Switching from Mac to PC. What PC Do I Need for 3D?

November 28, 2018 - By 

Nick is finally leaving his Mac for a PC, but he doesn’t know where to start. In this episode, Nick and Chad discuss their needs and options for new machines.

They’ll talk about third-party rendering, CPU vs GPU, and which upgrades you can afford skip and which ones are crucial.


Follow Us: iTunes | Android | RSS | Google Play

Want the specs on the machines they ordered?

Here are the specs from the custom machines they ordered from AVA Direct.

Nick’s AVA Direct PC

  • Obsidian Series 750D Airflow Edition w/ Window, No PSU, XL-ATX, Black, Full Tower Case
  • MEG X399 CREATION, AMD X399 Chipset, TR4, E-ATX Motherboard
  • RyzenTM ThreadripperTM 2990WX 32-Core 3.0 – 4.2GHz Turbo, TR4, 250W TDP, Processor
  • 2 x GeForce GTX 1080 Ti FTW3 ELITE GAMING BLACK, 1569 – 1683MHz, 11GB GDDR5X, Graphics Card
  • 64GB Kit (4 x 16GB) Trident Z DDR4 3200MHz, CL16, Black-White, DIMM Memory
  • 1200 P2, 80 PLUS Platinum 1200W, ECO Mode, Fully Modular, ATX Power Supply
  • Liqtech TR4 II 360, 360mm Radiator, 500W+ TDP, Liquid Cooling System
  • Diamond 7 Carat, 1.5g, 4.5 (W/m-K), Micronized Diamond, Thermal Compound
  • 1TB 970 PRO 2280, 3500 / 2700 MB/s, V-NAND 2-bit MLC, PCIe 3.0 x4 NVMe, M.2 SSD
  • 2TB 970 EVO 2280, 3500 / 2500 MB/s, V-NAND 3-bit MLC, PCIe 3.0 x4 NVMe, M.2 SSD
  • Windows 10 Pro 64-bit

Chad’s AVA Direct PC

  • Obsidian Series 750D Airflow Edition w/ Window, No PSU, XL-ATX, Black, Full Tower Case
  • MEG X399 CREATION, AMD X399 Chipset, TR4, E-ATX Motherboard
  • RyzenTM ThreadripperTM 2990WX 32-Core 3.0 – 4.2GHz Turbo, TR4, 250W TDP, Processor
  • 64GB Kit (4 x 16GB) Trident Z DDR4 3200MHz, CL16, Black-White, DIMM Memory
  • 1200 P2, 80 PLUS Platinum 1200W, ECO Mode, Fully Modular, ATX Power Supply
  • Liqtech TR4 II 360, 360mm Radiator, 500W+ TDP, Liquid Cooling System
  • Diamond 7 Carat, 1.5g, 4.5 (W/m-K), Micronized Diamond, Thermal Compound
  • 2 x GeForce RTXTM 2080 Ti XC GAMING, 1350 – 1635MHz, 11GB GDDR6, Graphics Card
  • 1TB 970 PRO 2280, 3500 / 2700 MB/s, V-NAND 2-bit MLC, PCIe 3.0 x4 NVMe, M.2 SSD
  • 2TB 970 EVO 2280, 3500 / 2500 MB/s, V-NAND 3-bit MLC, PCIe 3.0 x4 NVMe, M.2 SSD
  • Windows 10 Pro 64-bit

Want to learn more about all the hardware and software we use at Greyscalegorilla? Check out our resources page for much more.

Posted In:  
65  comments
65 Comments
  • Seriously going to follow this, was going to look at MacMini and Radeon Pro WX7100/Vega 64 in a eGPU but think I may have to switch to PC & Nvidia

  • Welcome to the bright side! 😀 Happy PC building!

  • Loved the video. As a long-time Mac and PC user for professional 3D I have tried many different approaches from self built PC’s to expensive Macs. Building yourself is definitely fun, if that’s your thing, but we have found that even if you know what you’re doing it’s not worth the time you spend till it runs perfectly considering warranty and insurance.

    We recently bought a maxed out Corsair One, which runs really well and is very quiet – it’s pretty close the Mac buying experience; not many configurations and everything just works when you unbox and turn on the machine. If you are going the route of having a dedicated network render machine for the serious horsepower, I think it’s a very capable machine with a form and noise factor pretty close to a mac.

