Blender GPU Rendering

When using Blender for the first time, don't forget to configure GPU rendering.

Enabling GPU rendering is a two-part process:

  1. Specify the Cycles Render Device for use in Blender Preferences.
  2. For each scene, specify the Cycles Render Device for use in Scene Properties.

When diving into Blender 4.0 for the first time, I made the mistake of not configuring both of these options before performing my first Cycles render. Possibly because I opted to not import settings from previous versions of Blender. Although I half expected Blender to automatically detect my GPU, and enable GPU rendering by default. 

In my case, this meant it took more than 10 minutes to render the scene using the CPU. After properly configuring and enabling GPU rendering, the same scene took only 13 seconds to render!

Blender Preferences

To configure Blender Preferences for GPU rendering:

  1. Select Edit > Preferences... from the menu bar.
  2. Select System from the left nav panel.
  3. Under the Cycles Render Devices section,
  4. Select the tab that supports your hardware: CUDA, OptiX, HIP, oneAPI, or Metal.
  5. Make sure the checkbox is selected next to your GPU under the tab.

Pro-tip: If you know a render will take a significant amount of time (hours), it may be worth adding the CPU to help process some of the render workload. This is done by enabling the CPU in addition to the GPU under Cycles Render Devices in Blender Preferences.

Scene Properties

To configure Scene Properties for GPU rendering:

  1. From the Properties panel,
  2. Select the Render icon (digital camera) to view Render Properties.
  3. With the Render Engine set to Cycles,
  4. Set the Device to use GPU Compute.
And don't forget, Render Properties will need to be configured for each scene.

Note: It is possible for GPU rendering to remain disabled despite setting the Render Device to GPU Compute under Scene Properties. If the field appears grayed out, it's an indication that Cycles Render Devices is set to None in Blender Properties, and still needs to be configured.