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After Effects- Assembled PC or Mac Pro- Need advice please!

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Kshitij MehraAfter Effects- Assembled PC or Mac Pro- Need advice please!
by on Jun 14, 2016 at 11:47:22 pm

Hi All,

I know there are multiple posts floating around on the same subject, but I needed some serious advice. I am a freelance video editor and I also do motion graphics on after effects. I'm currently using a MacBook Pro 16gb Corei7 with intel HD graphics.

I use after effects a lot and most of the times I face issues like my GPU not being supportive enough to work with various third party plugins on after effects like optical flares, Element 3D and others or RAM getting maxed out specially when I'm working on AE with resolutions of 4K and above..

I have been thinking of upgrading to a newer system but I really can't decide between an assembled PC or spending money on the Mac pro..

So far, what I've read about the Mac pro is that to get fast render previews, it's better to go in for a quad core or a 6-core with lots of RAM, say upto 64GB. I also read somewhere that After effects and FCPX won't be able to take advantage of more than 64GBs of RAM and even 64Gb would be an over-kill.. Also, I'm not sure how the D700s work with AE and GPU oriented plugins and if AE will be able to make use of the 6 cores in the Mac pro to give faster previews and renders.. Also, I love the OSX eco-system.. I would shift to a PC only if it helps me with far better performance at a cheaper cost..

The other option is to go in for a Core i7 5960x which supposedly is almost equally fast as a Xeon e5.... In this case, I was thinking of getting a good Nvidia graphic card so as to make plugins work smoothly and get rid of errors that keep popping up either due to lesser RAM or a beaten up GPU...

It's mid-2016 now and I'm not sure if info on the other threads that are atleast a year and half to 2 years old hold true today.. I'm not sure if whatever knowledge I have is correct and if this is even the right way to approach this... Would really appreciate some solid advice... Thanks a lot..


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hanna deanRe: After Effects- Assembled PC or Mac Pro- Need advice please!
by on Jun 15, 2016 at 11:46:35 am

when it comes to after effects i think more cores are needed more core the beter 6 core is nothing.

i have 8 core i7 6700k it does ok job i dont work on 4k

erm try to find good processor and gpu get desktop rather then laptop.


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Kshitij MehraRe: After Effects- Assembled PC or Mac Pro- Need advice please!
by on Jun 15, 2016 at 5:01:10 pm

Thanks Hanna...


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Walter SoykaRe: After Effects- Assembled PC or Mac Pro- Need advice please!
by on Jun 15, 2016 at 3:49:12 pm

I switched from using Macs as my primary workstations to using PCs back in 2011. HP sent me a computer to review (I wrote about it here [link]) and I liked it so much I bought four HPs for a little render garden (not quite a farm!), and then four more big Z-series workstations.


[Kshitij Mehra] "So far, what I've read about the Mac pro is that to get fast render previews, it's better to go in for a quad core or a 6-core with lots of RAM, say upto 64GB."

This is true. Ae doesn't currently take much advantage of multiple cores for preview renders, so faster cores are better than more cores. (Ae in the middle of a big re-architecture, and I hope that eventually this will lead to improved CPU utilization and faster previews/renders.)


[Kshitij Mehra] "I also read somewhere that After effects and FCPX won't be able to take advantage of more than 64GBs of RAM and even 64Gb would be an over-kill.. "

This is hogwash. My HP workstation has 96 GB, and I can use it all with Ae. Note, though, that the Mac Pro has a supported maximum of 64 GB of RAM. You have to go unsupported third-party to get more.


[Kshitij Mehra] "Also, I'm not sure how the D700s work with AE and GPU oriented plugins and if AE will be able to make use of the 6 cores in the Mac pro to give faster previews and renders.."

Many GPU-oriented plugins use OpenGL. They'll only use one of the two GPUs in the Mac Pro, but each card has 6 GB of VRAM. That's a lot of memory for effects like Element 3D.

