If Zbrush and Keyshot are core applications tools to the work you do, then CPU is the deciding factor in performance. ZBrush and Keyshot are multi-threaded apps, meaning generally speaking the more hi-speed cores you have, the faster your jobs will get done.

While a dual Xeon configuration can give you a speed advantage with these applications, the new AMD Threadripper 2990WX, with 32 cores and 64 threads and a base frequency of 3 GHz, is currently the fastest CPU for ZBrush and Keyshot. It’s also the most cost-effective, maximizing price for performance.

We do mean fastest single CPU. Intel’s scalable Xeon CPUs provide up to 56 cores in dual Xeon configuration. But the cost difference is dramatic. Below is a comparison between the the AMD Threadripper 2990WX and the minimum Intel Scalable Xeon solution to outperform it, 2x Xeon Gold 6154 18 core CPUs:

a-X Mediaworkstation: AMD Threadripper 2990XW, 3.0 GHz, 32 Cores/128GB/1TB/RTX 2080 Ti: $7,621.00

i-XL Mediaworkstation: 2x Xeon Gold 6154, 3.0 GHz, 36 Cores/128GB/1TB/RTX 2080 Ti: $15,861.00

Yes, you will get about 15% faster rendering with the Intel Scalable Xeon solution, and about 10% faster single threaded performance (for Adobe CC apps, or modeling/mograph needs in Cinema 4D for example), but at just over twice the cost. Upgrading the above Intel configuration to the top dual Intel Xeon Platinum 8180 2.5 GHz solution (56 total cores) will provide you with a roughly 70% performance increase over the 2990WX equipped a-X with ZBrush and Keyshot, but this privilege will set you back $31,060.00 – that’s $23,439.00 more – enough for four a-X Mediaworkstation nodes for you and your team.

Important point re the new AMD TR2 CPU architecture: 50% of CPU cores have direct to system RAM, 50% require an extra step across the connected core to memory, which adds latency. When all the cores are requesting access, this can cause congestion. It’s a primary difference between Threadripper 1 and 2 (TR1 & TR2) CPUs, and AMD EPYC OR Intel Core and Xeon CPUs which have direct memory access on all cores.

How does this impact ZBrush and Keyshot? Fortunately for RAM light work, i.e. under 64GB, performance is little impacted. As most ZBrush and Keyshot work uses less than 64GB RAM, a 2990WX-equipped a-X Mediaworkstation is our fastest PC for ZBrush and Keyshot for the price.

The a-X Mediaworkstation now comes with the AMD Threadripper 2990WX option, and will soon have it’s sister CPU, the 16 Core AMD TR 2950X available along with the new NVIDIA RTX 2080 Ti GPUs as well – stay tuned!