Mental Ray for 3ds Max Gets Major Boost

by Phil Miller

Mental Ray for 3ds Max is available directly from NVIDIA — for free starting this week.

It includes all the functionality 3ds Max users rely on, coupled with updated workflows and enhanced material definition language (MDL) support. Plus, it delivers up to 7x faster rendering with its easy to use GI-Next global illumination when using a top-end GPU.

3ds Max artists can use NVIDIA Mental Ray to create scenes and render at any resolution, using all supported processors within a machine. It’s also fully backwards compatible for all the functionality and data people depend upon. A license is only required for network rendering.

A Great Pairing with Iray

For the past six years, Mental Ray has included its own Iray mode for 3ds Max users, and this remains included as Mental Ray Iray. Now, we’re including the separately available Iray for 3ds Max plugin that provides the full range of NVIDIA Iray functionality.

The resulting Iray and Mental Ray for 3ds Max product uses the same license to enable both renderers. Customers who already own Iray for 3ds Max will find their licenses automatically work for Mental Ray as well.

Together, Mental Ray and Iray cover the rendering spectrum. Iray is NVIDIA’s best solution for designers requiring photorealistic simulations to predict and present their designs. Mental Ray is NVIDIA’s best solution for 3D professionals needing complete flexibility and artistic control for their productions. With both using MDL materials, you can use the best renderer for the task at hand.

Pricing and Availability

A Mental Ray license is only required for network rendering — which is complimentary for colleges and universities. Licensing is flexible by being a machine-based, yearly subscription that enables any supported 3ds Max version and all the processors in the machine.

Local licenses are $295, or $995 for a five-pack, while systems containing a professional NVIDIA GPU qualify for special pricing of $95, or $325 for a five-pack. Customers who purchased Mental Ray standalone from Autodesk will have their active subscriptions matched with NVIDIA licenses at no cost. Licenses of Iray for 3ds Max now work for Mental Ray as well.

Find out more about what’s coming for Mental Ray, or attend one of our many talks on Mental Ray or GPU rendering during our GPU Technology Conference, taking place this week at the San Jose Convention Center.

Mental Ray for 3ds Max will be available from the NVIDIA Advanced Rendering Software Store and resellers starting this week.

Model courtesy of Stefan Morrell “Stonemason” and DAZ 3D, available at

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  • John Martini

    Do you guys have any intentions of making Mental Ray a worthy render engine anymore. It doesn’t seem like it’s progressed much in the past 7 years. Comparing it’s speed, performance, and memory management to VRay, Arnold and Corona, it would be silly for anyone to use Mental Ray as it takes anywhere from 3 – 5 times longer than any competing engines. It’s not to say that Mental Ray doesn’t have some powerful rendering capabilities and shaders, it’s just way behind now-a-days.

  • Antonio Bosi

    I did some tests and I found MR 2017 not so far from the competitors, it has some strong points over arnold (especially for the Archiviz). V-ray seems faster but it loose a lot of GI details compared to MR’s GI-Next. You can see my tests here:

  • Phillip Miller US

    Yes, of course Mental Ray will be advancing. We acknowledge the progress Mental Ray within 3ds Max and Maya has not been at the pace we would have liked in past years, but its schedule and priorities there was previously controlled by Autodesk. Now that NVIDIA has control over the integrations,we can finally expose its full functionality while also investing in workflow enhancements that we’ve wanted to enable for years. You will find the most progress here currently on Maya because we had more time to work with it as a plugin. Most of our time with 3ds Max this time out was spent making it a plugin so we could independently advance it.