It will be very convenient if you build your own render farm. However, there is a lot to take into account if you want to build it. Here I will list a few factors for you to partially imagine what will have to prepare for a self-build render farm.
One-time payment: Once you made the initial purchase, you own the hardware and can use it as often as you like – 24/7 even if that’s what you need – and pay only the electricity bill.
100% customized for your needs. Since you are building it, you can set it up any way you like. You can build your computer in a furniture cabinet to match the rest of your room. Or you can use a dedicated space to host a server rack. Plus, you can get the latest and greatest hardware – provided that your budget can accommodate it.
You need to make an investment beforehand. Buying a top of the line computer has always been expensive. As a general rule, a PC with the latest generation CPU, a pair of top of the line GPUs and a decent amount of RAM will cost around $4,000. If you want to go pro (read Nvidia Tesla series, server chassis, redundant power, etc), you can easily get to double that figure. But let’s go for the smaller amount – if you need more than one machine to get the results you need, you have to multiply that budget. You know your specifics; it’s up to you to do the math.
You need some tech skills for the initial setup. Let’s start with the hardware: you may configure the entire rig from a manufacturer like Cyberpower Pc, and they will just ship it to your house. Or you can shop for individual components looking for better pricing, in which case you will need to do all the assembly by yourself. Once the rig is functional, you need to install an operating system, the drivers and the rendering software. And the final step is setting up the render farm software. You may use 3D software that has the feature built-in, and you just have to configure it. Or you may need to install 3rd party management software that will distribute your work to all the machines.
The machines may impact your work environment. Each additional machine will require some space and will generate noise and heat. The degree of noise depends on the actual configuration used and can go up to 50dB or even 60dB for a server or a loud gaming machine. Also, each machine generates heat while running. A high-end PC under load can easily dissipate over 500W of heat – that’s the same amount of heat generated by 5 persons doing desk work. If you have a lot of rendering machines, you may need to re-consider your cooling needs for the room.
Doing your own debugging. A machine used for long periods of time at 100% load may overheat and shut down or lock up. Or a hard disk may fail, or a stick of memory. These things happen, and if they do, you need to know how to fix them. And if something like this happens just hours before your deadline, you need to know to fix them fast.