Need advice for good comp spec to run Rhino + rendering

hi there, I have a plan to purchase a computer, it is time to throw away my 5 years old Laptop… I came across this brand “Dell precision Small Form Factor” its basically Xeon Workstation but its incredibly compact and small

the thing is I have been using desktop I7 4GB RAM and a couple of times my computer crashes especially when Im importing hundreds of curves from CAD topography map. I heard workstation is different from a normal desktop because you can stack more than 1 processor in a single computer (correct me if im wrong, I am no IT genious)
Can a workstation improve Rhino performance compared to normal I7 desktop?

also I am concerned whether a workstation is allowed to carry inside Airplane cabin. I often have to move from one country to another.
anybody can give me some good spec, with price about $1500 or maybe you can share your experience using your own built.


I know that Dell’s Precision series are very good computers, but whether they can have 1 or 2 processor chips depends on the specific model. The main difference between i7 and Xeon, I believe, is that the Xeon has more on-chip cache memory, which can speed up working with large models. There are other differences relating to security and enterprise administration. A bit of Googling and searching on Intel’s site can give you more specifics. The computer you show must be one of Dell’s newest offerings, so I will need to check it out! Thanks.

Hell yes! I like Dell stuff and always seem to have one of their workstations or laptops. For your work, definitely get 16 GB as a minimum and you’ll notice a difference. You mentioned large models and rendering, so 16GB is my personal minimum … and RAM is the cheapest bang-for-the–buck in the whole system.

Yeah, not sure I’d want to be dragging one of those things on an airplane, not to mention getting through security. And what about the monitor?

Xenon boxes seem to be better number crunchers (CAD calculations, rendering) than i7, though not sure you’ll notice. Multi cores - depends whether the app was written to take advantage of such. I think I read the developers intend to try and do more multi threading with v6. Google i7 vs Xenon and you can find lots of benchmarks to help you decide if the extra cost is worth it to you. You will find different scenarios.

If you are looking for the biggest bang for your funds, whichever processor you choose, consider not getting the highest speed version. Consider the lowest speed if the savings is significant and invest the difference in RAM, SSD and a really good display. 16gb minimum today (4gb could have been your real problem), 32 is better for the life of the box. SSD will make it “feel” fast, and the display…you’ll just enjoy a good one. It your primary interface to the machine after all.

You’ll definitely notice a difference rendering on a multi core box with most apps deigned to take advantage of such…I.e., Keyshot

I respectfully disagree. You are right in mentioning SSD, amount of RAM, video board in addition to CPU. The selection process needs to consider all these when optimizing performance and value for the user’s (buyer’s) mission. However, when it comes to CPU speed and Rhino, the fastest you can afford is the answer. With processor speeds available today covering a 2 or more to 1 range, the choice will result in Rhino running in direct proportion to the speed chosen. Rhino (as with all CAD programs) is not known for being too fast, nor even fast enough in some situations. Thus: my advice is to give a lot of weight to the processor speed.

Also keep in mind that an SSD is only beneficial when you are loading or saving a file, including the autosaving. If you work on files that take a long time to load and save you will probably appreciate it more than someone whose file takes only seconds to load.

Oh sure, I agree. If you got it and want/need it…max it.

I think we are essentially saying the same thing re “afford”. I get asked this question all the time. It is natural for people to jump for the highest megahertz, then skimp elsewhere, then wonder why their machine sucks wind when it runs out of ram, etc.

Based on the budget and intended use, Just evaluate the megahertz/cost differential and determine whether some of those funds are better applied by not getting the highest clock rate.

Each situation is different.

4GB RAM is rather paltry for modern computers. While Rhino does not take up much RAM while modeling, while rendering, it can more than double. If the hardware RAM runs out, and you run into virtual memory, your machine will be slowed greatly. I recommend 8 GB for small to 16 GB for moderate projects, and then you should be able to shut off Windows virtual memory altogether, for it does not use it wisely

[A Mac with a SSD should have 16GB for CAD or even serious browsing, as OSX will cross the 8GB line, even while even surfing sometimes, and not be shy about using the SSD for virtual memory, which will greatly accelerate its wear.]

Small computers have it hard as far as cooling. A machine that small may not like to raytrace all day, and/or it may not be very quiet while doing it. Look for 120mm or larger case fans.

IMHO, multiple CPU machines can be somewhat temperamental. They rule for raytracing, but are often beaten for design because of their fast single-core performance by something like a $320 i7-4790K chip.

The Xeon processor in the machine in the small case is a quad, which is fine for few renders a day. You may want more cores for a lot of raytracing, but the next step up would be something like a 8-core Intel Core i7-5960X, which is $1000 for the chip alone. There is a mini ITX X99 motherboard for it. This is a wonderful kind of insanity., but I’ll wait for MSI for make one, while I am accepting donations for a i7-5960 : )

If you only need a few raytraces here and there, a mobile workstation may work out for you, such as a Dell Precision or a Lenovo W541.

[I use a W540 laptop for Rhino, and I use a desktop for raytraced rotated animations using Rhino’s stock renderer. Four years of constant effort has made the new Intel processor about 15% faster than my 2600K, while a new $320 video card is about 220% faster than my GTX570.]

Some raytracers such as Arion use the GPU for raytracing, and this will be the way the wind is blowing as for your dollar, video cards generally have ten times the FLOPS than CPUs, but getting that to use in a small memory window can apparently be challenging.


wow, I got so many reply, thanks guys… I did a research on google about Xeon vs i7, most people say for single computer rendering I need to invest more on I7, while Xeon is more capable of running farm rendering. but you guys here clearly point out Xeon is better than I7. I also think because most 3D software would have some sort of simulation tool that takes up RAM therefor Xeon would be the best choice for this. Dell so far gives me the best spec with fair price.

so I would definetly get Dell precision series which is around 1700$ however I still dont know how to carry my workstation if I need to go abroad. for Monitor it is very easy to go through security pass in the airport, but I am not sure about the CPU.

the reason why I still use my 4GB Sony Vaio Laptop mainly for browsing only, but sometimes I do open RHino to just play around with the model while lying on my lovely bed.
I did use it for rendering though, 6 hours for 3000x2000 pxl with Vray. no disp/DOF. if I had workstation 32 GB I cant imagine how fast rendering time would be.

so Im very excited, thanks guys, you have convinced me, Xeon Workstation here I go.