As I said above, Ae's previews will not use multiple cores very efficiently during preview, except in a few cases of multithreaded, computationally-expensive effects like Camera Lens Blur. If you render with Ae CC 2014 (which you can use alongside Ae CC 2015), you can use its old multiprocessing feature to accelerate final renders.


[Kshitij Mehra] "Also, I love the OSX eco-system.. I would shift to a PC only if it helps me with far better performance at a cheaper cost.."

I thought I was going to hate using Windows on a daily basis, but it's actually quite nice, and I've come to like using it better than my Macs.


[Kshitij Mehra] "The other option is to go in for a Core i7 5960x which supposedly is almost equally fast as a Xeon e5"

That's smart. The i7 series, especially the X "Extreme" CPUs, can actually be significantly faster than their related Xeon CPUs because they are overclocked. I'd only go Xeon if you wanted to go dual-CPU. I wouldn't buy a single-socket Xeon system for general video production use.


[Kshitij Mehra] "In this case, I was thinking of getting a good Nvidia graphic card so as to make plugins work smoothly and get rid of errors that keep popping up either due to lesser RAM or a beaten up GPU..."

Good approach.


[Kshitij Mehra] "It's mid-2016 now and I'm not sure if info on the other threads that are atleast a year and half to 2 years old hold true today.. "

The Mac Pro is almost three years old and is probably pretty expensive for its performance. They're nice machines -- my studio has four of them -- but they're not the machine I'd buy for raw performance.

Walter Soyka
Designer & Mad Scientist at Keen Live [link]
Motion Graphics, Widescreen Events, Presentation Design, and Consulting
@keenlive [twitter]   |   RenderBreak [blog]   |   Profile [LinkedIn]


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Kshitij MehraRe: After Effects- Assembled PC or Mac Pro- Need advice please!
by on Jun 15, 2016 at 4:35:25 pm

Hi Walter! Thanks a lot for your reply.. I was only wishing while writing this post that you would reply as I've read a lot of posts from you and you've given amazing advice, same goes with my case...

- I live in India. Getting hold of top end workstations from HP and Dell is very difficult. Most of the top end models aren't available in India, and some only by special orders which turn out to be quite expensive. The Mac Pros are also almost 1.5 times the cost of what they're available for in the US. I'm not in a rush to get a system and would only finalise by october or so since my cousins will be travelling to India in december. Mac pro is a workstation that would be easy for them to carry. Hence, a workstation by HP or Dell is out of my consideration due to transportation issues.

- As you mentioned, that Core i7 5960x would be a good choice along with a strong graphic card. If I do not go in for a Mac Pro, then I will be ordering the processor and a graphic card from the US as the same specs are expensive in India.

- I did read that current Mac pro can be upgraded to 128GB of RAM and third party RAMs are available from Crucial and OWC. Hence, I was thinking of ordering a 12GB/1TB/D700/6-core model and ordering 128GB separately.

- I'm ok with shifting to a PC but it's just that if I get a Core i7 5960x, I firstly will have to assemble my own and i7 also doesn't support ECC like Xeon processors. Does that really matter or it can be ignored?

- I was also waiting for Apple to announce the upgraded version of the Mac pro since it hasn't been upgraded in the last 3 years. Incase, Apple does upgrade them, the costs for Late 2013 would definitely come down, would you still recommend getting the late 2013 model considering I'm trying to keep costs to a minimum as much as possible.

- I do films for social media, motion graphics animations and have recently started doing TVC work such as animations..

I know my concerns are all over the place, but all in all, what would your final recommendation boil down to considering all of the above?

Thanks a lot..


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Walter SoykaRe: After Effects- Assembled PC or Mac Pro- Need advice please!
by on Jun 16, 2016 at 1:28:44 pm

[Kshitij Mehra] "I know my concerns are all over the place, but all in all, what would your final recommendation boil down to considering all of the above?"

