Where can I find the current list of graphics cards Adobe supports for 3D rendering?
The ray-traced renderer in CS6 only officially supports these cards on Windows:
•GeForce GTX 285
•GeForce GTX 470
•GeForce GTX 570
•GeForce GTX 580
•GeForce GTX 670*
•GeForce GTX 680*
•GeForce GTX 690*
And a bunch of Quadros that don't matter.
The full list being found here.
That being said, you can probably do the "hack" of editing the supported cards txt file to make it support the GTX 700 series of cards too.
I haven't heard much about CS6 working with any cards beyond that (900 series or 1000 series) although, you might be able to manually update the Optix library in AE, but that's just more trouble than its worth. Since you're on a budget anyway, I'd just get one of the officially supported cards; they're so old now that you should be able to get them fairly cheaply.
And if there's a card that will speed up rendering AT ALL in A.E., that would also be a most welcome improvement.
There is not. CS6 didn't use the GPU for much of anything beyond the ray-traced renderer. More info on how CS6 used the GPU here.
What CPU you have makes a much bigger difference in how fast AE is. The number of cores matters a bit, but how fast that core clock speed is matters much more.
Also, in the Windows environment, are there recommendations for the amount of RAM and cache size (and cache speed) for maximizing performance in A.E.?
For CS6, it depends on your processor. You want about 4 GB of RAM for every core of your processor. Also, keep in mind that your memory and multiprocessing preferences should probably be tweaked a bit. Leave a quarter of your RAM for other programs and make sure at least one CPU core is reserved for other programs too and try that out.
Cache size is always as much as you can give it - ideally on a very fast drive (SSD) that's separate from your footage, OS, and software. The use of cache is much improved in newer versions over CS6, by the way.
Thanks, Szalam. Much appreciated.