There are quite some factors to consider when building a new PC that is mainly targeted at After Effects use. Compositing & Motion Design are popular workloads within After Effects, that use a lot of resources.
In this article, I’ll show you what Hardware Components you’ll need for a top-performing After Effects PC & Workstation.
Let’s start out with identifying some of the typical workloads you might want to run when working in After Effects.
There are two main categories of workloads that we should take a closer look
- Active work: Active After Effects work is when you sit at your desk and are actively using your workstation. This might involve animating layers, editing your footage, creating masks, adding effects, scrolling the timeline, or navigating the User Interface through menus and buttons.
- Passive Work: Passive After Effects work is done when the Program executes tasks on its own without you having to interact with it. Such workloads include Rendering out your Projects and Effect Processing Tasks such as Footage Stabilization.
Top Best Processor (CPU) for After Effects
The 12-Core AMD Ryzen 9 5900X clocks at 3,7 GHz base and has a 4,8 GHz single-core turbo-clock and the i9 10900K even boosts up to 5.3GHz but only comes with 10 Cores.
|CPU Name||Cores||Ghz||After Effects Score||Price $||Value|
|AMD Ryzen 5 2600X||6||3.6||
|AMD Ryzen 5 3600||6||3.6||
|AMD Ryzen 5 3600X||6||3.8||
|AMD Ryzen 7 2700X||8||3.7||
|Intel i5 9600K||6||3.7||
|AMD Ryzen 5 5600X||6||3.7||
|AMD Ryzen 7 3700X||8||3.6||
|Intel i9 9700K||8||3.6||
|AMD Threadripper 2920X||12||3.5||
|Intel i7 10700K||8||3.8||
|AMD Ryzen 7 3800X||8||3.9||
|AMD Ryzen 7 5800X||8||3.8||
|Intel i9 9900K||8||3.6||
|AMD Ryzen 9 3900X||12||3.8||
|Intel i9 10900K||10||3.7||
|AMD Ryzen 9 5900X||12||3.7||
|Intel i9 9800X||8||3.8||
|AMD Threadripper 2950X||16||3.5||
|AMD Ryzen 9 3950X||16||3.5||
|AMD Ryzen 9 5950X||16||3.4||
|Intel i9 9820X||10||3.3||
|Intel i9 9900X||10||3.5||
|Intel i9 9920X||12||3.5||
|AMD Threadripper 2970WX||24||3.0||
|Intel i9 9940X||14||3.3||
|AMD Threadripper 3960X||24||3.8||
|Intel i9 9960X||16||3.1||
|AMD Threadripper 2990WX||32||3.0||
|AMD Threadripper 3970X||32||3.7||
|Intel i9 9980XE||18||3.0||
|AMD Threadripper 3990X||64||2.9||
|CPU Name||Cores||GHz||After Effects Score||Price||Value|
Best Recommended Processors For After Effects In Low Budget
|1. AMD Ryzen 5 3600X Desktop Processor 6 cores up to 4.4GHz 35MB Cache AM4 Socket|
|2. AMD 5000 Series Ryzen 7 5800X Desktop Processor 8 cores 16 Threads 36 MB Cache 3.8 GHz Upto 4.7 GHz AM4 Socket 500 Series Chipset|
4. Intel Core i7 9700 Desktop 9th Gen Processor 8 Cores up to 4.7 GHz LGA1151 Intel UHD Graphics 630 (BX80684I79700)
5. Intel ® Core i5-10400 Processor (12M Cache, up to 4.30 GHz)
Best Recommended Processors For After Effects In Hight Budget
- AMD Ryzen 9 5950X (16 Cores), AMD Ryzen 9 5900X, AMD Threadripper 3970X (32 cores), 3960X (24 Cores)
- Intel i9 10900K, Intel i7 10700K
Top Best Memory (Ram) For After Effects
The amount of RAM you will need depends a lot on what type of projects you are working on, what other programs you have opened at the same time, and what kind of Plugins you are using.
If you are using After Effects for lower-res projects that don’t go above 1280×720 and you work in 8Bit Color and your timeline isn’t too complex or long, you might get away with 16GB of RAM without noticing any slowdowns.
I wholeheartedly recommend at least 32GB of RAM for serious After Effects use though, better 64GB if your projects are in Full HD or above and you re working in 16 or 32Bit Color Depth. Especially if your Footage consists of multilayer EXRs or similar heavy footage you’ll need at least 64GB of RAM if you don’t constantly want to hit the purge button.
Best RAM specifications for After Effects
Be sure the RAM you chose is decently clocked, with 3200Mhz or 3600Mhz usually being the sweet spot of value. Look out for lower latency RAM such as CL14 or CL16 if your budget allows this.
Having at least two RAM modules makes sure they run in Dual Channel mode, giving you double the potential bandwidth for accessing your Memory. On HEDT Motherboards with chipsets such as x399, TRX40 or x299, you can double that bandwidth again (Quad Channel) if you have at least 4 RAM Modules hooked up.
Be sure to buy RAM Modules in Kits. The modules within a Kit are factory tested and guaranteed to run smoothly within that configuration of modules.
Recommended Memory (RAM) For After Effects 2021
1. Corsair Vengeance 32GB & 16GB
2. G.Skill Trident 32GB & 16GB
Top Best Hard-Drive (HDD/SSD) for After Effects
After Effects involves footage, and if this footage is high-res and has a high bit-depth you’ll want to make sure to have fast storage. Multilayer, 32Bit EXRs, or RED Files are just some examples of typical footage that you use in After Effects.
You’ll greatly benefit from having a high-end storage device to make previews and rendering as fast as possible.
NVMe M.2 SSD 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.
The above chart shows you how superior an NVMe SSD is to HDDs or traditional SATA SSDs. Of course, this is sequential performance, but random read / write and higher queue-depths too are faster on NVMe Drives.
Top After Effects Custom PC Recommendation
Here’s an excellent After Effects Build that is able to handle highly complex projects without any issues.
|CPU||AMD Ryzen 9 5950X 3.4GHz 16-Core Processor|
|CPU Cooler||be quiet! Dark Rock Pro 4|
|Motherboard||MSI X570 Tomahawk ATX AM4|
|Graphics Card||Nvidia RTX 3080 10GB – Gigabyte Turbo|
|Memory (RAM)||64GB (4 x 16GB) G.Skill Ripjaws V DDR4-3200 C16|
|Storage SSD||Samsung 870 QVO 2TB 2.5″ Solid State Drive|
|PCIe-SSD||ADATA XPG SX8200 Pro 2TB NVME M.2 Solid State Drive|
|Power Supply||Corsair RMx Series RM750x 750W Power Supply|
|Case||NZXT H510 ATX Mid Tower Case|
Since After Effects is badly optimized for CPU Multi-Core Usage, you’ll see better performance with CPUs that clock high vs CPUs that have lots of cores. The Intel AMD Ryzen 9 5950X which clocks at 346 / 4.9 GHz Turbo will give you a snappy active work experience as well as great rendering speed when exporting your compositions.
The beQuiet Dark Rock Pro 4 Air Cooler is among the best Air Coolers you can get and it will make sure the CPU stays below its thermal limits.
When using an overclockable CPU you should make sure the Motherboard supports this and has strong VRMs to deliver all the required power. The MSI Tomahawk X570 is an excellent choice for making sure your Motion Design PC-Build does not run into any Power-Limits.
As we discussed above, the Graphics Card isn’t as important in a PC-Build for After Effects.
That’s about it!