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Best Workstation Computer For After Effects (Updated)

CG Director Author Alex  by Alex  ⋮   ⋮   64 comments
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There are quite some factors to consider when building 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 our 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 or the Intel i9 9900K.

This i7 8700K CPU clocks at 3,7 GHz base and has 4,7 GHz single-core turbo-clock and the i9 9900K even boosts up to 5GHz with 8 Cores, 16 Threads total.

The interface and frame updates in After Effects heavily benefit from high core clocks. Take a look at these tests from Pugetsystems, where it becomes clear very quickly how superior high-clocking CPUs are in After Effects CC.

Best CPU for After Effects


This is true for lots of other Creative Tasks such as 3D Modeling and Animation or Video Editing too, having high Core-Clocks will make your Computer or Laptop much more responsive and snappy.

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” or in other words max CPU-Multi-Core Performance (similar as for 3D Rendering).

This means the more cores you have and the higher those cores are clocked, the better.

Unfortunately, there are no CPUs with more than 8 cores that have Turbo-Boost frequencies as high as an i9 9900K, meaning you will have to trade clock speeds for core-count.

Excellent options here are:

  • AMD Threadripper 2990WX(32 cores), 2970WX(24 Cores), 2950X(16 Cores), 1950X (16 cores), 1920X (12 cores), 1900X (8 cores)
  • Intel i9 Series 9920X (12 cores), 9940X (14 cores), 9960X (16 cores), 9980XE (18 cores)

These don’t clock quite as high as an Intel i9 9900K Processor but are a lot faster in Multi-Processing demanding tasks.

After Effects used to make great use of all of your Cores, but since a few versions the renderer has been re-written, unfortunately for the worse.

This means, to entirely utilize all of your cores you will have to use a Render-Manager such as Thinkbox Deadline, which can launch multiple render-instances and saturate your Cores much better.

The best Multi-Core Value is offered by AMD with its Ryzen 7 CPUs such as the 2700X and especially the Threadripper CPUs as listed above.

How much Memory (RAM) for After Effects?

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

Best Graphics Card (GPU) for After Effects

The most important features here are the CUDA Cores since After Effects can make use of these in 3D viewport rendering, as well as in speeding up some effects-calculations that might be applied to your footage.

Great choices here are the Nvidia 2070 RTX and 2080 RTX since these have a great price/performance ratio. If you have some cash left over, consider the Nvidia RTX 2080 TI for that extra bit of performance.

After Effects doesn’t natively make use of Multiple GPUs, but for tasks such as GPU rendering in Render-Engines such as Octane or Redshift, having Multiple GPUs offer a great performance increase.

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.

Best Monitor for After Effects

Buying Monitors is an extremely interesting area in itself. Definitely check out this in-depth Guide to buying the best Monitors for visually demanding work, which has all the information you need for getting the best Monitor for After Effects.

After Effects Custom Computer Builds

Head on over to the Web-Based CG-Director PC-Builder Tool, that will let you configure a Motion-Design & After Effects build in less than 4 clicks.

An excellent Build, that I recommend often, would consist of the following parts:


What kind of Computer for After Effects are you building?


Alex from CGDirector - post author

Hi, I'm Alex, a Freelance 3D Generalist, Motion Designer and Compositor.

I've built a multitude of Computers, Workstations and Renderfarms and love to optimize them as much as possible.

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



hi. how are you ? thanks for all the info. I have allready all the components of your list. Before i start building the machine, I was wondering if the Rm650x will be enought for the i9, the nvidia board and all the other components? Thanks in advance.


Hi Alex,
Great useful info, thanks for sharing!
Question regarding using After Effects CC 2019:
My maindrive (windows+AE installed) is Intel 600p (NVMe) 512gb, 2nd drive (Project files/assets) is regular 1TB. I’ve ordered a WD Blue SSD 2,5″ (3D v-nand (TLC)) 500gb.
Which config settings you recommend in AE, Disk Media Cache vs. Disk Cache, and where to write the output itself to when rendering queue?


