Best Workstation Computer For After Effects (Updated)

Best Workstation Computer For After Effects (Updated)

CG Director Author Alex  by Alex   ⋮   ⋮   109 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 Intel i9 9900K or AMD Ryzen 9 3900X.

This 12-Core AMD Ryzen 9 3900X clocks at 3,8 GHz base and has 4,6 GHz single-core turbo-clock and the i9 9900K even boosts up to 5GHz but only sports 8 Cores, 16 Threads total.

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

CPU NameCoresGhzAfter Effects ScorePriceValue
CPU NameCoresGHzAfter Effects ScorePriceValue
AMD Ryzen 7 3800X83.9983399
AMD Ryzen 5 3600X63.8922249
AMD Ryzen 9 3900X123.81019499
Intel i9 9800X83.8885589
AMD Ryzen 7 2700X83.7850251
Intel i5 9600K63.7882262
AMD Ryzen 5 2600X63.6816149
AMD Ryzen 5 360063.6912199
AMD Ryzen 7 3700X83.6970329
Intel i9 9900K83.61047488
Intel i9 9700K83.6926362
AMD Threadripper 2950X163.5900729
Intel i9 9900X103.5909989
AMD Threadripper 2920X123.5876369
Intel i9 9920X123.59391189
Intel i9 9940X143.39311387
Intel i9 9820X103.3871889
Intel i9 9960X163.19441684
AMD Threadripper 2990WX323.08181699
AMD Threadripper 2970WX243.07971300
Intel i9 9980XE183.09481979

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:

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 After Effects Performance Value is offered by AMD with its lower-end Ryzen CPUs such as the Ryzen 5 2600X or  Ryzen 5 3600X.

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 will greatly increase your performance.

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

The new M.2 SSD Drives such as the Samsung 970 EVO PLUS 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!

109
Comments

Alex

Hi,
thanks for the article. I’m planning to build an AE rig this year and I have a question.
I was planning on using a 9900K, 64GB RAM in 2×32 so I could expand to 128 at some point, going to use my old 1070Ti until I upgrade at some point, but I’m not sure about the Mainboard.

Does it make sense to get a mainboard with 3xm.2 ports so I could use three Evo Plus, 500 GB for software, 500GB for scratch disk and 1TB for video storage? (plus 1-2 SATA data graves)
If not, which of the drives (system, scratchdisk, footage) should I prioritize? I’m guessing the system drive has the least work once the system and programs are loaded?

Andrei

This article is like an commercial for all top cards and CPU’s. You just simply took all last version of CPU’s and newest and best video-cards and listed them here. This page looks like an e-shop commercial of best parts. And I have just read a ton of other articles that are telling exactly the opposite: more exactly that difference is just marginally from upgrading from an older processor to these newer versions and also for video cards where difference from 4 or 6 gigs and 11 won’t bring a huge difference in performance but in costs.

So, it is easy to copy/paste a list of latest tech and recommend only the last versions and the best parts. Even I could do this by taking the most expensive parts of an e-shop and making an article. In my opinion, this is not the way to build a system. Of course it would be best to always have the latest and best technology .but in the end it’s all about the balance not having the most expensive parts.

Matteo

GPU choice
Hi Alex,
I really appreciate your work and your post.
About GPU I can’t figure out, for After Effects purposes, if it is better a 1080Ti or an RTX 2080 Super.
I suppose that Ae doesn’t use all the new features of the new generation, so instead of choose a new RTX, it’s a better choice a 1080Ti with a 9900K.
In other software like Resolve, a dual 1080Ti will be an advantage? I’m thinking about the 16 PCI lanes Limit.
Thank you from Italy

Hi Matteo,

Thanks for dropping a line!

