14 Replies Latest reply on Nov 9, 2010 3:28 PM by Dad Gone Mad

    Best option for better performance? Graphics card, RAM or new machine

    Infin8 Level 1

      Hi,

       

      When running After Effects CS4 and rendering a layered effects scene I've notice the system and rendering time seem a little sluggish so I'm wanting to improve the systems performance and I'm wondering what my best route would be to achieve this.

       

      New Graphics card?

      More Ram?

      Upgrade Mac for new model?

       

      Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.

       

      I currently have the following spec:

       

      Hardware Overview:

        Model Name: Mac Pro

        Model Identifier: MacPro1,1

        Processor Name: Dual-Core Intel Xeon

        Processor Speed: 2.66 GHz

        Number Of Processors: 2

        Total Number Of Cores: 4

        L2 Cache (per processor): 4 MB

        Memory: 5 GB

        Bus Speed: 1.33 GHz

        Boot ROM Version: MP11.005C.B08

       

      Graphics Card

      NVIDIA GeForce 8800 GT:

        Chipset Model: NVIDIA GeForce 8800 GT

        Type: GPU

        Bus: PCIe

        Slot: Slot-1

        PCIe Lane Width: x16

        VRAM (Total): 512 MB

        Vendor: NVIDIA (0x10de)

        Device ID: 0x0602

        Revision ID: 0x00a2

        ROM Revision: 3233

        Displays:

      Display Connector:

        Status: No Display Connected

      Cinema HD:

        Resolution: 2560 x 1600

        Pixel Depth: 32-Bit Color (ARGB8888)

        Main Display: Yes

        Mirror: Off

        Online: Yes

        Rotation: Supported

       

      Thanks

       

      Mark

        • 1. Re: Best option for better performance? Graphics card, RAM or new machine
          Mylenium Most Valuable Participant

          Probably neither. Sorry, you are trying to oversimplify a complex matter and are not providing enough info for anyone to give proper advise. If AE is running on your system with no multiprocessing, then none of what you suggested will give any significant improvement - CS4 is 32bit and will never use much more RAM. Because of that, even a faster processor may not come into play, because it would still be suffocating. So no, the behavior you see currently is probably normal and as good as it gets. Only upgrading to CS5 combined with probably getting a new machine would yield significant improvments then, but there may be room to optimize the project itself for the time being...

           

          Mylenium

          • 2. Re: Best option for better performance? Graphics card, RAM or new machine
            Infin8 Level 1

            Thanks for your reply. I did think there would be more factors involved. Is the 32 bit issue the reason After Effects CS4 only uses 3GB of my RAM?

            • 3. Re: Best option for better performance? Graphics card, RAM or new machine
              Mylenium Most Valuable Participant

              Yes, it is and as long as you are stuck with CS4, there is no way to circumvent this. Ultimately it will always be your performance dictating ceiling.

               

              Mylenium

              • 4. Re: Best option for better performance? Graphics card, RAM or new machine
                Taverino Level 2

                I had pretty much the same machine as you, but with 13GB of RAM. My AE work mainly involves HDV/1080p with heavy use of effects like Trapcode Particular and re:Vision Twixtor. The Mac Pro was painfully slow. I would have considered upgrading to a newer Mac but the last Mac Pro refresh was very, very disappointing. For my present and future requirements, the conclusion to switch to a PC was a no-brainer. You may well have non-CS apps that preclude you from making the switch, but if you don't, you will get a much more powerful CS workstation for much less money. My sense as an arm-chair industry watcher is that the advantages of PC's for CS users will only increase as Apple doesn't seem to consider us to be a priority.

                 

                Are you able to switch to a PC? CS5?

                • 5. Re: Best option for better performance? Graphics card, RAM or new machine
                  Infin8 Level 1

                  Thanks for your reply. That's an interesting view but no, I'm not able (or particularly wanting!) to switch to using a PC. I think I'm going to try the CS5 trial and see if there are any improvements.

                  • 6. Re: Best option for better performance? Graphics card, RAM or new machine
                    bogiesan-gyyClL Level 3

                    The gain in performance between the first generation Intel Macs and the current generation is huge on many levels but not necessarily for applications like After Effects—too many factors not directly associated with CPU or RAM.

                    Visit some of the performance evaluation sites like barefeats and see if you can make any sense of the benchmarks (I cannot).

                     

                    You might be able to find used Macs from a generation ago, still a huge upgrade from your present machine.

                     

                    The advice to move to a PC is sound as long as your business plan embraces such a radical change. What do you give up to gain some HD rendering speed? What else does a PC offer you in terms of competitiveness or other features you can sell to your clients? 

                     

                    bogiesan

                    • 7. Re: Best option for better performance? Graphics card, RAM or new machine
                      Dad Gone Mad

                      I have been trying to get more info on how well the Quadro 4000 works with AE CS5, My understanding is that Open GL plays a big part in the rendering and transcoding in AE. I've read many responses in the Premiere forum that state that it is not neccesary to spend the money on a workstation card, with implications that a GeForce 400 series card will do just a well or better.

