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Nowdays I have the old Radeon HD 6870, and it's not compatible with OpenCL, so the rendering is made by the CPU, that is a quite slow comparing with GPU rendering.

I'm thinking on a upgrade to R9 380 or a GTX 960 for rendering (and gaming, of course).

Some people say tha OpenCL is not stable in most CG softwares, especially Autodesk's. Shoud I get R9 380 (cheaper, more powerful) or GTX 960?

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  • $\begingroup$ Although CUDA may be better now, may be on the long run Open CL would be better. Considering what blender supported with AMD are doing right now, and what AMD itself is doing. There is even a new Open CL based render engine coming for blender from AMD. and btw, Vega (New GPU architecture) will come out this month, so I suggest you wait for sometime to see how things move and then make your decision. $\endgroup$ – Omar Emara Dec 4 '16 at 16:26
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Go with the Nvidia. Performance aside, CUDA works better with Cycles. Until recently, OpenCL was not even supported in Cycles so it is not as bug-free and stable as CUDA. Another thing to consider is that usually new features are supported on just CPU first, then CUDA, then OpenCL. So be prepared to wait a little while to use new features on your GPU if you go for the ATI card.

To be fair, OpenCL is by no means unusable, it just isn't as polished as CUDA. I do have a friend with an R9-390 and it mostly works fine in Cycles.

In fact, here is a list of supported AMD devices as of May 2015.


With regards to your last statement about other software:

Most commercial 3D software (Autodesk included) won't really work with a gaming-class GPU at all, and definitely not an ATI card. If you want to use that kind of software you really need a workstation-class GPU (i.e. Nvidia's Quadro cards, frankly ATI's workstation cards are a joke).

However, keep in mind here that Blender is not optimized for workstation cards. That doesn't mean that they don't work at all in Blender, it's just that Cycles just won't be able to take advantage of the extra features you are paying for in a Quadro.

Workstation cards are also not ideal for gaming. I do have a Quadro M4000 and it works fine for the few games I play (AoE III, Civ V, a couple old emulators, etc.), but if you are any kind of a serious gamer you definitely don't want a workstation card.

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    $\begingroup$ What Autodesk software do you mean? Maya etc is fine on gaming cards in my experience. Viewport 2.0 is basically a game engine renderer anyway. I've never seen much benefit to workstation cards for CG media/art work besides the extra VRAM and 10bit color support $\endgroup$ – JtheNinja May 18 '16 at 2:19
  • $\begingroup$ @JtheNinja I used max for a couple years before switching to Blender and it didn't work well with a gaming card at all. If you look at the hardware specs on their website it clearly states that their software really wants a workstation class card. $\endgroup$ – PGmath May 18 '16 at 2:23
  • $\begingroup$ Correction on this topic. OpenCL is feature complete for more then 2 years right now. So some statements in this answer needs to be updated. I would also expect to use more then only raw performance into the equation. What about price vs rendertime. I would say that this answer was a good answer at the time it was given, but will need to be updated. $\endgroup$ – J. Bakker Mar 4 '19 at 7:14
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General hardware recommendations are outside the scope of this site, but if you're asking "which card will be better for Blender," that I can help you with.

There is not an ATI card, Radeon or otherwise, that Blender can use with the Cycles engine (except with significant, advanced modification). A computer that has an ATI card can still run Blender, and still render with Cycles on the CPU (like you've experienced).

NVidia has implemented an API called CUDA that gives applications access to NVidia GPUs. Blender has implemented CUDA to render scenes on the GPU using Cycles.

ATI cards do not support CUDA. ATI is supporting an API called OpenCL. Blender has NOT implemented OpenCL at all.

Consequently, the NVidia card is the only one of the two that will GPU render in Blender. Until Blender implements OpenCL or ATI cards are somehow able to support CUDA, no ATI card will be able to do GPU rendering with Blender.

Now, if you're talking about manipulating things in the viewport, that's a whole 'nuther can of worms. Blender uses OpenGL to display things in the 3D viewport. Both Nvidia and ATI cards support OpenGL (OpenGL is used for LOTS of games). So, strictly speaking of the shaded and texture views of the 3D viewport, either card might be better than the other. It's hard to tell.

If you're wanting to render Cycles on the GPU, the NVidia card is your only option.

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    $\begingroup$ This is incorrect, OpenCL is supported in Cycles. $\endgroup$ – PGmath May 17 '16 at 18:09
  • $\begingroup$ Now I got conffuse because there's videos on youtube comparing both APIs speed rendering on Blender. Like this: youtube.com/watch?v=LbEZ6OnpWHA So the File -> User Preferences -> System -> Compute Device (CPU, CUDA and OpenCL) it's not for rendering? $\endgroup$ – Douglas Ferreira May 17 '16 at 18:11
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    $\begingroup$ @DouglasFerreira As I stated above, this answer is incorrect. As of 2.75 OpenCL is supported in Cycles. $\endgroup$ – PGmath May 17 '16 at 18:13
  • $\begingroup$ Interesting! I was under the impression that OpenCL was still on hold. Cool! $\endgroup$ – Matt May 17 '16 at 19:58

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