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Best Processor For After Effects

By January 31, 2021February 7th, 2021No Comments

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Best Processor For After Effects

Best Processor For After Effects

No matter what creative work you do, from Motion Design to Video Editing, or Graphic Design to content creation, choosing the best processor for After Effects can be the most crucial decision that will make or break your workflow. Yet, with so much info out there like specs, benchmarks, jargon, marketing spiel, it can be hard to determine what is best for your situation. The goal of this article is to save you time and give you solid recommendations for the best processor for After Effects.

In order to give you these five best CPUs for Adobe After Effects, I’ve combined my experience building design PCs over the past 10+ years, with constantly staying up-to-date on the latest tech/hardware improvements. In addition, I have reviewed all the various CPU benchmark tests for all the creative applications. The reason being, the CPU needs to be capable of running all apps smoothly with multitasking the new norm these days.

No matter what kind of creative work you do in After Effects, I’ve got you covered with five recommendations based on price and performance. This way you can quickly find a CPU that meets your needs, and future-proof your system, so that you can work efficiently as a creative. Enough is enough, let’s go!

Best CPU For Adobe After Effects (Compared)

Preview
Pro Choice
AMD Ryzen 9 3950X 16-Core, 32-Thread Unlocked Desktop Processor
Intel Core i9-10940X Desktop Processor 14 Cores up to 4.8GHz Unlocked LGA2066 X299 Series 165W, BX8069510940X
Amazing Value
Intel Core i9-9900K Desktop Processor 8 Cores up to 5.0GHz Unlocked LGA1151 300 Series 95W (BX806849900K)
AMD Ryzen 9 3900X 12-core, 24-thread unlocked desktop processor with Wraith Prism LED Cooler
Budget Option
AMD Ryzen 5 3600XT 6-core, 12-threads unlocked desktop processor with Wraith Spire cooler
Title
AMD Ryzen 9 3950X
Intel Core i9-10940X
Intel Core i9-9900K
AMD Ryzen 9 3900X
AMD Ryzen 5 3600XT
Base Clock
3.5 GHz
3.3 GHz
3.6 GHz
3.8 GHz
3.8 GHz
Boost Clock
4.7 GHz
4.8 GHz
5.0 GHz
4.6 GHz
4.5 GHz
Cores
16
14
8
12
6
Threads
32
28
16
24
12
L3 Cache
64MB
19.25 MB
16 MB
16 MB
32MB
Max Memory
128 GB
256 GB
128 GB
128 GB
128 GB
Socket
AM4
LGA 2066
LGA 1151
AM4
AM4
Pro Choice
Preview
AMD Ryzen 9 3950X 16-Core, 32-Thread Unlocked Desktop Processor
Title
AMD Ryzen 9 3950X
Base Clock
3.5 GHz
Boost Clock
4.7 GHz
Cores
16
Threads
32
L3 Cache
64MB
Max Memory
128 GB
Socket
AM4
Preview
Intel Core i9-10940X Desktop Processor 14 Cores up to 4.8GHz Unlocked LGA2066 X299 Series 165W, BX8069510940X
Title
Intel Core i9-10940X
Base Clock
3.3 GHz
Boost Clock
4.8 GHz
Cores
14
Threads
28
L3 Cache
19.25 MB
Max Memory
256 GB
Socket
LGA 2066
Amazing Value
Preview
Intel Core i9-9900K Desktop Processor 8 Cores up to 5.0GHz Unlocked LGA1151 300 Series 95W (BX806849900K)
Title
Intel Core i9-9900K
Base Clock
3.6 GHz
Boost Clock
5.0 GHz
Cores
8
Threads
16
L3 Cache
16 MB
Max Memory
128 GB
Socket
LGA 1151
Preview
AMD Ryzen 9 3900X 12-core, 24-thread unlocked desktop processor with Wraith Prism LED Cooler
Title
AMD Ryzen 9 3900X
Base Clock
3.8 GHz
Boost Clock
4.6 GHz
Cores
12
Threads
24
L3 Cache
16 MB
Max Memory
128 GB
Socket
AM4
Budget Option
Preview
AMD Ryzen 5 3600XT 6-core, 12-threads unlocked desktop processor with Wraith Spire cooler
Title
AMD Ryzen 5 3600XT
Base Clock
3.8 GHz
Boost Clock
4.5 GHz
Cores
6
Threads
12
L3 Cache
32MB
Max Memory
128 GB
Socket
AM4

Best Processor For After Effects

This list is curated by the highest value considering the price to relative performance.

