - 2012. Look on ebay. They're cheaper than building your own system and a lot cheaper than building a 3d animation rendering system based on the 2013 MacPro. Depending on how much rendering power (number and kind of GPU cards) you need/can afford, add one, a couple, or three [ see - http://forums.macrumors.com/search.php?searchid=49740345 - which will require you to mod your mac + see http://forums.macrumors.com/showthr...ol+and+i+are+the+best+of+friends#post20458840 ] used or refurbished GTX 780 6G or the original reference design Titans (also 6G). I recommend these cards highest because of their speed, price, stability on the Mac, and large Vram size for doing large format renders. They each have 6Gs of Vram so that you can even do 4k renders if you're so inclined. You'll have to shop carefully because those within the 3d rendering community all know how good these cards are and thus they sell quickly. Expect to pay between $300 to $700 dollars for each 6G GPU. If you want the newest, stable card(s), then get GTX Titan Black(s). They're 6G cards.

    Of course, you could build a system into which you can use up to four 3d capable GPU rendering cards for just a little more cash. It all depends on whether you do or expect to make money with the system. I have a couple of 8 GPU systems for 3d work and am currently modifying one of them [ see my Tyan mod - beginning at post # 1116, 1128 - 1132, 1145- 1146, 1150, 1155 & 1162 beginning here: http://forums.macrumors.com/showthread.php?t=1333421&page=45 ].
    ].
     
  15. ScottishCaptain macrumors 6502a

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    #15
    I wouldn't recommend a Mac Pro at all.

    The 2013 units are already outdated and there's no signs of any updates coming down the pipeline. For all intents and purposes, it's a hardware dongle for Final Cut Pro.

    The 2010/2012 units are "ok". They at least have PCI-e slots so you can jam a reasonable GPU in there, but the power capabilities are lacking (as in, physical power to the aux connectors on the GPU) and the SMC firmware is known to be buggy which can cause your fans to run faster then they should when a third party GPU is installed (even an officially sanctioned unit like the eVGA 680 GTX Mac Edition).

    Honestly, unless you're getting a sweet deal on a 2010/2012, I wouldn't bother at all. Build a PC, throw Windows 7 on it, and away you go. You can buy bigger better graphics cards and they'll work OOTB, no need to worry about driver compatibility and kernel extensions. Just download the stuff off NVIDIA/AMD's website and install it. Likewise, Windows 7 is going to be supported for a very, very long time. Mac OS X has been undergoing some extremely radical changes lately (and on a yearly schedule) that tends to break apps a lot. By the time things get stable again, you're already an OS behind, and because Apple's OpenGL implementation is lagging it is often beneficial to run the latest OS (but then your apps may or may not break).

    I'm not really trying to bash on Apple here, but OS X is no longer a stable platform. It is a huge moving target and if you need a machine you can rely on, that's probably going to be a PC.

    They use a combination of Luxology Modo and V-RAY (via 3DS Max) running on Windows workstations.

    -SC
     
  16. Tutor, Dec 21, 2014
    Last edited: Dec 21, 2014

    Tutor macrumors 65816

    Tutor

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    #16
    Of course my actions scream louder than my words, so in the final analysis I agree with you 100%. I prefer building my own 3d workstations. It isn't that hard to do so and takes at most only a few hours of work and you end up getting exactly the system that you wanted for the best price. Just make sure that your build timing matches C4D's upgrade, which usually occurs in the late summer to fall and you can then easily switch OS platforms when you purchase your C4D upgrade.
     
  17. LoftyHammond thread starter macrumors member

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    Dec 19, 2014
    #17
    Thanks for the info, I appreciate it. No, not monetizing my work (yet).
     
  18. Tucom macrumors 65816

    Tucom

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    #18

    To your first statement: That's totally false; the Dyson video already proves otherwise. They're killer for audio as well, for sure. To merely say they're only for Final Cut is ignorant.


    To your second statement: You know this how? Genuinely curious.
     
  19. ScottishCaptain macrumors 6502a

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    #19
    Show me the software then.

    People keep promising OpenCL versions of everything. Almost nobody follows through, yet CUDA continues to march onwards. If the machine had options for NVIDIA cards (given the internal modular construction, I can only assume they don't because the thermal core won't support them), I'd be all over it.

    It doesn't, so if I bought one, the second GPU would be idle 99% of the time under OS X. Why do I need or want that? It would only make sense if I was running software that could utilize both cards, and right now those applications almost exclusively revolve around film.

