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Slow machine with AE

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Olly Lawer
Slow machine with AE
on Feb 6, 2012 at 2:33:02 pm

Hi,

I've got a 2008 model MacBook.
2.2 GHz Intel Core Duo
4 GB DDR2 RAM
GeForce 8600M GT Graphics Card

I'm working on a comp (my most complex yet) with a bunch of stuff going on. Probably about 10 layers and about 8 effects with a bit of camera rotation on a Null Object (parent).

It's driving me nuts that the system is so slow, it'll take a second or two to render the display when scrubbing the timeline.

I've got Open GL on (always not adaptive) and it is supported. I've purged the RAM. I've not got anything huge in my comp to warrant proxies.

So i'm fearing i'm going to need a faster machine. Thing is, I don't want to A. invest and it really doesn't make that much of a difference, B. buy a machine that doesn't quite cut it and I should of spent more or C. miss out on a trick someone knows on this forum to speed things up.

I'm thinking either (as preferably I want portability):

15-inch: 2.2 GHz
2.2GHz quad-core
Intel Core i7
4GB 1333MHz
500GB 5400-rpm1
Intel HD Graphics 3000
AMD Radeon HD 6750M with 512MB GDDR5

OR

2.4GHz quad-core
Intel Core i7
4GB 1333MHz
750GB 5400-rpm1
Intel HD Graphics 3000
AMD Radeon HD 6770M with 1GB GDDR5

I understand I can bump up the RAM later to 16GB.

Do you think the lower spec with more RAM paid for would be a more worthy investment or the higher price on with 4GB?

How much of a difference are we talking about here over my current model? The guy in the Apple store says 'a lot', but then again he is trying to sell me something!

PS - I'm using AE CS4

Thanks

Olly Lawer


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Walter Soyka
Re: Slow machine with AE
on Feb 6, 2012 at 3:27:21 pm

If you have to choose, get the lower-spec system with more RAM. For AE, 4 GB is nothing. With that little RAM, you can't use multiprocessing [link], so the fast system with low RAM would actually be slower than the slow system with a lot of RAM.

You should also plan to upgrade to CS5.5 as soon as you can afford to. Starting with CS5, AE is a 64-bit application which lets it make much more effective use of RAM.

Walter Soyka
Principal & Designer at Keen Live
Motion Graphics, Widescreen Events, Presentation Design, and Consulting
RenderBreak Blog - What I'm thinking when my workstation's thinking
Creative Cow Forum Host: Live & Stage Events


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Olly Lawer
Re: Slow machine with AE
on Feb 6, 2012 at 3:33:38 pm

Brilliant. Thank you!

That might explain a lot as the max RAM on my machine is 4GB!!

OK - so just as a case in point, do you think it's also worth investing in the faster machine and RAM for the cost different? Its $400 extra I think.

The reason I say this is I've just looked online and you can only upgrade to:
8GB 1333MHz DDR3 SDRAM — 2x4GB

Not 16GB like I thought.

The other alternative - although i'm not as keen on this as it's not portable, would be to go get a 27inch iMac, 2.7GHz but with AMD Radeon HD 6770M with 512MB.

Can then upgrade to 16GB RAM.

Oh the choices the choices!

Olly Lawer


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Brian Charles
Re: Slow machine with AE
on Feb 6, 2012 at 3:59:06 pm

I agree with Walter, after processor speed, RAM provides is the most significant performance/workflow gain in After Effects.

One place to look for performance specs is GeekBench: http://www.primatelabs.ca/geekbench/mac-benchmarks/

You can compare the scores of models you're considering with your current machine.



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Olly Lawer
Re: Slow machine with AE
on Feb 6, 2012 at 4:06:40 pm

Thanks. I did look at Geekbench. Great site.

I suppose the crux of it for me really is that can I maintain portability without sacrificing speed too much and keeping costs fairly low(ish for a Mac).

If 16GB of RAM is going to give me much better (and really noticeable) performance, then there is really only one choice - a desk top iMac, 2.7GH - i5.

However, if I can get away with a MacBook Pro with 8GB RAM and only a 2.2GHz i7 - then brilliant! That is my preference.

The real thing as I've mentioned is the degree of noticeable difference. If the lower spec can give me quick render times and get me away from a infuriating wait for display render times - then that is my choice.

I wondered about peoples experience with difference machines on here to help me find out the answer. It's a lot of money to spend!

