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How Much RAM Does Blender Use?

Blender has become incredibly popular for artists and enthusiasts over the last few years, with more and more industries beginning to utilize 3D technology for their various purposes. Although the software is undoubtedly versatile, there are some system requirements for operations. So, how much RAM does Blender use?

Enthusiasts could get by with 8GB – 16GB RAM using essential functions within the software, while professionals would require 16GB – 32GB or more RAM using countless polygons, vertices, faces, and textures. The amount of RAM needed for Blender will depend on the user’s creations.

Establishing a suitable PC setup is crucial to the functionality of Blender and will allow users to make the most out of the software's functions. Attempting to use Blender only to find that your PC cannot handle its operations will be incredibly frustrating and will likely cause setbacks to various degrees. Stick around to find out how much RAM will be necessary for optimum use, as well as Blender's other system requirements.

Related content: Memory optimization for rendering in Blender

How much RAM is needed for Blender?

How much RAM Blender will use will depend on how much is available and what users create within the software. For example, if users rendered without textures and only one low-poly object, such as the default cube with a resolution of 7680x4320, only 800MB RAM may be needed. On the other hand, if millions of polygons and numerous textures were rendered, quite a few GB of RAM would be necessary.

The amount of RAM that Blender needs to function at optimal efficiency will vary at any given moment, depending on the task being performed within the software. There are no specific limitations on how much RAM will be used since Blender will use as much RAM as needed to perform these tasks, even if it reaches 90% of available memory or above.

Blender's RAM usage fluctuates depending on the operation or function performed within the software. The amount of RAM used will also depend on individual details concerning the complexity of creations, particularly concerning meshes, curves, vertices, and so on.

UV Unwrapping

UV unwrapping takes quite a toll on the system’s RAM usage and is an invaluable process to carry out, mainly when working with models and larger projects. When working with highly subdivided meshes, the UV unwrapping functions can utilize approximately 15GB of RAM.

Related content: The definitive tutorial to UV mapping in Blender

Rendering Cycles

Rendering is undoubtedly one of the most taxing operations for Blender users as it is necessary for anyone using the software irrespective of whether forming models, entire scenes, or rigged animations. Although Blender is known for its powerful rendering cycles, the rendering process still takes some time which is further exhaustive for the PC instead of spikes in RAM usage. Rendering can use 18GB or more, depending on various factors and whether CPU or GPU is used for rending cycles.

Related content: Blender: A Cycles render settings guide

Simulations and Physics

Simulations, such as water, smoke, fire, and physics simulations take plenty of RAM usage, and there is no limit when performing such operations within the software. Blender will use as much RAM as available, depending on your system specs. Simulations can use up to 64GB of physical RAM during various simulations.

Related content: Blender cloth simulation: Making a thick blanket

Modeling and Sculpting

Depending on your creations' complexity, the asset creation process can take heaps out of available RAM, mainly when using the sculpting function. Various modifiers use an abundance of RAM and can use 24GB RAM in many cases where complex and detailed models are being sculpted, depending on how many quads sculpting is performed on.

Related content: More than 30 Blender modeling tools explained

While these figures may vary drastically between users and may reach incredibly high usages, the RAM used by Blender is more related to the percentage which is used as opposed to the actual amount of RAM. Blender can be used with at least 4GB RAM, be more useful with 16GB RAM, and run efficiently with 32GB RAM.

If you are running Blender without enough RAM, it can result in various outcomes depending on your PC’s capacity and the influence of functions or operations being performed. Blender may crash, your system may crash, and certain functions may be unavailable for use.

Other requirements for using Blender

In addition to the RAM required, Blender does have various system and hardware requirements for the best operation and functionality. Users with low-end PC setups will likely encounter multiple issues while utilizing certain functions. Thus PCs with recommended or optimal specs are always advised where possible.

CPU

Minimum: 64bit Dual Core

Recommended: 64but Quad Core

Optimal: 64bit Eight Core

GPU

Minimum: Graphics Card with 1GB RAM

Recommended: Graphics card with 4GB RAM

Optimal: Graphics Card with 12GB RAM or more

Blender supports various Intel, AMD, and NVIDIA graphics cards installed with the manufacturer's latest drivers. Users who intend to use GPU availabilities for rendering cycles will need graphics cards with higher requirements.

