I have an older Nvidia graphics card that I would like to use for GPU rendering with cycles. However, I am having difficulty enabling this feature. If I open up User Preferences, I see the following:

enter image description here

The only available option is "CPU". I don't see GPU listed anywhere. What do I need to do to enable GPU rendering on my machine?

Software:

  • Ubuntu 13.04 64-bit
  • Nvidia binary driver version 304.88
  • Blender 2.66a

Hardware:

  • Intel Core 2 Duo @ 1.6GHz
  • Nvidia GeForce 8400M GS
  • 2
    As of Blender 2.67, r54706, support was dropped for older nVidia GPUs as they were difficult to maintain and feature incomplete. So some older GPUs won't work anymore. It is possible however to compile kernels at runtime for linux for cards that are not officially supported. GeForce 8xxx, 9xxx and 2xx cards are not included in official release, but they might work by enabling experimental features. Read more on the wiki – iKlsR Jun 27 '13 at 21:00
  • 4
    Note that your video card has only 16 cores, thus will be slower than you CPU. – Aldrik Jun 27 '13 at 21:51
  • @iKlsR - Note that he's using Blender 2.66a. – Daniel Pendergast Sep 10 '13 at 19:03
  • Look here: graphicall.org/bat3a – oldmud0 Mar 23 '14 at 21:49
up vote 9 down vote accepted

As iKlsR said in the comments to your question, we discarded the sm_13 cycles kernel... This is exactly the one needed for your series of cards. Please take my advice when I talk to you as a developer - you don't want to enable this for your card.

First of all it's a hassle to setup nowadays! We don't care for this cards anymore, we don't even check if the code still compiles for it (and it certainly won't with our latest speed improvements for Cycles).
Second, it's slower than rendering with CPU in your case.
Third and foremost you are missing some important features with your kind of card:

There is no support for:

  • Render-passes,
  • Ambient Occlusion,
  • Many Cycles multi closures
  • Hairs
  • Motion blur ...

As you can see, this is by no means the optimal way to go! I understand when someone doesn't want to upgrade a system, but in this case you should upgrade for sure!

  • Thanks for explaining why it would not be a good idea to try to get GPU rendering working. I didn't want to go through a lot of trouble for little benefit, which seems to be the case here. My CPU will work fine for smaller scenes and I'll have to render the larger ones elsewhere. – Nathan Osman Jun 28 '13 at 22:48

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