View Full Version : Stack of Mac Minis for rendering? Any sense?

09-17-2009, 02:08 AM
I just thought about the idea of having a stack of Mac Minis for render farm?
I would like to build a render farm with PC's or Mac Pro's but I live in small apartment with my wife and my wife would get angry if my house is filled with big and noisy, hot computers. Plus they take a lot of power.
Mac Mini is relatively powerful I think and it takes a little voltage.
But what do you think?

09-17-2009, 03:43 AM
seems they would be ok, definately a very compact render farm but also a very expensive one too i reckon.
not sure if the new minis are the same as the old but they got quite hot so stacking them up could require extra cooling.

09-17-2009, 03:59 AM
With the same money you can presumably get twice the render power with cheap PC with Core 2 Quad CPU.
But they will take up more space, sound alot and use more electricity.
And if you have Final Cut installed you can use the Mac Minis as render nodes for compressor.

09-17-2009, 04:04 AM
If you don't mind using PCs you could also take a look at the Acer Veriton L460 or L410(G), it has a faster Core 2 Processor (E7400 or E8500 instead of the P7350 or P8400) and comes with 3GB memory by default (instead of 1GB), for the same price or sometimes even cheaper as the cheapest 'default setup' Mac Mini.

They are very very quiet (my USB drive next to it makes a lot more noise for example)

09-17-2009, 05:47 AM
Oh really. Yeah, I might consider that too. Perhaps my dream would be such setup that I can just turn the computer on and it logins automatically and starts the screamernet nodes, without need to connect any display or even keyboard to it.

09-17-2009, 06:22 AM
Let's be honest. A stack of Mac Minis for a render farm would just LOOK cool!

09-17-2009, 06:51 AM
I have a Mac Mini (its the last one posted at 3dspeed). A Mac Mini & an i7 920 box are about the same price. The only difference is that the 920 renders about 4 to 5 time quicker & can have 12gb or more ram.

You can buy a 5 pack of MB & CPUs for a larger discount or get your local shop to put them together & buy 1 x 3 pack of XP64 plus another 2 copies & you would have, if over clocked to a lousy 3.2 Ghz, you will have a total of 64 Ghz of processing. i7s with radiosity is very quick.

The boxes can look like dogs, they are only render nodes. You only need one graphics card to set each up (maybe one spare as well) As nodes they donít need graphics cards (& LW doesn't use graphics cards for rendering either) & run via Remote Desktop. You can even shift the DVD between each set up as you go.

Attachment, not totally atomatic, but close. One keyboard, one display, one graphics card, & a stack of fast CPUs. via Screamernet.

(If it has to be an Apple get a 2.26 V8, it will render in about 91 seconds, as against 554 for a 2.0 Mini)

09-17-2009, 06:59 AM
Cost per frame output per each of my whole system set-ups as a percentage of the most economical box.

i7 920 100% efficiency
i7 940 95%
5580 V8 54.6%
5450 V8 49.5%
5335 V8 47.6%
Mac Mini 39.7% (2.0 Ghz. Replace ram & HD)

So in other words if a frame on my 920 costs $1.00
940 $1.05
5580 $1.83
5450 $2.02
5335 $2.10
Mini $2.51

09-17-2009, 07:08 AM
In the above post the 920 was my first one bought in Nov last year, the second one I bought would work out to $0.70 per frame & if overclocked to 4.0 Ghz as some do it would work out to $0.56 per frame.

09-17-2009, 07:28 AM
this guy has build a linux render cluster into an Ikea Helmer cabinet.
With LW one would unfortunately have to switch to Window I guess.