Best Workstation Computer For After Effects

27 March 2017

There are quite some factors to consider when configurating a new PC targeted at After Effects use.

This article is about building the best bang-for-the-buck Adobe After Effects PC/Workstation Computer and what Hardware parts are the best picks for your intended use:

Best Processor (CPU) for After Effects

We have to differentiate between two use cases to find the best possible CPU for your needs:

1. Actively Working in After Effects

If you are planning on actively working heavily with this Computer I recommend a maximum Core-Clock CPU such as the i7 7700K. This Processor clocks at 4,2 GHz base and has 4,5 GHz turbo-clock.

The reason why you want a high clocked CPU is, that the interface and frame updates in After Effects are mainly calculated on a single Core. It is only when rendering or previewing multiple frames at once, does the multi-core structure of a Processor get employed.

2. Using the Machine mainly as a Render-Node

Now if you are using this Computer mainly to render out projects that you have already set-up on a different workstation, you would want to go “max CPU-core count” x “CPU-core clock”.

This means the more high clocked cores you have the better. Since unfortunately there are no CPUs with more than 4 cores that clock at 4,2 GHz like the i7 7700K you will have to trade clock speed for core-count.

Good options here are the

  • Intel i7 6800K (6 cores)
  • i7 6850K (6 cores)
  • i7 6950X (10 cores)
  • and also the XEON processors that you can have multiple CPUs on a mainboard such as 2x Intel XEON E5-2630 v4 (20 cores total)

These dont clock quite as high as a Intel Kaby Lake i7 7700K Processor but have much more cores.

Also well suited are the new AMD Ryzen 7 CPUs such as the 1800X, that have been released Q1 2017. They offer an excellent price/performance ratio in comparison to Intel Workstation CPUs.


I recommend getting at least 16-32 GB DDR4 RAM for 4-core CPUs and to go up to 64-128 GB of RAM for 20+ cores.

Best Graphics Card (GPU) for After Effects

The important factor here are the CUDA Cores, since After Effects can make use of these in 3D viewport rendering and also in calculating some effects.

Go for a Nvidia 1070 GTX or 1080 GTX, since these have a great price/performance ratio.

Best Hard-Drive (HDD/SSD) for After Effects

The new M.2 SSD Drives such as the Samsung 960 EVO or PRO have excellent performance and outperform any SATA SSD by far. Highly recommended.


In your opinion, what is the best Hardware Configuration for After Effects? Share your knowledge in the Comments.


Alex - post author

Hi, I am Alex, a passionate Director and 3D Generalist currently working in an Animation Studio.

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AE CC2017 Still use 1core for rendering right?

Alex, For pure After Effects / Premiere uses, would you see any significant advantage to get 2 SSD drives (one for the system and softwares and the other one for the sources and caches) rather than just one? If so, would you consider a Samsung 960 Pro 512Mb (Nvme) (for the system) + a Samsung 850 Evo 1tb (SATA) (for the sources and cache) a good option? Or would it be here worthwhile to add when possible the extra bucks necessary to replace the Samsung 850 Evo 1tb (SATA) by a Samsung 960 Pro 1Tb (Nvme), just to be sure… Read more »

Quite an insightful article.
Just in case, any major update on this build since last March?
… maybe just the 7700k would be now replaced by the 8700k (?)