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What hardware to update in an aging computer?

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Einar Bjarni DavíðssonWhat hardware to update in an aging computer?
by on Jul 8, 2012 at 5:39:47 pm

My Mac Pro is no spring chicken, a 2009 model with

CPU: 2 x 2.26 Quad-Core Intel Xeon
RAM: 6 GB 1066 MHz DDR3 ECC
GPU: NVIDIA GeForce GT 120 512 MB

And it's feeling more than a tad sluggish when running a busy project in Premiere/AE CS5.5. Before I upgrade to CS6 I was hoping to give it a little more oomph. The RAM seems the obvious candidate for update, but I was also looking towards running DaVinci Resolve at some point, which I believes benefits most from a good GPU - if not straight out requires it (a specific sort of graphics card, or what?).

What are my options, and the best course of action? Do the Adobe products benefit much from added RAM? Will I never be able to properly run Resolve on this computer? I'm very much in the dark when it comes to hardware, so any help is much appreciated.

PS: The planned budget for this is pretty elastic, but short of a brand new computer.

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Walter SoykaRe: What hardware to update in an aging computer?
by on Jul 13, 2012 at 3:54:02 pm

Yes, you should upgrade the RAM. Both AE and Premiere will benefit. They can both use all the cores in your computer, but having more RAM is critical to keeping those cores busy. 24 to 32 GB of RAM would give you a noticeable performance boost.

Resolve will need a better graphics card -- see the Resolve Configuration Guide [link] for all the supported configurations, or see the Resolve Basics & Configuration forum [link] for some advice on technically unsupported cards that work better than the supported ones.

Also, AE CS6 can sometimes make use of specific graphics cards, too. Check out Juan Salvo and Danny Princz's AE/GPU benchmarks [link].

Please note these benchmarks are specific to CS6's new ray-tracing renderer. Some third-party effects like Sapphire may be CUDA enabled, but others like Optical Flares or Element 3D can also process on the GPU via OpenGL.

Normal 2D and Classic 3D rendering in After Effects is all on the CPU, and the GPU doesn't factor in at all.

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
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