AMD Ryzen 9 3950X

Amazing value – ultra-fast processor for After Effects (sub $750)

Specs:

  • Base Clock: 3.5 GHz
  • Boost Clock: 4.7 GHz
  • Cores: 16
  • Threads: 32
  • L3 Cache: 64MB
  • Max Memory Size: 128 GB
  • Socket: AM4
PROS
  • Class-leading performance for the money
  • Good price per core
  • PCIe Gen 4.0 slot compatibility
  • DDR4 Support
  • Compatible with most AM4 motherboards
CONS
  • Requires high-level cooling
  • Limited overclocking

The AMD Ryzen 9 3950X is my pick for the best value for money in the $750 price range. The 3950X is a professional grade CPU that combines 16 core 32 threads with fast 3.5 GHz – 4.7 GHz clock speeds. This processor offers slightly better performance than the similarly priced Intel Core i9-10940X. It even performs close to the more expensive Threadripper 3960X in most benchmark categories except for rendering and RAM preview. If you are buying a CPU for the heaviest of workflows, you should know that the 3950X doesn’t support 256GB of RAM. Also, AMD CPUs don’t officially support Thunderbolt (in case you need it).

All things considered, at around $750, the AMD Ryzen 3950X is in a league of its own. It’s an amazing well-rounded processor for creative professionals who demand high-levels of performance in After Effects and general multitasking.

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Intel Core i9-10940X

Solid professional workstation CPU for After Effects & Premiere Pro (sub $750)

Specs:

  • Base Clock: 3.3 GHz
  • Boost Clock: 4.8 GHz
  • Cores: 14
  • Threads: 28
  • L3 Cache: 16 MB
  • Max Memory Size: 256 GB
  • Socket: LGA 2066
PROS
  • Solid performance in After Effects and Premiere
  • Overclockability
  • 256GB maximum memory size
  • 48 PCIe lanes
  • Efficient with low power consumption
CONS
  • Still expensive
  • PCIe Gen 3.0 vs AMD’s 4.0

I recommend the i9-10940X  if you are building a professional motion design workstation for both After Effects and Premiere Pro, and you know you need 256 GB of memory. While other CPUs like the i9-9900K offer slightly better performance in lightly threaded apps like After Effects, the i9-10940X 14 core, 28 thread CPU is an excellent blend of single and multi-threaded performance. This means it’s not a one-trick pony. The i9-10940X will give you reliability and high-performance in multiple apps.

In $750 price range, the main competition comes from the AMD 3950X, and perhaps the more expensive Threadripper 3960X. While the AMD Threadripper 3960X and 3950X are both roughly 8 – 12% faster in rendering and RAM preview, the i9-10940X is a bit quicker at tracking. The Threadripper is only slightly better, yet the i9-10940X is about $500 less. If you need 256 GB of RAM for extra heavy workflows, the 3950X only supports 128GB. This leaves the 256GB memory compatible i9-10940X as excellent value for money when compared to other 256 GB memory compatible, like the more expensive Threadripper 3960X. If you don’t need the 256 GB of memory in an Intel CPU, I would opt for the better faster single-core performance i9-9900K.

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AMD Ryzen 9 3900X

Great all-around CPU for After Effects and multi-tasking (sub $500)

Specs:

  • Base Clock: 3.8 GHz
  • Boost Clock: 4.6 GHz
  • Cores: 12
  • Threads: 24
  • L3 Cache: 64MB
  • Max Memory Size: 128 GB
  • Socket: AM4
PROS
  • Good balance of single thread and multi-core performance
  • Great value for the money
  • PCIe Gen 4.0
  • Comes with cooler
CONS
  • High power consumption
  • Limited overclocking potential

The AMD Ryzen 3900X is a solid $500 price range option if you a designer who uses a variety of programs, and if multitasking is key to your workflow. While After Effects mainly leverages clock speeds over core count, Premiere Pro, rendering, and multitasking will make use of more cores. This is where the 3900X is perfectly positioned to do everything well. For lightly threaded apps like After Effects and Photoshop, 3900X is no slouch clocking in at 3.8 GHz to 4.6 GHz. Yet in Premiere Pro, the 3900X can utilize 12 cores and 24 threads for excellent video editing performance. Overall, this processor is a perfect choice for designers who need a well-rounded CPU in the $500 price range.