Users have noted that using a PC setup with 8GB RAM does allow users to have a decent amount of freedom within the software, but the processor may take a lot of the weight and slow down your PC.  Especially during simulations and rendering. Owning a PC with 16GB RAM supports most functions and operations.

Many believe that a 32GB RAM setup may be a waste of money concerning performance benefits. Still, it may be necessary depending on the complexity of creations you are hoping to fashion within Blender. However, if this is the case for you, be wary that certain functions will not be aided by excessive RAM availability alone. Since CPU and GPU go hand in hand and the software's workings also take a toll on the CPU, the CPU will need to be powerful enough to benefit from having 32GB RAM.

Best computer for Blender

If you are a professional hoping to fashion unique, detailed, and high-quality creations using Blender, a capable PC setup will be necessary. The software tries to divide the workload between the CPU and GPU, so these will be the most important factors when considering the best computer for Blender.

CPU

The processor chosen for your computer will need to be able to handle the workings of Blender. While the software does try to use multithreading wherever possible, some functions will need to be managed by a single thread. Choosing a processor with a balanced feature set will allow you to use all of Blender’s features and functions without a particular focus on a specific pipeline.

Various top CPUs have been labeled as the fastest and most efficient for Blender, determined according to render speed in seconds. To date, the AMD Ryzen Threadripper 3990X 64 Core Processor is the most efficient, but it certainly isn’t necessary for everyone. The AMD Ryzen 5 5600X, AMD Ryzen 7 3700X, and the AMD Ryzen 5 3600 are great CPU options for professionals on a budget.

GPU

GPU power supports Blender’s functions holistically, and choosing the right GPU will have a massive impact on all operations. CUDA is an exclusive toolkit and API from NVIDIA and is only compatible with NVIDIA graphics cards, and is incredibly powerful with appropriate hardware configuration. Blender runs smoother and faster with CUDA GPUs, and Blender's ray-tracing API, known as OptiX, is more compatible with architectures such as CUDA. OpenCL is another option that also works well with Blender.

The number of compute-cores and the amount of VRAM is essential, as Blender will utilize this RAM as well, particularly for tasks such as GPU rendering, sculpting, or high-poly modeling. Non-CUDA cards may still be a good choice for various functions but are generally less efficient when rendering. The highest performing CUDA option is the NVIDIA RTX 3090 or RTX 3080, and the best performing OpenCL option is the Radeon RX 6800XT or RX 6800. A great budget choice is the Nvidia GTX 1660TI.

RAM

Blender uses more RAM than many software options, but this results in optimal efficiency within the software's workings by limiting data loss and improving its stability. Although 4GB is the minimum, enthusiasts should have 8GB – 16GB RAM for best use. At least 16GB – 32GB RAM is required for professionals, with some people needing 64GB. To date, the Corsair Vengeance LPX DDR4 RAM 3200MHz CL16 is the best value option for most users.

SSD and HDD

The SSD and HDD choice will drastically impact Blender’s performance and stability since the software consistently writes temporary files and auto-saves to the disk, which is beneficial but can lead to bottlenecks. Using multiple drives is most helpful in distributing this weight. The NVMe SSD offers excellent performance, coupled with high capacity HDD.

PSU

Power supplies need to be efficient and strong enough to cope with functions and allow users to upgrade in the future. The average draw should line up with the PSU efficiency curve's peak at least. Modular power supplies offer convenience concerning cable management, and the type will be based on the voltage required and your budget.

Motherboard

Motherboards are vital for optimal performance, but the choice will predominantly depend on the CPU socket and form factor as well as the GPUs. These factors will influence the motherboard’s size, ports, and features.

Ensuring that you have a solid PC build for Blender will be vital for its operations. But, in many cases, high-end computer components and RAM requirements may not be necessary for you. Before going ahead, weigh up your intentions with Blender, as you may be able to build a relatively low-cost PC that has enough RAM, CPU power, and GPU power for your needs.

Author

Erik Selin
3D artist, writer, and owner of artisticrender.com

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