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16th January 2023
The purpose of this space on my website is threefold.
Number 001: Design work journal. It lets me note down what I have learnt so that I remember it better or can clarify my thoughts. Kind of like a diary but for my design work. I have spent and do spend a lot of my time either designing or thinking about design. It is a bit of an obsession. In this section of my site I can be honest about my design experience in a way that customers may not see otherwise. You can get to know me by reading these posts which in turn hopefully will build your trust in me. It may work to my detriment. I do not know what will happen. But let's find out.
Number 002: Writing Proper English. I am a creative person & I like to think I am a good problem solver. I do not have a lot of experience writing essays . Creating this area on my website is setting myself a challenge: 'Write long form text that is clear and interesting' Challenge accepted.
Number 003: Driving internet traffic to my site. I have learnt that having a blog on your website helps with SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) because of the density of Google Keywords that you can achieve through long-form text. Blogs also help with search engine optimisation because if people spent longer periods on your website, for example, reading about something... Google will put your website higher up the list of search results. The longer people spend on my site & the more that people that use my site the more likely it is they (you) will turn into customers.
Let's talk PC specifications
26th January 2023
I recently got a new custom built rendering PC. After a year of using my Dell Precision laptop for rendering projects I realised that it had become a bottle neck in my workflow. The issue with my laptop was specifically that the GPU's (graphics processing unit) memory was too low (2GB) and unfortunately this is often not upgradeable on many prebuilt laptops today. GPU memory stores assets like material textures and high resolution frames and this coupled with your computer's GPU is fundamental to reducing rendering times. If I were to go back I would likely have looked into different laptop options for this exact reason. I see computers as a tool to complete my work & my interest in them stems from looking for ways to increase performance, longevity and reduce maintenance costs. I am not a computing expert but have learnt a few things specifically for the purposes of rendering and CAD work and I will summarise these below as they may be helpful to you on your journey to buying a new rendering and design PC:
1). Laptops often have limitations in that unless you opt for the highest spec models the GPU & GPU memory is not upgradeable. Always check whether the GPU & GPU memory is a). upgradeable and b). good to begin with before purchasing a laptop for rendering and CAD. GPU upgradeability is important because of the speed the industry on the whole is advancing.
2). GPU and GPU memory is of crucial importance to rendering times and processing. To figure out where your graphics card marks against others in the industry use this website:
PassMark Software - Video Card Benchmarks - GPU Compute Video Cards
The results this website publishes are used industry wide & they are a reliable source for figuring out what graphics card is best for your budget.
3). CAD is generally CPU intensive (E.g. how many cores, motherboard, RAM) whereas rendering softwares are often GPU intensive (what GPU, GPU memory, RAM). If you want both, like myself, you will need to buy a computer that is capable all round.
4). I researched a lot of prebuilt PCs. I turned to Dell because their PCs seemed the most capable on paper. I looked into buying a refurbished Dell XPS8950 to save money however after more research I realised that although the XPS has some pretty capable looking part specifications it has a few major flaws. It uses an integrated motherboard which is non-upgradeable. This is important because if you want to upgrade the GPU you will sometimes also need to upgrade the motherboard. The build is also not conducive of airflow & only uses fans for cooling as standard. This means it runs hot. This means that over time with professional use parts fail more increasing your maintenance costs. The Precision range by comparison is built with longevity in mind however you pay for that longevity with significant price increases. I am on a budget so after these findings I turned to custom build options. I could not spare the time to build it myself so settled on using a (brilliant) computer repair shop in Oxford on the Cowley road called Computer Assistance which I would highly recommend. Computer repair shops will often be able to guide you & build your custom PC so highly recommend using one if you are relatively new to the custom build PC scene like myself. Here is the spec list they put together for me:
Custom Rendering PC
- Intel i7-12700 12-core Processor
- Liquid CPU Cooler
- 1TB PCIe Gen4 M.2 SSD
- 32GB (2x 16GB) DDR5-5600MHz RAM
- GeForce RTX 3080 10GB Graphics Card
- 1x HDMI / 3x DisplayPort Connectivity
- Windows 10 Pro
- 750W Semi-modular Power Supply
This came to around £2500 with additions to the motherboard to include Bluetooth and Wi-Fi. Apparently most custom built PCs use a wired in ethernet connection so it is good to check for this prior to purchase. After all this, what's the bottom line? How quickly will this custom PC render a scene in Keyshot with a side by side comparison against my Precision 3551 (with its NVIDEA Quadro P620 2GB GPU)?
Let's talk PC specifications
Precision 3551 Laptop above: 9 hours to render 700 samples on GPU mode (shown above - as rendered from Keyshot, no post processing). Samples per hour: 78 This image still came out with a fair bit of noise so did not post process it. It is a good test because it uses caustics which are notoriously difficult to calculate.
Custom Rendering PC Below: 3 hours to render 20,000 samples in GPU mode :O Samples per hour: 6,667. Based on this test, it can render a scene 85X faster than my laptop.
Cavieat 1: This is not a scientific test and in likelihood there may have been programs running the the background on my laptop or vice versa. This is only one test & more would be required to figure out the most accurate values.
Cavieat 1: Since these initial renderings the PC has slowed down a bit which is worth noting. I will update this Blog with the reason for this once I have figure it out.
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