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Best Graphics Card For After Effects

By December 31, 2020January 31st, 2021No Comments

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Best Graphics Card For After Effects

A curated list of the best graphics cards (GPU) for After Effects.

Best Graphics Card For After Effects

This article is all about helping improve your After Effects workflow. I’ve done a ton of research on graphics cards and paired that with my personal experience as a motion designer, to give you a curated list of the best GPUs for After Effects in 2021.

If you want to get right into the recommended Graphics Cards, just scroll down. If you want to learn more about what should be considered when choosing a graphics card, quick links are available in the table of contents below.

Best Graphics Cards For After Effects 2021

GeForce RTX 3090 24 GB

Fastest consumer graphics card

PROS
  • Ultra-high performance
  • Great cooling performance
  • Excellent for 3D workflows
  • Dedicated ray-tracing cores
  • Can handle 8K gaming
CONS
  • Expensive
  • Large form factor

Specs:

  • GPU Tensor Cores: 328
  • Cuda Cores: 10,496
  • RT Cores: 82
  • Core Clocks: 1725 MHz
  • VRAM: 24 GB GDDR6X
  • Interface: PCI Express 16
  • Connections: 3x DisplayPort, 1x HDMI
  • Dimensions: 32.5 x 12 x 5.7 cm

For creative professionals who need hardware-accelerated rendering, the RTX 3090 should be considered a front-runner. With double, the Cuda Cores than the previous flagship 20 series models makes the RTX 3090 a rendering beast. However, at 2 times the price of the RTX 3080, it is only worth it if you work in heavy 3D workflows and just want the best.

Perhaps the biggest reason buy is the  RTX 3090’s 24GB of GDDR6X video memory on a 384-bit bus. This gives you 936 GB/s of memory bandwidth which is nearly a terabyte of data per second. Such a massive allocation of ultra-fast VRAM means that you can do heavy 3D rendering work in applications like Blender and Davinci Resolve. If you don’t work much in 3D, I would opt for one of the 8 GB VRAM cards instead.

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GeForce RTX 3080 10GB

Excellent value for high-performance workstations

PROS
  • Big performance gains over RTX 2080
  • Excellent for 3D workflows
  • Great cooling
  • Dedicated ray-tracing cores
CONS
  • Expensive with current markup
  • No USB Type-C

Specs:

  • GPU Tensor Cores: 272
  • Cuda Cores: 8704
  • RT Cores: 68
  • Core Clocks: Boost 1740 MHz
  • VRAM: 10 GB GDDR6
  • Interface: PCI Express 16
  • Connections: 3x DisplayPort, 1x HDMI
  • Dimensions: 32.7 x 9.3 x 17.5 cm

This GPU is a game-changer for professionals looking to build a powerful and relatively affordable rendering station. The new 30 series generation of Ampere architecture powered GPUs represents a massive leap in value for performance. The RTX 3080 gives you roughly 50-75% performance gains over the RTX 2080, and 20-30% more than the RTX 2080 Ti. In addition better power efficiency. Oh, and the RTX 3080’s MSRP is more affordable.

Overall, the RTX 3080 is in the value for money sweet spot for those who need high-level performance in After Effects and other 3D workflows. One thing to watch out for is price movement and availability, depending on when you are reading this review.

Overall, this beast of a computer is likely overkill for most designers. You can opt for the regular iMac and upgrade some components. However, If you are a designer that demands the highest level of computer specs and has the money to spend, you won’t be disappointed.

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GeForce RTX 3070 8GB

New levels of performance in the $500 range

PROS
  • Great performance
  • Good value for money
  • Dedicated ray-tracing cores
CONS
  • Expensive with current markup
  • No USB Type-C

Specs:

  • GPU Tensor Cores: 184
  • Cuda Cores: 5888
  • RT Cores: 46
  • Core Clocks: Boost 1755 MHz
  • VRAM: 8 GB GDDR6
  • Interface: PCI Express 16
  • Connections: 3x DisplayPort, 1x HDMI
  • Dimensions: 4.32 x 11.13 x 27 cm

The RTX 3070 is a high-performance value GPU that, depending on price movement, provides amazing value in the $500 – $800 price range. It is essentially a more affordable 2080 Ti, but built on the new Ampere architecture. It might only have 8 GB of VRAM compared to the 2080 Ti’s 11 GB. But with a massive 5888 Cuda Cores, 184 Tensor Cores, and 46 RT cores, this GPU will handle video editing workflows in After Effects and light-weight 3D workflows with ease. The 2080 Ti is still slightly roughly 20% faster at rendering, likely due to more VRAM. But at roughly double the price, the RTX 3070 is great value for the money.

In summary, for budget continuous professionals, who still needs solids performing card, the RTX 3070 is a great card with minor performance gains over the 3060 Ti. The new Ampere based architecture RTX 3070 trades blows with the higher-priced 2080 Ti, at a fraction of the cost. This is assuming you can buy it at or close to the suggested MSRP.