    Personal connections, but if you don't believe me, it's in the 360 Eye video at 18s. The viewport pictured is that of Modo (albeit running on an unknown platform) connected to an Eizo CG267W monitor (I own the same unit). There is also a user on the Luxology forums ("Paul Beards") who worked for them and used Modo quite extensively.

    http://www.artstation.com/artwork/dyson-360-eye-product-renders

    I guess it's possible they're using Mac for some stuff given that Maya and Maxwell run on OS X, but the guy I knew was using 3DS and V-Ray at the time (this was 5 years ago though).

    -SC
     
  20. Tucom, Dec 21, 2014
    Last edited: Dec 21, 2014

    Tucom macrumors 65816

    Tucom

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    #20

    Show you the software? How about ALL of the DAWs that exist? That run better on OS X than Windows, and thus make the Mac Pro a killer DAW unit? THERE'S your software.

    And, most notably, the Dyson video; you do realize that's a nMP running a modeling program on OS X, right? That's at 8s, which I believe you meant to say. So that right there proves how single-minded that "Only for FCP" statement was. Not trying to sound harsh.


    Awesome that you had connections with people who worked/work at Dyson. I view Dyson as a very innovative, just awesome company, that really do deliver on what they set out to do.

    EDIT: I'm sure neither of us meant to hijack your thread OP, however possibly this conversation will prove useful to you?
     
  21. LoftyHammond thread starter macrumors member

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    #21
    None taken. I'm getting stuff to consider so yeah.
     
  22. handsome pete macrumors 68000

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    #22
    The problem with the Mac Pro is that it's really hard to figure out what it excels at. That's not to say it's not a great machine for many different tasks, but it's somewhat unclear where Apple thinks it belongs. It's already been pointed out that it's not the right machine for GPU rendering. And seeing as it's limited to a single CPU, it's not where it could be for those of us still relying on the CPU for renders. I'm sure it's great for audio use, but I know some in that camp are miffed by having not having a choice in whether they want an extra GPU that their software won't take advantage of. When someone claims it's just a FCPX machine, they're not claiming other software won't run well on it. It's just that a lot of high end software takes advantage of hardware that the Mac Pro doesn't offer. FCPX remains one of the few that can take advantage of it, so Apple really needs to get other developers on board if this thing is to have viable long term success.
     
  23. EdDuPlessis macrumors 6502

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    #23
    You are basing a belief on a video in which a Mac Pro could have been used for decorative purposes only.
     
  24. ScottishCaptain macrumors 6502a

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    #24
    Irrelevant.

    DAWs are not OpenCL accelerated. Therefore the second GPU in the nMP will remain idle when using such applications. That's a ton of silicon you've paid for that is doing absolutely nothing, when you could have had a second CPU instead that would actually contribute to running a DAW.

    If you're going to try and compare the nMP to a "regular workstation", then it's a sub par machine at best. It was designed for OpenCL applications, of which there are very few out there (FCP being one of those programs). If you're not running OpenCL workloads, you're not getting the most out of your hardware.

    I stand by my original statement. It's a FCP dongle. If you're not running that, you can do way better.

    -SC
     
  25. PostProdMan, Dec 21, 2014
    Last edited: Dec 21, 2014

    PostProdMan macrumors newbie

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    #25
    I find it interesting that everyone gets into a whole CUDA vs OpenCL thing here when we are really only working on assumptions and little to no info from the OP.

    What 3D software are you using to model/render your projects? Do you have a budget? Are you willing to spend $$ on GPU based render engines?

    Perhaps you need more experience with your 3D software to fully optimize your scenes? Better lighting rigs/optimization? Smarter render settings, work with multipasses to keep from re-rendering everything, etc.

    Since you mention space is an issue, does your 3D app support farm rendering? Maybe you could get a couple of Mac Minis and get yourself some more cores? Or if you are smarter and want to have more value build a few smaller PCs into a farm like this http://www.helmer-air.com/

    Personally I'm not fully convinced by GPU render engines. They certainly do create excitement about "what can be" rather than what is right now. Octane/Thea/iRay/VRay RT, are all exciting products, but can become a crutch for those that can't get it done w/o them. Often times you can create a similar scene using only CPU render engines, and render just as fast. As soon as you start bumping up the details in Octane, etc, it all bogs down, and you are limited by the memory constraints of your video card(s). Although Thea is interesting since it uses bucket rendering to alleviate the memory constraints by allowing your CPU to assist.

    Basically, keep working on your scenes, keep getting better, find support through 3D based forums, etc. I don't believe this site is going to be all that useful to you since many of it's users are very attached to the Apple brand/idea.

    However, if you were going to go with a new build, I'd probably recommend a PC build as well. There's really nothing special about animating on Apple anymore.

    Good luck, and hopefully you can fill us all in with more details about your work.
     

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