What are the best desktops for ZBrush? Art, in this century, is not restricted to just physical material anymore. Instead, various artists and creative professionals take the help of 3D software for their work.
There are quite some options out there, but ZBrush is truly one that stands out of the crowd.
So here are a few desktops that we think would be the best if you use these for ZBrush. These come in different specifications, and each is better than the others in one way or another.
The choice thus depends on how you use the software, and heavy work necessarily requires a better configuration.
Rest assured, there is something for everyone on this list, no matter what one’s preferences may be.
From those of you who don’t know where to begin, to those who are planning to replace their old desktop, each of you would be benefitted from the guide we have provided at the end.
- Desktops for ZBrush – Price
- What is ZBrush?
- Minimum & Recommended Desktop Configurations for ZBrush
- 5 Best Desktops for ZBrush 2021:
- How to Choose Best Desktops for ZBrush?
Desktops for ZBrush – Price
What is ZBrush?
ZBrush is a 3D painting and sculpting software designed by Pixologic Studios, with its initial launch in 1999.
It is a very successful and popular tool among creative industries and individuals, and the latest version is just around the corner.
With ZBrush, sculpting feels as if being done physically, beginning from a ball of clay. It has got a variety of features and tools, like Zmodeler, multi-resolution subdivision editing, UV master, faster rendering times, and much more.
Hence it provides the traditional form of sculpting but in an advanced and digital manner.
It is widely popular because of the flexibility it offers to users. The levels of detailing are insane, which indeed comes in handy when you are working with characters, be it for a video game or 3D animation.
However, this is not the software that you’d want to use if you were an absolute beginner. Those who know what they are dealing with, on the flip side, would find it very much to their liking.
You can enjoy ZBrush as a single user for a lifetime by a one-time payment of $895, while a monthly subscription can be availed at $39.95. Yet another plan offers 6 months of single-user access at $179.95.
It does have lighter versions which are free and are easier to use.
Minimum & Recommended Desktop Configurations for ZBrush
Given the kind of work that ZBrush allows one to perform, it still has very low-end minimum system recommendations. These are an Intel Core 2 Duo or AMD equivalent CPU that has SSE2 support, 4+ GB of RAM, and a modest 8 GB of free hard drive space.
But real-time usage requires much better hardware, and hence specs like a Core i5/ Xeon or such an AMD CPU are recommended. So is 8+ GB of RAM and 100 GB of free space, and an SSD would be better.
In either case, unless you would be needing GPU acceleration, any recent GPU with OpenGL 3.3 support would do.
We have summed this up below, and you may take a look.
Minimum System Requirements: Ryzen 5 3600 or similar Intel processor or better │ Integrated Intel UHD 630 or AMD Vega 3 Graphics or better │ 16 GB or more RAM │ 500 GB or bigger SSD
Recommended System Requirements: AMD Ryzen 7 4700G or better processor │ Integrated or dedicated GTX 1660 Super or better Graphics (depends on requirements, strictly ZBrush can be used on Integrated Graphics too) │ 32 GB RAM │ 1 TB SSD
5 Best Desktops for ZBrush 2021:
1. Dell G5 i5000-7385BLK – Best Overall
Bottom Line: The Dell G5 tops the list for more than a single reason. It can be an attractive design, budget-friendly pricing, good specs for ZBrush, and whatnot. It offers great performance and convenience as a whole.
- Processor: Intel Core i7-10700F
- Graphics: NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1660 Ti
- OS: Windows 10 Home
- RAM: 16 GB
- Storage: 1 TB SSD
- Easy upgradability
- Decent performance
- Compact Size
- PSU limits GPU upgrades
- Higher variants can get pricey
- Issues with cooling
This is the Dell G5 gaming desktop, which is a very suitable desktop for ZBrush. It is compact, priced within affordable margins, and performs well, which makes it a desktop that you must take a look at.
This is the better variant with a Core i7 CPU, while there is also a cheaper Core i5 alternative, and it is a given that the overall specs are also better in the one you are currently looking at.
Paired with the octa-core processor is the GTX 1660 Ti GPU, which is a more-than-sufficient video card, given the kind of graphics usage ZBrush has. On the other hand, you can use it for other general tasks.
With this comes 16 GB of RAM, and while it doesn’t guarantee that you won’t ever have to add some more memory, the desktop’s design makes sure you won’t have any trouble doing so.
Now there are other options in this price tag too, but one can question Dell’s reliability, which is very important even if you aren’t a professional user.
It seems to have the right amount of RGB lighting to keep things interesting, but at no point would it feel exaggerated.