    The one thing I would add to the setup is to get a UPS. In my opinion a very good thing to save your hardware and work. We have had a few power outages over the years and every time were so glad we had a UPS for each PC and Mac. For something like 300 bucks (APC Back-UPS Pro 1500) you can not only save yourself loosing work, but the equipment is actually better protected from other power-related issues. In my experience the easiest way for something to break in a PC is by a fault in the power supply or the power going in to the power supply. If the power goes down while you’re not there your computer can turn itself off gracefully. So yeah, I’d add that as an added insurance to any such expensive gear.

  • I dont get the reason to leavr macOS Nick 😉 Im render farm operations manager, we got more than 300 e5 4669 nodes with windows. There are sooo many issues, more then you can imagine. Were operating on almost every software on the market. Im supper happynl to run macOs – not win10 as my personal machine. No issues at all, super fine computer – with high end processor, gf 1080ti, tones of ram and so on. All what you should do – is just skip buying machine from apple. Build hackintosh with good specs – just based on intel cpu. You can still use macOs, render with Octane, and be super happy about stabilty and so on. There is no such things as „pc” or „mac”. Its just a case of components and installed system. As long term mac os, windows, and amiga user – i must say that still – mac os is closer to ideal system than win10

  • @Mike: Saying that windows machines are not stable but a hackintosh is must be the biggest understatement that I have ever seen.

    @Nick: Get AMP WinOff -> http://www.ampsoft.net/utilities/WinOFF.php
    It’s such a cool little tool that let’s you time the sleep/shutdown of your machine based on what it is doing. It’s free and saves me so much trouble, especially when rendering over night.

    The machines you guys have chosen are great beasts. I would have done some parts differently but that totally depends on what you need it for.

    Have fun!

  • Nick, I’m in the exaclty same spot right now. Always all things Apple. Terrified and annoyed about going to Windows. But instead of spending $8500 on an iMac Pro I now ordered a potent and upgradable PC AND the new Blackmagic Pocket camera with accessories for that same amount.
    You’re gonna miss quite a few workflow things that you were used to with a Mac but you’ll get used to it. Your fingers will get used to using your pinky instead of your thumb for combinations. It takes a lot of misses and swearing but it will come. Small tip: I installed this http://www.1218.io/ to get sort of a quicklook tool that I loved on Mac which was quite esseantial for me. Good luck & happy rendering!

  • Great video!
    Chad <3
    Nick, I'm so glad you're moving to PC.
    Right now I'm building my own rig at home and it's almost exactly as yours.
    Case: LIAN LI DYNAMIC 011 BLACK
    Motherboard: MSI MEG X399 CREATION
    Processor: RyzenTM ThreadripperTM 2990WX 32-Core
    GPU: MSI RTX 2080Ti TRIO
    PSU: EVGA SUPERNOVA 1200 P2
    Cooler: Liqtech TR4 II 360
    RAM: 64 GB G-SLILL TRIDENT Z. 16×4 DDR4 3200 MHz.
    Storage: 1TB 970 PRO, V-NAND PCIe 3.0 x4 NVMe, M.2 SSD
    1TB 970 EVO 2280, V-NAND PCIe 3.0 x4 NVMe, M.2 SSD, plus some more storage from my other machine.
    OS: WINDOWS 10 PRO 64 Bit.

    You're going to enjoy PC as much as we do.

    You all are my mentor.
    And hope to catch you some day in Chicago. (Just moved here). Happy building! (:

  • Hi, thanks for sharing the specs. How much does this configuration cost?

  • Almost the same amount of years and in the same dilemma. I identify a lot with what you think. I went even further, my current machine is a “HACKINTOSH” I built it with the idea to keep the OSX as operating system, but even so, I do not feel that the machine offer all the acceptable power and rendering time … For now i’m going to make the transition slowly, install Windows on a partition, and change the chip in my head.
    Greetings from Costa Rica, many years following you.
    Cinema 4d user since version 6.
    You’re not alone it’s hard, but definitely it is the best for the 3d business.

  • How much are those machines?

  • My stats are close to it. But it’s a good workstation for houdini not for C4D, you wont benefit from multiple cores in C4D viewport whatsover, you wouldn’t benefit in X-Particles Dynamics Simulation, for some reason they do suggest even disable cores while working inside C4D, e.g. explosia fx is super lagging. After Effects doesn’t benefit from multicores so much, the feature was ripped off starting from AE 2014. I would suggest to remove ENERMAX, there are tons of issues with leakage and corrosion. Apart from this Ryzen is a beast in Arnold and Houdini.

