I have been asked to put a machine together of a friend who needs to do 3D rendering in AutoDesk 3ds Max. I have not been able to determine if the product support multi-threading and would benefit from multiple cores. Could you please let me know if it does?
3D software rendering have supported multiprocessing for a long time. "Rendering farms" are all about this. Note that I said multi-process, not multi-thread. The act of rendering a picture is often single threaded. but you can process several frames at once when rendering a video. So 4 cores will render video pretty much 4 times faster.
Here's an article on the topic on Extremetech. As you can see, the rendering is about twice as fast on a quad-cores (QX6850) than on a similar-speed dual-core (E6850):
From the 3ds Max homepage (you have to expand the "What Is 3ds Max?" section):
So, at least some aspects of it are multi-threaded.
Even if it doesn't make use of the multiple cores directly, or certain features - such as rendering - aren't multi-threaded, you will see a benefit as when you're running other applications (mail clients, browsers, paint programs etc.) they should be executed on the "other" core, thus giving you better performance (less paging etc.) from both 3ds and the other application.