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PC vs Mac with Blender

Posted: Wed May 26, 2004 5:06 pm
by scatman
Hi all. I'm about to get a new computer, but I'm undecided: PC or Mac. If I get a PC, it'll be an AMD 64 FX-53 with 2gigs of RAM (eventually), and if I get a Mac--I'd get the G5 2Ghz dual processor.
I'm presently running a Pentium 3 550Mhz with WinXP Pro and 256 MB RAM.
I want faster rendering times with Blender. Should I get a fast PC or the G5 Mac?
Are the OSX builds for blender as stable and full featured as the PC builds?
Input greatly appreciated from anyone experienced with using blender on both OS's.
Thanks in advance

Posted: Wed May 26, 2004 7:30 pm
by norm3dwyer
For what it's worth i'm a hard core Mac user (since the very first model), but i use Windows all the time, as well. I use Blender on both platforms daily. I prefer Windows for all things 3D, and that includes Blender.

One caveat, i have not used the new G5 Macs, I know they are fast, but 3D on Windows has traditionally been so much faster and always has a much broader array of 3d graphics cards.

I say go for Windows.

Posted: Wed May 26, 2004 7:31 pm
by SirDude
Which ever you choose make sure you get a 3 button mouse with it ;)

Posted: Wed May 26, 2004 8:23 pm
by Mats78
I'd like to recommend PC's since I'm not too fond of Macs =). The reason for this has been the enormous cost and low power of Mac (talking 3D & CAD here) + the very conservative attitude towards development. However, I have absolutely no experience in the new G5 series so don't take me too seriously (I've only worked with G3 and G4). I think the PC has much more to offer since it is quite a general tool.

I myself am on an AthlonXP running Linux and, an almost unused, Windows XP.


Re: PC vs Mac with Blender

Posted: Thu May 27, 2004 12:55 am
by lukep
scatman wrote:Hi all. I'm about to get a new computer, but I'm undecided: PC or Mac. If I get a PC, it'll be an AMD 64 FX-53 with 2gigs of RAM (eventually), and if I get a Mac--I'd get the G5 2Ghz dual processor.
I'm presently running a Pentium 3 550Mhz with WinXP Pro and 256 MB RAM.
I want faster rendering times with Blender. Should I get a fast PC or the G5 Mac?
Are the OSX builds for blender as stable and full featured as the PC builds?
Input greatly appreciated from anyone experienced with using blender on both OS's.
Thanks in advance

As Mac platform maintainer, I can just say that Os X builds for blender are exactly the same as for PC.

G5 are blazing fast and blender builds are rock solid in term of stability (on the G4, not tried G5) , but :

- no G5 optimized build is available (but you can perhaps build your own)
- GCC is certainly less optimised that PC compilers .
- Blender wont make full use of the second processor.

So while the G5 should be in theory faster, the AMD is certainly a good choice too, and without a specific blender benchmark, it's hard to tell which is better.

Now, you must consider how you will use this top of the range comp. If your intents are very complex ray-traced scenes, the 2 procs of the mac will let you make a render in background at full speed while working on the other.

I you want to edit complex scenes in open GL, mac support of this has been always less advanced than PCs. You have greater choice of 3D card on PC too.

Do you have other software ?
Do you want to do gaming ? (in this case choose PC)
Do you want XP (I can't stand it) or Linux ?

I'm a mac person and would choose the G5, but the reason is the OS, not the hardware. Os X means no hassle and power, I consider my time too much worthy to have to deal with computer not behaving exactly like I want.

Posted: Thu May 27, 2004 1:20 am
by matt_e
I use Blender regularly on both a PC and a Powerbook G4. I'm very happy with both of them. Both have their advantages and disadvantages, the laptop is a fair bit slower than the PC (which has many more cheaper and faster graphics cards available), but on the other hand I find Mac OS X about a billion times more productive and easier to work with, especially with features like expose', and I find myself hardly ever switching the PC on at all, these days.

Anyway, I suspect your decision may rest on other factors than Blender, because in terms of support, the Mac and Windows versions are about identical.

Posted: Thu May 27, 2004 2:34 am
by theeth
Does the mac version has support for AVI codecs?

Other than that, I really can't think of anything that could be different.

Oh, and Quicktime support, ironically, used to be better for windows.


Posted: Thu May 27, 2004 3:30 am
by matt_e
theeth wrote:Does the mac version has support for AVI codecs?
Not through the DirectShow/VideoForWindows/whatever interface as on Windows - Macs access their codecs via QuickTime. So via QuickTime, I can choose codecs like Divx 5.1, Pixlet, MPEG-4, DV (or DVCPRO, etc), or any other codec I have installed on the system. Basically the same functionality.

The only other thing I'm aware of that's different is that there is no 'fullscreen' button in the Mac OS X version.

Posted: Thu May 27, 2004 9:26 am
by wavk
I second broken's post. I also use Blender on a PC and on a PowerBook G4. The PC is a bit faster (3.0 GHz P4 desktop against 1.25 GHz G4 notebook), but I find the osx computer much better to work with. As for OpenGL speed, it's not so fast on the powerbooks, I don't know about the g5 desktops, should be better.

Also, there's going to be an OpenGL driver update in the next minor release, which should be out pretty soon. I hope that will speed it up.

Posted: Thu May 27, 2004 10:58 am
by Burritoboy
I'm currently running 2.33 on Win2k, Redhat and a PowerBook running OS X. So I've been waiting for this question to turn up.

