The total cost of ownership (TCO) of any render farm, whether this be 2x or 200x nodes is more than just the outright purchase price. When investing in a 3D renderfarm for your business you need to be aware how much this type of technology will cost you to both purchase, and run for the next 2-3x years.
Additional costs can involve, but are not limited to the following: -
Some rendering systems consume lots of power, and some consume more than others. Look for low or reduced power options that don’t waste electricity by using unused components (graphics, optical drives etc). With the rising costs of electricity it is in fact cheaper to buy a larger number of lower power nodes (than it is to buy a smaller number of higher power GHz nodes). Work out the total number of CPU GHz, CPU Cores and Power Consumption for the sweet spot of any render farm investment.
Air Conditioning Costs
All rendering systems, whether they be cheap desktop PCs of purpose built dedicated rendering systems (Deskside or Rackmount) will produce heat. This will increase the amount of air conditioning you’ll need. Low Power, More energy Efficient render nodes (like our RS-R & RS-D series) create less heat so offer lower cooling costs.
You don’t have to opt for dedicated rack mounted render nodes. You could easily use cheap throw away desktop PCs; however these are a bit of a false economy and have additional costs associated with them that end up making them more expensive. You may need expensive KVM switch boxes, keyboards, mice or monitors in order to get these all setup.
If the rendering software you use is licensed per CPU core, per system/node or per seat this can work out expensive; especially if you opt for lot of smaller ‘cheaper’ desktop style PCs. Choose a much smaller number of ‘dedicated rendering systems’ (even at a higher up front cost for the hardware) will actually work out cheaper overall.
This can be as simply as you want it to be, but for larger style render farm installations you will need to allocate some time and resources to make sure that everything is kept up to date (hot fixes, application updates, security etc). Having a render farm that is very easy and cheap to maintain is something that is worth investing in, after all who wants to spend their creative day playing IT.
The most efficient way to speed up your rendering (without breaking the bank) is to use dedicated, professional render nodes (not cheap desktop computers, or standard rack servers). Render Farms do not have to be big, noisy or expensive and can simply consist of just two or more render nodes (costing less than a couple of pounds a day). A render node is a stand alone dedicated rendering computer system. These are typically rack mountable (like our RS-R series rendering system) but can also be desk mountable (like our RS-D series quiet render node device).