2. Lenovo ThinkStation P340 Workstation – Runner Up
Bottom Line: A professional environment requires subtlety, something that runs deep in the ThinkStation P340. Even though it misses an attractive case design or RGB lighting, you’d be amazed at what it can do on ZBrush.
- Processor: Intel Core i9-10900
- Graphics: Integrated UHD Graphics 630
- OS: Windows 10 Pro
- RAM: 32 GB
- Storage: 512 GB
- Decent specs
- High expandability
- Good warranty period
- Integrated graphics by-default
- Probably the price is an issue for some people
- Only a single 512 GB SSD
ZBrush is such software that requires a lot from the CPU if one is to work on heavy projects. For those who have an intensive workload, a workstation can be the only solution.
And the price and features of the workstation matter as well, so that it is a worthy investment.
After searching far and wide, we stumbled upon the Lenovo ThinkStation P340 which seems to be a well-balanced option. This is one of the most value-for-money workstations as of now, and you can expect an equally high level of performance.
There is a 10th gen Core i9 CPU in this, providing you with 10 cores, 20 threads, and a maximum turbo frequency of 5.2 GHz.
The workstation comes with only the default graphics that are available with the CPU, but there is an option to add a discrete GPU. Just make sure it is compliant with the PSU present in the tower.
Then there is 32 GB of RAM in this, and only one of the four slots is filled by default. You can thus easily upgrade the memory if needed.
The desktop comes with only a single 512 GB SSD, and with free PCIe slots and hard drive bays, more storage can also be added as easily.
3. HP Ryzen Desktop – Value for Money
Bottom Line: The Ryzen 7 APU on the desktop delivers promising performance in ZBrush. Also, with available configurations suited for the task at hand, it is an excellent desktop for most CPU-intensive applications.
- Processor: AMD Ryzen 7 4700G
- Graphics: AMD Radeon Graphics
- OS: Windows 10 Home
- RAM: 32 GB
- Storage: 1 TB SSD
- Excellent CPU performance
- Affordable pricing
- Ample ports
- Not that great for graphics-intensive workload
- Limited Upgradability
- Not the latest Bluetooth or WIFI standards
The new generation of Ryzen APUs, just like the one present in this desktop from HP, have surprised many through their performance.
These can compete against the best of Intel and other options from AMD itself, and often come out as the better ones in the different benchmark scores.
We are talking about the Ryzen 7 4700G here specifically, which has got 8 cores and 16 threads. The clock rate ranges from 3.6 – 4.4 GHz which is ample to give the system a boost when needed.
This comes with 8 core Radeon Graphics, which is good for mild tasks, but not the optimal choice for those software dependant on graphics.
ZBrush is not one of those, and so it works well on this. The 32 GB of RAM and 1 GB SSD storage present in this variant make sure of it even further. It has got good connectivity options too.
But expandability is slightly limited, though you get all the necessary ones.
So, if you’re looking for a convenient and sleek device for your tasks on ZBrush, then it makes total sense to include this desktop on your shortlist.
4. SkyTech Archangel – Affordable and Well-equipped for Mid-range Users
- Processor: AMD Ryzen 5 3600
- Graphics: NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1660 Super
- OS: Windows 10 Home
- RAM: 16 GB
- Storage: 500 GB
- Affordable pricing
- Easily upgradable
- Much future-proof
- Certain models don’t have a USB Type-C port
- Hardware issues at times
- Small storage space
The SkyTech Archangel comes with a Ryzen 5 3600 CPU, a GTX 1660 Super GPU, 16 gigs of RAM with a frequency of 3000 MHz, and a modest 500 GB of SSD space.
This is quite a popular prebuilt desktop, mostly since building a desktop with the specs that it comes with would cost you the same.
But with the Archangel, you also get a warranty period on the entire desktop, and so hardware trouble is easier to handle.
Now for ZBrush, more focus is to be given to CPU performance and so we have selected this variant. There are others as well, with other CPU options both from Intel and AMD, and GPU options up to RTX 3060 Tis.
The best part about it is that even the higher variants are not excessively high-priced, which means that you won’t have to plan your budget all over again just because you want better performance.
But there are some things we didn’t like about it too, like it still doesn’t have a Type-C port in it. However, it depends on the motherboard being provided.
Not that everyone needs it, but that would have been a welcome addition. Check out SkyTech ArchAngel Review.
5. SkyTech Chronos – Robust Graphical Prowess
- Processor: AMD Ryzen 7 3700X
- Graphics: NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3070
- OS: Windows 10 Home
- RAM: 16 GB
- Storage: 1 TB SSD
- Great specs
- Simple design
- Ample scope of expansions
- Not the latest WIFI support
- Tech support has to be improved
- Minor hardware issues
This is one of SkyTech’s best-pre built desktops, with all the right specs and a price tag that you couldn’t have possibly matched by building a system yourself. And that too without the warranty of course.
