To render your scene, find the camera icon on the top of the Properties panel. This is the default layout for the Render panel (Figure 1).
Figure 1: Render panel
At the top of this panel is where you will actually execute the render. If you hit the "Image" button, you will render a still image of the current frame (shortcut: F12). If you hit the "Animation" button, you will render an animation (shortcut: CTRL + F12), based on the frame range and output options you have set.
The Display defaults at "Full Screen." If you hit F12 to render an image of your scene, the render will appear full-screen. You can hit <Esc> to go back to your normal view. If you click on the Display drop-down menu, you will find a couple other options (Figure 2).
Figure 2: Render Display list
Select "New Window" from this list and hit F12. Your render appears in a new window (Figure 3).
Figure 3: Render in a new window
Render in the UV/Image Editor
Next, select "Image Editor" from this list. Before you render, change one of your views to the UV/Image Editor (shortcut: Shift + F10). Now, hit F12 to see your render appear in the UV/Image Editor. The Render window has options, just like a 3D view. Hit "N" to access the Properties for your render (Figure 4). After inspecting the options, toggle it back off by hitting "N" again.
Figure 4: Render in UV/Image Editor, Properties
One handy feature to point out in this window is the Slot list. If you used Blender prior to version 2.5, you will remember you could use "J" to render a second image and toggle back and forth for comparison. The Render Slots do the same, except there are several slots available for comparison. Just pick an empty slot and render. Then, select a slot for viewing... and you can still toggle them with "J."
There are also drop-down menus for render layers and passes. To the right of those menus are some options for showing your image with transparency or as an alpha.
Speaking of render layers, direct your attention back to the Render panel and expand the "Layers" section (Figure 5). This area is for compositing your scene. The default render layer is called "RenderLayer." After looking over this section, close it back up.
Figure 5: Render Layers
Moving down, the "Dimensions" section should be expanded by default (Figure 6). This is where you will set the dimensions of your shot, the frame range and rate of your animation, the aspect ratio, etc.. There's also a resolution percentage slider, so you can quickly render a smaller version of your final dimensions. The Presets menu allows you to either pick a preset or add one based on your settings.
If you check on "Border" at the bottom of this section, you can restrict your render to that area only. This is very useful to test only a certain area of your shot. Simply go to a camera view of your scene (NUM0), then hit Shift + B to marquee-drag a box for your preview. If you activate the "Crop" option, it will eliminate the black around your border section when you render.
Figure 6: Render Dimensions
Anti-Aliasing should be checked on by default. If you uncheck it, your render will have jagged edges. More than likely, you will leave this option on. The default number of anti-aliasing samples per pixel is "8." As you increase this number, your renders become sharper, but at the expense of longer render times. The menu is the type of filter that calculates the anti-aliasing. Just leave everything at their defaults for now (Figure 7).
Figure 7: Render Anti-Aliasing
If you want to render only certain aspects of your scene, the Shading section is one to get familiar with (Figure 8). For example, if you would like to render without textures, simply uncheck it. Another time-saver: if you want to render without your reflections, etc. showing up, uncheck "Ray Tracing." The "Alpha" menu controls how the alpha is calculated.
Figure 8: Render Shading
The Output section is where you will pick your filename and save path, file type, etc. for your animations. For image renders, you can actually pick the file type when you are saving the image: hit F3 after rendering a stil to bring up the Save As window.
The three buttons below the file type are used to make the renders black & white (BW), color (RGB) or color with transparency channel (RGBA) (Figure 9).
Figure 9: Render Output
The Performance section allows you to render your scenes more efficiently. If you only have one processor to render with, just leave this on the defaults (Figure 10).
Figure 10: Render Performance
Render Post Processing
The Post Processing section has both "Compositing" and "Sequencer" checked on by default (Figure 11). If you're using nodes, you will want to make sure Compositing is checked on. If you are using the Sequencer to combine different shots, you will want to make sure "Sequencer" is checked on. However, you can have both checked on, as they are by default, even if you're not using them. The "Fields" option is for TV format. The "Edge" option is for a "cartoon" appearance, rendering your objects with a colored edge around them.
Figure 11: Render Post Processing
The Stamp section allows you to document your renders with information such as the time it took to render, the frame number, etc. (Figure 12).
Figure 12: Render Stamp
If you want to bake any image textures in your scene, this is the section to visit. Unless you're using Blender's game engine or creating textured models for interactive purposes, you probably don't need to worry about anything in this section (Figure 13).
Figure 13: Render Bake
That's an overview of the Render panel. Hopefully, that will get you started rendering using the new version of Blender.