8 Replies Latest reply on Oct 24, 2014 8:00 AM by SebastiaanFP

    Workstation Advice

    Tom_01 Level 1

      Hi -- I'm getting started in motion graphics and visual effects, and intend to start freelancing in addition to my full-time web job. I'd like to invest in a workstation between now and January for $3000-$6000, but am having some difficulty in understanding all the technical aspects of AE and hardware configurations. Mainly I don't want to have to say "no" to a gig because I can't do something a client would want or because it would take me too long (because of the computer being is too slow, that is).


      I've spoke with Adobe, and they recommend:


      Processor: Xeon E5, at least 3.0GHz, 8 cores

      RAM: 32GB

      Graphics: NVIDIA Quadro 4000

      SSD: at least 512GB


      I've been considering the HP Z840 (approx. $4000 + $400-600 for an SSD)


      Operating systemWindows 7 Professional 64 (available through downgrade rights from Windows 8.1 Pro 64)
      ProcessorIntel® Xeon® E5-2630 v3 (2.4 GHz, 20 MB cache, 8 cores)
      Number of Processors1
      Standard memory16 GB 2133 MHz DDR4 ECC Registered RAM (2 x 8 GB)
      Memory slots8 DIMM (with 1 processor) and 16 DIMM (with 2 processors)
      Internal drive1 TB 7200 rpm SATA
      Optical driveSlim SATA SuperMulti DVD writer
      GraphicsNVIDIA Quadro K4200 (4 GB)
      Drive BaysFour 3.5"
      Network interfaceIntegrated Intel I210AT PCIe GbE
      Integrated Intel I218LM PCIe GbE
      Storage controllerIntegrated SATA 6.0 Gb/s

      These specs run low to what Adobe recommended, but I don't know how to figure out what the difference makes in terms what AE is actually capable of doing for a client.

      I've also been considering the MacPro, but didn't know how significant the lack of NVIDIA is, and if it is significant, if Mac offers the option to get a Quadro 4000 (it's not clear on their website).

      I'd like to be able to do 3D work (probably with Cinema 4D) but don't know how 3D integrates into a motion graphics workflow--if being able to work in 3D would accelerate projects.

      The Adobe agent said there were problems with both Mavericks and Windows 8.1.


      For someone just getting into motion graphics, but also wanting to make money, are the MacPro or Z820/840 overkill? If not, then is $3000 way too low of an expectation to be able to get the hardware I would need? If I go up to $6000, where is AE going to get the most value (performance/$)?


      Thank you so much!




        • 1. Re: Workstation Advice
          ECBowen Most Valuable Participant

          I suggest the 5960X 8 Core since it's unlocked on the X99. The ram is also unlocked on the I7 Haswell E chips where it's locked on the Xeons. Both of those have a significant impact on AE. There are also better slot configuration options on most of those boards. You really need 64GB of ram as well with AE 2014 and that many cores. AE has a large ram profile. The more cores and threads the system has the more ram you need to fully use those cores. The Quadro K4200 wont have much impact with AE performance either. A Geforce 970GTX or 980GTX would be far better and cheaper. C4D as well is CPU threading and ram unless you get Octane which is the GPU accelerated renderer for Octane. I suggest you look at that along with the 980GTX.



          • 2. Re: Workstation Advice
            Zjuka Level 1

            --Here's my rig:

            i7-3930k CPU

            AsRock X79 Extreme6 Mobo

            Nvidia Quadro 4000

            32Gb (4x8Gb) G.Skill RAM

            Thermaltake 2.0 water cooler

            250Gb Samsung SSD for OS and apps

            10Tb (2x3Tb and 2x2Tb Seagate HDDs) of internal storage

            OCZ ZX 1000W PSU

            Win 7 Ultimate SP1

            I built it last year and (knock on wood) didn't have any problems with the workstation yet.

            Most of my work is animation/motion graphics for clients on [often] tight deadlines and I usually have AE/PPro/Illustrator, Photoshop and Bridge running at the same time, sometimes C4D as well

            --Performance improvements in comparison to my previous workstation (same GPU, quad-core i7 CPU):

            Cinema4D v14 render - 30%

            After Effects CS6 render - 50%

            Adobe Premiere CS6 Exporter (mixed 2K and 4K footage to QT HD) - 45%

            Adobe Media Encoder (from folder to folder, not through Premiere Pro) - 40%

            Improved scrubbing and preview in 2K and 4K sequences and multitasking.

            *benchmark from a year ago

            -Previews and scrubbing in After Effects and Premiere Pro rely on the video card, rendering utilizes 100% of CPU, same goes for Cinema4D. Preview chokes a little when scrubbing 5k footage in premiere, but in 1/2 rez plays back fine. I believe next gen graphics card would fix it, but not sure.

            Hosting your media cache folders for PPro and AE on SSD drive helps a lot.

