Blender 2.82a Mac OS with Pro Render 2.3 and eGPU
Blender updated version 2.82 with a small bug fix last month. GPU rendering on the Mac remains very fast when paired with AMD's latest Pro Render version 2.3.
Blenders native Cycles CPU rendering remains best for producing final quality renders. But Pro Render is much better at quickly rendering a scene.
Below are comparison renders of the famous twin orange BMW test scene:
2018 Mac Mini 6-core processor (no hyper-threading)
RX 5700 XT eGPU
Cycles CPU render time at 32 samples: 4 mins, 53 seconds
Pro Render GPU render time at 150 samples: 14 seconds. 😁
I did some follow-up testing of the recently updated Mac versions of Blender and the Pro Render plug-in.
Here I had time to adjust and better optimize the Blender Cycles and Pro Render settings for the BMW example scene.
The initial Cycles CPU render was quite lengthy - just under 5 minutes. I was curious how much headroom there was to optimize the settings for speed. That is, while still producing a decent image.
Working with the much faster Pro Render, the goal was to tune the render settings for higher quality. And to more closely match the color and appearance of the car materials and the lighting in the finished Cycles rendering.
The end goal was to produce two similar looking, decently-rendered images, and determine how much of a speed advantage Pro Render would be able to retain.
How did it turn out?
Ultimately, reducing the number of sample passes from 32 down to 20 made it possible to shorten Cycles CPU render time to just under two minutes. Happily, achieving much better performance without losing too much image quality.
Pro Render's GPU renderer, running on my RX 5700 XT eGPU, continued to hold a speed advantage. Even after increasing the number of sample passes to 360, it was able to produce a similar looking image in 30 seconds.
With the Blender plug-in freshly updated, I'll be looking to AMD to hopefully update Pro Render for Maya shortly. The new version is stable, responsive, and very usable in Blender. It will be welcome if AMD can give the Maya plug-in the same level of refinement.
More good news for Mac Blender eGPU rendering. I was able to reduce the render time for this scene down to a mere 8 seconds. 😀
I found out (in reading the Pro Render Github notes) that while Pro Render has a pretty good de-noiser in their Mac Maya plug-in... the de-noiser doesn't work at all in the current Mac Blender plug-in. 🤷♂️ Even when you check the box and assume it is working.
But that's ok, because what Pro Render does do is it allows you to borrow the Mac Blender Cycles de-noiser instead, and the two work together to quickly produce a decent noise-free image of the BMW scene.
So, with that unexpected pairing, I was able to reduce the sample passes needed down to 64, and using my 5700 XT eGPU, render a decent image in a brief 8 seconds.
Good times. 👍
Hi Mini i5 -
Can I ask you what enclosure you're using with your eGPU?
I've got a Mac Pro (Late 2013 Trash Can) with 6 core intel Xeon E5 and 64GB ram and it SUUUCCCKKSSS when rendering.
Been thinking about getting an eGPU for a while but couldn't find enough detail to pull the trigger.
Sounds like you're having good luck.
Thanks in advance
The PowerColor Gaming Station has worked perfectly with my Mini. I have it on my desk, next to my display. It's pretty quiet, like the Mini.
By the way, Octane X rendering software for Metal will be able to enter public Beta testing following the release of Mac OS 10.15.5.
Oh, very interesting about Octane X. May just have to wait for that to see how that works with my old trash can.
I'm a hobbyist so don't need LIGHTNING FAST, but man anything is better than what I have now.
Thanks for the info and the tip!
What we have to change on the file to use the Pro Render 2.3 and eGPU?
Can you explain what you have done to use Pro Render instead of Cycles ? Please share the .blend file
Download the Pro Render plug-in and also the Material Library here:
The Pro Render user guide shows how to install and activate the Plug-In:
Blender demo scenes are available here:
Is there anything special to do to enable this? Beyond checking "prefers egpu" and targeting it in ProRender.