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NVIDIA Quadro RTX 4000

Entry-level reliable professional-grade graphics card

PROS
  • Solid performance
  • Reliable
  • RT & Tensor Core features
  • Single-slot form factor
  • Competitive pricing
  • Quiet
  • USB Type-C
CONS
  • Expensive for 8 GB VRAM
  • Limited availability

Specs:

  • GPU Tensor Cores: 288
  • Cuda Cores: 2304
  • RT Cores: 36
  • Core Clocks: Boost 1545 MHz
  • VRAM: 8 GB GDDR6
  • Interface: PCI Express x 16
  • Connections: 3x DisplayPort, 1x HDMI, 1x USB Type-C
  • Dimentions: 5.8 x 10.2 x 20.3 cm

While the Quadro cards are more expensive than the GeForce, there are some benefits. It really boils down to peace of mind and reliability. The reason being, Quadro graphics cards are built specifically for design professionals. With 2034 Cuda Cores and fully ISV certified this card is ideal if you use professional 3D applications in combination with After Effects.

A couple more benefits with the Quadro RTX 4000, is you get a USB Type-C and single-slot form factor. If performance, stability, and reliability are what you need, the Quadro RTX 4000 is a great choice.

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GeForce RTX 3060 Ti

Amazing value for money mid-range GPU for After Effects

PROS
  • Great performance for the money
  • Competitive pricing
  • RT & Tensor Core features
CONS
  • Slightly high power consumption
  • No USB Type-C

Specs:

  • GPU Tensor Cores: 152
  • Cuda Cores: 4864
  • RT Cores: 38
  • Core Clocks: Boost 1695 MHz
  • VRAM: 8 GB GDDR6
  • Interface: PCI Express 16
  • Connections: 3x DisplayPort, 1x HDMI
  • Dimensions: 5.35 x 12.45 x 23.11 cm

If you are looking to spend $500 or below, the RTX 3060 Ti represents the new value benchmark. I will mention that the suggested MSRP is probably less than the real price you can find currently. However, the price should decrease over time. That aside, there’s a lot to like about the RTX 3060 Ti. It is faster than the RTX 2080 Super, which about 3 hundred more. The 3060 Ti has nearly twice the Cuda Cores than the 2080 Super. It has the same 8 GB of GDDR6 memory, which is plenty for most After Effects users. The 3060 Ti even beats the 2080 Ti in various benchmark tests.

Overall, if you are a budget continuous professional designer, who still needs solids performing card, the RTX 3060 Ti is a no-brainer. The new Ampere based architecture RTX 3060 Ti outperforms higher-priced 20 series GPUs, at a fraction of the cost. The only caveat is, can you get this card at a price close to the suggested MSRP.

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To see how some of our recommended cards stack up, here’s Puget Systems After Effects GPU benchmark testing results.

Best Graphics Card For After Effects GPU Scores

Graphics Card For After Effects – What to Consider

Let’s be real, investing in a good CPU and RAM should be the priority. After Effects mainly runs off the CPU, while getting data from the RAM. How that is displayed is the job of the GPU. But it’s not so cut and dry. There is way more to consider.

Having a solid, or even powerful GPU can be critical. But it depends on your specific use case and computer setup. Read on to see the most important factors when choosing your next graphics card.

What Software Do You Use?

If you are looking for a graphic card for After Effects, chances are this is not the only software you use. For example, a typical motion graphics workflow can include Cinema 4D to After Effects, mixed with a bit of Photoshop, then Premiere Pro. Having a solid GPU to handle the variety of software is important. But what else should be considered?

What Is Your Workflow Like?

Thinking about your workflow and the programs you use is one thing. But how do you use those programs? Do you use GPU accelerated effects or plugins that leverage the GPU for performance gains? Do you work with heavy 3D files that use textures, maps, lighting, etc?

You should also think about what you use your computer for, outside of your profession. If you are a part-time gamer, depending on the kinds of games you play and your monitor setup, having a capable GPU will be critical.

Rendering & Optimization:

Do you render so much that optimizing render times is important? Having a good graphics card will give you the ability to cut down render times by selecting GPU acceleration to aid the CPU when rendering.

Displays & Monitor:

Another important factor is your display/monitor setup. If you are running a 4K monitor or multiple displays, having a quality GPU will keep all the heavy and complex visual data rendered smoothly in the viewport while panning and previewing your designs.

Ports/Connections:

Most GPU’s feature the following ports. DisplayPort, Mini DisplayPort, HDMI, or DVI. How many of each will depend on the specific model. Knowing what connections you need on your graphics card will depend on your current and future monitor set-up.

