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Is there a performance difference between these two setups?enter image description here

I imagine on a material this simple, there's not going to be much of a difference. But on a complex material, it could. If you had a choice between a simple mask between two different complex shaders, or a bunch of masks between different properties of the same shader, is there an advantage?

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If there is, it's a pretty subtle difference.

I rendered 5 frames without the mix shader setup and 5 frames for the mixRGB node setup, and averaged the times for each. The results:

Mix Shader: 23.021
Mix RGB: 22.78

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  • $\begingroup$ Yeah, it's probably too simple to see much. Have updated question. $\endgroup$ – Ascalon Aug 26 '16 at 4:31
  • $\begingroup$ is the result also the same? $\endgroup$ – Noidea Aug 26 '16 at 9:55
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This is not a direct answer to your question, but I think it is still relevant. I experimented a bit with the materials from your question. I made two render layers with a cube, both identical except for the material. I rendered them, used a math node set to difference to get the difference between both layers, and multiplied the result by 20000000. This was the final result:

enter image description here

In short, there is no visible difference between both materials.

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