Renderers for Rhino

13 August 2018

Rhino has its own built in renderer, but anyone that’s tried it will know that it has its own limitations. McNeel’s decision to include the ray-tracing Cycles engine from Blender came with Rhino 6, but still the system isn’t up to much. So what else is out there?

PRODUCT: ProRender
SUPPLIER: AMD
PRICE: Free

AMD has been developing its free ProRender add-on for a number of systems for a while.

This allows you to do your computation on both CPU and GPU – but obviously, using the GPU is the favoured option.

Interestingly, the product isn’t restricted to AMD GPUs and will gain benefit from compute on NVIDIA boards as well, although you’ll get the best performance from one of AMD’s cards.

Be careful, however, if you also have V-ray installed, as there’s current conflict between the two products.


PRODUCT: V-Ray for Rhino 3.6
SUPPLIER: Chaos Group
PRICE: £220 pa

“On the whole, V-ray extends Rhino’s well-respected usefulness significantly. The combination of these two products, in fact, is pretty damn impressive.”

Read our full review of V-Ray for Rhino 3.6 here


PRODUCT: OctaneRender
SUPPLIER: OTOY
PRICE: $589

Octane Render is a real-time renderer that Otoy bought out quite some time ago.

It was a pioneer in the GPU computation of rendered scenes, so has gained a reputation as being incredibly quick, particularly when using consumer-level GPUs.

At present, this is a more costly beast, but we’re hearing talk of licence changes coming with the Octane 4 release.

These will presumably see a shift to a subscription-based deal, which could prove more attractive to new customers.


PRODUCT: Maxwell
SUPPLIER: Next Limit
PRICE: €695

Maxwell has been a well- respected rendering solution for a good decade or more and it has found a home in quite a number of organisations, particularly those focused on industrial design.

Alongside its integrations into SolidWorks, the Rhino variant works nicely with all of the controls you’d expect. It is worth noting that Maxwell only works with Rhino 5.

Additionally, unlike almost every other Rhino renderer, Maxwell supports the Mac version.


PRODUCT: TheaRender
SUPPLIER: Altair
PRICE: $450

We hadn’t heard of this one, until we did a little digging. We were subsequently surprised to find out it was developed by an outfit call Solid Iris, but is owned by simulation masters, Altair Engineering. (The acquisition of Solid Iris by Altair dates back to 2016.)

TheaRender for Rhino looks to support Rhino 5, includes all of the bells and whistles you would expect (HDR image support, physically based materials) and it takes advantage of your GPU for computation.

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