Learning how to create digital 3D models and render them opens up a whole world of possibilities. With this knowledge, you can easily branch off into game design, animation, or 3D printing.
Unfortunately, even if you already know how to render digital models, you won’t be able to get very far without a computer capable of doing it.
Ironically, the specifications needed for 3D modeling and 3D rendering are somewhat contradictory. Modeling works best on CPUs with a few, powerful cores that can be overclocked to meet the performance needs of the program you are using.
Rendering, on the other hand, requires a CPU with lots of smaller, less powerful cores.
With recent innovations that allow some programs to render using the GPU instead of the main processor, it is now possible to have a computer capable of doing both, but often for the best results, you will need to build your own.
If you are new to 3D rendering, then it is probably best to start with a pre-built computer while you are still learning the basics.
So if you still find the prospect of building your own PC from scratch slightly daunting read on to discover five of the best computers and laptops for 3D rendering.
We’ll also be going through all the basic components that you will need to optimize your computer for creating and rendering digital artwork.
OUR TOP PICK
It should come as no surprise that gaming computers make some of the best machines for 3D modeling and rendering. Any PC optimized for playing modern games will often come kitted out with all the latest and greatest hardware and the Omen is no exception.
This tower has a 9th generation intel core as well as an Nvidia GeForce graphics card, both of which will be more than capable of rendering 3D digital models.
A 2TBhard drive is included alongside the 1TB solid state drive(SSD) to provide an abundance of memory space. This makes the computer more responsive and allows it to operate smoothly even when pushed to its limits.
Extra hard drive space is a great thing to have for digital artwork since 3D modeling software tends to use up a lot of memory. The Omen has 32GB of RAM which means you will be able to create and render more complex models composed of more polygons.
Not only is this PC incredibly powerful, but it also looks great with its sleek angular design and a tempered glass side plate so you can see the interior. There is a total of 6 USB ports all of which are superspeed versions.
This offers quick data transfer in case you need to copy across 3D modeling files from another computer. When you buy this computer you will also receive a wired keyboard and optical mouse.
Dimensions (in): 16.6(l) x 6.5(w) x 17(h)
CPU: Intel i9-10900K
GPU: Nvidia GeForce RTX 3080 (choice of RTX 3090 for a higher price)
RAM/VRAM: 32GB RAM + 10GB VRAM
Hard Drive: 1TB SSD + 2TB hard drive
Warranty: 1-year limited hard drive warranty
- Extra 2 TB hard drive for faster performance speed and more memory.
- Comes with the latest Nvidia graphics card and a high-end Intel processor.
- 6 superspeed USB ports.
- The cooling system has trouble keeping up with the CPU.
This computer lacks the top-of-the-line gaming specs of the model we just looked at. That said if you have a program that allows you to render using the GPU, then the Nvidia GeForce GTX 6660 super in this machine is more than up to the job.
The CPU is less optimally configured for rendering, having only 6 cores, but the advantage is that this makes it very good for creating 3D models.
One aspect of this PC that may need modifying before it can be used for 3D rendering is the RAM. With only 16GB, your software may take a long time to load unless you buy an upgrade for at least 32GBs.
The 500GB SSD may also need supplementing, but this extra cost is worth it for the powerful main processor and GPU.
With a tempered glass case and a light-up interior, this PC looks absolutely spectacular, and it is easy to customize however you please. There are 6 available USB ports as well as HDMI inputs for up to 4 monitors.
If you are looking to start learning how to 3D render without breaking the bank, then the SkyTech Blaze II is a great place to start.
Dimensions (in): 24(l) x 12(w) x 24(h)
CPU: 3.6 GHz Ryzen 5 3600
GPU: Nvidia GeForce GTX 6660
RAM/VRAM: 16GB RAM + 6GB VRAM
Hard Drive: 500GB SSD
Warranty: 1-year warranty on parts and labor
- Can power up to 4 monitors.
- Contains 3 fans to prevent overheating.