PS - Geekbench doesn't show the RAM that is in the machine.

Olly Lawer


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Walter Soyka
Re: Slow machine with AE
on Feb 6, 2012 at 4:40:47 pm

Barefeats is another good site for Mac-specific benchmarks. See the bottom of this page [link] where they compare several models with AE CS5.5.

You can upgrade current MacBook Pros to 16 GB [link]. If you read the fine print in the test above, you'll see that the 2.5 GHz MBP tested was loaded with 16 GB of RAM (which helped it outperform the 2.7 GHz MBP with only 8 GB of RAM).

You can run Brian Maffit's old Total Benchmark project [link] yourself to get an idea of where your current machine fits in.

You will never match the AE performance you can get on a high-spec desktop with a laptop; you have to decide if the tradeoff of power for portability is worth it to you. I have a monster Z800 provided by HP that renders Total Benchmark in 46 seconds. My 2010 MBP does the same benchmark in 268 seconds. The workstation is almost 6 times faster -- but it's a lot harder to carry.

Walter Soyka
Principal & Designer at Keen Live
Motion Graphics, Widescreen Events, Presentation Design, and Consulting
RenderBreak Blog - What I'm thinking when my workstation's thinking
Creative Cow Forum Host: Live & Stage Events


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Olly Lawer
Re: Slow machine with AE
on Feb 6, 2012 at 4:50:10 pm

Ha, yes - much faster - but as you say, not so convenient to carry :).

Out of interest, what processor and RAM do you have on both your desktop and MBP?

I suppose the logical option would be to go with the Desktop - just hate the idea of not having that portability option as I'm out quite a bit and take advantage of that time editing on a portable hard-drive.

How much better do you think my current MacBook 2.2GHz with 8GB RAM would do with CS5.5 over my current model and AE4?

I can't run that test as only for AE6 or CS5.5. I have CS4

Olly Lawer


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Walter Soyka
Re: Slow machine with AE
on Feb 6, 2012 at 6:52:33 pm

[Olly Lawer] "Out of interest, what processor and RAM do you have on both your desktop and MBP?"

The Z800 (provided to me by HP to try in my cross-platform workflows) has a dual 6-core Xeons at 3.0 GHz, currently with 24 GB of RAM. I'm ordering more, because 2 GB per core is about the minimum necessary for effective multiprocessing, and with more RAM, I can run a few more multiprocessing threads. The MBP has a single dual-core i7 at 2.66 GHz with 8 GB of RAM.


[Olly Lawer] "How much better do you think my current MacBook 2.2GHz with 8GB RAM would do with CS5.5 over my current model and AE4?"

Significantly, since the extra RAM will give you enough headroom to use multiprocessing to render two frames at a time instead of one.


[Olly Lawer] "I suppose the logical option would be to go with the Desktop - just hate the idea of not having that portability option as I'm out quite a bit and take advantage of that time editing on a portable hard-drive."

Maybe you could get a desktop now and keep your current laptop. You'll have the same power you have now when you're working away from your desk, but you'll have a lot more when you come back to your desk.

Walter Soyka
Principal & Designer at Keen Live
Motion Graphics, Widescreen Events, Presentation Design, and Consulting
RenderBreak Blog - What I'm thinking when my workstation's thinking
Creative Cow Forum Host: Live & Stage Events


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Olly Lawer
Re: Slow machine with AE
on Feb 6, 2012 at 6:55:11 pm

You talk a lot of sense!

Decision made I think! :)

Olly Lawer


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Andrew Somers
Re: Slow machine with AE
on Feb 6, 2012 at 11:19:25 pm

In terms of system speed, you won't notice that much of a difference between 2.2 and 2.4 GHz.

But RAM is the KEY.


AE is a RAM HOG, especially if you use multiprocessing for renders.

Do whatever you need to do to get 16 GB RAM into your machine. And it is important that you use "ACtivity Monitor" and make sure there is always at least *some* green - never let the "blue and yellow" eat all the green!


The Graphics RAM will affect you in terms of your OpenGL fast previews for certain things.


Hard drive speed will affect working and rendering speed too. I use eSATA raids for media - to add eSATA to your macbook, you'll need an expressCard, and this is only possible on the MacBook Pro:

http://eshop.macsales.com/item/Other%20World%20Computing/EXP34SATA2F1/?utm_...


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