    My stats:
    Case Define R6
    CPU AMD Ryzen Threadripper 2950x
    MB Asus Zenith Rog Extreme X399
    RAM 64GB, G.Skill Trident Z 3200CL14
    Air Cooler Arctic Freezer 33 TR,
    Thermal Compound Arctic MX-4
    PSU Seasonic Prime Ultra 1300w
    NvME – 1TB 970 Samsung Pro
    NvMe – 500 GB 970 Samsung Evo
    2x nVidia Geforce 1080ti
    Case Coolers Noiseblocker eLoop Bionic – 3x140mm 1200 RPM + 3x120mm 800-2000 on CPU Fan
    Windows 10 Pro

  • Hi Andrew. X-particles 4 is very poorly optimized for Threadripper. Everything works slower than Intel.

  • I hope soon PC will move to “user and designer friendly” status.
    That was the real thing all about choosing a Mac. Mac wasted this rank though.

  • Hang on a second, I thought that Threadripper, couldn’t deal with RAM as fast as 3000Mhz? My supplier recommended I just get 2600.

    Anyway, having two of those Threadripper machines in our render setup has been a miracle, we spent like 3k on each of those machines and it means we can get a project out in a day rather than a week.
    Also as a nice aside, I authored a DVD on one of the machines the other day, and a job that normally takes 30-40 mins, was all done in like 5mins. What a time saver!

    Also it may be worth thinking about using a M.2 MVMe solid state drive as a boot drive, I think they’re something crazy like 5x faster than normal SSDs and comparable prices.

  • Same situation here. Work on both now, still prefer macOS, but the Radeon cards, nope, Redshift’s da sh*t! You won’t regret it 😉

  • I couldn’t be happier with my iMac Pro.

  • Love that greyscalegorilla have made this into a series.

    Going to learn loads of tips, like YURI KNEPPERS tip in the comments here about using your pinky for shortcuts rather than thumb on Mac.

    Don’t really understand why Chad is changing from 4 x 980ti to 2 x 2080ti which seems to give about the same speed on octane bench. But maybe performance will increase when octane / redshift is more optimised for RTX cards.

    For trying to work out a PC build I’ve found Puget System’s recommended builds really helpful such as https://www.pugetsystems.com/recommended/Recommended-Systems-for-Redshift-195/Buy_225

    Am I the only person holding out hope that 2019 Modular Mac Pro will support 2 x 2080ti and I can stay on Mac?

    • I can shed some light on that. I use this machine for look-dev which actually is faster with two cards rather than four. Crazy I know. But the Redshift Renderview interaction speeds slow as you add more cards (at least that was the case with my 4x980ti system). So I use this new machine for look development and use my 4x980ti machine to render on. Plus I’m using Arnold GPU (in beta) that uses the new RTX cores. Super speedy.

  • How long did they say it would take from order to shipping?

    Mac user here too. Been researching a Threadripper build for a few months now.

    AVADirect looks like a good choice with tons of options and reasonable pricing. May be worth it to use them to save the build time and have a warranty for peace of mind.

  • It would be nice if you could put at least approx costs for these setups. I emailed AVA last night, but have not heard anything yet. Seems like some of these configs cannot be reproduced on their site, so it’s not easy to find pricing.

  • Got a mac pro about 6 months ago. Found out about the external renderers for c4d recently. Further found out that my my graphics card isn’t supported by them.

    It sounded like Nick was looking at the same problem. I dread the switch I’m also looking at but this is very helpful for the inevitable process.

  • I couldn’t be happier with my iMac Pro

  • My only problem with the 2990WX is because it is using the same socket with 4 die you can only access 2 of the 4 memory controllers which means 2 die need to hop across and use the other two to access memory. The same goes for PCIE lanes. You have access 1/2 of them by hopping across the others. If you use your machine for more than production you might find it disappointing. Mostly with poorly multi threaded software. Other than that it’s pretty damn nice.

  • You would also run out of PCI lanes. The X399 platform only has 64 PCI lanes. 4 are reserved for the chipset (Ethernet, USB, SATA, and other minor functionality) and 4 for m.2 devices which leaves you with 56 and you have 2 M.2 drive so knock off another 4. That leaves 52 so at most you are putting 3 x16 cards.

  • Thanks GSG for the heads up with AVADirect. Had been researching and pricing out a Threadripper self-build system for a while now. With AVA’s pricing and support, it just made more sense to let them build it. Ordered a config almost identical to Chad’s. Great company to deal with so far. Looking forward to rip some threads. Will still use my Mac Pro trashcan for the light stuff.

  • Just buy an HP machine and make sure you buy a carepack.

    As that will give you reliable support for 3,4 years

    Self building is largely for hobbyists and the rare expert.

