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CPU or GPU? Where should your money go?

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Randy McWilson
CPU or GPU? Where should your money go?
on May 15, 2008 at 12:42:56 am

Where is the best place to put your money for raw AE rendering power, a faster CPU or a better graphics card, such as a quadro?

I cant seem to find a definitive answer, the adobe forums are all over the board on this issue. I am using CS3.


Eternity...don't miss it for the world.

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Scott Bush
Re: CPU or GPU? Where should your money go?
on May 15, 2008 at 1:36:41 am

For AE, I'd say grab yourself a fast, multi-processor machine and nucleo pro (to utilize the extra processors/cores) - the GPU is far less important for AE. Now if any other apps start to come into the picture (including some 3rd party plugins), this answer gets a lot more complicated, but for base After Effects, my 8-core machine with Nucleo is the fastest I've ever worked in AE.

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Brendan Coots
Re: CPU or GPU? Where should your money go?
on May 15, 2008 at 5:46:56 am

The GPU has no bearing on render times. It really only comes into play for doing OpenGL previews on your timeline, and even there it is widely agreed that AE's OpenGL implementation is sorely lacking.

Between CPU and GPU there is no question, you should focus on CPU. That is only half of the story, however. Both After Effects CS3's built-in multiprocessor rendering and Nucleo function by silently spawning multiple instances of After Effects in the background, and these instances each render frames until the job is done.

The problem is, each instance of AE will need adequate RAM to really be of any use. AE CS3's multiprocessor rendering actually requires you to have adequate RAM or it will not allow you to use those extras cores in this way.

It is recommended that you have a minimum of 1GB RAM per CPU core with AE CS3. This means 4-core machines should have no less than 4GB RAM, and ideally more so that the OS has some RAM to work with and 4GB is "left over" for After Effects. In order to access this much memory you need a 64-bit OS (32-bit OS's only "see" 2-3GB RAM) which means Windows64 or Apple's OS X.

Really, the ideal setup for AE CS3 is:

- quad-core machine (Windows 64-bit or OS X)
- a decent Nvidia consumer card like the 8600GT
- Three hard drives - a boot drive, a drive for your files/renders and a "cache" drive to point After Effects' "disc cache" to.

The Mac Pros are ideal for this setup, as they are 64-bit, quad-core, have three spare drive bays, hold up to 16GB RAM and come with 2GB standard. It is cheapest to pick up that 6GB additional RAM and spare drives from a third party supplier like Other World Computing, which is Apple certified but 1/3 the cost.

Brendan Coots

Splitvision Digital

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Devin Termini
Re: CPU or GPU? Where should your money go?
on May 27, 2008 at 6:21:15 am

Sorry to bring this up this old thread. But I'm interested in knowing if AE will take advantage of multiple GPUs to process frames. Does anyone know if this can be done?

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