Unity is a popular real-time development platform that offers incredible possibilities for all industries and applications. Used by games developers to produce Indie or AAA titles, 3D content creators to design stunning animations, automotive markets to showcase their products and architects to demonstrate incredible creations in virtual reality. There are no limits to the creations and experiences made possible by the Unity engine.
Unity is a demanding platform for computer hardware and having a perfectly configured Workstation is vital for maximising your productivity. In this article, we break down each of the key components required to help you configure the perfect Unity Workstation.
What CPU is best for a Unity Workstation?
The CPU is arguably the most critical component for any Unity Workstation, and as a result, we always recommend allocating a good portion of your budget towards it. With Unity’s roots in games development, it is no surprise that it runs exceptionally well on Intel’s Core i7 and i9 ranges. With industry-leading high clock speeds and enough cores and threads for most projects, we usually recommend customers purchase a Workstation based on the latest Intel Core i9 processor.
If you perform a lot of multi-threaded tasks within Unity such as light baking and progressing lightmapping, then you may want to consider a processor with more cores and threads. The AMD Ryzen 9 range has very similar single-core speeds and more cores and threads than the Intel Core i9 option and therefore ideal for Unity developers needing a bit for multi-threaded performance. AMD Ryzen Threadripper and Intel X-Series processor ranges offer significantly more performance for multi-threaded workloads in Unity. There is, however, a significant cost increase with these processors and they run with slower clock speeds, a factor unusually critical to Unity performance.
What GPU is best for a Unity Workstation?
Having enough performance to maximise your FPS is essential for a smooth and productive workflow. As of Unity 2019.3 Ray Tracing support has also been added, enabling developers to improve lighting and create stunning scenes. Thanks to NVIDIA’s latest Turing based GeForce RTX graphics cards high FPS and real-time ray tracing is now possible. Backward compatibility for NVIDIA’s previous generation has also be added; however, due to the performance improvements dedicated RT cores provide in NVIDIA’s RTX cards. We would recommend purchasing the very latest generation NVIDIA GeForce RTX graphics cards.
Our customers regularly ask if SLI is worth considering and you may be thinking if this is a good idea for your Unity Workstation. We generally discourage this as our experience has found that SLI can cause stability issues, and there are only negligible performance improvements. You can save money and gain more significant performance by merely upgrading to the next card up in the range. Rest assured that a single top of the range NVIDIA GeForce RTX card produces plenty of performance to satisfy even the most demanding Unity projects. If you are producing a game and wish to include SLI support we recommend only enabling SLI for testing purposes and disabling this feature once complete to maximise your Workstations reliability.
All mid-range and higher NVIDIA GeForce RTX cards are also fully VR ready. So if you are planning to take advantage of this new and exciting fully immersive technology, then your next Unity Workstation with NVIDIA GeForce RTX graphics is ready to go.
Should you buy Professional NVIDIA Quadro or AMD Radeon Pro Graphics for Unity Workstations?
Unity started life predominately as a games development platform and as a result, runs exceptionally well on graphics cards designed with this market in mind. NVIDIA Quadro RTX and AMD Radeon Pro work perfectly well with Unity but do not give you the same bang for your buck as the NVIDIA GeForce counterparts. If you work with other professional applications that benefit from the ISV certification and optimised stable drivers professional NVIDIA And AMD cards provide, then they may be an ideal choice for you. If you do require professional graphics and would like take advantage of the newly supported Ray Tracing technology within Unity 2019.3 we recommend NVIDIA Quadro RTX over the AMD Radeon Pro alternatives.
How much memory (RAM) do you need for a Unity Workstation?
The amount of memory required is very dependent upon your particular projects and can vary quite dramatically. Most of our customers, however, are satisfied by 32GB for general projects, and if you work on large files with substantial lighting effects, then 64GB may be required. All our Workstations are capable of being installed with at least 128GB+ system memory should the need for more memory ever arise.
What storage configuration is best for a Unity Workstation?
There are 3 prominent types of storage drives available to Workstations currently that range from super high speed, to large capacities and from low to high prices. We recommend a 2-drive configuration, first of which should be an NVMe Solid State Drives (SSD). NVMe drives are by far the fastest storage drives available today but they are also the most expensive per GB. If your budget allows, we recommended one of these drives for your Operating System, application installs and active project files. By using an NVMe SSD as your primary system drive, you guarantee responsive operation, speedy boot times and lightning-fast application/project loading times.
If an NVMe SSD is a bit out of budget, then a SATA based SSD should be your next choice. These drives still offer very respectable performance for your Operating System, application installs and is generally enough for a Unity Workstation.
We also recommended pairing your NVMe SSD or SATA SSD with a high capacity traditional Hard Disk Drive (HDD) for long-term bulk storage. These drives are extremely slow compared to the flash-based SSD drives available today. Still, the large capacities available and price per Gigabytes make them very useful as a secondary drive.