I often get asked questions about how long it took to render the animation, or what kind of computer I have. I often forgo answering, partly because it's not an easy question to answer. But in this post I will try and answer them as best I can.
How long does a typical render take? Well, I render on multiple machines (render farm), and the machines don't all have the same specs. Also, I don't always render the entire animation in one continuous session. I can only use the render farm when no 'real' work is rendering, so I have to manage the renders in all the down-time. This hopping on and off and machines with various specs make it hard to put a number on render time. Typically, my animations render between 5 and 30 minutes per frame, and I usually render about 2500 frames for a fly-through animation. The animations that are divided in 'scenes' usually have about 100 frames per scene, so that's usually less then a continuous fly-through.
Remember that I create in-between frames in After Effects. So the 100 frames that I render get multiplied to 500 using frame interpolation. This practice saves an incredible amount of render time.
So altogether it usually takes several days, or even weeks to render something on the farm.
So what kind of computer do I have? Well, some people assume some crazy GPU configuration, but I must stress that the current generation of Mandelbulb3D fractals do not make any use of GPU. It's CPU only, and the reason is that fractals use double precision whereas GPU only uses single precision. The coordinates are therefor not precise enough to create all the cool endless zooms in the fractal space. So GPU real-time fractals can be done, but you can only zoom in to a certain extent. I have seen some examples of this in VR - and I should think that in a few years on, something pretty amazing should be possible in real time.
But for now, it's all CPU, which means that the only thing you should be concerned about when tuning your Mandelbulb3D beast is CPU clock cycles. The more the better, more virtual cores, more physical cores. As it's multi threaded, it will pretty much consume 99% CPU an any PC. I don't know about the L1 L2 caches, but I imagine they won't make much difference. Memory is not going to be an issue. The program is 32-bit so it can't use more then 4 GB of RAM. A lot of people seem to think that more RAM will speed up the rendering, but it won't.
Perhaps somebody could find the sweet spot in the pricing of a PC with as many CPU cycles for the lowest amount of $$$, taking into account the cost of the motherboard you would need for the CPU and some cheap graphics card and RAM.
I've recently bought an ASUS Zenbook laptop, which I use for Mandelbulb3D and After Effects. I wouldn't use it to render animations, but I do create high-resolution stills on it, and I generally use it to create the fractals in MB3D in the first place.
I hope that these insights into the hardware side has proven useful for some people, looking for their own setups. And if I've made any errors, or omitted important information you think I should include, please let me know in the comments section.