Quicksilver This is a render engine in Max that allows scenes to be rendered out with different artistic effects like charcoal, pencil
Mental Ray (mr) As opposed to Scanline, mr uses mr lights and materials allowing physical attributes to be used, giving a more realistic feel. Uses ‘bucket rendering’.
Scanline This is the default renderer in 3ds max and allows the use of of all the standard lights and materials. Can render quicker than mr but far from realistic output.
VRay This is an external render engine and is like mr on steroids. A greatly advanced workflow over mr allows photorealistic renders in a fraction of the time.
Render to Texture This is a tool in 3ds max that allows the user to render out different layers i.e. normals. Diffuse, specular etc. It also offers the ability to render lighting and shadows into a texture in order to avoid lighting calculations at the point of render. Not to be used if the shadows
Shaders These are sets of instructions that tell the render engine how to display the final render. The instructions come from either the textures used or the presets within or both.
Remember... When something is ‘new and improved!’ which is it? If it’s new, then there has never been anything before it. If it’s an improvement, then there must have been something before it.