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Render Farm setup

Andrew West

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I am tired of waiting for my renders to output and thinking about setting up my own render farm.  I have been eyeing the systems from Boxx but every time I start customizing my system the price starts to get up there pretty high.   I could buy 6 HP computers with decent i7 processors for the price of one Boxx render node.   I would like to poll those of you that have tackled this problem to see what you have invested in and how you set it up.  And of course the cost vs speed comparison.  In addition I am usually just outputting my images through Form.z but thinking of going to Maxwell for quality reasons so that should be taken into account. 


So the questions are as follows:


Number of cores vs. processor speed vs cost?

i7 vs. Xeon processors?

Number of machines to buy?

Home build  or off the shelf?

If off the shelf what brand?  (not Apple!)

Do you use a dedicated ethernet switch?

Is it possible to do this for under $5000?

Have you run into power supply issues on one circuit?

Do you run into cooling issues?


Thanks for the help.




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Hi Andrew,


RenderZone does well with up to 8 cores on a single computer, and does support more but at some point beyond that there can be diminishing returns.  

Maxwell scales a little better, and should be able to take advantage of as many cores as are available.

Use the following web link to compare the relative speed of different available CPU's and their approximate pricing:


At this moment, this processor seems to be one of the best values, while still giving fast performance:



We don't recommend specific brands, but personally I prefer to build myself (if you have time and knowledge) as you will generally end up with better quality and ease of updating in the future if necessary -- but this may end up costing more (at least in the short run) if you factor in your time.


You don't need a dedicated switch unless you have massive traffic in other areas of your network, and standard household cooling should be fine as long as you leave some space between the computers.  (If you are packing them all into a closet, then you will need to provide some additional cooling.)


You should also be able to get a well spec'd computer at or under $1000 each, so with a $5000 budget, you should be able to get 5 or 6 machines for your Farm, which should speed up renderings quite a bit.

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