Blender Render Engines for macOS – Options and Resources

Blender and macOS

Apart from some of the 600/700 Series Kepler Graphics Cards, macOS 10.13 High Sierra was the last operating system Nvidia made drivers to enable use of its Pascal™ graphics cards. This meant Blender 2.83 LTE was your only option and macOS upgrades were not possible.

AMD graphics cards, however, work on all the modern macOS versions. Unfortunately Blender hasn’t supported these cards until recently, and macOS support is still not ready at time of writing.

Apple has recently joined the Blender Development Fund and are actively working to bring Metal support for Cycles X on Intel and M* series Macs. This is coming in Blender 3.1 which should be available sometime in 2022.

If you use any Mac, Blender 3.0 will work but only using the CPU to render.

Available options

After extensively testing AMD ProRender in 2021, I found it just couldn’t get close to Cycles.

The solution for me was to use the custom version of Blender by Octane, which enables full AMD graphics card rendering.

Honestly, it is fantastic. Fast, reliable (mostly), and Octane is generally a wonderful render engine which has been implemented into Blender really well. It’s taken some getting used to, but I’m fully fluid now and texturing away without issue.

LuxCoreRender is another render engine, but I’ve not tested it myself. Apparently is handles caustics really well. Check out the DJ Tutorials channel for some great content on LuxCore and many other render engines.

Blender Octane, caveats

The only downside to Blender Octane, at this point, is they have not yet made a Blender 3.0 version, so it’s a 2.93 variant.

The other snarfu is, while it’s completely free to use with a single graphics card on-board, you have to be online to use it. Essentially it’ll ping the Octane server to enable viewport rendering…

This is seamless, but I have found it drops connection sometimes so I have to quit/restart the octaneSever app (this just runs in the background). However, rending animations overnight, etc. is absolutely fine from my experience. It’s never dropped connection, or failed on me.

To download Blender Octane you have to create an account with Otoy and subscribe to the free tier license.

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