I have to render an image of 27000 x 7000 for a 150dpi print. The scene is quite big, but cycles preview and a render in 2700x7000 works as expected.

If I hit render my memory raises up to 20gb, but my cpu usage is at 5%. Why cycles does not using the full cpu power during the render process?

Here are my rendersettings:

Tilesize: 64x64
Bounces: Max 12 | Min 3
Diffuse: 4
Glossy: 4
Transmission: 12
Volume: 1

Is there a way to optimize things?

  • 3
    $\begingroup$ Are you reading the 5% cpu when it is rendering, or just starting, during the Building BVH? $\endgroup$
    – David
    Sep 28, 2014 at 17:08
  • $\begingroup$ After building bvh, when the image is rendering the task manager says: 5% cpu usage. In the last 20 hours cycles has rendered 269 of 26311 tiles at 4-6%. $\endgroup$
    – p2or
    Sep 28, 2014 at 17:13
  • $\begingroup$ Odd.. I tried this too, rendering the default cube at 27000x7000 my cpu stayed around ~50% (waffling around a bit). At 2700x700, my cpu was glued to 100%. $\endgroup$
    – gandalf3
    Sep 28, 2014 at 18:39
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Commandline rendering seems to work (100% cpu usage at the moment). $\endgroup$
    – p2or
    Sep 28, 2014 at 19:01
  • $\begingroup$ I had a similar situation and realized the rendering was happening mostly on the GPU, leaving the CPU at limited usage: see here blender.stackexchange.com/a/187901/102048 $\endgroup$
    – divenex
    Jul 26, 2020 at 19:48

1 Answer 1


With very large image resolutions Blender can run out of RAM. The operating system will then start using the hard disk for memory which is slow and will cause low CPU usage (swapping).

To reduce memory usage for very high resolution renders:

  • Enable Save Buffers in the Performance panel so Blender does not keep the full render in memory during render
  • Render from the command line so no display buffer must be kept in memory
  • Output to an OpenEXR file so one tile can be written at a time
  • $\begingroup$ In my test I still had over half my ram free.. Blender used 1.5GB out of 15.7GB total. CPU usage was at 100% while building BVH and preparing, but dropped to about 20% once rendering started and stayed between 20% and 50% for about a minute, at which point I stopped it. Rendering from the CLI worked fine. $\endgroup$
    – gandalf3
    Sep 29, 2014 at 1:02
  • $\begingroup$ I also have swap disabled. $\endgroup$
    – gandalf3
    Sep 29, 2014 at 1:09
  • 4
    $\begingroup$ Displaying a very large image is probably a bottleneck too, which could be avoided by hiding the image editor that is showing the render result. In any case, the command line will have the least memory and CPU overhead. $\endgroup$
    – brecht
    Sep 29, 2014 at 1:20
  • $\begingroup$ Makes sense.. Though I still don't see why drawing the huge image would cause less CPU usage.. Wouldn't the CPU still chug along as fast as it can, just put not quite as much effort on path tracing and slightly more effort on (communicating with the GPU?) to draw the image? $\endgroup$
    – gandalf3
    Sep 29, 2014 at 1:23
  • 4
    $\begingroup$ Ideally yes, but threads may need to wait writing to the render buffer while the display thread is drawing it. $\endgroup$
    – brecht
    Sep 29, 2014 at 1:28

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