Best GPU for Rendering – and Gaming in 2023!

Best GPU for Rendering – and Gaming in 2023! 

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If you are here reading this article, chances are you already have some understanding of GPU rendering (as opposed to CPU rendering). But to provide a quick and perhaps oversimplified summary of the differences between CPU and GPU rendering

  • GPU rendering performs the calculations needed to display a 3D scene in parallel while CPU rendering does it serially (one at a time). 
  • GPU rendering is faster, CPU rendering is slower but more detailed. 
  • GPU rendering is best suited for real-time rendering (mostly games but not just games) while CPU is ideal for offline or pre-rendering (think photorealistic movie VFX or architectural visualizations).

Now before we dive into the specific GPUs, let’s talk a bit about the different variables that will affect your choice of graphics card, be it for rendering work or gaming fun.


VRAM stands for video random access memory. In a way, it’s similar to your computer’s RAM but this one is RAM that’s dedicated to V (video). If you think of computer RAM as a desk where you lay out all the different stuff you need within arm’s reach to get work done, then VRAM is a sort of an extension desk for all the stuff that is graphics- or visuals-related. The higher the VRAM of a GPU is, the larger that imaginary work desk and so your system has ready access to more stuff that it needs to render 3D graphics, be it for design or for games.

Clock Speed

This is the measure of how fast a GPU is able to perform calculations. This is important because at the most basic level, computer graphics is a lot about converting a 3D scene into a 2D image (this is what the rendering is) and this involves performing an unbelievably high number of mathematical calculations. The faster your GPU can do this, the faster and smoother graphics get displayed on your screen. Clock speed is measured in Hertz (Hz).

If you have been gaming for a while and are very particular about graphics, you must have encountered numbers like 30 FPS, 60 FPS, or 120 FPS. This is the frame rate. FPS means frames per second. This number refers to how many frames your GPU is able to generate in one second. For gaming, the higher the FPS is, the smoother and better the display-controller response and overall gameplay experience. Your GPU’s clock speed is partly responsible for the frame rate, so take this number into consideration as well for gaming.

CUDA Cores

In deciding which GPU to get, you will undoubtedly run into NVIDIA and their GPU cards that have CUDA cores. CUDA stands for Compute Unified Device Architecture. This is NVIDIA’s proprietary technology that allows its GPUs to perform parallel operations, leading to faster performance. The CUDA cores are the individual units that perform these operations, particularly shaders (responsible for lighting and other visual effects). The only thing you really need to note about CUDA cores is that the more of them your GPU has, the better.

As for AMD GPUs, their parallel processing is powered by an open-standard technology called OpenCL. 

Rendering Software

Before you blow a considerable amount of cash on a GPU, make sure first that your 3D software runs GPU rendering. Some 3D software is exclusively CPU rendering, some are exclusively GPU rendering, and there are also some that perform hybrid CPU-GPU rendering. Best to check first whether the 3D software you’re using runs on GPU rendering. 

For example, previous versions of Arnold run only on CPU rendering. But Arnold 6.0 onwards now can run on GPU rendering. Cinema 4D only uses CPU rendering when creating your images and scenes but rendering the final output via Arnold or other render engines will open up GPU rendering for you. V-Ray also used to run only on CPU rendering, but is now more of a hybrid CPU-GPU rendering software.

Now that we understand the different variables that may affect your GPU choice, let’s take a look at the best GPUs for rendering and gaming.

Best: NVIDIA RTX 4090 

Make no mistake: NVIDIA’s latest GPU is hands down the king of the hill. If you are looking for the fastest GPU, nothing beats NVIDIA’s latest beast.


Clock speed: 2.5 Ghz (PC Magazine reported an overclock of over 4 GHz!)

CUDA Cores: 16,384

And these numbers don’t even tell the full story. Its new Ada Lovelace architecture boasts third-gen RT Cores, which are GPU cores dedicated to ray tracing. It also has fourth-gen tensor cores, which enable AI technology including frame rate-multiplying innovation NVIDIA DLSS 3. 

For 3D work, 24GB is a lot of “desk space” to work with. For gaming, reviewers report getting 130 fps at 4K resolution with maxed-out ray tracing and DLSS 3 settings. That’s crazy good!  

Only downside? The price. This GPU currently retails well above US$2,000.

Best Budget: NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3090

Best 2023 GPU for Rendering – and Gaming!
Image from IGN.

Launched back in 2020, this GPU can still hold its own in 2023. And with its beefy 24GB VRAM, it is the better choice for 3D work compared to lower-tier GPUs of NVIDIA’s 40 series (4080/4070/4060/4050).


Clock speed: 1.7 GHz

CUDA Cores: 10,496

The 3090 retails at a little less than half of the 4090 (~US$1,000). If you’re okay getting one that’s used, you can even get it for a couple of hundred dollars less. 

Closing thoughts

But if you’re really looking to improve your 3D workflow AND gaming experience at the same time, you can leave the rendering up to a render farm like GarageFarm. 

Unlike personal workstations, online render farms string together dozens of GPUs (called nodes) to do one thing and one thing only: render your 3D project. The 24GB VRAM of the GPUs mentioned above sounds good but how does 60, 70, or even 120GB VRAM sound like? That’s the power of a single GarageFarm node – power you can tap into any time without having to deal with the hassles of purchasing and maintaining complex computer hardware. And take note: you can get multiple nodes depending on your project (or time crunch). 

With online render farms like GarageFarm, renders are exponentially sped up for the minuscule portion of the cost of a single new GPU.

And when you render using an online farm, you free up your own computer for gaming! That’s something you can’t do if you’re rendering locally. Often for busy people, the best upgrade to gaming experience is simply more gaming time.

If this seems like a no-brainer for you and want to get started rendering online now, check out our prices here.

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