Best Workstation Computer For After Effects (Updated)

Last updated on October 5th, 2018, 19 comments

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 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.

Similar to a Computer for 3D Modeling and Animation, having a high Core-Clock will make your Computer much snappier.

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.

Since unfortunately there are no CPUs with more than 6 cores that have Turbo-Boost frequencies as high as an 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 don’t clock quite as high as an Intel i7 8700K Processor but have much more cores.

This means 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 kind of Computer for After Effects are you building?

 

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Alex from CGDirector - post author

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

I have built a multitude of 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!

19
Comments

Guido

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.

Aris

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

pascal

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 ?
pascalpbt@gmail.com

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. ………………..like it !!!!!!!!!!!!!

Harshil

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 ???

AMD RYZEN 5 2600 6-CORE 3.4 GHZ (3.9 GHZ MAX BOOST) SOCKET AM4 PROCESSOR

ASUS PRIME B450M-A MOTHERBOARD

CORSAIR VENGEANCE LPX 16 GB DDR4 3000MHZ MEMORY CMK16GX4M1B3000C16

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

WESTERN DIGITAL CAVIAR BLUE 1TB INTERNAL HARD DRIVE WD10EZEX

AMD RADEON PRO WX 3100 100-505999 4GB GDDR5 WORKSTATION GRAPHIC CARD

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?

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

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

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!

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.

Nadir

AE CC2017 Still use 1core for rendering right?