Best Workstation Computer For After Effects (Updated)
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Best Workstation Computer For After Effects (Updated)

CG Director Author Alex  by Alex   ⋮   ⋮   88 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!

88
Comments

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

Simon

Hi Alex,

What do you think about this config? (I would like to work on video editing, motion and Photoshop Illustrator…). Thanks in advance for your feedback and sorry for my english…

+ 1 x Intel Core i7-9700K (3.6 GHz / 4.9 GHz)
+ 1 x ASUS PRIME Z390-A
+ 1 x Noctua NH-U9S
+ 1 x Corsair Vengeance LPX Series Low Profile 32 Go (2x 16 Go) DDR4 3200 MHz CL16
+ 1 x Gigabyte GeForce RTX 2060 SUPER GAMING OC 8G
+ 1 x Seagate BarraCuda 4 To (ST4000DM004)
+ 1 x Intel SSD 660p 512 Go
+ 1 x Samsung SSD 860 EVO 500 Go
+ 2 x be quiet! Pure Wings 2 140mm
+ 2 x be quiet! Pure Wings 2 140mm High-Speed
+ 1 x Corsair Carbide 275R (Blanc)
+ 1 x Corsair RM650x V2 80PLUS Gold
+ Monitor : 1 x BenQ 32″ LED – EW3270U

Cheers,
Simon

Frank

Hi Alex,
I noticed that your build doesn’t include any additional cooling (e.g. liquid coolers) . Any reason for this?

Jude Hall

Hi Alex, my son and I are building a computer for After Effects and we are stumped on the difference between the intel 9900K and 9900KF. It looks like the KF has an iGPU while the K does not. The KF is also about $40 cheaper. Which would you recommend?

Zack Carter

I am creating a build for premiere and after effects, I do heavy motion graphics and animation and a ton of 3D camera tracking. I took some of the parts from your custom part picker but I have some questions. what could I do to bring this build down to $1600 range and not lose out on performance?
Does the cooler work for overclocking?
Should I get the 2070 super GPU or just the 2070?
Here is my build:
PCPartPicker Part List: https://pcpartpicker.com/list/P2twTB

CPU: AMD Ryzen 7 3700X 3.6 GHz 8-Core Processor ($329.00 @ B&H)
CPU Cooler: Noctua NH-D15 82.5 CFM CPU Cooler ($89.95 @ Amazon)
Motherboard: MSI X570-A PRO ATX AM4 Motherboard ($159.98 @ OutletPC)
Memory: Corsair Vengeance LPX 32 GB (2 x 16 GB) DDR4-3200 Memory ($162.99 @ Newegg)
Memory: Corsair Vengeance LPX 32 GB (2 x 16 GB) DDR4-3200 Memory ($162.99 @ Newegg)
Storage: Samsung 970 Pro 512 GB M.2-2280 Solid State Drive ($159.99 @ Amazon)
Storage: Samsung 860 Evo 1 TB 2.5″ Solid State Drive ($129.99 @ Amazon)
Storage: Seagate Barracuda 2 TB 3.5″ 7200RPM Internal Hard Drive ($79.89 @ OutletPC)
Video Card: EVGA GeForce RTX 2070 SUPER 8 GB XC GAMING Video Card ($548.99 @ SuperBiiz)
Case: Fractal Design Meshify C ATX Mid Tower Case ($89.99 @ Walmart)
Power Supply: EVGA SuperNOVA G3 750 W 80+ Gold Certified Fully Modular ATX Power Supply ($129.99 @ ModMyMods)
Operating System: Microsoft Windows 10 Home OEM 64-bit ($105.89 @ OutletPC)
Total: $2149.64
Prices include shipping, taxes, and discounts when available
Generated by PCPartPicker 2019-07-29 17:00 EDT-0400

Brain fx

Hi Again Alex hope you are doing Great
I’Am waiting for the update 😀 I mean your review for the R9 3900x-3950X and how it perform in AE ! Woaah
have a nice day 🙂

Fabricio

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.

bascurtiz

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?

bascurtiz

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
https://store.hp.com/UKStore/Merch/Product.aspx?id=2WU50EA&opt=ABU&sel=WKS

ANy thoughts ??

thanks again
Alex