abstract image of time to speed up rendering time

Rendering Time: Tips to Speed Up 3D Renders

Paul TiceMultimedia, Rendering, Animation Leave a Comment

You’re working on a tight deadline to submit a proposal for a new building project. The firm has spent several weeks designing and modeling the building in 3D software, but when it comes time to render the final images and animations, the rendering time takes much longer than expected.

Unfortunately, you can’t meet the proposal deadline, which puts the project at risk.

Slow rendering time doesn’t just contribute to missed deadlines. You might have to delay important design decisions and adjustments. This can lead to mistakes and missed opportunities to improve the project, ultimately resulting in a low-quality final product.

If you want to speed up rendering time, you’re in the right place. Read on to learn tips to speed up 3D renders so your projects don’t miss a beat.

Why Does 3D Rendering Take So Long?

With everything else in the world happening at warp speed, you might ask yourself, “Why does 3D rendering take so long?

Many factors impact the time to render 3D visualizations. 3D rendering involves complex calculations and simulations that are computationally intensive and requires a lot of processing power.

The process of rendering involves creating a 2D image or animation from a 3D model. It simulates the way light interacts with objects in the scene. That then determines the color, texture, and shading of each surface.

The rendering process involves many steps, including geometry processing, material assignment, lighting setup, and ray tracing, which can take a lot of time to complete.

The more complex the scene, the longer the rendering process can take.

If you need highly realistic visualizations, be prepared to spend more time in the 3D rendering process. These renders need high-resolution textures, realistic lighting, and accurate physics simulations.

How to Speed Up 3D Rendering Time

Now that you have a handle on why 3D rendering takes so long, let’s look at ways to speed up the 3D rendering process.

Let’s begin with the type of 3D rendering software that you’re using.

The primary types are CPU or GPU driven. A CPU-based rendering tool uses the central processing unit for rendering, whereas a GPU-based tool relies on the graphics processing unit.

Is GPU or CPU rendering better?

In most situations, GPU rendering is faster than CPU rendering because GPUs have thousands of small processing cores that can perform parallel computations faster than CPUs.

Complex 3D scenes that require a lot of data processing are a good fit for GPU rendering tools.

There are some exceptions. There are CPU-based rendering tools like V-Ray that can render some GPU rendering tools faster, especially in scenes that have complicated lighting.

Another consideration is the actual CPU and/or graphics card being used. High-end GPUs will outperform low-to-mid-range CPUs and vice-versa.

Mastering the Hardware Setup

3D rendering is a marriage between your software and hardware. You choose the software based on the project’s needs and other factors. The rest comes down to hardware.

There are several ways to optimize the hardware. For instance, a high-end CPU that contains a lot of threads and cores improves performance.

A premium graphics card with a powerful GPU with a large amount of VRAM (Video Random Access Memory) and CUDA (Compute Unified Device Architecture).

VRAM stores the data and instructions needed for rendering images and video on a computer screen.

CUDA is a model created by NVIDIA. Programmers can use the GPU for general computing tasks. This is helpful when it comes to 3D rendering.

RAM (Random Access Memory) is essential for 3D rendering. In this case, more is better. That’s because the more RAM you have, the faster it takes for the computer to process large amounts of data.

You should shoot for at least 16 GB of RAM, even though the minimum requirement for many 3D rendering tools is only 8 GB. If you have a lot of complex rendering projects, increase the number to 32 GB.

The storage drive contains all of the files and bytes of data to render projects. A slow hard drive will slow down rendering times.

In 3D rendering terms, the rendering software reads and writes data from the storage drive. A slow drive results in slower rendering times.

SSD and NVMe Drives

SSDs (Solid State Drives) are the fastest drives available today. The standard protocols for SSDs is called SATA (Serial Advanced Technology Attachment) and NVMe (Non-Volatile Memory Express)

NVMe is a protocol designed specifically for solid-state drives. It provides faster data transfer rates and lower latency compared to SATA.

A traditional hard disk drive stores data on a spinning disk, similar to a record player. To retrieve data, the disks would spin and spin, get the data, and deliver it to the CPU.