After Effects benchmarks show that a 1080 Ti is slightly better than the RTX 2080 so if you don’t need the 11GB VRAM of the 1080 Ti, going for the RTX 2080 or the RTX 2080 Super might give you a better price to performance ratio. As for DaVinci Resolve, the best GPU you can get is still the RTX 2080 Ti followed closely by the RTX 2080. In fact, an RTX 2080 performs better in benchmarks compared to the 1080 Ti. In terms of a multiple GPU setup, adding a second GPU delivers a performance gain of up to 75% if you are using DaVinci Resolve Studio. However, DaVinci Resolve does not scale perfectly with multiple cards and there are times when a single GPU like an RTX 2080 TI will be faster and cheaper compared to having a dual RTX 2080 or dual 1080 Ti configuration.

A 2080Ti just barely exceeds the bandwidth of pcie x8, so I’d say it’s safe to go with 2x gpus running at x8. Especially if your are only going with 1080Ti or 2080.

Cheers,
Alex

MiK

Hi Alex, thank you for your informations here. I am not sure which CPU to buy for my Adobe applications.
Working with After Effects, Photoshop and Premiere Pro. Here is my configuration :

32 GB Ram
GTX 1660 , 6GB
500 GB Kingston M.2

And now the big question :

I7 9700K or Ryzen 7 3700X ?

Can you recommend a CPU? Thanks in advance!

Hey Mik,

Thanks for dropping a line!

The 3700X scores above the 9700k in both photoshop and after effects benchmarks and is about on par in premiere pro, so I recommend going with the 3rd gen ryzen. Go check out some of the benchmark scores here:

Photoshop: https://www.pugetsystems.com/labs/articles/Photoshop-CPU-Roundup-AMD-Ryzen-3rd-Gen-AMD-Threadripper-2-Intel-9th-Gen-Intel-X-series-1529/
After Effects: https://www.cgdirector.com/best-computer-for-after-effects/#tablepress-23-scroll-wrapper
Premiere Pro: https://www.cgdirector.com/best-computer-for-video-editing/#The_Processor_Best_performing_CPU_for_Video_Editing_Intel_i9_9980XE_Best_CPU_for_Video_Editing_under_500_AMD_Ryzen_9_3900X

The great thing about 3rd gen ryzen also is that you are much more future proof than with intel. AM4 Socket will likely be upgradeable for much longer than the current intel lga 1151 socket.

Cheers,
Alex

Gus

Hi Alex, thanks for your recommendations! very useful! I’m a motion grapher too and I work a lot with AE, adobe products in general and starting a bit with Blender and Unity…. my point.. I am looking to upgrade my old FX 8350 to Ryzen 3000 but my budget is very low, then according to your recommendations I can go for a 3600, but my question is: it’s worth paying the difference for a 3700X, does it feel any real difference? (I work everyday with AE, maybe I can note this kind of things 😉

And the other dilemma I have is about MOBOs, what do you think about the new chipset X570? Do they have any extra effect on Ryzen CPUs for applications of this type? I do not intend to use RAID or PCIe 4.0 right now, maybe in the future but not closely…… so I think a mid-range X470 is enough to handle an R5, R7 even an R9… what do you think?, should I go for a low-range X570 or go for a mid-range X470 (prices are very similar)

To complete the setup:
-GTX1070 MSI GamingX (I’m going to skip this generation, the next one I’ll update)
-Cooler master 650W
-RAM 16GB (2×8) Corsair 3600 CL18 (I already bought them)
-Generics SSDs (looking to buy M.2 soon too)

Budget max for Mobo+CPU: 500€

Thanks in advance!!

Hi Gus,

Thanks for dropping a line!

With the type of work you do, you want to invest in a high-clocking CPU. If you have the budget for it, I suggest that you go for the Ryzen 7 3700X. You mentioned that you are starting a bit with Blender and the 3700X gets the better of the 3600 based on our Blender Benchmark Results and our AE Benchmark results.

In addition to that, the 3700X has 2 more cores and a slightly higher Max Boost Clock than the 3600. While others may not feel the difference between the performance of the two, you may be able to note this as you said you work everyday with AE. Especially as AE’s GUI is so dependent on high single core clocks, the extra bit in the 3700X will make a difference.