  • Wolf-Dieter Grabner December 3, 2018 at 2:41 pm

    I’m writing this on my MacBook Pro – with my multi GPU rig standing (turned off) next to me. Long story short: rendering performance with the PC is amazing, but for stuff like Photoshop I really prefer the Mac (silence! no ugly Windows 10!). Might switch the PC to Linux, but also not sold to this alternative, as quite a bunch of interesting tools is not available.

  • HeyYouGuys – Would you mind posting what kind of CPU temperatures you are seeing while CPU rendering? Hearing some conflicting information out there….

  • Linux with Houdini may be a better choice =))))))

  • …. traitor, why? …

  • I left Mac (as much as I like them) for the same reasons about 6 years ago. So much more speed and machine for the buck. Although I still prefer the Mac OS.
    I’m glad I made the switch, you will be too once you dial it in.
    Good luck!

  • If I am any example, you will have no regrets except for not switching sooner. I did it almost exactly one year ago and have been extremely pleased with everything.

    I’m a tinkerer but I’m no builder; I worked with Puget Systems and they put together a military-grade machine for me. It came with 2x1080ti and I added one more. The machine is built on Threadripper 1950x and has been 100% stable since day one.

  • Get HWMonitor for PC, for all the juicy details of your machine operations.

    also very useful is Free Download Manager (10+ Connections for uber-sized downloads, very fast file transferring)

    I was in the same boat Nick — jumped off the Apple VFX Titantic six years ago. You will work 100,000x faster now. Go ahead and buy another 2 GPU cards….you will in the very near future want them. Double your rendering speed!

    Welcome to the PC Near-realtime world. Redshift+C4D is F’n Brilliant and worth every penny.

  • I prefer the Mac a lot. In my opinion the render speed is not so important because I use only a MacBook Pro for all my stuff. Bigger projects I render on the farm. I works perfect for me, without any thinking about hardware configuration.

  • There doesn’t need to be any “leaving” of the Mac for a PC.

    I’ve been using Macs for 25 years. Two years ago, I got into the GPU rendering craze and built my own PC with 4x1070s. It’s dang fast. But it didn’t make me retire my 2013 Mac Pro. I only use the PC for Cinema 4D, and the PC networks seamlessly with the Macs. Cinema 4D on the PC is basically exactly the same as on the Mac, but the Apple-Key vs Control-key keyboard shortcuts need to be managed or learned.

    While I rarely have any problems with the dozen Macs that are running here, the lone PC has eaten itself twice with failed Windows 10 updates, and needed a full OS rebuild.

    They can coexist just fine.

  • Good luck Nick

    I’ve been on a Mac since the IIfx (the what), so a long time! 1990

    I also LOVE my iMacPro, and with eGPUs it rocks. Hoping on hope that ProRender ends up a high end competitor for final renders; and or eventually NVidia cards will be supported.

    It’ll be fun to watch your journey…

  • Hi guys,

    Have been on the 2990wx for a few weeks now to and I must say it’s an absolute render beast!

  • At AVA Direct I didn’t see a MEG X399 CREATION, AMD X399 Chipset, TR4, E-ATX Motherboard. What now?

  • @VINNYMAC
    It’s there. Go to Products > Workstations > Tower Workstations
    First choice is the Threadripper. Select that and configure it to your liking.

  • Sold my iMac Pro and bought a better PC for slightly less than I paid Apple.

    Absolutely over the moon with my new build which is now running 2x 2080ti cards!

  • Great post guys, also been looking into PC options since coming across the 32 core Threadripper! Looks like a beast! Will look forward to seeing how you get on…

  • So it’s like $8800 i assume 🙂
    Without monitor and other peripherals…

  • I’m running a 980ti and have been holding off on upgrading. I’ve been reading a lot about 2080ti’s high failure rate. Anyone experiencing issues with their cards or is it safe to jump in?

  • Hi, another longtime graphic designer and Mac user here (1988+). I’m a bit stuck – years of legacy files and squillions of type 1 fonts etc so have to pretty much stay Mac (but becoming hugely frustrated with Apple’s attitude and offerings). I’ll watch your progress with great interest and continue to torture myself by spec’ing and costing PC systems and then comparing them to what the Apple store can offer,

    Anyway, I came to your site (and C4D) years ago as it offered ways to make stuff look great without being a specialist. Increasingly C4D seems to be becoming a PC thing and not being that was one of its original draws for me. I’m also finding increasingly that C4D tuts are requiring Octane / Redshift etc. I get that and I understand that’s where the future is for specialist mograph bods but I guess this is a request not forget those of us who are still stuck with Physical etc and comparatively slower Mac hardware for rendering as you produce your excellent tutorials.