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Intel Core i9-9900K

Fastest CPU for After Effects in this price range (sub $400)

Specs:

  • Base Clock: 3.6 GHz
  • Boost Clock: 5.0 GHz
  • Cores: 8
  • Threads: 16
  • L3 Cache: 16MB
  • Max Memory Size: 128GB
  • Socket: LGA 1151
PROS
  • High 5.0GHz one-core clock performance
  • Amazing performance for the money in After Effects
  • Comes with cooler
  • Compatible with LGA1151 and Z370 motherboards
CONS
  • High power consumption
  • PCIe Gen 3.0 vs AMD’s 4.0

In the $400 price range, Intel’s Core i9-9900K is in the value sweet spot for After Effects users. The i9-9900K shines because After Effects favors frequency and lightly-threaded per-core performance. In most After Effects benchmarks tests, the i9-9900K performs on par with the more expensive Ryzen 3950X and i9-10940X. Render speed is the only category where the i9-9900K falls a bit behind the more expensive 12+ core CPUs.

Overall, the Core i9-9900K, in the $400 price range is a great choice for After Effects and other apps like Photoshop that leverage lightly threaded performance. The closest AMD competitor is the Ryzen 3800X. Overall, the 3800X and the Intel Core i9-9900K are hard to beat in the $400 price range.

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AMD Ryzen 5 3600XT

Solid all-around budget CPU for After Effects (sub $300)

Specs:

  • Base Clock: 3.8 GHz
  • Boost Clock: 4.5 GHz
  • Cores: 6
  • Threads: 12
  • L3 Cache: 32MB
  • Max Memory Size: 128 GB
  • Socket: AM4
PROS
  • Solid performance for the money
  • Comes with CPU cooler
  • PCIe Gen 4.0 slot compatibility
  • Compatible with most AM4 motherboards
CONS
  • Not ideal for heavy workflows and multitasking

In the lower price/budget category, AMD’s Ryzen 5 3600XT is a solid all-around CPU for After Effects. The 3600XT comes with minor improvements over the award-winning Ryzen 5 3600X. The 3600XT makes our list in the budget category because it outperforms Intel CPUs in its price range. The 3600XT also offers DDR4 support and PCIe Gen 4.0 slot compatibility. This will allow you to take advantage of speed gains with new SSDs and graphics cards. Overall, the AMD Ryzen 5 3600XT is a proven performer in After Effects and will give you amazing value for the money.

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Which Processor Is Best For After Effects?

The best processor for After Effects currently, based on aggregate benchmarks scores would be the AMD Ryzen 5950X(currently hard to find in stock), AMD Ryzen 3950X, Intel i9-10940X, and the Intel i9-9900K. I’ve listed these four purely based on performance testing.

It’s all well and good to know what the best CPUs for After Effects are on paper. These processors are probably overkill for most. What’s best for you will depend on a number of factors. In order to determine what is the best processor for After Effects, based on your unique situation, we should understand each computer component’s role from an overall system perspective.

What specs do I need for after effects?

CPU (Processor):

The processor is the most important part of your After Effects computer. The CPU is constantly working, receiving countless inputs and delivering outputs. Because design applications like After Effects are taxing on the CPU, choosing a capable CPU is absolutely key. But it’s not just about choosing a CPU based on Adobe’s minimum After Effects system requirements. There’s more to it than that.

Adobe is simply giving generalization, “multicore Intel processor with 64-bit support” for the program to run. Any multicore processor will not ensure your work in After Effects will run smoothly. What CPU you choose should depend on a number of factors such as:

  • What kinds of motion work do you do?
  • What file types do you work with
  • What size of files do you work with?
  • What other applications do you use?
  • Do you need to multitask with other apps and browsers open?
  • Do you want to future-proof your system?
  • Your budget is another consideration.