In terms of Motherboards, if you don’t need pcie4 or any kind of overclocking I’d recommend to even go with a b450 Chipset and save some more money. The MSI Tomahawk MAX b450 is an excellent board that also supports all 3rd gen ryzen cpus out of the box.

If going with the 3700X means you’ll have to get low clocking RAM though, I’d opt to get the R5 3600 with high clocking RAM instead of the 3700X with low clocking RAM. The Ryzen series performs much better with 3200mhz or 3600mhz RAM and is usually worth the investment.

Hope this helps.

Cheers,
Alex

Gus

Hi Alex! thanks for your help!, I will definitely make an effort to buy the 3700X, I think it’s worth those 2 extra cores for the 3d and especially rendering (at the end I use the same computer for everything, including as an entertainment center, gaming etc.)

About the MOBO… I understand and I know that a B450 like Tomahawk is a great option for the price, but I think I can afford to spend a little more for something more current like the X470 or the X570, Especially planning to buy in the next Black Friday where I can find better deals in the high-end X470 or even on Mid-range X570 (but I don’t have much hope on those)

the thing is I’m a little overclock enthusiast, nothing extreme, just for gaming and I really appreciate the extra USB ports and fans connectors, have at least one CMOS button and maybe bluetooth 4-5…. the truth is difficult to find a mobo in the low ranges that meets all your needs, so I try to find the balance between features, good ram support and price (maybe in that order)

That’s why I think that Black Friday is a good opportunity to acquire those products that normally have an excessive price for a fairer price, that’s all, we’ll see 😉

Thank you very much for your advices!

Hey Gus,

If you have the means for it and have the opportunity to get a high-end X470 or even a mid-range X570 on sale, I say go for it! The maxim “You get what you pay for” applies to a motherboard purchase so if you want to strike a balance between features, good RAM support, and price, you may need to cough up more dough, so to speak.

Anyway, good luck on your build and let me know how it turns out!

Cheers,
Alex

VFX Meda Production

hi all

i use AE increasingly and the preview ram sometimes is slow (FULL/HALF/THird/quarter) very slow

my pc

AMD RYZEN 2700x
64 GB ram hyperx fury 3200
Rogstrix x470f motherboard
Corsair M.2 256GB
Cooler master power supply 500w
GTX 1070 ti windforce 8GB
plz help? How to fix this lag and slow preview on timeline

thnx:)

Hi VFX Meda Production,

Thanks for dropping a line!

Your hardware seems fine for After Effects but the lag and slow preview could depend on your project setup and complexity. If I may ask, how complex your project is? How many effects and what type of effects are used? What’s the resolution and bit depth? Also, what exactly do you mean by lag? How large is the lag and when does it lag?

Cheers,
Alex

Alexandra

Hi Alex,
What would be the best build for DaVinci Resolve studio 16 and Fusion ?
Thank you!

Hi Alexandra,

Thanks for dropping a line!

If you will be using DaVinci Resolve Studio 16 and Fusion, you want a build with a high-clocking CPU at the heart of your system. Also, you might want to have multiple hard drives to serve as storage space for the files you will be working on.

If I may ask, how much is your budget?

Say foor example, you are working on a $1,500 budget, you can get a build like the one I put together below:

Parts List:
CPU: AMD Ryzen 7 3700X 3.6GHz 8-Core Processor ($327.98)
CPU Cooler: be quiet! Pure Rock AM4 ($36.90)
Motherboard: Gigabyte X570 Gaming X ATX AM4 ($169.99)
GPU: NVIDIA GTX 1660TI 6GB – Gigabyte Windforce ($279.99)
Memory: 32GB (2 x 16GB) Corsair Vengeance LPX DDR4-2666 CL16 ($129.99)
Storage SSD: Samsung 860 EVO 1TB 2.5″ Solid State Drive ($129.99)
Storage PCIe-SSD: Samsung 970 EVO PLUS 500GB M.2 Solid State Drive ($119.98)
Storage HDD: Western Digital 4TB Blue, 3.5″ ($87.37)
Power Supply: Corsair CX Series CX550 550W ATX 2.4 Power Supply ($64.99)
Case: Phanteks Enthoo Pro ATX Full Tower Case ($148.50)