            -Sometimes I run performance manager when rendering effects-heavy AE comp or rendering 5K footage and never noticed any tasks that would require more than 28Gb of RAM. My MoBo can support 64, but as of yet, I didn't see the need for the upgrade.

            -I bought BluRay burner about 3 years ago, burnt exactly 1 job on it, and it just sits in the tower, collecting dust. I'm not quite sure if DVD/BR burner is a necessary part of a rig now days, unless you do wedding videos or something. In fact, I can't even recall using it as a DVD/BR reader.

            --Few things to consider-

            Hexacore processor runs pretty hot - water cooling is suggested

            This particular video card runs pretty hot too - 90C while idling. I spoke with PNY engineer and he suggested NVIDIA Quadro 4000K - it's cooler and has 3Gb of VRAM and the difference is only about $150. Crossfire is not really supported by Quadro 4000 either.

            My workstation is currently worth around $2800, according to pcpartpicker.com, not counting monitors, wacom tablet and other, and it's still up to speed with competition and relatively future-proof - all i can think of upgrading right now is a graphics card - and be good for another few years or so. But this is not the first system i built, so if you want a plug-and-play solution, get a Mac Pro - specs on that thing are rather sweet and my colleague is very happy with it.

            hope that helped

            • 3. Re: Workstation Advice
              Tom_01 Level 1

              Thanks Eric. I've never built a system before (though I used to watch my dad put them together) and could learn but didn't know if it would be worth the time and if that means I would also have to troubleshoot all my own hardware problems. Are there any manufacturers/custom build retailers you would recommend? Or quality guides I could follow to get started building something with the 5960X on the X99?

              The ram is also unlocked on the I7 Haswell E chips where it's locked on the Xeons. Both of those have a significant impact on AE.

              Do you mean just the ram being unlocked on i7 E chips and locked on Xeons has a significant impact on AE, or that if I were to overclock them it would only then improve AE? And what is the impact? I hadn't been intending to get into overclocking (or building my own system for that matter) but if it's going to take my dollar much further, then I would.


              Thanks again,


              • 4. Re: Workstation Advice
                Tom_01 Level 1

                Thanks Zjuka. Yea, that is helpful, especially the breakdown of your improvements after upgrade and the price figure for your rig (also gives me hope). Yea like I just posted in reply to Eric, I had not been intending to build my own system, but I could be persuaded if that's how I can get a lot of value. Any recommendations to getting started down that line? Can I just pick some parts up from NewEgg and put them together without ruining anything, or will it take me a couple builds before I "get the hang of it" (i.e. sink a lot of money)?


                If I were going to go Mac Pro, anything in particular you would recommend to get in the customization options (e.g. "definitely make sure you get nuance of RAM/Processor/SSD etc. X and not this other nuance Y")? And are the AMD graphics OK with AE and C4D?



                Thanks again,



                • 5. Re: Workstation Advice
                  cc_merchant Level 4

                  Read Planning a NLE System  and Tweakers Page


                  Then contact Eric at ADK and ask him.

                  • 6. Re: Workstation Advice
                    ECBowen Most Valuable Participant

                    Keep in mind the nMPro is the previous gen Ivy E platform and chips. That also means DDR3 instead of DDR4. The Dual GPU's in the nMPro wont help you at all with AE or C4D. Crossfire brings nothing of value to any Adobe application. The X79 platform is the previous gen ie Ivy E to the X99 platform. If you are looking to go that route the new X99 Haswell E is what you want instead.




                    • 7. Re: Workstation Advice
                      ECBowen Most Valuable Participant

                      The CPU and Ram clock on the E5 V3 Xeons, means you cant clock the CPU or ram higher than what those Xeons are speced for. For a example a 2.4GHz Xeon is locked to that speed plus the default turbo. You don't have any manual control to raise the speed ie GHZ. The ram is locked to 1866 or 2133 regardless of what the DDR4 is specced to run. In other words even if you buy DDR4 2666 you cant run it above 2133 for example with those Xeon chips. AE performance is pretty much all CPU and ram. Storage has some impact up to the ideal point for that media but not nearly as much as CPU and ram. If you have a CPU with 8 Cores/ 16 Threads running at 3.5GHz to 4GHz for example, AE will ram preview and render far faster than 2.4GHz for the same cores. Even if the 2.4GHz CPU has 12 cores the 8 core at 4.0GHz will still outperform. The ram at higher speed significantly lowers the processing latency while also decreasing the ram preview time for generating frame data. This also allows far better performance on render if the CPU processing is waiting on the data to buffer and build in ram.




                      • 8. Re: Workstation Advice
                        SebastiaanFP Level 1

                        Most already answered here, but in short afaik it is impossible to do this work with one HDD. If you are going to choose HDD you are going to need at least 3 but better more and some RAID configurations. If you want only one drive then it should be a fast SSD or M.2. of the latest generations.