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Review: Vagon cloud computing service — Run Blender on any system [$, promoted]

5

To make optimum use of Blender you need a Windows, macOS or Linux system with a certain degree of hardware power, which can be costly. To compensate for slow hardware you can make use of online render farms at a price per hour. The new vagon service takes this principle a step further: you can now rent a completely usable and customizable, high-performance remote Windows system you can run in any browser.

Vagon works quite straightforward: you register at the vagon website, select a plan / system configuration, and you're ready to start using your remote system right inside your browser window.

At the time of writing vagon is in a public beta stage, offering three performance options, which come at different prices. You can switch between performance options anytime while keeping your computer’s data the same.

The currently available vagon systems

The currently available vagon systems

Each performance option for your remote vagon Windows system can be tried for free for a limited amount of time, and vagon has offered a special promo discount code for Blender Nation readers, which you can find at the bottom of this review. Vagon stated that new performance options will follow soon.

We tried the top-level Apollo system, featuring 32 CPU cores, 244 GB RAM, a 2 x 8 GB GPU for a price of $ 4.99 per hour, at the time of writing.

To start using your remote vagon Windows system, you need to initialize the system. At the time of writing this takes about two to four minutes, which is slightly inconvenient, like having to wait for a render before being able to use Blender. But this is necessary only once per session, and will undoubtedly improve, as vagon is working hard to improve all areas of their service.

Some applications such as Google Chrome come pre-installed with your remote vagon Windows system. Vagon is working on a solution providing Blender and other creative software out of the box when you start your vagon system.

There are different options for available storage space, and you can connect external cloud storage services to your vagon system, such as Dropbox and Google Drive. A full-sync file manager is being worked on and will follow soon.

Files can be sent to your vagon system by simply dragging and dropping them into the vagon interface inside your browser, and you can remotely download applications and data to your vagon Windows system via the browser. The advantage of this is that the vagon system includes a symmetrical internet speed of nearly 2 Gigabits per second, which causes any large file to be downloaded from the internet to your vagon system in the blink of an eye.

Connecting to your vagon system works with any internet connection speed, but to avoid lagging it's recommended to work with a fast internet connection. This allows you to push the Stream Preferences to the 'Very High' setting, for a smooth workflow.

Vagon works best if you've got an internet connection that allows the highest stream preferences

Vagon works best if you've got an internet connection that allows the highest stream preferences

Of course the first thing I downloaded was our beloved Blender. It feels magical to be able to run Blender inside any browser, even on a Chromebook or iPad. Vagon breaks OS and hardware barriers.

Blender running on your own remote Windows system

Blender running on your own remote Windows system

After setting some personal navigation preferences I subdivided the default cube, entered Sculpt Mode and started sculpting. As we tested the top vagon system via a fast internet connection, there was a low latency with a neglectable lag, allowing you to smoothly sculpt in Blender Sculpt Mode.

Sculpt away in Blender in any browser on any system

Sculpt away in Blender in any browser on any system

I also made a quick Suzanne scene with some lights and a semi-reflective material to test the realtime Cycles viewport performance. This was also very good on the fast remote system with the fast internet connection. It feels like running Blender locally on a relatively fast system, but controlled via your browser window.

Cycles viewport rendering is pleasantly speedy using the high-end Apollo system

Cycles viewport rendering is pleasantly speedy using the high-end Apollo system

Rendering the same Suzanne scene also went smoothly, but although the Vagon Apollo system is powerful, a dedicated online render farm is still more efficient for production rendering purposes, at a comparable price per hour. This might change when new performance options are introduced to vagon.

Final Cycles rendering is also speedy but not as fast as using a dedicated render farm

Final Cycles rendering is also speedy but not as fast as using a dedicated render farm

At the end of a session, don't forget to shut down your virtual vagon system, or the system time and its rent will proceed. There's a difference between not being actively connected to your vagon system and having it shut down. You can be disconnected, but the system will still be running. This can be used for rendering a scene while you're not actively using the system.

To protect you from accidental system time usage, there's an 'Auto Turn Off' option with an adjustable timer.

Give Vagon a try

Vagon enables you to work anywhere, turning any device that's connected to the internet into a powerful desktop workstation. It could be very useful for a temporary remote job, without the need for investment in an expensive desktop system or a powerful notebook.

Vagon allows you to work with Blender and/or other Windows applications on any type of device with an internet connection, preferably a fast one. You can start working using one of the cheaper options, then upgrade your computer to the most powerful option when you need to start rendering, while keeping all your system's data.

On a final note it's good to keep in mind that at the time of writing, vagon is still in a beta development stage, so some minor quirks might occur, but the platform is being improved as we speak, and vagon's support team was conveniently responsive.

More info and videos can be found on the vagon site. Give it a try yourself. Vagon has offered a special promo discount code for Blender Nation readers: just enter the code BLENDERNATION20 when registering, and you're good to go.

About Author

Metin Seven

Dutch freelance 3D illustrator, modeler and visualizer — metinseven.nl | Writer for Blender Nation, CG Boost and CG Cookie | Blender Artists and Blender Devtalk forum moderator | Former news cartoonist, TV series animator, game designer and magazine editor

5 Comments

  1. Looks nice but this could be a bit expensive if you have a large render job. i´ll prefer Shadow (https://shadow.tech/usen) over any other service. It´s mainly aimed at gamers but i use it for my Blender stuff since nearly two years now. At the moment the price is 14,99 Euro a month having a GTX 1080 GPU, 12 Gig RAM and a Xenon octacore CPU. At the end of the summer my rig at Shadow will be upgraded to a RTX 2080, more GHz per core and some more RAM.

    There are clients for nearly every system so you can run Blender on your smartphone if you´re hardcore enough. :-D

    The only downside is that the instance at shadow shuts down after 30 minutes of no mouse movement or keyboard activity, this is indeed not the best solution for rendering.

    Nonetheless i will check out Vagon and see what they have to offer. Thanks for your article here on Blendernation.

    • claas e kuhnen on

      Ah that is quite interesting!

      I need something for remote rendering when students PCs are too weak / old

      • Hello Claas,

        We are really interested in working with communities, and previously we have provided some extended free usages for design schools and for their students. Let's continue to talk in details. You can reach me anytime you want from serdar [at] vagon.io

        Have a nice day!
        Serdar

    • Hello Chris!

      It's Serdar from vagon team. Thanks for your comments! It's always good to learn more about user experiences. :)

      As you mentioned above, despite Shadow was built for gamers some of their users, like you :) , are using them for their daily purposes.

      At vagon, we are trying to provide both flexibility and easy-to-use experience for our creative users. We are here to create the best-known experience just for creatives.

      When you are using vagon you can start with the lower tier computer, and upgrade it's performance anytime you want while keeping your files the same. Also, you can continue using vagon even if it's in the background, which means that you can leave vagon for your rendering purposes and continue using your own computer as you like.

      We are still in Beta and every day we are adding new features to vagon. We are working on some major features which are going to provide the best onboarding and file management experience. Stay tuned for them.

      If you would like to give a try to vagon, you can use BLENDERNATION20 promo code. We are waiting for your comment. :)

      Thanks,
      Serdar
      https://vagon.io

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