    • Thanks for the comment! We have tons of vids for those who aren’t partaking in the 3rd Party rendering stuff. Also, our latest R20 training uses stock C4D Studio. No plugins. Hope that helps!

  • Good build advice but go one step further and create a Linux machine.
    GPU rendering software is faster given the identical hardware

  • Great video guys, thanks!

    One comment, couple questions:

    I use both Mac & PC(s) – PC’s for Solidworks, COMSOL, Matlab and C4d – primarily Redshift now. I still enjoy using my Mac for coding/science apps and general business/browsing. In particular, there are so many features of OSX that I find far more enjoyable to use compared to Windows 10, and also the variety of indie apps that aide in productivity – Omnifocus, Default folder, Path Finder, and so on. Im thinking of getting the new Mac Mini and not stressing over the lack of a decent GPU.

    Now, the question! I have a first gen thread ripper, and also two 1080ti cards – very satisfied with the build. However, something I hardly ever hear discussed – how the hell do you fit more than one NVIDIA gen 9/10 card in a standard ATX build? Sure, I have enough PCI lanes (wasn’t discussed, but very important), and enough slots, but theres no way in heck to fit two of these monsters in a typical setup, as far as I can see – in my case, first two cards take two slots, but eliminate putting anything in the 3rd because of clearance – and its a no go with 4th slot (closest to power supply), as cards are two wide to fit.

    Using Define R5 case – positive reviews – but standard ATX – I would presume you need a., large case so that power supply doesn’t pose clearance, but also a MB that has more clearance between PCI slots?

  • As someone that has moved from PC to Mac to PC to Mac… I can guarantee you will hate it.

    Nonsensical error codes from the 1980s
    Horrible control panels ( in 2 completely different styles )
    That time that a windows updates takes 2 hours… and then completely borks your machine.
    That time you install a video card driver and it automatically installs dozens of awful bloatware apps… that look like they were designed by a fast and furious car Pimp.
    Terrible font management
    No custom system wide keyboard shortcuts.
    Your fingers will hate you as none of your shortcuts are the same – you can get keyboard spoofing things to swap windows and CRTL… but they never work.
    The file explorer is horrible
    No spacebar quick preview
    no spaces / full screen

    I get that when you are in an app it’s basically the same… and yes you can get faster PCs for less money than a Mac.. and I get that if Apple don’t bring out a proper Mac Pro (or e-gpu) that supports Nvidia or Nvidia update their web drives – and therefore Redshift octane then there could be major problems…

    But hey you could run 3D Studio Max if you wanted… so that’s ok

  • Chad,

    How long have you been using Dropbox like that? Have you not experienced any file corruption through syncing errors, etc. I work off a Synology box via 1GB network with a local temp cache volume, but was looking into investing into a 10GB setup, but just using fast local storage and a Dropbox account sounds better, if there aren’t corruption problems.

    • I’ve been working off Dropbox for over two years. Haven’t had many issues. I really love having everything at my fingertips.

  • Thanks guys for this video and discussion when it came up. I don’t do much beyond dabbling in 3D but have also just now placed an order for a pc from avadirect. I’m still keeping my 5 year old Mac for now since it’s still holding up. My reason to go to windows is I needed support for oculus rift. I’ve been doing more work with storyboards and concept art for VR projects but was limited because I couldn’t use the headset to know what things were looking like in VR. Anyway, after being uncertain to what I needed for a pc, I saw this video and called avadirect that week. On the phone, Kyle helped put something together that serves my purpose and budget. Much different machine than yours but I liked dealing with a real person and getting what I need and not some random gaming pc from a Black Friday sale.

  • barkingsheltiegmail-com December 10, 2018 at 10:17 pm

    Chad,
    To get unlimited, you have to pay for min 5 users. Is that correct?

    I have the personal pro, but its 2 tb only; Ive been looking at Box, since their unlimited plan is a bit cheaper.

  • Hi Nick and Chad,
    i plan to build a new PC and i´m very interested in your setup.
    I heard, the ram speed is limit with the AMD 2990WX to 2600MHz.
    Why are you using such fast Ram.
    And what are the Pros of the Mainboard?
    Thank You,
    and Best Regards
    Peter

    • We set our systems up this way on Shawn Astrom’s recommendation. He’s a super talented dude who knows far more about memory speed than us 🙂

  • Leave a Reply

    Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

    This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.