Don't worry about ECC RAM. Consider what you'll do if you require support on the Mac Pro for some kind of hardware failure.

If you want cost-effective performance, go for the PC you're describing. If you want a Mac, get a Mac.

Walter Soyka
Designer & Mad Scientist at Keen Live [link]
Motion Graphics, Widescreen Events, Presentation Design, and Consulting
@keenlive [twitter]   |   RenderBreak [blog]   |   Profile [LinkedIn]


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Richard HerdRe: After Effects- Assembled PC or Mac Pro- Need advice please!
by on Jun 15, 2016 at 9:30:29 pm

[Walter Soyka] "PCs back in 2011"

What operating system are you using now?
Thanks!


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Kshitij MehraRe: After Effects- Assembled PC or Mac Pro- Need advice please!
by on Jun 15, 2016 at 10:29:01 pm

Hi Richard,

I'm currently on OSX.. I use a macbook pro retina 13 with 16GB RAM and Intel iris graphics card...


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Walter SoykaRe: After Effects- Assembled PC or Mac Pro- Need advice please!
by on Jun 16, 2016 at 1:30:17 pm

[Richard Herd] "What operating system are you using now?"

On the PC side, mostly Windows 10, but we still have a couple of Windows 7 and Windows 8.1 installs.

On the Mac side, about an even mix of Yosemite and El Capitan.

Walter Soyka
Designer & Mad Scientist at Keen Live [link]
Motion Graphics, Widescreen Events, Presentation Design, and Consulting
@keenlive [twitter]   |   RenderBreak [blog]   |   Profile [LinkedIn]


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Joe ClayRe: After Effects- Assembled PC or Mac Pro- Need advice please!
by on Jun 15, 2016 at 4:52:12 pm

Depending upon how technically savvy you are you can build a hackintosh. I've been a Mac user for over a decade, but around the time the "trash can" was introduced, I was wanting a new, fast machine. My office mate runs a hackintosh as well. So at the end of 2013 him and I built one into an old Mac Pro case I got off of eBay. I've run tests on it, and it's faster than nearly every Mac Pro in multi-core performance except it falls slightly to the 12-core beasts of old, and it's faster than all of them in single core performance by at least 25%, and it's faster than every Mac listed on Geek Bench's list. My system is water cooled, nearly silent unless rendering, and my quad core i7 processor is overclocked to 4.3 GHz with no issues in stability. I think it cost me about $1300 including the case.

I moved my office last week, so I took my other 27" Cinema Display and hooked it up next to the other one. I had to swap out the video card last week to get another display port port to get that to work, but it was pretty much working out of the box. I've got an Apple Wired Keyboard and a bluetooth Magic Mouse connected with no issues. My bluetooth works really well because I just got a tiny dongle that fits in the keyboard USB port that you can't even see, but it works with the mouse perfectly.

The community is vibrant enough that if you have a problem someone else has probably run into it and has already fixed it. I my software without hesitation. System updates I usually wait a little bit on, but since I've switched over to Clover, I haven't really had many issues with updating. About the worst is having to reinstall audio drivers, which takes about 2 minutes including reboot time (and if you have USB audio devices, like these displays or microphones, or whatever, they work without even doing that). There's a lot of compatibility out there now.

So maybe that'd also be a good option for you. It's been great for me. And I don't have to use Windows.

Joe Clay
Workbench.tv


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Kshitij MehraRe: After Effects- Assembled PC or Mac Pro- Need advice please!
by on Jun 15, 2016 at 5:05:38 pm

Hi Joe, Thanks for your reply..

I would've liked to consider a Hackintosh, just that my general relationship is with advertising agencies and their timelines are extremely crazy... So I was looking to get a more stable system that I wouldn't have to keep fiddling with. Though I understand that you haven't experienced issues, just that at best I can assemble a PC by looking at tutorials online.. If the hackintosh does conk off, it could pose a lot a problem for me..

But thanks anyway for your response, really appreciate it :)


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