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.
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.
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?