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Best GPUs For computer animation: top overall, high-end, mid-range picks

How to get the smoothest animation going
Last Updated on February 6, 2024
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This article will guide you through some of the top Nvidia GPUs that are favored by professionals in the animation industry for their reliability and performance. For animators and digital artists, finding the best GPU for animation is pivotal for a smooth, efficient workflow.

Products at a Glance

Nvidia’s GPUs have carved out a niche in the animation and creative fields thanks to their robust architecture and CUDA core technology, which accelerates rendering tasks that are essential in animation workflows. Animators often lean towards the best graphics cards from Nvidia not only for the raw power but also for features like RTX ray tracing, which can render lifelike lighting and shadows, and AI-assisted tools that can simplify and enhance the creative process.

How we picked the best GPUs for computer animation

When pinpointing the best GPUs for computer animation, our approach involves an in-depth analysis of benchmarks and user feedback focused specifically on creative and animation tasks. We acknowledge that a GPU’s prowess in gaming does not necessarily equate to superior performance in animation applications, which often leverage different aspects of the GPU’s architecture and technology.

Our selection process also gives weight to the broader ecosystem surrounding the GPU, including the quality of driver support, the frequency of updates, and the manufacturer’s track record with creative applications.

If this guide isn’t exactly what you’re looking for, we also have a broader guide to the best GPUs, and the best graphics cards under $200 for budget picks.

Our Recommended

Best GPUs For computer animation: top overall, high-end, mid-range picks

1
PROS
  • Top-of-the-line performance for animation.
  • Efficient cooling keeps it running smoothly.
  • More energy-efficient than some higher-tier options.
CONS
  • Price may be prohibitive for some.
  • Large size requires ample case space.

The GIGABYTE GeForce RTX 4080 Gaming OC is a technological marvel equipped with NVIDIA’s Ada Lovelace architecture, pushing boundaries with 16 GB of GDDR6X memory and impressive clock speeds. This graphics powerhouse is engineered for those who demand top-tier performance, sporting streaming multiprocessors that deliver twice the efficiency and performance, making it an attractive choice for animators and creators.

The card’s cutting-edge Tensor Cores and RT Cores mean that AI-driven tasks and ray-traced scenes are rendered with unprecedented speed and realism. This makes the RTX 4080 not just a tool for animators but an investment in a seamless creative experience.

This GIGABYTE model is especially suited for animation professionals who require a GPU that can handle complex scenes and intensive rendering tasks without stuttering. Its balance of performance, cooling, and energy efficiency makes it a compelling option for those looking to build a high-performance animation workstation that stands the test of time.

2
PROS
  • Unmatched power in single-GPU performance.
  • Efficient power consumption for its class.
  • High-quality build and effective cooling.
CONS
  • Potential to bottleneck with some CPUs.
  • Extremely large, challenging to fit in standard builds.
  • Premium price point.

The ASUS TUF Gaming NVIDIA GeForce RTX 4090 OC is a titan in the realm of graphics cards, offering ferocious power that sets new benchmarks for single-GPU performance. Boasting a colossal 24 GB of GDDR6X memory and a boost clock of 2595 MHz, this GPU is nothing short of a powerhouse.

Designed with NVIDIA’s latest Ada Lovelace Streaming Multiprocessors, it offers a performance and energy efficiency that’s twice as formidable as its predecessors, making it a highly sought-after component for professional animators and game developers.

What truly sets the RTX 4090 OC apart are its 4th Generation Tensor Cores and 3rd Generation RT Cores, which significantly enhance AI performance and ray tracing capabilities. This results in breathtakingly realistic animations and graphics, allowing creatives to push the boundaries of visual storytelling. The powerful graphics card also maintains ASUS’s reputation for quality, with exceptional Founders Edition build quality and Axial Tech fans that provide increased airflow for better cooling.

3
PROS
  • Robust performance for animation tasks.
  • Generous 12GB GDDR6X memory.
  • Superior cooling with advanced features.
CONS
  • Steep pricing for mid-range.
  • Bulky size limits case compatibility.
  • May be outperformed by similarly priced cards.

The ZOTAC Gaming GeForce RTX 4070 Ti Trinity OC is a formidable contender in the mid-range graphics card segment, boasting strong performance credentials with 12GB of GDDR6X VRAM and a boost clock speed of 2625 MHz. This card is engineered with NVIDIA’s Ada Lovelace architecture and DLSS 3, making it well-suited for animators who require high performance in their rendering and real-time graphics work.

The RTX 4070 Ti excels in cooling with its IceStorm 2.0 Advanced Cooling technology, augmented by SPECTRA 2.0 ARGB Lighting for a visual flair. The triple 90mm fans and FREEZE Fan Stop feature ensure that the card operates quietly and stays cool, even under heavy loads.

While it delivers commendable performance, the RTX 4070 Ti is somewhat outpaced by competition in terms of price-to-performance ratio. Its size also makes it less suitable for compact cases, demanding considerable space within a PC build.

4
PROS
  • Massive 24GB VRAM for demanding projects.
  • Efficient cooling with iCX3 technology.
  • Strong build quality and performance.
CONS
  • Large size may be an issue for some setups.
  • Potentially outpaced by newer models.
  • Can be expensive for budget-conscious users.

The EVGA GeForce RTX 3090 FTW3 stands tall as a runner-up choice for animators, offering an impressive 24GB of GDDR6X VRAM and a GPU clock speed that can reach 1800 MHz. This card’s raw power and substantial memory make it ideal for handling the most demanding animation and rendering workloads with ease.

Equipped with EVGA’s iCX3 technology, the RTX 3090 FTW3 is built to manage heat effectively, ensuring stable performance even during extended rendering tasks. The card’s design is tailored for durability, featuring a solid metal backplate that adds rigidity and helps dissipate heat. Animators can expect smooth frame rates and rapid rendering times, which are crucial for a streamlined creative process.

Despite its powerhouse status, the RTX 3090 FTW3 does come with considerations, such as its size, which may not fit comfortably in all cases. It’s also important to note that for some users, the performance gains might not justify the cost when compared to newer models with similar specs. Nevertheless, for animation professionals looking for a card that can keep up with their intensive workflows, the EVGA RTX 3090 FTW3 is a compelling option.

Features and considerations

When it comes to selecting a GPU that’s tailor-made for the rigors of computer animation, it’s essential to look beyond the standard metrics like clock speeds and gaming performance benchmarks. Animators need a GPU that is adept at rendering complex 3D scenes, with ample VRAM to handle high-resolution textures and models, and a multitude of CUDA cores to expedite the rendering process.

Ray tracing capabilities are a bonus, as they bring a new level of realism to lighting and shadows, which can be a game-changer for animation quality. Compatibility is another crucial factor; ensuring that the GPU you choose works harmoniously with industry-standard software can streamline your creative process significantly, resulting in excellent performance.

Our Verdict

The GIGABYTE GeForce RTX 4080 Gaming OC is a balanced powerhouse, providing top-notch performance with a substantial 16GB of VRAM and advanced cooling solutions, making it an ideal choice for animators demanding high-quality renders and real-time graphics processing.

The lineup also includes the ASUS TUF Gaming NVIDIA GeForce RTX 4090 OC for those seeking the pinnacle of high-end GPU performance, and the ZOTAC Gaming GeForce RTX 4070 Ti Trinity OC, which offers a balance of strong performance and exceptional cooling for mid-range users. The EVGA GeForce RTX 3090 FTW3, with its massive memory allocation, is perfect for the most intensive animation tasks. There they are – the best GPUs for computer animation.