After Effects leverages CPU speeds (clock speeds) for individual cores, measured in GHz, as opposed to relying on the number of cores. However, you still need a decent amount of cores for After Effects, other apps, multitasking, and for your overall system to run smoothly. The sweet spot for After Effects an 8 Core CPU with speeds in the 3.6 GHz to 4.8GHz range.

RAM (Random Access Memory):

If you are like me and can’t stand slow or choppy previews, and an overall sluggish feeling when creating, you need to have a lot of RAM. Because After Effects is constantly grabbing data from RAM, in my opinion, having as much RAM is possible in the next most important component in an After Effects PC build. I always recommend 64GB of RAM for After Effects. This will keep your system and workflow from slowing down.

If you are building a professional workstation where file sizes are massive, you should consider 128GB or 256GB. If you are in this camp, you need to ensure your CPU supports these large amounts of memory.

If you are looking to upgrade your RAM and want more information about why RAM is important for After Effects, check out our resource: Best RAM For After Effects

Graphics Card (GPU):

A high-quality graphics card isn’t as important to an After Effects specific build as your CPU and RAM will be. However, depending on your use case, there are benefits to having a newer GPU that is supported in After Effects. These benefits include GPU accelerated effects and rendering (list of GPU accelerated effects here). Check out this link if you want to know more about my recommended graphics cards for After Effects.

Hard Drive (storage):

Like the saying goes; a chain is only as strong as its weakest link, the same can be said when building a computer. If you have a great CPU, enough RAM, a good enough graphics card, but if your storage isn’t fast enough or you don’t have enough storage, you won’t reach the desired performance. 

To get the most out of all your computer components for After Effects, you should have 3 to 4 storage drives. If possible all of them should be SSD M.2 NVMe. SSDs are much faster than the older HDD technology.

Your primary drive should be as fast as possible to run After Effects and all your other applications. 512GB – 1TB SSD M.2 NVMe is ideal.

The secondary drive should also be an ultra-fast NVMe SSD. This is where all the working project files will be stored.

The third drive is for dedicated media cache, also known as a scratch. Having a separate SSD that is specifically for cache will give you massive performance gains. You will notice this most when scrubbing the timeline and during playback. Ideally, this drive is also an NVMe M.2 SSD.

Finally, I recommend having another drive or two, internal or external, for long-term storage and backup. Backup storage doesn’t have to be NVMe SSD. You could opt for a cheaper HDD, as read/write times aren’t as vital.

How Many Cores Does After Effects Use?

After Effects can make use of all the cores a processor has. And more cores are sometimes better for After Effects. However, the newest versions of Adobe After Effects favors the speed of each individual core, over the number of cores.

The sweet spot is to be in the neighborhood of 3.2 GHz – 4.8 GHz clock speeds, and 8 Cores. More cores are beneficial if your workflow involves multi-tasking in other applications and rendering. If you are an After Effects user who also uses Premiere Pro, more cores, generally speaking, will give you faster render times. 

For most designers who mainly work on motion design in After Effects, from a price per core perspective, there are diminishing returns. For example, in After Effects the AMD Ryzen Threadripper 3960X 24-Core performs only about 10% better than the AMD Ryzen 3900X 12-Core.

Does After Effects Use GPU or CPU?

After Effects uses both the GPU (graphics card) and the CPU (processor). However, the CPU is the more important part as it relates to performance in After Effects. The CPU processes all the data, inputs, and outputs. Whereas the GPU’s job is mainly to display that visual information on the screen. While there are benefits to having a capable GPU in After Effects, you will be better off making sure you have a powerful CPU.

If you are building a professional or workstation level PC for After Effects, I recommend having a good GPU that is supported. The newer RTX and Quadro GPUs will give you performance gains in specific tasks, such as GPU accelerated effects and rendering. If you want to learn more about graphics cards for after effects, check this article: Best GPU For After Effects

Intel or AMD For After Effects – What’s Better?

Both Intel and AMD processors are good for After Effects. What CPU brand is better for After Effects will ultimately depend on a number of factors. But I will say the numbers don’t lie.

In 2021, AMD and Intel have similar performing CPUs at all price ranges. However, AMD is starting to separate itself in value and performance for the money. In fact, at each price range, AMD CPUs manage to outperform Intel across a variety of benchmark testing.

