Hey Alex .. oh wow .. that's a question
well .. it depends on your operating system in quite a number of cases.
For instance if you're on PC - then GPU is way better in V5 and even more optimised in V5.1 (which is almost released .. like really - almost) . .I'm on Mac so can't really compare PC's version.
Now, I have to say that I'm not a frequent Studio user - I mainly use Maxwell with Maya plugin. And I do use Maxwell Studio - time to time - but not really frequent - so my observations might not reflect heavy ussage.
Now, recently, I've got my hands on studio v5 - so I was doing testings - overall it felt more stable (especially in terms of FIRE preview) and generally less crashes.
In terms of what's new in studio: well, here is a page dedicated to it - https://maxwellrender.com/features/
- I believe major improvement came to MULTI GPU (as they re-wrote the entire code of it) .. but, since I'm on Mac - can't really comment on how good it is
♀️ or how better it is in comparison with V4.
There are some noticeable add-ons ..like cloud rendering - this might be a small - but definitely a very handy feature for production houses and design studios (like where I work) - as in most of the cases we try to render on our machines - we even have a few machines dedicated specifically for rendering .. but sometimes when clients want everything .. tomorrow - we use render farms and if you haven't set up workflow with render farm previously - I can tell you - it is not user friendly and not as straightforward as it seems.
little off topic - I used to render quite often through Ranch Computing - render farm .. with V3 .. now recently tried to set up again with V4 - and boy I failed. Their in-house software doesn't fully work, freezes, crashes and some buttons simply do nothing when pressed - and since the workflow with that render farm structured that way that you have to evaluate your project first using their software (to pack it with all dependencies and stuff) - you physically can't even send it to render farm
♀️ not even talking of estimating how much would it cost you ... but again, I'm on nac - maybe on windows their internal software works better .. this is just experience that I had - and it was right before the big project .. so eventually we outsourced some renderings to other parties.
That was a real-life scenario where cloud rendering that goes straight from Maxwell Studio - would help a lot. Might not be an everyday feature but definitely a great to have one.
Now what else ..
Substance Painter Material Assistant
(that will be in V5.1 - in literally very short amount of time) - that is one of my favourite features - as I use Substance Painter quite often - ability to create Materials in just a few clicks - is perfect (and you can see a first post - that image of the lightsaber on the ground - has materials created with that assistant. Both ground and lightsaber's materials were created in under 20 seconds - isn't that crazy)
Colour Random - is my all time favourite here. It is just so cool to have that ability. So in procedural's section (I just wish they would add this to Maya plugin) now you have few new procedurals - Coloraturas Random is one of those. So if you have a group of objects you can add random colour blend on top of any texture channel. Say you have a Tree and each leaf has a same texture map you can add a different colour tint to every leaf. Specifying range ov hue values, saturation and value (lightness) so that every leaf on your tree will have a slightly different tint of green (for example) or it could be a group of objects where you want to have slightly variation in properties.
And it doesn't have to be just colour .. since it is everywhere - where you have texture ability .. it could be roughness - so that every object have slightly different roughness value .. or transmission ... imagine you have a few hundreds glass spheres - and want all of them to have different colour transmittance (few hundreds - ya?) .. or you can go more advanced like bump variation or for instance you have a few layers in your materials (say a layer with extra details or decals) you can add brightness variation to layer's mask - so that every object will have a slightly different influence of that details mask .. it's pretty powerful and allows you to add that little touch of reality to your renders.
. .it is like making your object in a little less than perfect position to make them look more natural, rather than pre-set and artificial.
Might be a small thing but definitely a very handy one. I've recorded a little tutorial about it
should be out soon.
- does pretty much same thing but with UV tiles. It offset's your object's UVs with desired values so that every object will get a different portion of texture - that way same objects, that have same texture will not look too artificial (like wall tiles, or parquet floor, or pretty much any group of objects that carry same texture)
and .. I don't know, maybe it's just me, I believe I said it already - but it feels like it is rendering a bit faster. Or maybe I just became a little bette tin optimising my materials / scenes .. hard to say - but definitely a welcomed feeling
Those are just my favourites .. there are some bug fixes also - https://maxwellrender.com/all-new-features/
Whether you should upgrade or not - well .. personally - I think that if you're using it professionally - the price is not high. and the software is NEW (as Barney Stinson say - NEW is always better)
- and then you can have two versions
if you're on PC - got more perks .. but for myself - even here on Mac - this release is pretty nice, but not because it has a ton's of new features .. for me it is more important to have a software that is predictable and reliable. Means it is easy to use and it is stable. Everything else is secondary
I don't know if any of these makes sense, hope it does