The system specs include a Ryzen 7 3700X CPU, an RTX 3070 8 GB video card, 16 gigs of RAM, and a 1 TB NvME SSD for storage.
ZBrush has several areas of application, or to be precise the models created through it do. Naturally, there are different dedicated software too, some relying more on the CPU, while others on graphics.
If you have a lot of graphics-related software to run on your desktop, be it heavy video editing, rendering, animation, or anything of the sort, then this is the desktop you should be considering without second thoughts.
These newer models also ship with USB Type-C ports alongside other I/O slots, but the WIFI and Bluetooth is still not the latest one.
Another good thing is that there is no bloatware in this, which some other well-known brands tend to provide on their desktops.
There are other variants too if you’re looking for a different set of specs or another price segment perhaps. Check out Skytech Chronos Review.
How to Choose Best Desktops for ZBrush?
The desktops we have mentioned above are all well-equipped for ZBrush and the software that needs to be used along with it.
But these are a selected few, and there are other prebuilt options other than these, while you may build a desktop as well.
Typically, if you do use ZBrush, you’d surely need to use other dedicated software for photo or video rendering, or even game development, and so on. Each of these has different system requirements that have to be kept in mind.
Now depending on your budget and the configuration present, some of these desktops can even run a lot of heavy software at the same time, while others are not so proficient.
Truth be told, the software can run on a lower-end system as well, as long as you are working on lighter projects, but you cannot expect a very comfortable experience then.
As you increase the workload, the system would yield soon enough, or you’d be stuck with a rendering for hours.
But yet, certain things need attention, and that is precisely what this guide is for.
For using ZBrush, there are certainly a few things that you have to select rightly, as we’ll soon talk about.
But the Operating System of the computer that you choose to build or buy is not that sensitive of a choice.
Now in all probability, you are a mainstream user, and if so, you can use either the Mac OS or Windows to run ZBrush, since it is supported by both currently.
What matters here is which one of these are you more accustomed to, and since 3D sculpting is not all that easy, it would be better to not experiment.
Then there are the good and bad sides of both Windows and Mac OS, something which is also quite important.
The Mac OS is relatively fast, simple and you may expect quicker rendering times on it due to the superior optimization.
And, Mac desktops also have that iconic look that can complement an already stylish environment.
But they do have expensive price tags and lesser software compatibility, things which are better with Windows.
Any average Windows desktop you buy for 3D sculpting would not cost you much, and it would also be possible to make upgrades down the road if necessary.
It may not be as optimized, but with the right amount of system resources, there shouldn’t be much of a problem.
So, if you have other things to run that can benefit from an iMac or Mac Mini, then there’s no doubt that you should buy one.
But as a beginner or with a lower budget, a decent Windows desktop seems to be the better choice.
For ZBrush, the CPU performance is the one that matters the most, and often professionals do not even need a dedicated GPU.
Since the processor has to do the majority of the work, its choice is instrumental to the overall performance of your desktop in this software.
Now, there are limitations to what even the most expensive processor can do, and it all depends on how heavy the current project is.
No matter what CPU you choose, the software is bound to lag at times due to practical limitations. This is usually when working with a very high number of polygons (in millions).
But to utilize most of the features offered by ZBrush, a good processor becomes mandatory.
Rendering on the software requires multiple cores, and the faster these cores are, the quicker your work would be done.
Having a mighty Xeon or a Threadripper does speed up things, but they are costly. For extremely heavy renderings though, a workstation may be your only choice.
For the average person, an octa-core AMD or Intel CPU is best, and with the budget not being a very strong restraint, you might as well choose one with 10 cores.
On the lower side, a quad-core multithreaded CPU is the minimum, and a CPU with 6 cores can still handle some moderately heavy work.
Yes, ZBrush is largely CPU intensive, but this doesn’t necessarily mean that you wouldn’t require a GPU at all. Graphics, either integrated or discrete, are important for every single desktop no matter what purpose it is used for.
So considering that your desktop already has integrated graphics (which it generally should), is it worth investing in a better video card? There isn’t a concrete answer to this since this depends on the way you use ZBrush.
For example, with enough CPU power and memory, one may not need a dedicated GPU. Many professionals use Core i9 processors, 32+ gigs of RAM, and still rely on the onboard graphics.
A GPU would be needed when you add special visualizations or work with high-resolution monitors.
Thus, the GPU choice would be determined by the other software that you use, that can utilize it.