The total of the build comes up to around $1495.68. With this build, you get a high-clocking Ryzen 7 3700X CPU. With its 3.6 GHz base clock and Max Boost of up to 4.4 GHz, you can expect the 3700X to deliver task responsiveness when you’re working actively inside the software. You also get three separate hard drives for your files. You can use the 2.5-inch SATA SSD for your OS and commonly used software while the M.2 SSD and 4TB HDD can be used for your files and backing up your data and you’re good to go.

If you haven’t done so, please check the site’s PC Builder Tool at https://www.cgdirector.com/pc-builder/ for build recommendations based on budget and use case scenario.

Cheers,
Alex

Alexandra

Thank you Alex! Would I get a much better performance if I get an AMD Ryzen 9 3900X and Nvidia RTX 2080? Budget around $2,200

Hi Alexandra,

There will definitely be an increase in performance if you go for Ryzen 9 3900X CPU and an RTX 2080 GPU.

For a $2,200 budget, you can get something like the below:

Parts List:
CPU: AMD Ryzen 9 3900X 3.8GHz 12-Core Processor ($499.99)
CPU Cooler: be quiet! Dark Rock 4 AM4 ($74.90)
Motherboard: ASUS TUF Gaming x570-Plus (Wifi) ATX AM4 ($199.99)
GPU: NVIDIA RTX 2070 8GB – MSI Gaming ($481.99)
Memory: 32GB (2 x 16GB) Corsair Vengeance LPX DDR4-3200 CL16 ($143.99)
Storage SSD: Crucial MX500 2TB 2.5″ Solid State Drive ($223.48)
Storage PCIe-SSD: Samsung 970 EVO 1TB M.2 Solid State Drive ($169.99)
Storage HDD: Seagate BarraCuda Compute 6TB, 3.5″ ($138.00)
Power Supply: Corsair CX Series CX550 550W ATX 2.4 Power Supply ($64.99)
Case: Phanteks Enthoo Pro ATX Full Tower Case ($148.50)

The total comes up to around $2145.82 but this build now comes with a snappier Ryzen 9 3900X CPU with 12 cores and 3.8 GHz base clock and up to 4.6 GHz Max Boost. I chose the RTX 2070 GPU for this build to fit your $2,200 budget but no worries if it’s a step down from the RTX 2080. The RTX 2070 brings the best price to performance ratio among GPUs at the moment and, like the RTX 2080, it also comes with CUDA core acceleration for better render speeds should you plan on using the GPU render engines.

Cheers,
Alex

Anos

Hi Alex.
I use proffesionally adobe suite and especially Photoshop, Illustrator, After Effects and InDesign.
I use this pc build for 3 years but i use AE increasingly and the preview sometimes is slow.
Could you please tell me if i could upgrade something in my build or should i buy a new pc? Thank you in advance for your time.

CPU: Intel Core i7-6700
RAM: Kingston KHX2400C15/8G KHX2400C15D4/8G KHX2400C15/8G KHX2400C15D4/8G 32GB
GPU: Nvidia GTX 750-Ti
SSD: Corsair Force MP300 NVMe PCIe M.2 240GB
MBD: Gigabyte Z170X-GAMING 3
HDD: Toshiba DT01ACA100 1TB
HDD: Intenso External USB 3.0 1TB
OS: Windows 10

Mike Carter

Hey Alex, this is really useful info, particularly for a novice like me!

We are currently looking to hire a motion graphics designer to our small business – it’s not something we have much experience in so looking to understand what hardware would be required for day 1 plus what the overall costs would be to get Abode and other assets needed. Would the designer need access to an assets bank/library or similar? Is that expensive?

Any help hugely appreciated.

chandrasekar

why not suggest Ryzen 9 3900x processor for after effects
any issue compare to i9 9900k processor