Last time I mentioned, that I spent most of last year learning how to render better. And this year I planned to upgrade my equipment to be able to put my new knowledge to good use. I upgraded my RAM right off the bat from 4 Gig to 12 Gig, and I was researching which processor to upgrade to. Well I took a different path. I was picking another artist's brain about the subject and he strongly suggested I upgrade to an actual video card in conjunction with my existing APU. (CPU & GPU in one processor) Using AMD Crossover both processors will work together giving an extreme boost in performance. Supposedly even if my motherboard didn't support multiple GPUs, a decent video card would beat out a APU processor upgrade. This is where I disagree. My motherboard doesn't support Crossover so I'm running only the video card. My render times increased dramatically. I did a stress test render (Tons of lights with shadows and gobos, Heavy use of SSS, water and other reflective surfaces) on my machine before and after the new graphics card. The before picture took 6 hours 19 minutes and some odd seconds. After installing the new card... Over 8 hours. Exact same scene, lights and shaders. Absolutely not the result I was expecting. I spent a fair amount of time last night slowly dialing in the new over clock feature which is nice. I have it closer to where my APU render time was at. But after spending $140 on this card. I was hoping for an improvement.
I do have to be fair and say my display output greatly improved. I use dual monitors (a 20 in HP LED and a 47 in Sony LED TV) and the functionality, and picture quality of both increased greatly. So in closing, I'm sure the card is great for gaming. I'm sure crossover is a great feature too. But if your motherboard doesn't support multiple processors, just stick with the APU.
Oh I almost forgot to mention. To all my 3d rendering watchers, my first freebie is posted at ShareCG.com! It's a whirlpool tub. www.sharecg.com/v/79422/browse…
I modeled it for the beach house I'm still working on, but decided a inset tub worked better for the house. Jump over and check it out. Let me know what you think of it.