RENDER TIMES [disk cache set to C: / 47gb]:
AE CC 2015
3m32s / 20 placeholders / 38gb / avi lossless to C: (nVMe): 3h36m

AE CC 2019
3m32s / 20 placeholders / 38gb / avi lossless to C: (nVMe): 3h23m

[disk cache set to F: / 500gb (SSD USB3.0)]:
AE CC 2019
3m32s / 20 placeholders / 38gb / avi lossless to C: (nVMe): Elapsed: 3h56m / Est. Remain: 1h26m / Progressbar: ~70%

Conclusion: set disk cache to your fastest drive, even if your project and AE is on it too.
*Above test is done with default settings + Preview enabled. Will test again when disabled asap.

Alex Dinnin

Hey Alex, Thanks for the great article. It’s really helpful
I’m a Motion Graphics designer using mainly After Effects with as bit of C4D thrown in.
I’m currently moving jobs and I’ve been asked what hardware I need.

I”ve been on a Mac for like a 1000 years, but feel it is time to move over to PCs. What are your thoughts about off the shelf PCs. I’m not sure my new employer will go for a custom build.

I was thinking of the HP z8

ANy thoughts ??

thanks again

Tatiana Cantor

Hi, Thanks for the post, I have a question, Why Is better a disk m.2 of 1 tb, Can I use some one of 512mb or samsung Is the best reference? And another, do you recommend a disk only for caché? And What kind of disk for this function? Thanks again


Hi Alex
Thanks for your time working on those useful articles.
By reading your stuff, I am facing a dilemma…
I may have the opportunity to get this PC for 4000 $ brand new
2X Gtx 1080 sli
64 Gb ram
1tb ssd nvme
2tb hdd
Chipset x299 intel
I am working essentially with Premiere and After effect.
I understand your explanation with the high clock vs number of core and the efficiency of RTx 2080.
But for the price, should I try to go and build a
I9-9900K with RTX 2080 TI etc or do you think the opportunity I saw worth it ?

Thanks a lot for your job and for your answer.




Hi Alex,
Thank you for your help!
I am working mostly in Ps, Ai, Id, but planning to learn motion graphics.
Want to build a comp. Here are the parts I have so far:

Intel Core i9-9900K
be quiet! BK022 Dark Rock Pro 4 CPU
ASUS Turbo RTX 2080 8GB GDDR6 VR
ASUS Prime H370M-Plus/CSM LGA1151 (300 Series)
Corsair Vengeance LPX 64GB (4x16GB)
Samsung 970 EVO 1TB – NVMe PCIe M.2
Samsung 970 EVO 500GB – NVMe PCIe M.2
CORSAIR RMX Series (2018), RM650x,
be quiet! PURE BASE 600

Isn’t too much for a beginner? Want to use it to full capacity, not just buy the best one.
Thank you in advance.


Hi Alex, thanks for the great article. I’m coming from being on the Mac for a couple decades and now pricing out a PC system. I’m trying to decide between the i9 9900k and the 9940X. I run AE, Premiere Pro, C4d (TFD and Xparticles) , Syntheyes, Mocha, PhotoScan/Metashape, Lightroom & Photoshop. I’m regularly tracking, comping, and rendering 4K (or higher) footage. I like the power that comes from the 9940x, but is the 9900K higher clock speed and lower price out-weight the higher core count?


Hi, thank you for a very good overview! I’m coming from an iMac 5k Retina and would like to know what monitor you would recommend?


Hello Alex, awesome insight and tips on the best build for after effects. My question to you is, which motherboard would you recommend for all these awesome components?

Joey B

Hey Alex, thanks for all the awesome insight. PC build Q for you, I’m looking to build a microATX rig with 9900k and two 2080 TIs (one to start). I do mostly Ae and some C4D but want to balance that out more with 3D work. I’m a little confused on which mobo to go for, do you have a preference given this setup? Thanks!



I am looking to build a PC with its general aim to produce and mix music (for a hobby as to start off). Ocassionally I would like to play a game or two but I don’t need ultra graphic settings there.
What would you recommend considering I would like to use Cubase and work with vst instruments in combination with effects I use. I want to keep latency as low as possible as I may load and record different instruments and effects simultaneously.

Thanks in advance!



Hi there Alex, my current build is this

i7 8700k with corsair h110i
RAM 64GB G.skill 3200mhz cl14
m.2 samsung for AE cache
some other normal ssd’s for storage

GPU PSU is irrelevant in this case.

