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What kind of hardware will work best with Carrara? I want to build the best system for this application.

Here are some things to keep in mind when building hardware for Carrara.

You can divide the needs of Carrara into two parts.  One part is rendering and the other is manipulating objects and projects in the viewport (whether it's in the Assembly Room or in the Modeling Room).

Rendering relies on the power of the processor(s) and the motherboard's RAM.

Processor: Carrara can support multicore processors, so more processors means faster render times.

RAM: Carrara has a 32-bit application.  You will not see any improvement in performance on a 64-bit architecture system.  Like all 32-bit applications, Carrara (32-bit) cannot address any more than 3 GBs of RAM.  Carrara (32-bit) will not make use of additional RAM. Starting with Carrara 8, there is a 64-bit version availible that will use as much memory as your machine's operating system will support.

Carrara relies on OpenGL support for manipulating figures and objects in the viewport.  OpenGL support is provided through the video card and the video card's software driver.   Carrara needs OpenGL version 1.5 or higher to work properly.  Virtually all video cards manufactured in the past 18 months will probably have OpenGL of 2.0 or higher.  We recommend Nvidia or ATI.   

When you choose or move a figure directly in the viewport, Carrara uses OpenGL.  If the OpenGL support is not adequate, you will see slow or erratic results.  It's even possible Carrara will crash.  In addition to OpenGL support, the video card should have 256MBs of RAM or more for best performance.

Carrara Pro supports 'Render Node.'  This is an application that enables network rendering.  You can use network rendering on two or more computers over a network.  This is also a great way to reduce render time, especially if you have several computers you can dedicate for this purpose.  The basic Carrara Pro license allows for five nodes.  Each node is a processor, so a quadcore system would actually count as four nodes by this reckoning.