I’ve been looking into realistic renderers (is there a better word for this?) for my landscape work with SketchUp.  I have not found anyone place to see multiple reviews and there has been an explosion of new software out there.  So I embarked on installing demo versions of the software to see what quality, speed, and style was available.  This is by no means scientific or am I an expert at any one of these programs.  So this is the simplest test I  could think of: have each of the programs in their default mode render the same SketchUp scene.  So this is not based on what one has the most materials or can gloss floorboards the best, it’s just a beginner’s test.  I’m sure each of the programs can do tremendous things in the hands of an expert, but that’s not where I am right now.  This is also not a comprehensive test of all programs that give realistic renderings.  Some SU add-ons cost are double what the Pro version costs, and that is just beyond my review right now. 

So I chose a scene that had many different issues: some 3D plants, some 2D plants, grass texture, plain color faces, simple components and complex ones (a 3D grass component), and a fence made from a .png with a transparency/alpha channel.  The same lighting/shadow and location were used for all of the shots.  The plain SketchUp scene is shown and all of the outputs are shown as well.  Then I reviewed each of the programs based on some basic criteria: ease of installation, what type of installation (some are plugins internal while other programs are external), speed/time to render, whether they use multithreading, size of the output, overall quality of the output,  advertized price at this moment, and a link to their websites.  Each of these programs has good and bad points.  I have not purchased any of these programs and yes, I am a beginner.  Yet it’s interesting to view the output from each.  Take a look and feel free to make your own review and opinion.   (You will need to download the pdf to see the comments from my beginner’s review.)