- You may need to upgrade the memory space and RAM to use this computer for 3D rendering.
A few years ago 3D rendering was only possible on towers and other large PCs. Since then laptops have come a long way, and the GL65 Leopard makes a great portable workstation for digital artwork.
The only part of this laptop that is lacking is the memory space, but there is a port on the bottom for adding an ultra-slim 2.5 Hard Drive or SSD so this problem can be easily solved.
This laptop sports a 10th generations Intel processor that helps to power the 15.6in 144Hz screen. With this, you can create fairly complex digital models complete with detailed textures.
While the 16GB of included RAM is somewhat limited for 3D rendering, it can be easily supplemented. The leopard is capable of accomodating up to 64GB of RAM, meaning you can easily customize it for all your specific needs.
There are 4 available USB ports for transferring files and 3D digital models that you want to render. You can also hook this laptop to an external monitor via the HDMI port if you want a bigger screen to work on.
By far the most impressive feature of this machine is the cooling system which utilizes two fans and seven cooling pipes. Thanks to this innovative design, one thing you will never have to worry about is the Leopard overheating.
Dimensions (in): 14(l) x 9.8(w) x 1.8(h)
CPU: 5GHz Intel i7-10750h
GPU: Nvidia RTX 3070
RAM/VRAM: 16GB RAM + 8GB VRAM
Hard Drive: 512GB NVMe SSD
Warranty: 1-year limited
- Compact and portable.
- 4 USB ports and HDMI for connecting to an external monitor.
- Advanced cooling system.
- There is a port on the bottom for adding an extra hard drive or SSD.
- May need extra RAM to be used for 3D rendering more complex models.
This tower made by Dell may not look as stylish as some of the other computers we’ve looked at, but it is a formidable machine nonetheless.
It sports a 10th generation intel processor with 8 cores, which is the minimum you require to render on your CPU instead of the graphics card. If you prefer to use your GPU for 3D rendering then the Dell has you covered with an Nvidia GeForce GTX 1660 super.
You can overclock the processor, which basically means you can run it at full potential for intensive gaming sessions. This feature is also great for 3D modeling which often requires a few of the available cores to be running at maximum efficiency.
There are ten USB ports many of which are capable of superspeed data transfers.
The back of the machine has plenty of vents to allow for airflow, and the large fan installed in the rear will help to prevent your machine from overheating.
With this machine you will never have to worry about memory space again, as you have the choice of selecting 64GB of RAM should you wish.
There is also the option to have a 1TB SSD plus an additional 2TB of hard drive space, meaning you can run lots of programs on this machine at once without making a dent in the available memory.
Dimensions (in): 12.1(l) x 6.7(w) x 14.5(h)
CPU: Intel Octa-Core i7-10700
GPU: NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1660 SUPER
RAM/VRAM: 64GB RAM + 6GB VRAM
Hard Drive: 1TB SSD + 2TB hard drive
Warranty: 1-year limited
- Large memory capacity for running 3D modeling software.
- 10 USB ports.
- Easy to disassemble and customize however you wish.
- The case doesn’t look as impressive as some of the competition.
3D modeling will only utilize a few of the available cores in your processor, which is why it can be very helpful to have the ability to overclock these cores when necessary.
The Alienware Aurora is designed for handling intense workloads on both the processor and graphics card, which makes it great for gaming and more than capable of 3D rendering as well.
It only comes with 16GB of RAM, which is fine for beginners and can be easily supplemented if needed.
In fact, everything about this machine is easy to customize and repair yourself thanks to the stylish chassis that can be opened without the use of tools.
Once you are inside, you will find up to five ports for adding additional memory as well as easily released locking arms on the GPU should you wish to replace that as well.
Not that you will be needing a graphical upgrade with an inbuilt Nvidia GeForce RTX 2070 capable of delivering stunning 4K resolution.
This computer has a 256GB SSD as well as a 2TB hard drive, ensuring you are unlikely to run out of available memory. There are a total of 13 USB ports so you can connect as many devices and flash drives as you need and probably still have more to spare.
