August 31, 2021 Yen Lily

What is the best render engine for Houdini?

Houdini is a 3D animation software application developed by SideFX, which is most commonly used in FX departments for the creation of visual effects in film and game. It is the popular tool for major VFX companies such as Walt Disney Animation Studios, Pixar, DreamWorks Animation, Double Negative, ILM, MPC, Framestore, and others.

There are many third render engine which support Houdini. In this article, we will study and test to discover the best render engine for Houdini. In several tests the fastest render engine is clear, in others the results are quite close. For GPU rendering with Houdini, let’s choose V-Ray, Redshift, Octane and Arnold.

Houdini GPU Render Test

The GPU render test consists of two shader scenarios, with each renderer’s standard and metallic/reflective shaders applied to all objects in the scene. The Kitchen PUP Asset from Pixar is being used as the test scene with rectangular lights illuminating the scene from each window for a total of two light sources.

First, the scene will use a standard shader to render, then will use a reflective shader. This provides some indication of how each render engine handles basic bounced light and reflective rays. The third render is a Pyro scene which tests the render engines’ performance with a Houdini volume.

Each render engine is configured with their respective standard setups for rendering volumes – no optimization or custom tweaks such as denoisers or AI lights are added. Therefore, it’s not really the comparison which render engine is more effective than others, but it’s a measure of the prospective performance gains of different GPU configurations on a per render engine basis. You can always achieve better result if you optimize your scene.

These scene is rendered by Mediaworkstation team, with configuration like below:

        • single GeForce GTX 1080 Ti, dual GeForce GTX 1080 Ti, a single GeForce RTX 2080 Ti, and a dual GeForce RTX 2080
        • a-X Mediaworkstation
        • AMD Threadripper 2950X 16-Core CPU
        • 64GB DDR4 2933 MHz RAM
        • 512GB Samsung 970 Pro (OS Drive)
        • 512GB Samsung 970 Pro (Asset Drive)
        • Windows 10 Professional 64-bit

Let’s see how the speed of each render engine is (for standard setups of the scene):

The Fastest Render Engine for Houdini

From the above result, we can state that V-Ray was the fastest render engine for Houdini across the board with one exception – the Pyro scene with 2 x 2080 Ti.  With that scene, Redshift took just one second longer to render, a remarkable showing.  However, the Redshift team has added NVLink functionality, you could expect more of its rendering time to reduce.

Let’s see the stunning result of single GPU rendering with V-Ray, especially the Pyro scene:

        • V-Ray, Rendering Houdini Scene, Standard Shader :  2.7 – 3.5x faster than Redshift, 3.5x faster than Octane, 2.7-4.2x faster than Arnold GPU
        • V-Ray, Rendering Houdini Scene, Reflective Shader: 45-75% faster than Redshift, 71-75%% faster than Octane, 12-55% faster than Arnold GPU
        • And, V-Ray, Rendering Houdini Pyro Scene: 2x faster than Redshift, 3.5-4.2x faster than Octane, 15-16x faster than Arnold GPU
        • With V-Ray dual 1080 Ti/2080 Ti render times were 64-89% faster over single GPU render times configurations in all three scenes.

For Arnold, the results varied widely.  For single RTX 2080Ti, Arnold was a close second to V-Ray in rendering the reflective shader scene, but 20% slower rendering the Reflective Shader scene with two 2080 Ti.  It seems to be normal for Arnold as multi-GPUs always perform worse than single GPU.

Redshift and Octane’s benchmark are quite stable, with two GPUs are roughly doubling performance of single GPU.

However, when it’s come to visuals, the kitchen renderings from Octane and Arnold are the most appealing. With Pyro scene, V-Ray is really impressive.

iRender cloud rendering for your choice

Whether or not you use any of those third render engine, iRender still has suitable package for you. We provide to you high performance and configurable server system for 3D rendering, AI Training, VR & AR, simulation, etc. We believe that design and creative activities are private and personal that only you artists will know what you want with your animation. That’s the reason why we provide remote servers so that you can install Houdini and any render engine you need, and do whatever you like with your project.

You will only need to install your software for the first time, and next time you connect to the computer everything is ready for use.

For Redshift, V-Ray and Octane, we suggest you our dual RTX3090s, 4x, 6x or 8x RTX3090s. For Arnold rendering, you can choose between single RTX3090 or CPU rendering (if your Arnold version is below 5.3, which doesn’t support GPU rendering).

Plus, on iRender, we provide you more support than just those config.

NVLink available for large and complex scene

If VRam is not enough for your scene, we always have NVLink to help you access more than that. You can access this article to know how NVLink benefits your 3D projects.

Free and convenient transfering tool

iRender offers a powerful and free file transfer tool: Gpuhub Sync. With fast file transfer speed, large data capacity, and completely free. You can transfer all the necessary data into our Gpuhub Sync tool at any time without connecting to the server. The data will be automatically synchronized in the Z drive inside the server, ready for you to use.

Flexible price

Beside hourly rental, you can always save from 10% to 20% with our Fixed Rental feature. For those who’s in need of server more than a day, or have extremely large project, we advise to choose daily/ weekly/monthly rental package. The discount is attractive (up to 10% for daily packages, 20% on weekly and monthly packages), and you don’t have to worry about over-charging if you forget to shutdown the server.

Real human 24/7 support service

Users can access to our web-based online platform and using multiple nodes to render at the same time. Hence, with us, it does not matter where you are present – as long as you are connected to the internet, you can access and enjoy the 24/7 rendering services that we provide, and if you meet any issue, our real human 24/7 support team is always ready to support you.

Rendering service supports powerful RTX3090

When you use iRender, you can free your computer during the hardest and most arduous part – rendering. That is also the reason that Render Farm service is becoming more and more popular and essential. However, as far as we know, iRender is proud to be one of the very few rendering service that support powerful RTX3090 for Houdini rendering with V-Ray, Redshift, Octane and Arnold with relatively reasonable price.

Let’s see some Redshift, V-Ray, Arnold GPU, Octane benchmark videos we did with Houdini and RTX3090 packages:

We believe that at this point you have already had a render engine in your mind to work with Houdini. Of course it’s based on the hardware you can buy, the workflow as well, but the result and performance of these renderers are always the key reason for your choice.

Register an account today to experience our service. Or contact us via WhatsApp: (+84) 916806116 for advice and support.


Thank you & Happy Rendering!


*Note: all images in the article are from

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Yen Lily

Hi everyone. Being a Customer Support from iRender, I always hope to share and learn new things with 3D artists, data scientists from all over the world.


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