SSD and NVMe drives use flash memory to store data. They don’t have moving parts, so they last longer and move faster than a traditional drive.

NVMe drives can deliver read and write speeds of up to six times faster than traditional SATA SSDs, making them a great choice for the demands of 3D rendering.


Overclocking is when you deliberately override the manufacturer’s clock speed on a processor to make it perform faster.

Overclocking can increase processing power and increase 3D rendering times. It can also save money on upgrades and improve rendering performance.

This is an option to speed up rendering times but only do this if you know what you’re doing. You take on a lot of risk with this option.

Overclocking does cause the GPU and CPU to use more power. This also generates more heat, so you run the risk of burning out the GPU and CPU. It can void the warranty of the graphics card and CPU, and shorten the lifespan of the hardware.

Your system can become less stable, leading to crashes and data loss.

You should only do this if you have experience building computers. The process requires you to adjust the clock speed, voltage, and fan speeds of the CPU and GPU.

Cooling Systems

With all of that firepower running in a box, it’s important to make sure that the hardware stays cool. That prevents the machine from overheating, shutting down, or destroying expensive hardware parts.

The most common (and least expensive) way to cool a computer is with air cooling. This system has a heatsink and fan to dissipate heat generated by the CPU and GPU. This might not be enough for high-performance systems.

With this system, you need to ensure the fans are placed in the right place to maximize performance. Be sure to balance airflow with intake fans bringing in cool air and exhaust fans expelling hot air.

Another approach to cooling a computer is liquid cooling. This system has a closed-loop or custom loop system to circulate liquid coolant through a radiator and water block to cool the CPU and GPU.

This provides better cooling performance than air cooling and is ideal for high-performance systems and overclocking.

Ambient cooling uses ambient air, such as from a window or outside, to cool the system. This is never used in isolation because the temperature has to be cool enough to keep the CPU and GPU cool. Even in colder environments, you need an air cooling or liquid cooling system.

If you have multiple computers in the same room, such as a server room, the room will be temperature controlled to prevent overheating.

Which system is right for you? You’ll find that many high-end computers have liquid cooling or a combination of air and liquid cooling systems.

You’ll want to assess the temperature of your CPU and GPU when you render and during regular usage. If the temperatures are high, then you’ll want to upgrade to another cooling system.

Create a Rendering Farm

Rendering farms are networks of computers that work together to render large-scale projects. Since you’re using several computers, the computing tasks get spread out between them.

That reduces rendering times a great deal. Keep in mind that rendering farms are expensive, even though they can improve productivity.

You’ll have to weigh the costs of the rendering farm against the benefits. For example, it would be worth the investment for a large firm that frequently renders complex projects.

For a firm that doesn’t rely on complex rendering projects, it might not be worth the investment.

If you do find that a rendering farm is worth the investment, be aware that it takes several steps to set one up.

Start by knowing the hardware and software needed to build the rendering farm, including servers, workstations, rendering software, and networking equipment. Be sure to select equipment that is compatible with the rendering software being used.

Another decision is whether you build the machines in-house or purchase them. This will affect the budget and time it takes to get the rendering farm up and running.

The IT architecture choices are between centralized and distributed rendering. With centralized rendering, you have a single server that manages all rendering tasks.

Distributed rendering uses several computers to complete rendering.

Once the hardware is set up and the software is installed, it’s time to test the rendering farm. You can try out different renders and set testing benchmarks. That will ensure your system doesn’t get bogged down over time.

Subscribing to a 3rd Party Render Farm

There are many options for outsourcing your rendering to already established render farms. Here are a few that you might want to consider:

  • Rebus Farm
  • Fox Renderfarm
  • GarageFarm
  • Blendergrid

Some of these services are proprietary and only allow renders from their own software such as Autodesk. Some farms are open and accept files from a variety of sources.

It’s Possible to Speed Up 3D Rendering Times

Before you ask yourself, “Why does 3D rendering take so long,” you can rest easy knowing that it is possible to increase rendering times.

Make sure that you have the right hardware setup, and follow the tips in this guide to make sure rendering times don’t delay your projects.

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