The chassis is designed to offer great ventilation and prevent the machine from overheating. Sadly the fan is a bit loud compared to some of the other machines on this list, but this is a small price to pay for such a powerful PC.
Dimensions (in): 14.2(l) x 8.3(w) x 18.6(h)
CPU: Intel i7 9700
GPU: NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2070
RAM/VRAM: 16GB RAM + 8GB VRAM
Hard Drive: 256GB SSD + 2TB hard drive
Warranty: 1-year limited
- A 2 TB hard drive offers lots of memory space.
- Chassis is designed to provide excellent ventilation and prevent overheating.
- The case can be opened without tools allowing for easy customization.
- The fan can be very noisy
CPU Vs GPU Rendering
It used to be the case that all 3D rendering had to take place on the CPU. While rendering, the workload is spread across all the available cores a processor has in individual packages called ‘buckets’.
Once one core has completed its bucket it will move on to the next one. To do this quickly and conveniently you need a CPU with at least 8 cores, although having more is highly recommended.
Unfortunately, this is the opposite of what you need in a good processor for 3D modeling, which only uses one or two of the available cores. For this, you want to have a CPU with a few solid cores that can be overclocked for maximum performance.
This is why some 3D digital modeling programs now offer the option to render on the GPU instead of the main processor.
GPUs naturally contain lots of smaller, weaker cores, which makes them well suited to the task of rendering. Only a few programs have this option at present, but it is becoming increasingly popular as it allows digital artists to have computers well suited to both tasks.
If you want to render on your GPU you should make sure the machine you buy has one made by Nvidia. Some software can work well with other graphics card’s but all of them work with Nvidia models so they make the best choice if you want to avoid compatibility issues.
RAM And VRAM
RAM stands for random access memory and it acts as your computer’s short-term memory storage.
This means it dedicates itself to storing information that your machine is currently working on. 3D modeling software can put a heavy tax on your PC so you will want one with at least 16GB of RAM to avoid latency and frequent crashes.
Happily, RAM is one of the easiest things to modify on a computer. Upgrading it is often simply a case of buying a new RAM kit and plugging it into the available ports inside your machine.
VRAM is the specific RAM accessed by the graphics card. If you are rendering on your GPU you will want a card that has at least 8GB of VRAM to ensure everything goes smoothly.
You want plenty of space on the computer’s main memory drive which comes in two forms, standard hard drives and solid-state drives (SSDs). If possible you will want a machine that has a decent SSD so you can run your 3D modeling software through it for faster response times.
If a particular computer is lacking in this area then don’t worry, most of them have spare ports on the inside for adding additional hard drives and SSDs.
As we said above, 3D modeling and rendering can take a heavy toll on your PC. This is why it is essential to make sure the model you buy has a sufficient cooling system to prevent overheating.
Having multiple fans can help with this, but watch out because having too many will make your computer very loud.
Frequently Asked Questions
What Is 3D Rendering?
3D rendering is the final step of creating a fully animated 3D digital model. It is the process of converting the 3D model into a 2D image on your screen capable of animating and moving around.
Many digital models are made up of multiple polygons and they take a lot of processing power to display on your screen. Rendering compresses the model into a 2D image to make it easier to view on your computer’s processor.
What Programs Will Let Me Render On My GPU?
GPU rendering is a relatively new feature in the world of digital art. It is becoming increasingly popular since it is faster and allows artists to keep their CPUs for creating 3D models.
All 3D modeling software comes with its own inbuilt rendering engine. Here are some of the most popular engines capable of GPU rendering.
- V-ray RT
- Furry Ball
It is worth noting that not all of these programs will be compatible with AMD GPUs, but all of them will work perfectly well with a graphics card made by Nvidia. As this form of rendering becomes more popular support for other GPUs will likely become available.
That said if you plan on using your graphics card to render your 3D models, it is best to go with an Nvidia model to avoid compatibility issues.