Changes to Rendering in 3DS Max 2018

Changes to Rendering in 3DS Max 2018

With the release of 3ds Max 2018® software, Autodesk will no longer include NVIDIA’s Mental Ray as part of 3ds Max. Instead, customers will be able to use Arnold for foreground (in-session) processing in addition to Scanline, Quicksilver, and Autodesk Raytracer (ART).

Customers who need to scale their output using either background processing or a render farm can continue to use Scanline, Quicksilver, and ART license-free. However, customers wishing to use Arnold, Iray, Mental Ray, or other third-party rendering solutions for command line or network rendering may need to purchase additional licenses.

Here are a few questions we have answered that make things a little clearer:

So what exactly is/is not changing with rendering in Autodesk 3ds Max 2018?

Autodesk has made the following changes with 3ds Max 2018:

  • Autodesk no longer provides Mental Ray with 3ds Max 2018. Please note that “Mental Ray’ includes the Iray mode of Mental Ray previously supplied with 3ds Max.
  • Customers will have access to the Arnold renderer for foreground processing within 3ds Max 2018.
  • The Arnold plug-in (MAXtoA) is included with the 3ds Max 2018 software download, and available on the Solid Anglesite.
  • Customers who wish to use Mental Ray with 3ds Max 2018 will be able to acquire it directly from NVIDIA.

The following is not changing in Autodesk 3ds Max 2018:

  • Customers currently using Mental Ray with older versions of 3ds Max are unaffected by these changes as they have perpetual licenses.
  • 3ds Max will continue to allow you to use third party renderers such as Mental Ray, Iray+, V-Ray, Corona, Redshift, Octane and other renderers will be unaffected.

Why is Autodesk making these changes?

In 2016, Autodesk purchased Solid Angle, the company that developed Arnold, with the goal of adding high-quality rendering to its product portfolio. As a result of this acquisition, Autodesk has decided to create an open rendering ecosystem for their products where different renderers, including Mental Ray, Iray, and Arnold, can compete equally. For this reason, Autodesk will no longer be bundling Mental Ray and Iray with 3ds Max.

Who is affected by these changes?

These changes will affect any customers who download and installs 3ds Max 2018. This includes new and existing subscribers as well as customers who download the software as part of their maintenance plan. It does not impact customers using previous versions of 3ds Max.

What if I want to use Mental Ray or Iray with 3ds Max 2018 or later?

If you want to continue to use NVIDIA rendering products with 3ds Max 2018 (or subsequent releases) you will need to acquire the compatible version from NVIDIA directly.

Will adding Arnold affect the way third-party renderers work with 3ds Max?

No, Autodesk is committed to supporting third-party renderers, including NVIDIA’s Mental Ray and Iray, among others.

As a 3ds Max subscriber using Mental Ray/Iray, what should I do?

You are eligible to download 3ds Max 2018 but if you wish to continue using Mental Ray or Iray, you will need to contact NVIDIA for plug-in availability and usage policies.

Can I install 3ds Max 2018 without installing Arnold?

Yes. There is no requirement to install Arnold. You can simply choose to opt out of the Arnold installation by disabling the ‘Arnold for 3ds Max’ option during the installation process. If required, Arnold can be re-installed at a later date.


There is a lot of innovation happening in rendering at the moment and with more and more choices in terms of speed, price, quality, and capability, Autodesk is allowing customers to choose the renderer that works the best for them.

We hope this answered any questions you may have had regarding Autodesk’s changes to rendering in 3ds Max 2018 but if have any other queries about what we discussed above or want to get your latest version of 3ds Max, contact us here!


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