I want to know the ABSOLUTE cpu money can buy without having me to change my rams.

i ONLY care about PREVIEW. not render, i want to be able to preview realtime so i dont have to render my complex scenes in order to check my result.

is a high end MAC an option? maybe their OS process better stuff, and my realtime PREVIEW will be flawless.


Hi Alex, I’m looking for a new computer for motion graphics and compositing. Most of the time I use After Effects. But sometimes I also use Premiere Pro. Would there be a big performance difference between the Ryzen 7 2700x and the intel 9700K since they both have 8 cores. I know that the Intel processor clocks quite a bit higher! But is it really worth the extra price for the processor and the motherboard? Also I was wondering if the render performance between a GTX1080 and a GTX1060 (6GB) would be very big? Thanks for the help

Richard Gajarský

Hi Alex, nice article. I´m working in Inventor and rendering in 3DS max – Arnold. I choosea new PC a i don´t sure, whitch Grafic card i would use. RTX 2080 Ti, or quadro P5000. THX.


Hey Alex! Great article! Well
I’m very doubtful about what my future CPU might be. I use After Effects at the same time as Premiere Pro, on projects from many precompositions and levels on AE and videos in 4K with Sony A7s on PP. In addition I use many open Google Chrome tabs … a real workstation. Plus I’m starting to use 3D for a bit of motion graphics. I had seen the 2700X but AE is more for single cores, so 8700K. Which CPU do you recommend?

Reggie Spires

Hey Alex
Brand of DDR4 memory? Specifically After Effects Machine.


Hi Alex,
quick question. You mentioned that we need an Nvidia GPU in order to work good with AE. Do you mean only the Nvidia Manufacturer, or it is okay if it just has Nvidia chipset and the Manufacturer is not Nvidia?
Thank you


Bonjour Alex ;
je commence une société d’animation et de cration de short or long motion 3d films pour tous usages sauf gaming .Il y a une multitude de très bons softwares ,cependant je ne peux pas acheter une machine spécialisée et considérée la meilleure par métier ou par software ,je recherche donc le meilleur desktop pour création ,rendering-animation 3d du début à la fin c’est à dire de la création à la finition commerciale avec sons et soind effects .Je me suis fixé un budget de 6 k euros (il faut mettre une limite quelque part)Peux-tu m’innonder de conseils et de choix judicieux ?
[email protected]


Yea, thanks Alex,
I Am Mushfique. and gonna take my carrier as a 3D MGX/VFX Compositor/Post editor (film).
and I this is a nice place to discuss our experiences and advice. ……………… it !!!!!!!!!!!!!


Hey I am student and just started with after effects so I wanted to build a but don’t want to invest more then $1000

So which graphics card should I go with

Is this configuration great ???




Samsung 860 Evo 250GB 2.5-Inch Sata Iii Internal Ssd 



cooler master masterbox lite 3.1

Corsair CX Series 550 Watt 80 Plus Bronze Certified Modular Power Supply (CP-9020102-NA)

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?


IS this build good for after effects and premiere pro?

– Intel® Core™ CoffeeLake i7-8700K 3.7GHz 12M Cache 6 Core 12 Thread LGA1151 $2739
– ASUS Cerberus GeForce® GTX 1070 Ti Advanced Edition 8GB GDDR5 $4400
– G.Skill DDR4 Aegis Gaming Series 3000MHz 1x8GB F4-3000C16S-8GISB $670 SALES
– G.Skill DDR4 Aegis Gaming Series 3000MHz 1x8GB F4-3000C16S-8GISB $670 SALES
– Antec NX Series NX650 80Plus Bronze 650W PSU $489
– WD Blue WD10EZEX 1TB 7200rpm 64MB 3.5 Inch HDD $319


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 (?)



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?



You definitely want to go with a dual SSD config (and a large HDD as a third drive for data) because having everything on one drive is going to overwork the drive,

A Samsung 960 Pro is overkill as a system drive. So swap your initial proposed config around, but I recommend the Samsung Evo *PRO* as a system drive because the Pros have better write endurance. If you want the best bang for your buck, check out the Intel 600p NVMe 512gb as a system drive. In terms of performance, it’s in between a SATA SSD and a Samsung NVMe SSD.


AE CC2017 Still use 1core for rendering right?