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
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.
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.
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?