Welcome to the Tesseract Project, a workstation I designed with the purpose of being a 3D-4K product design rendering machine. The Tesseract Project has been an ongoing project, built to deliver excellent performance on the common packages I work daily (Autodesk Suite, MAXON and Luxion). This review and breakdown will explore my Tesseract Workstation and the performance it offers for professional applications.
Choosing Workstation Components
I wanted a clear view of the workstation’s purpose before deciding on components. For this system, I needed a high performing CPU that is up to task and within a certain price range. As you may expect, AMD’s Ryzen™ Threadripper™ 1950X was a no-brainer choice for this workload – 16 Cores, 32 Threads, at a very pleasant price. It offers excellent performance on Luxion KeyShot 7 and MAXON Cinema 4D across many engines.
While considering parts for 3ds Max, I needed a very powerful GPU that could perform excellently in OpenCL rendering. AMD’s Radeon Vega Frontier Edition GPUs were a perfect match, especially when combined with the Radeon ProRender rendering engine.
After working on the Tesseract Workstation over the past few weeks, it’s clear how much faster my workflow is now compared to my previous workstation.
On KeyShot 7 Pro, I was able to speed up my workflow tremendously. A complex scene with a high poly count is now being rendered in 4K-256 samples with 5 render views on the queue in just over an hour, where the previous workstation took over 2 hours with fewer render views. The additional cores and RAM increased the productivity on KeyShot 7 and the same gains were easily replicated on Autodesk VRED, MAXON Cinema 4D with Arnold and V-Ray Render Engines. I am very surprised with the scalability of those packages when it comes to core count.
On the 3ds Max side is where it becomes a little interesting. Radeon ProRender has improved exponentially since its first release. As I have been evaluating the switch to the Radeon ProRender platform for 3ds Max for quite some time, I can quantify much it has improved it terms of materials, render speed, features and most importantly workflow.
The Radeon Vega Frontier Edition GPUs are performing exceptionally well as far as I have been able to experience. Acquired in mid-August, the rendering speed and stability has improved significantly with each driver release. Now with Enterprise Driver 17.Q4.1, the overall stability for long time renders is in great shape.
It is also worth mentioning that, as this workstation features a multi-GPU setup, Radeon ProRender scales very well when utilizing two cards. I haven’t been able to test beyond two cards, but I am considering it for the foreseeable future.
The building process went smoothly as planned with no major issues except for the case size. As seen in the photos, the case is a decent size but unfortunately it is not easy to find a case that is able to host an E-ATX sized workstation. The Thermaltake Tough Power Unit also comes with rather tough power cables that make it a little hard to perform proper cable management in this case. It can be very time consuming if you are not familiar with PC building.
Final Thoughts and Future Upgrades
I am very happy with the end results of this project as it is performing better than I expected. As for future upgrades, the first will be moving this workstation to a bigger case. Following would be adding more RAM for 5K and above 3D product designs.
As mentioned previously, I’ve been seriously considering the addition of more GPUs into this workstation. Therefore, in addition to a bigger case, I would take the opportunity to move the system cooling into a closed water loop solution, allowing the system to perform better with long workloads.
Thanks for checking out my Tesseract Workstation! I hope my build and experiences brought some inspiration for your future workstation.