Improve rendering performance
As in many others apps, you should take care to trick your scene to get faster renderings. But you also need to just improve your rendering power.
This is a list of what are the functions that cost the most of rendering time. Obviously, turn them off could lower the image quality. But you should be aware of them and find an other way to get beautiful renderings if it cost too many rendering time.
- Don't use too much samples in Ambiant Occlusion.
- Reduce Antialiasing
- Don't use many Ztranp materials ones behind anothers. Prefer "ray transparency" in this case.
- Reduce Ray depth (mirror and transparency)
Official builds of Blender are designed to work on all CPUs. Therefore, the software is not properly optimised to yours. Get an optimised build can decrease rendering time by 2 !
It's well know that Linux has a better memory management system than Windows. It's also lighter and performs multi-tasking admirably. Therefore, switching to Linux could get your rendering much faster.
3D Video card
While your are in 3D modeling, 3D video cards only do the drawing on the scene, not the rendering. You may have the best 3D card, you won't get rendering any faster. 3D video cards are only useful if when you turn around the scene in 3D view, you feel a bit stuck.
What you need most in rendering is CPU power. multi-cores worth the price as you really get faster. 2 cores = 2 times faster! Tick the "Threads" number in render panel and to your amount of cores. Increase also X/Y parts.
Useful on large scenes or well detailled. Increase if you use many textures, lot of polygons or animation baking. You can see the amount of memory used on top of the rendering screen, near the rendering time.
This benchmark should give you an overview of CPUs and operating systems performance with Blender.