10 Replies Latest reply on Feb 13, 2009 12:24 AM by Mylenium

    Video Card Question

      I'm new to After Effects CS4 and about to upgrade my video card. My current card is an NVIDIA 7100 at 128MB. I'm curious what memory level people have seen After Effects start to run more smoothly at (in HD). For example, the card in my price range has 768MB. I have to assume that this will be a significant upgrade, though I still don't expect it to run at the full frame rate (rate now I'm getting about 5 fps as opposed to 29.97, which is just WAY to slow... also, in premiere I can't watch my HD footage smoothly, which is a pain).

      Oh, and the other spec's on my computer: 2gigs ram, dual core... average for a computer a few months old.
        • 1. Re: Video Card Question
          Andrew Yoole MVP & Adobe Community Professional
          I would suggest that any contemporary video card with 256MB of RAM or more should have more than enough juice for AE. OpenGL functionality in AE is vastly over-rated, and expectations of video cards often run way too high.

          2GB of RAM is marginal for AE, and definitely too low if you expect to use multicore processing. If you have 2 processor cores, you should have 4 to 8 GB of RAM for optimum performance. Drive speed is also a major factor when working in HD, particularly in Premiere. Investigate using multiple drives in a striped RAID configuration for better HD performance. Your money is better spent on RAM and/or drives than the latest-and-greatest display card.

          Full resolution HD previews in AE can be a bit flaky, even on the best hardware. Be prepared to work at half-HD resolution when possible, to gain longer preview times and better performance.
          • 2. Re: Video Card Question
            Level 1
            Thanks, Andrew, that's very helpful.

            Regarding the additional harddrive, is it useful to use an external via firewire? I don't have a slot for an additional internal drive.
            • 3. Re: Video Card Question
              Level 1
              PS - I don't mind previews at half HD or even less, so long as they flow better (as I said, even in premiere I'm getting quite a lag). I went ahead and ordered more RAM (will max me out at 4GB), and will get a 512MB NVIDIA GeForce 9400 video card. I hope this helps run a little better. I didn't buy the computer with this in mind, so I'm not expecting great performance.
              • 4. Re: Video Card Question
                Mylenium Most Valuable Participant
                If you can, go for an external SATA (eSATA). Even if it may require you to plug in an extra controller card, it would be more future-proof. Firewire is pretty much dead, now that every camera manufacturer is favoring HDMI and even Sony and Apple have put their own baby to sleep (mostly). It also has the added benefit of being almost indefinitely expandable and supporting better power saving schemes.

                Mylenium
                • 5. Re: Video Card Question
                  Level 1
                  Good point about the eSATA. I actually use a Seagate for audio recording/mixing. My gripe there is that they've been bought by Maxtor and are now basically just a Maxtor in a Seagate box. I've already had one fail! It's of their newer line, which they say is "in pogress", and is the only one with eSATA.

                  So... what brand of external SATA drive are people happy with these days? It's too bad, Seagate used to be so reliable.
                  • 6. Re: Video Card Question
                    (Steve_Patterson) Level 1
                    Lacie, and Western Digital make decent drives. WD may not be as good as they used to be, but the ones I've gotten recently have been fine.

                    Always good to check with the pros:

                    http://www.tomshardware.com/us/#redir
                    • 7. Re: Video Card Question
                      Navarro Parker Level 3
                      Who makes drives? It's WD, Seagate, or Hitachi and that's it... right?
                      • 8. Re: Video Card Question
                        Level 1
                        There are some pricey high end external drives out there that audio engineers swear by for being quiet, solid, reliable etc... but Seagate has always been an affordable and reliable option for clients to have their own drives to bring into the recording studio (or buy from the studio at close to cost), to keep their project on, and then to have their own backup, especially for tracking. The new Seagates just aren't as good.

                        I was looking at a WD that I might try out. I might just give it a few months and see what comes out eSATA-wise, which seems to still be buggy with Maxtor/Seagate.
                        • 9. Re: Video Card Question
                          Andrew Yoole MVP & Adobe Community Professional
                          I use an eSATA drive dock these days, mostly for archiving, but the speeds are excellent. It's an external dock that you simply hot-plug a bare drive into. With 1.5TB SATA drives under US$200, it's cheaper for me to archive to disk than to DVD or tape, and much faster and more convenient. Just be careful removing the drives too quickly - they get hot! The dock cost me 50 bucks and included an eSATA card.

                          But for more stability and durability, I'd probably be inclined to have a drive case or internal drive for a permanent workhorse drive. All that said, I still use Firewire 800 drives in a lot of my workflow, and they haven't let me down yet - no problem at all with uncompressed 10 bit SD capture and playback.
                          • 10. Re: Video Card Question
                            Mylenium Most Valuable Participant
                            Can't say much about manufacturer preferences. The single harddrive failure I've experienced in all my 15 years of doing CG professionally was on a new machine after two months due to a mechanical problem (the spindle bearing seems to have been defective from the start) on a 250 GB Seagate, but that mustn't mean naything. I've had Fujitsu, Toshiba, WD, Maxtor and Seagate and neither of them seemed particularly prone to bad behavior. Toshiba and WD disks are usually a tiny bit slower because they are more aimed at conserving energy rather than maxing out performance, but that's the only thing I noticed.

                            Mylenium