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The primary feature of Mental Ray is the achievement of high performance through parallelism on both multiprocessor machines and across render farms. The software uses acceleration techniques such as scanline for primary visible surface determination and binary space partitioning for secondary rays. It also supports caustics and physically correct simulation of global illumination employing photon maps. Any combination of diffuse, glossy (soft or scattered), and specular reflection and transmission can be simulated.

Mental Ray was designed to be integrated into a third-party application using an API or be used as a standalone program using the .mi scene file format for batch-mode rendering. Currently there are many programs integrating it such as Autodesk Maya, 3D Studio Max, Cinema 4D and Revit, Softimage XSI, Side Effects Software's Houdini, SolidWorks and Dassault Systèmes' CATIA. Most of these software front-ends provide their own library of custom shaders (described below). However, assuming these shaders are available to mental ray, any .mi file can be rendered regardless of the software that generated it.

The computers listed below are best for Mental Ray because they all meet or exceed these system requirements…

System Requirements:

  • Operating System: 64 bit Windows 7-10, DirectX 11 required
  • Processor: 64 bit Intel/AMD multi-core 
  • RAM: 16GB
  • Disk Space: SSD, 10 GB free 
  • Graphics Card: 2x nVidia GeForce GTX 1060 (6G)/1070 or higher, with one card dedicated exclusively to Mental Ray
  • Memory: 8GB video memory