What do you use for VFX hardware?


My background is mixed between business, IT, and traditional fine arts; I’ve never worked in a VFX studio. I’ve been interested in VFX for a long time and I’m noodling it in my free time.

I built myself a computer to do this, but I have no idea how it compares to what ‘grown-ups’ use in the real world. I only had about a $1000, so obviously there were compromises. I had a couple drives, so it kept the cost down a little.

So I ended up with:

Dell Precision T5610
Dual Xeon 2687w v2’s, 16c/32t, 3.4Ghz
64GB ram
1TB SSD, 4TB HDD, 512GB NVME swap drive
RTX 2070 8GB

Just starting out, I’m not really making it work very hard yet. But I’m wondering if it’s good enough to get me through to pro level projects, or if I need to start my replacement fund now :smiley:

It’s a hard enough curve to run up, without beating my head against the desk because I’m trying to build a bonfire with a toothpick.

Thanks for your time!



Seems pretty good! Should do for a VFX beginner!

This definitely seems quite solid but it really all depends on what projects you are doing. I personally would do what you can with your current setup and just see if your projects become too intense for it. And then, upgrading would be a good idea because a computer hardly capable of running your project can drastically lower your productivity.
Hope this helps!:v:

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Hey thanks, good advice!

I guess I was also phishing for actual specs people use in pro studios. AVFX has clients who do work on projects the size of Marvel Studios. Foundry list some of its test systems, these would run about 10-16k off the shelf. But I have no way to gauge if these are high end, common, or the hand me down system that are given to the intern for the Reception position? :smiley:

I been looking online, but all I’m finding are companies that want to sell me expensive gear. It still doesn’t tell me if it’s overkill or below par for the industry?

I’m just curious what people are running as their daily drivers.


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Hey Christopher!

I think that setup would be able to get you through most things. I’m not too sure exactly what type of things you’re planning on working on, but if you’re working efficiently and keeping your projects as clean as possible and using proper caching, etc. I think you’d be able to squeeze quite a bit out of that!

For us, we do have a lot of beefy machines in-house. I did a video awhile back about one of our builds you can check out, here.

But I will say, a lot of the profession studios are moving/have already moved to cloud-based machines. It’s a really wild concept, but you can essentially work on a Chromebook if you wanted as long as you have good internet, since your machine doing all of the heavy-lifting is in the cloud.

Amazon more recently rolled out their Amazon Nimble Studio that does this, and while it’s a bit complex, I think most of the future VFX and 3D work will continue to move to this type of workflow since there are some huge benefits. One being that you don’t have to upgrade your machine since you can just scale up and rent a bigger one if you needed, and the other being that all of your files are centralized in the cloud. So you don’t have to worry about transferring renders or anything.

Pretty awesome stuff!


Luke, thanks, that’s exactly what I was looking for! So mine is not that far off the mark, on paper at least, it’s about 70-80% of that build. It certainly won’t be the weak link in my workflow!

Are you finding any advantage in having dual GPU’s in anything other than rendering/GPU compute type tasks? Does having one assigned to background tasks help with say, VFX scene compositing? My guess is the software will want to keep all of that on a single card, but trying to think outside the box. I wish I had an extra 2070 lying around to test this theory…maybe when the kids move out :smiley:

I’m not surprised about the distributed workflow model. So many of the pro apps are designed to allow simultaneous production by different teams that it would be the only way to meet any deadline with the even more distributed workforce from covid.

In a prior limetime, I did some INFOSEC, network security with the military; which if nothing else, left me with an inherent distrust of all things networked. I guess I’d have to get over that, if I ever find myself working outside of family productions! Long ways to go to worry about that, however.

I’ll check out Amazon’s Nimble Studio, though I’m not sure I trust them more than the military! o.O

Actually, if you haven’t bought it already, I’d like to say that Xeon processors are meant for servers.

Honestly, I’ve always seen a dip in performance when running any level of SLI or multiple GPUs.
If I can help it, I’ll get x1 of the newest cards over x2 of an older model. It may be something with how I’ve configured them in the past, but having 1 stronger one that can handle everything I throw at it just seems to run smoother.

And as with anything, the different scenarios can require different specs. But if that works for you it works for you!

And I second the natural distrust, haha!

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Xeon’s tend to have higher avg core speeds and larger caches than their i-series brethren, but have a lower single core burst speed. They are nice for systems were you expect to run all cores frequently, or want more than one CPU. For games, they take a back seat as most games, even if multicore capable, still favor one thread above the others. The GPU framerate is dependent on the speed of the thread feeding it, so i-series tend to built to maximize that relationship.