Best Workstation Computer For After Effects (Updated)

Last updated on June 13th, 2018,

There are quite some factors to consider when configurating a new PC that is mainly 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 single Core-Clock CPU such as the i7 8700K. This Processor clocks at 3,7 GHz base and has 4,7 GHz single-core 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, that more cores of the Processor get employed by After Effects.

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 cores you have and the higher those cores are clocked, the better. Since unfortunately there are no CPUs with more than 6 cores that have turbo-frequencies as high as the i7 8700K you will have to trade clock speed for core-count.

Good options here are:

  • AMD Threadripper 1950X (16 cores), 1920X (12 cores), 1920X (8 cores)
  • Intel i9 Series 7920X (12 cores), 7940X (14 cores), 7960X (16 cores), 7980XE (18 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) or the Bronze, Silver, Gold, Platinum Editions

These dont clock quite as high as an Intel Kaby Lake i7 8700K Processor but have much more cores, meaning if you use a render-manager such as Thinkbox Deadline and make full use of all your cores, going for a high-core count CPU might make the difference in delivering your project on-time.

Well suited are the new AMD Ryzen 7 CPUs such as the 2700X, that have been released recently. They offer an excellent price/performance ratio in comparison to Intel Workstation CPUs.

RAM

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

Great choices here are the Nvidia 1070 GTX, 1070 TI 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 970 EVO or PRO have excellent performance and outperform any SATA SSD by far. Highly recommended for Footage, Cache and Software Drives.

 

What Hardware Configurations for After Effects work best for you? Share your knowledge in the Comments.

 

Alex - post author

Hi, I am Alex, a Freelance 3D Generalist / Motion Designer and Compositor.

I have built a multitude of Workstations and Renderfarms for all kinds of 3D related use cases and love to optimize them as much as possible.

After working in the 3D/VFX Industry on-staff for several years, I have recently gone freelance and am having a blast!

Feel free to comment and ask for suggestions on your PC-Build or 3D-related Problem, I'll do my best to help out!

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Nadir
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Nadir

AE CC2017 Still use 1core for rendering right?

Solcarlus
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Solcarlus

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 no bottlenecking ever happens when actively working on these Adobe softwares?

Thanks!

Jeff
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Jeff

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 (?)
Thanks

tommy
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tommy

IS this build good for after effects and premiere pro?

CPU
– Intel® Core™ CoffeeLake i7-8700K 3.7GHz 12M Cache 6 Core 12 Thread LGA1151 $2739
主機板
– ASUS PRIME Z370-P $1020 SALES
$1250
顯示卡
– ASUS Cerberus GeForce® GTX 1070 Ti Advanced Edition 8GB GDDR5 $4400
RAM
– G.Skill DDR4 Aegis Gaming Series 3000MHz 1x8GB F4-3000C16S-8GISB $670 SALES
$730
– G.Skill DDR4 Aegis Gaming Series 3000MHz 1x8GB F4-3000C16S-8GISB $670 SALES
$730
火牛
– Antec NX Series NX650 80Plus Bronze 650W PSU $489
HDD
– WD Blue WD10EZEX 1TB 7200rpm 64MB 3.5 Inch HDD $319
SSD
機箱
– ANTEC P8 ATX $459 SALES
$499

Jose Garcia
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Jose Garcia

Hi Alex, I Just modeling 3D, ( Solidworks )and rendering ( Keyshot ), I want to start learn with animation videos for my work. Seem there is a lot of good options of programs to learn. But what you considering a best option for learn in the market of the consumer products?