The final product of a ZBrush project can be used in animation, movies, games, engineering, and whatnot. Most of these have a greater graphics requirement.
For mid-range systems, any 4-6 GB video card would do, and for serious graphical work, an RTX GPU is also worth considering.
You might as well choose an AMD Radeon Pro or an NVIDIA QUADRO GPU if you are working with extremely professional projects. This is the case for Workstation users, who have very high-end purposes.
But it wouldn’t be making much of a difference in this software’s overall performance even if you buy one such video card. That is especially when considering the money you’d have to spend on it.
Anything that is CPU intensive requires large amounts of system memory or RAM to work with, and in this instance, that number is high as well. Rather than a CPU or GPU upgrade, a solid RAM upgrade often does wonders to the working of ZBrush.
So do you need to fill up all the available RAM slots and install the maximum amount of memory that your desktop supports? Not really, since it too depends on the kind of work that you do.
Say you work with a massive number of polygons at the same time, in which case you’d naturally need more memory. On the other hand, with simple sculptures and lesser multitasking to do, about 16-32 GB of it would do just fine.
An average ZBrush user keeps 16+ GB of memory since it is not the only thing his computer runs at once. In your case too, our suggestion would be to have at least 16 GB of RAM installed on the desktop.
And yes, RAM frequency does play a role here, and faster RAM modules may make a slight difference to your workflow. But don’t make the trade-off between RAM capacity and frequency.
If you don’t know this already, ZBrush is going to constantly read and write on your storage drives.
This means that the speed of the drive in which it is installed, as well as the one it uses to store data, is going to make a significant difference.
Storage speed is often overlooked in the crowd of fast CPUs, RAM, and powerful GPUs, but it is very much important here. And not just speed, the kind of work you’d do on the software also demands storage space, quite a lot of it.
So make sure you choose a fast enough storage drive, along with the other hardware so that your desktop can provide the optimal results, no matter how heavy the workload is.
The first preference always has to be an M.2 PCIe SSD drive, which is the fastest kind of storage you can equip your PC with. But such a drive can be very costly, especially if it has a large capacity.
So, the budget-friendlier option would be SATA SSDs, which are not as costly.
HDDs are the last, but the cheapest resort. You can use one of these as an external drive or store lesser essential data as well.
USB ports have got a variety of uses, as you already know, and even if you don’t have extra devices, you still need these to connect peripherals.
Wireless connectivity is best when present by default in this PC that you buy but also look for the latest versions if possible.
Also, if you’d be using more than a single monitor, free video ports would be needed, either on the GPU or the motherboard directly. ZBrush users often prefer a second screen for better productivity.
ZBrush provides lots of tools and features for its users for detailed and sensitive sculpting. One has to work very patiently, which is not possible without the right accessories.
Well, the kind of accessories that you’d need for any other purpose is almost the same in this case as well, but sensitivity and response times matter largely here.
The first things that you should be looking for are a good drawing tablet and a stylus, that would assist you.
Most, if not all, 3D artists use a stylus or pen of some sort for drawing purposes, since a mouse is not all that good for detailing.
But even then, it wouldn’t harm if you choose a decent mouse and a keyboard along with everything else.
You also need some other accessories, but a monitor is the basic one. You may as well get away with an HD display if you’re a beginner, although an FHD or 2K display is recommended. Keep an eye on the response times and color accuracy as well.
Now serious artists might opt for a 4K or better monitor, or a multi-monitor setup, in which case a good dedicated GPU would also be needed for the desktop. But not every 3D artist prefers such, and it is a matter of personal discretion.
How much RAM do you need for ZBrush?
The amount of RAM that you’d need for ZBrush depends on how heavy the renderings are on the software. More RAM prevents a bottleneck and ensures a smoother workflow. But before you buy too much RAM, you must have a good CPU and enough workload that can utilize it.
Does ZBrush use CPU or GPU?
In ZBrush specifically, a GPU has limited uses. It largely relies on the CPU, though a GPU does not entirely go unused.
No matter how good or how expensive, the video card is only going to have a limited influence on ZBrush, and so it’s better to invest in a better CPU.
Is ZBrush available for Mac?
Yes, ZBrush is supported by the Mac OS as well, so you may buy an Apple product as long as it fits in your budget. But it does not support as much other software as Windows does, which might be a problem for the overall purpose for which you might be using the software. So, make sure you consider this as well before making a purchase.
The ZBrush software is a very useful tool if you are into serious 3D sculpting, video creation, or any such profession where 3D modeling is required. You need not spend thousands, but the right investment on the right hardware can get you an excellent system that would be useful for years to come.