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Mental Ray VS Arnold

In the CG industry, Mental Ray is known to be an advanced render engine. It has been utilized for the creation of box-office breaking Hollywood movies and its capabilities and power can be testified by everyone who has comes in contact with it.

Since announced that it will no longer release new versions for Mental Ray, we want to analyze how the current version is fairing when compared to Arnold because Arnold on the other hand has been considered as one of the better alternatives to Mental Ray.

That said, let’s look at a little bit of history.


Arnold as a render engine, was over thrown by Autodesk Mental Ray as the built-in version for Maya back then in the year 2016. Fast-forward to 2018, the same version was also made within 3DMax. During these revolution, Arnold was labelled as an alternative for Mental Ray.


Mental Ray is a power-packed rich with features and a biased ray-tracing render engine. It has been around for over 28 years now. It was firstly witnessed around 1989 and have been used by professionals and the industry at large since that time. Besides that, Mental Ray has set the bar so high when it comes to photo realistic rendering regardless of the scene, be it a film, visual effect, or design. Notable works done with Mental Ray includes, the Hulk, Matrix Reloaded and Revolutions, Star Wars as well as Episode II of the Attack of the Clones. The list can go on and on to include the likes of the movie The Day After Tomorrow and Poseidon.

Mental Ray achieved an outstanding recognition in the year 2003. Mental Images won an Academy Award for their influence on Mental rendering in producing great motion pictures.


Later, in the year 2007 by December, Mental Images was sold to NVIDIA. In an attempt to develop new technologies within the old Mental ray, NVIDIA introduced a new GI NEXT in 2015. The new GI model, gave Mental Ray the ability to utilize the CUDA power to process indirect or global illumination on a GPU.


Aside that, the CPU rendering capability still eats up the bigger share of the industry, but we hope see that change in the nearest future.


On the other side, Arnold works as an unbiased render engine. It is same as the likes of Maxwell, Octane and Cycles. It is also a physically based ray tracing 3D rendering software and was built by Solid Angle. It has also been seen as an advanced Monte Carlo ray tracing render engine and can be utilized when a lengthy animation or visual effect is needed.


Arnold was built in partnership with Sony Pictures Image Works, and it is their fundamental render engine at the moment. It is currently used by more than 300 studios around the world. These studios include the likes of ILM, Frame store, MPC, The Mill and Digic Pictures.

Besides that, Arnold was also the first render engine used for creating some block buster movies such as Monster House, Cloudy, Chance of Meatballs, Pacific Rim and Gravity.


In recognition to the implementation of the Arnold Render engines, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences awarded Fajardo the founder with a Scientific and Engineering award (Academy Plague) on the 4th of January, 2017.


The main advantages of Arnold Render are that, it is easy and quick to learn, produces exceptionally great photos without stress, as well as better manages PC memory. It can also withstand extreme complex rendering projects.


Final Score Support Speed Inter Face Resource Update Price Render Engine
5.8 4 5 5 9 4 8 Nvidia Mental Ray
7 4 5 8 8 9 8 Solid Angle Arnold


Looking at the figures above, you will notice that Arnold has great rendering results as compared to Mental Ray.


Picking out the right render engine can be a daunting task irrespective of the industry you specialize in as an artist. You have to take into considerations so many factors. So, we will want you to look forward to our new articles for more tips and guides.


At Render Boost render farm, we provide rendering support for both Arnold and Mental Ray and we are ready to render GPU and CPU projects too. We are equipped with powerful systems that can support a wide range of 3D software.


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