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Time for a new computer?

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I just finished a project for a client. For each view that I rendered and then printed it cost me 90 minutes. I was literally up the entire night to finish getting the materials together for the presentation.

I have a Dell 8300 that is some 5 years old. 350mhz processor, 3 gig ram that I can bump up to 4 and a 256 geforce. SOoo question is ... Should I buy a larger video card and bump the Ram to 4 gigs or am I throwing good money after bad and the increase in performance would be negligible? Obviously I would like to save some moeny so if I can aget away with some modification and upgrade to my current computer then I would like to hold out another 6 months .. but that all nighter .... STUNK!


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I have been there a few times over the years. I have learned to shoot for efficiency in the model to help speed up rendering. Some methods of modeling take less time to render than others, even while yielding similar results. That processor speed does sound slow for today (I started my ray-trace rendering career with the Mac equivalent of a 66mhz 486). If you haven't experimented to see if you can slim down the complexity of the model, it would be worth the time to experiment regardless of whether you upgrade or buy new. If your model is as streamlined as possible now, a much faster processor(s) will be the key to speeding up the rendering.

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Yes GH that is my computer and at the time I had bought the second one down .. If that makes sense.. there was the best processor and then one under it which I bought. I am running XP and Vector works 11. My gut says there are alot of $600 dollar systems out there right now which at least to me sound pretty impressive .. But like many of you I am sure ... I have a lot of speculative design drawings on the street but until one of them pops ... I need to keep spending down where I can.

I am soooooo new to really using vectorworks for anything outside of ground plans and elevations so ..

RKraybill what do you mean about slimming down the complexity .. I mean I know what complexity means but what kinds of things are you eliminating or modifying ... Make it simple enough for my poor neophyte behind to understand.

Here are some images of the latest model ... I hope by looking at them you can tell me what you mean by slimming and perhaps someone can tell me .. nah .. for that stuff just get a new video card for a 100 bucks!


Oh and I switched the disk that was using virtual memory to the one that had a lot more open space and allocated 5000MB


Edited by Boriqua
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One issue that crops up is making background objects and images too complex. If you are adding image shaders/textures to objects, you don't need high resolution images if the final rendered image of that object is small. Adding lights is very helpful to the rendering quality, but can kill you on rendering time (you have to find a balance on that) - and some light sources may not need to have "cast shadows" turned on - another time savings. Objects with transparency and reflection take a lot of time to render - don't apply chrome shaders to background objects that are hardly noticeable in the final renderings. Spend your complexity wisely.

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brudgers is correct. The real difference in rendering time is all up to the processor, as well as RAM. The video card is only going to make a diffrence while you are modelling, and will not effect your render time.

gh is also correct that the standard flavor of XP can only address 3.2 gigs of ram, but Vista (should you get a new machine) will address quite a bit more. Don't know the max, but you could certainly go with 8 gigs.

As attractive as the $600 machine may look, I've found spending a bit more will keep you happy longer, before you find your self needing a new one. For a desktop it's about getting the processor first - you can always upgrade your drives, videocard, and ram later, but it's the processing speed you will be living with.

Keep an eye on the differences in the size of the cache and the bus speed - this will make the most difference in rendering times.

Good luck

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The first thing that I'd look at is THAT TREE! How was it modeled? If you want render times to decrease, make that thing as simple as you can. Not sure if it's possible, given the unique nature of the tree, but I suspect that using an image prop would do wonders for your rendering times.

What kind of render settings are you using? Final Quality Renderworks? If so, you can tweak things a bit using Custom Renderworks to make things go a bit quicker. Turn Curve detail down a low as you can while maintaining smooth enough curves. Try using Shadow Mapped Shadows. If you use Ray Traced Shadows, turn down Sampling Quality as low as you can stand. Turn off Final Gather. You'll be amazed at how little difference some of these things will have on quality and how much impact they'll have on time.

How are you lighting the model? It looks like you have more than one light casting shadows. Turn off shadow casting on as many lights as you can.

USE SYMBOLS! Make a symbol out of anything that you have more than one of.

What DPI are your final renderings? Usually, between 150 & 240 is enough. I have yet to need anything greater than 300.

As others have said, processor speed (and number of processors) is going to make the greatest difference.

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If you truly are running a 350MHz machine, you need to upgrade the machine. Nothing you do with cards or more memory will make enough of a difference to be worth even considering.

If you want to stay inexpensive, consider buying used. You should be able to get a 1GHz + machine that will speed you up by a factor of 3 or more for less than $200, maybe even less than $100. Try Craigslist.com

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