Get the most powerful processor you can afford. Get lots of RAM.
GPU doesn't matter for AE much (unless you're using certain third-party plugins like Element 3d). See here.
There are probably thousands of us in the same situation: trying to figure out if the new MacPro is an economical solution.
The idea that you will be doing 4k is something only your bosses can figure out but, really? 4k? Why?
But that's not your decision or mine.
We are looking at the top of the line iMac instead of the MacPro. Even with two new thunderbolt displays and maxed out RAM and SSD/fusion it's still far less than the basic MacPro. Is there an Apple Store in your area? You can make arrangements to do side-by-side runs on their iMacs and the MacPro thye have on the floor. However, they won't have After Effects insalled on any of their machines. The enterprise team might let you install a demo copy, I do not know.
I do not need the Pro's ability to run 3 k4k displays; that's wasted GPU power.
I do not need the Pro's ability to stream six 4k lines of video (in FCPX); all that power is wasted.
It's a tough call but I'm interested in making a sound business decision for my company and not just buying the coolest thing on the market. I simplay cannot justify the new MacPro's abilites against our needs. If my CEO marches into my shop and says he wants us to be doing 4k he will fund that operation separately from our basic video production upgrades.
I have been asnwering this quesiton on other forums with this statement: If you need to ask, you probably don't need one. Or, if you really need one, your accounting department has already ordered it for you.
Hope you get what you need, not what you want. Come back and let us know how AE is working on yoru ew machines, whatever they are.
The new Mac Pros are, without a doubt, amazing machines. But are they value for money?
A significant cost in these machines is the high end AMD GPUs, which is utilised very well by Apple in their own software like Final Cut Pro X, Compressor and Motion. If you use those a lot, it's a no brainer. Place your order.
Premiere Pro CC has support for the GPUs (one GPU during playback, but can utilise both during renders.)
There has been no pledge from Adobe for After Effects support. AE's ray-traced 3D render engine has been virtually abandoned by Adobe, so there will never be support for AMD CPUs for it. They are now more focussed on integration with Maxxon's Cinema 4D as a 3D alternative, but Cinema 4D exclusively renders with the CPU – no GPU benefit.
The AE team are hinting about substantial multi-processing enhancements in the next major update, so it seems After Effects users will continue to be better off with faster multi-core CPUs, rather than expensive GPUs. With more CPU cores comes the need for more RAM.
Some third party vendors of AE plugins, like VideoCopilot's Element 3D and Optical Flares, have pledged support for the Mac Pro GPUs. But the problem with intertwining CPU-dependent software with GPU-dependent plugins is you need to turn off multi-processing to get the best results, negating the value of your powerful Mac Pro CPU.
Photoshop and Indesign rarely need the balls of a machine like the new Mac Pro. The new high-speed SSDs will certainly make them run faster than your average iMac, but it's not a HUGE leap for the cost difference.
The benchmarks I've seen on media encoding for the new Mac Pros are a little underwhelming, to be honest. They're fast, yes, but not twice as fast as a $4000 iMac, despite a high-end machine being twice (or more) expensive.
So, as a primarily Adobe user, I'm a bit torn. Personally, I think my money will be better spent buying a high-spec iMac for now. I can always on-sell it in 6 months if Adobe prove they are really coming to the party with Mac Pro support. But right now I'm not seeing proof of the benefits (from Adobe) in buying a $6K+ machine.
If you are determined to buy the new Mac Pro, and After Effects and C4D are your primary tools, get the most powerful CPU you can afford, make sure you have at least 3-4GB of RAM for each CPU, and keep the lowest-specced GPUs.
Personally I would go for the 6 core or 8 core processor and throw the money saved in the 12 core processor into Storage and Graphics cards. The processors are supposed to be replaceable and anyway, how many projects do you have now that utilize all cores? I think it's going to be a long time before all 3rd party plug-in manufacturers and all codecs are going to be sufficiently MP aware to flood 12 cores for processing video.
If you are really heavy into 3D apps then maybe there is a stronger case for 12 cores but every review that I have read and every (and there are not many yet) benchmark I have seen tells me that I don't need 12 cores yet.
The system I am ordering is the 3.5 GHz 6 core with only 12 GB ram but the terabyte of storage and the D700 graphics cards. I can save nearly $500 buying 64GB from another source. That gets me out the door with tax and shipping for just under $5,700 or about a 40% cost savings over buying one fully loaded. I don't think I'd be getting that much of a performance bump to justify the cost of a maxed out system.
This sounds a lot like the thread i started three months ago: http://forums.macrumors.com/showthread.php?p=18810102#post18810102
Inbetween my nMP is ready to ship! And i learned quite a bit about CPU and GPU... I decided to go with the maxed out - but only 12GB of RAM, which i will upgrade later on from third party. This will be the next task - finding out if it is worth spending 3K for 128GB..
Well. After seeing AE slashcam rendertest (find in the linked thread) i decided to go with the 12core. For some tasks 8 core seems to be better/faster but AE and C4D sure need those cores.
On Adobe Forums you will see Todds stamements like here: http://forums.adobe.com/message/5972653
"Dont bother about the GPU". However - the upgrade to the 700 is not that much. This maybe could get useful in near future...