In the high-end workstation category, AMDs Ryzen 5950X and 3rd Gen Threadripper CPUs outperform Intel’s fastest x-series contenders by about 18%. That said, in this price range AMD CPUs are more expensive.

In the $750 range, AMD still offers more value for money. The AMD Ryzen 9 3950X offers similar to better performance over the X-series Intel CPUs.

When you are spending this much, know what you value more; export times or playback. In this high-end CPU tier, AMD Threadripper CPUs will give you the most benefit if you need the fastest export times. Where-as if you put more value on playback, the Intel Core i9-10940X CPU offers very similar performance at a lower price than the Threadripper.

Another consideration is if you want to run Thunderbolt, which support is very limited for AMD users. There’s only a handful of motherboards that support AMD CPUs and Thunderbold 3 as standard. The Gigabyte TRX40 Designare is one of them.

Best CPUs For After Effects Recap

Preview
Pro Choice
AMD Ryzen 9 3950X 16-Core, 32-Thread Unlocked Desktop Processor
Intel Core i9-10940X Desktop Processor 14 Cores up to 4.8GHz Unlocked LGA2066 X299 Series 165W, BX8069510940X
Amazing Value
Intel Core i9-9900K Desktop Processor 8 Cores up to 5.0GHz Unlocked LGA1151 300 Series 95W (BX806849900K)
AMD Ryzen 9 3900X 12-core, 24-thread unlocked desktop processor with Wraith Prism LED Cooler
Budget Option
AMD Ryzen 5 3600XT 6-core, 12-threads unlocked desktop processor with Wraith Spire cooler
Title
AMD Ryzen 9 3950X
Intel Core i9-10940X
Intel Core i9-9900K
AMD Ryzen 9 3900X
AMD Ryzen 5 3600XT
Base Clock
3.5 GHz
3.3 GHz
3.6 GHz
3.8 GHz
3.8 GHz
Boost Clock
4.7 GHz
4.8 GHz
5.0 GHz
4.6 GHz
4.5 GHz
Cores
16
14
8
12
6
Threads
32
28
16
24
12
L3 Cache
64MB
19.25 MB
16 MB
16 MB
32MB
Max Memory
128 GB
256 GB
128 GB
128 GB
128 GB
Socket
AM4
LGA 2066
LGA 1151
AM4
AM4
Pro Choice
Preview
AMD Ryzen 9 3950X 16-Core, 32-Thread Unlocked Desktop Processor
Title
AMD Ryzen 9 3950X
Base Clock
3.5 GHz
Boost Clock
4.7 GHz
Cores
16
Threads
32
L3 Cache
64MB
Max Memory
128 GB
Socket
AM4
Preview
Intel Core i9-10940X Desktop Processor 14 Cores up to 4.8GHz Unlocked LGA2066 X299 Series 165W, BX8069510940X
Title
Intel Core i9-10940X
Base Clock
3.3 GHz
Boost Clock
4.8 GHz
Cores
14
Threads
28
L3 Cache
19.25 MB
Max Memory
256 GB
Socket
LGA 2066
Amazing Value
Preview
Intel Core i9-9900K Desktop Processor 8 Cores up to 5.0GHz Unlocked LGA1151 300 Series 95W (BX806849900K)
Title
Intel Core i9-9900K
Base Clock
3.6 GHz
Boost Clock
5.0 GHz
Cores
8
Threads
16
L3 Cache
16 MB
Max Memory
128 GB
Socket
LGA 1151
Preview
AMD Ryzen 9 3900X 12-core, 24-thread unlocked desktop processor with Wraith Prism LED Cooler
Title
AMD Ryzen 9 3900X
Base Clock
3.8 GHz
Boost Clock
4.6 GHz
Cores
12
Threads
24
L3 Cache
16 MB
Max Memory
128 GB
Socket
AM4
Budget Option
Preview
AMD Ryzen 5 3600XT 6-core, 12-threads unlocked desktop processor with Wraith Spire cooler
Title
AMD Ryzen 5 3600XT
Base Clock
3.8 GHz
Boost Clock
4.5 GHz
Cores
6
Threads
12
L3 Cache
32MB
Max Memory
128 GB
Socket
AM4
Camden Taylor

Author Camden Taylor

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

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