Not that I was that curious, it just evolved that way. Win 2K and Redhat run on separate AMD XP 2800s. The powerbook is a 12 inch G4 which tends to get used for presentations and showing blender to people.

I started Blendering on the laptop and needed render speed so I got the first PC and then wanted to work while I had a large 1 week render going. Hence PC2.

My observations are get the macs are great for no hassle blendering and the reliability of the laptops is impressive.

Windows is a trial but it does run blender quite well. However I have experienced mystery slowdowns and time equals money. Linux is has turned out to be a fabulous choice for a blender workstation and for a cheap distributed "farm" will run nicely headless using VNC. Cheap, stable and simple. In a few weeks/months win2k box will be a linux box.

But having said all that I'm in the process of looking at a G5 desktop because what you get with OSX is impressive performance (I'm setting up a render test with one of the local mac dealers soon to really try it out) and some first rate goodies:-

Garage band - great for sequencing sound fx sound clips as well as the obvious musical stuff.
Video editing - never been that slick on a PC, just works on a mac, lots of it in realtime so no time wasting rerendering.
General stability - no hassles, spy ware etc
Quality photoshoping. Good colour control.

Not really an answer but the G5 will be a good choice if you have the cash and your time is important to you.


a billion thanks for all of your input

Posted: Thu May 27, 2004 1:08 pm
by scatman
Although I've been using Blender since about ver. 1.8, but I've never owned a Mac, so I'm concerned that I will paint myself into a "lack-of-software-corner" to put it basically. Honestly, I'm in love with the OS X GUI. I'm still seeking as much informed input about the pros/cons of Blender-ing on a Mac vs. a PC.
Last Saturday, I went to the local Apple Store and had an attendant install Blender on a 2 Ghz dual processor G5 so that I could use it (for whatever reason, he couldn't install the latest build from the Blender website--He ended up downloading/installing it from some other 'software versions' type website). The attendant informed me that 3D Studio FX doesn't work on OS X, but Maya does (I'd like to try Maya's free learning addition also). My goal is to become a web designer and/or a graphic artist. (I'll also be purchasing the Macromedia suite) The attendant states that I can bring my .blend animations and see how fast the G5 will handle rendering compared to my present slow home PC.
I know that I can be productive with either system (PC or Mac), and buying one doesn't mean that I can't also buy the other later. I just want to be wise with my purchase because neither one is free, and I'm gonna have to use what I buy for some time into the future before my next upgrade/computer purchase. I have some praying and investigating to do still...
Hopefully, my prayers will be answered and the 2 Ghz Dual processor G5 will be reduced to at least $1500 after the MacWorld conference. In which case, I'd like to get both a G5 dual processor 2Ghz Mac, and a AMD 64 FX-53 enabled PC.


Posted: Thu May 27, 2004 4:22 pm
by JoOngle
And here's my bit :)

I reccomend running Blender on a 3d accellerated Linux platform, preferably with an Nvidia FX 5900 or above, that will bring you UNMATCHED speed when modelling..

I get 600.000 triangles in REAL TIME (25 fps) speed when modelling with Blender 2.33a under Linux and the mentioned graphics card

but 60.000 triangles at a jumpy 3-6 fps on my powerbook G4 - 1.33 Ghz Apple.

Don't get me wrong, I love my sweet slick metal-shiny powerbook, but it's openGL support reeks the big one even if it sports an ATI Radeon 9600 card with 64 mb onboard.

Fine if you tend to model a simple character with a small amount of detail (or use LAYERS wisely) but no fun if you're a detail-maniac like me.

The rendering speed of the Mac is good enough though.

"SuSE Linux 9.x"

Posted: Fri May 28, 2004 2:49 am
by Burritoboy
JoOngle is spot on.

Make sure the GPU has massive performance. I use a 5700 Nvidia and that is not enough sometimes.

However Apple updated graphics drivers yesterday with the 10.3.4 update so that may improve things right across the product range.


Posted: Fri May 28, 2004 10:51 am
by xype
While G4 laptops aren't the fastest generally, the dual G5 should be very fine for Yafray rendering. And the G5 is a lot better at flaoting point calculations than the G4 CPUs are.

I'd wait another month or so, though, since by then there should be updated G5 PowerMacs. I think dual 2.4 GHz or something similiar are coming at the WWDC along with PCI-Express graphic cards, which should boost your Blendering speed quite a bit.

Having said that, I'm quite happy with my Dual 1.25 GHz G4 now that I can render with Yafray without too much hassle and use both CPUs as well. :)

Besides, the resale value of the Apple machine will be much higher, so if you want to sell it after a year or two, you'll still get quite some money for it.

Posted: Fri May 28, 2004 7:17 pm
by kid_tripod
I recently moved most of my computing (including Blender) off a P3 450 to an iBook, and it's a great improvement, saying more about the PCs age I feel.

Mac's have one killer advantage, and that is the colour management is so much better than PCs, unless you have a proper graphics card and monitor all balanced, which isn't trivial. The only system that was as good in this respect is my SGI, which feels like it's spiritual ancestor now.

It's not all good. On iBooks the screen feels cramped, and Blender could really do with the fullscreen thing. You can't resize windows from any edge, which coming from windows is annoying. I've set the dock to hide as a result.

I've yet to manage to get a model from Wings into Blender on the Mac. (Can someone please work this out!!!! I have moments of utter stupidity and fear this is one)

However, the number of times I've popped open a terminal and turned my UNIX mode on (I work on Solaris) and sorted something. It makes me feel good.

iCal has changed my life as well. And Expose is something I wish my office machine could do.