Future-Proofing:

Software makers are constantly coming out with updates. Also, monitor technology is getting better and more affordable. Future-proofing your PC with a capable GPU for now and in the future is a wise decision in my opinion.

Does After Effects need a good graphics card?

Adobe After Effects does not need a good graphics card to run the program. Adobe’s minimum requirements for running After Effects calls for 2 GB of GPU VRAM. They also prefer if you update to a NVIDIA driver 451.77 or later.

While this is true, you don’t need a good graphics card to run After Effects, ultimately your use case will determine what graphics card is preferred.

The most important thing is to make sure the GPU is supported by After Effects. It is also important to understand your workflow. Specifically what GPU accelerated effects do you use or want to use in the future (GPU accelerated effects list).

In addition, what is your workflow like outside of After Effects? If you are working with 3D, perhaps you are using Cinema 4D or Maya in your workflow. In this case, if you are working with heavy 3D files and effects, I would recommend a “good” GPU for After Effects. All of the graphics cards we recommend here are in the good category with over  8 GB of VRAM.

Even if you don’t work in 3D, there are still benefits to a good graphics card for After Effects. Even when exporting H.264 video, turning on GPU acceleration will dramatically decrease your render times.

Does After Effects use GPU or CPU?

After Effects uses the CPU to process the task, while the GPU is used to display that information, in the form of an image on your screen. But there’s another thing to mention, is RAM. RAM or Random Access Memory holds data for the CPU to process. If you want to see our recommendations for CPUs for After Effects, check out our article here: Best Processor For After Effects

After Effects does use the GPU for some specific tasks, such as GPU accelerated effects and rendering.

If you are building a computer for Video Editing, Motion Design, or Animation, all the computer components are important. But generally speaking, I would invest in a good CPU and a decent amount of RAM first. Then a decent GPU second. That said it depends on what kinds of design work you do. If you work on 3D heavy projects, use a variety of effects, want to speed up rendering, or even have multiple 4K monitors, I would recommend investing in a solid graphics card.

What Is VRAM?

VRAM is a specialized version of dynamic random access memory (DRAM). Similar to the way your computer’s RAM works keeping the CPU fed with data. The VRAM keeps your graphics processor (GPU) fed with data to render images to your display. VRAM holds data for anything needed to render a frame such as the frame buffer, textures, shadow maps, bump maps, lighting information, and more.

It is more efficient for the GPU to pull that data from the VRAM in close proximity, to get it from the main computer RAM, SSD, or CPU memory.

How Much VRAM Is Used By The GPU?

To understand how much VRAM is used by the graphics card, we need to look at a few factors.

1) Monitor Resolution

The frame buffer is used to store the image as its rendered and when it is being sent to the display. The resolution will impact this. The higher the resolution, the more monitors, and the amount of multi-tasking will eat up the VRAM. 

2) Anti-Aliasing

This is effectively smoothing the edges of images. More pixels need to be rendered, calculated, and smoothed to reduce the jaggy stairstep appearance. If you increase the samples it will take up more memory.

3) It Depends

Ultimately it’s going to depend on what kinds of programs you use or what games you play. Different apps and depending on the type of work you might do will have different effects, plug-ins used, or make use of the After Effects Raytracing engine.

If you don’t have enough VRAM, you might notice texture pop-ins, stuttering, low performance, and more.

NVIDIA or AMD Which Is Better For After Effects?

Generally speaking, NVIDIA graphics cards currently perform better than AMD in After Effects. Not only does Adobe recommend NVIDIA cards, but multiple sources also mention NIVIDIA cards are slightly more reliable than their AMD counterparts.

AMD still makes great graphics cards. It’s just that when it comes to recommending GPUs for Adobe After Effects, I prefer to play it safe and stick with NVIDIA.

Adobe After Effects CC System Requirements

When looking at what Adobe says are the minimum system requirements, the keyword here is “minimum”. I can tell you, this is the absolute minimum to run the program. This should not guide your computer build unless you are on a very strict budget.

For the Graphics Card, Adobe’s minimum system requirement is 2 GB of GPU VRAM. However, Adobe strongly recommends updating to an NVIDIA driver 451.77 or later when using After Effects. Drivers prior to this have a known issue that can lead to a crash. For more information on the full system requirements, visit Adobe.

Conclusion

In summary, your specific use case or workflow should determine what graphics card is right for you. For me, even if I don’t use all the effects and only sometimes work in 3D, I still want a high-performance GPU. Even when panning and zooming the viewport in Maya, previewing GPU heavy effects in After Effects, or speeding up my render times, having a quality video card is just nice to have. No matter what your budget is, there are many great options here to choose from.

My top pick, value for performance is the RTX 3060 TI

Other Design PC hardware reviews:

Camden Taylor

Author Camden Taylor

Camden is ARTURTH's Chief Editor, Senior Graphic Designer, and artist from the Pacific Northwest.

More posts by Camden Taylor