                       

                      I'm thinking that may me true with the MPE in Premiere, but does AE use the MPE engine in any of it's functions? also although the GeForce 400 series cards are fast, my understanding is that the Quadro 4000 would do a better job at numbers crunching when it comes to rendering effects for a smoother playback.

                       

                      I've noticed that with the new Fermi technology that these card have made a significant leap in performance, but I've always read that a workstation card would be the best choice especially for compositing.

                       

                      In any event I've decided to go with the workstation card since I've never had one and this particular one seems affordable for me, but I would like some clarification on this matter, and maybe some input on this particular card (Quadro 4000) and it's perfomance in AE from some of the users.

                       

                      I realize it's a fairly new card and maybe that's why I haven't seen many post or videos from such users on it's performance compared to Geforce 400 series in AE.

                       

                      As far as computer specs are concerned, well I haven't built it yet, but my plans include the 980x proc./ 1366 mobo/ 3 chan. mem. 12 gigs/ (2) 300 gig Velociraptors/ ssd boot drive /WD Black 1tb hd /and a big psu.

                      • 8. Re: Best option for better performance? Graphics card, RAM or new machine
                        Todd_Kopriva Level 8

                        > My understanding is that Open GL plays a big part in the rendering and transcoding in AE.

                         

                         

                        That is not correct. OpenGL is not very relevant at all to After Effects.

                         

                        For After Effects, focus on RAM and CPUS and fast hard disks, not the graphics card.

                        • 9. Re: Best option for better performance? Graphics card, RAM or new machine
                          Dad Gone Mad Level 1

                          I found this under After Effects features, So is this a lie?

                           

                          Native 64-bit operating system support, multiprocessor utilization, and  OpenGL acceleration help you work faster, taking full advantage of your  computer's power. Unmatched integration with other Adobe software  further streamlines your workflow.

                           

                          there's also this

                          http://help.adobe.com/en_US/aftereffects/cs/using/WS3878526689cb91655866c1103a4f2dff7-79e8 a.html

                           

                          and this:

                          OpenGL—Interactive or OpenGL—Always On
                          OpenGL mode provides high-quality previews that require less rendering time than other playback modes. OpenGL can also be used to speed up rendering to final output. OpenGL features in After Effects rely on OpenGL features of your video hardware.


                          So you'll need to explain the above comment because I'm not clear about what you're stating, or at least the part about OpenGl not being relevant to AE at all.
                          • 10. Re: Best option for better performance? Graphics card, RAM or new machine
                            Andrew Yoole MVP & Adobe Community Professional

                            Open GL accelerates AE previews in certain circumstances - in particular, transformation of objects in 3D space.  If you are working on something that ONLY uses 3D transformation and lighting, you will find OpenGL previews a great tool.  After Effects only supports basic OpenGL functions, so most mid-range display cards have more power than AE can use.

                             

                            BUT, the moment you add any effects that don't utilise OpenGL (which is nearly all effects) to the pipeline of any layer, you instantly lose the OpenGL advantage for that layer.  Calculation of the layer contents must be processed by the CPU, then palmed off to the OpenGL GPU for transformation.  OpenGL can often SLOW the process down in such circumstances.

                             

                            So, while AE most certainly CAN use OpenGL to advantage, the real-world benefits are often small or non-existent, depending on your project.  Hence Todd's advice: spend your money on CPU speed and RAM, rather than on expensive GPUs that are filled with power AE cannot use.

                            • 11. Re: Best option for better performance? Graphics card, RAM or new machine
                              Todd_Kopriva Level 8

                              > I found this under After Effects features, So is this a lie?

                               

                              Native 64-bit operating system support, multiprocessor utilization, and  OpenGL acceleration help you work faster, taking full advantage of your computer's power. Unmatched integration with other Adobe software  further streamlines your workflow.

                               

                               

                              Of the three things mentioned (64-bit, multiprocessing, and OpenGL), two are hugely important and one is minor.

                               

                              > OpenGL—Interactive or OpenGL—Always On

                              OpenGL mode provides high-quality previews that require less rendering time than other playback modes. OpenGL can also be used to speed up rendering to final output. OpenGL features in After Effects rely on OpenGL features of your video hardware.

                               

                              Yep. It can speed things up. Some. And at the expense of fidelity with the CPU renderer. The OpenGL-Interactive mode is the only one that most people use.

                               

                              > So you'll need to explain the above comment because I'm not clear about what you're stating, or at least the part about OpenGl not being relevant to AE at all.

                               

                              I said that "OpenGL is not very relevant at all to After Effects", not that it isn't relevant at all.

                               

                              To use a car metaphor: If I wanted a car that went fast, I'd focus on horsepower, low-weight materials, and good tires first. Then, if I'd maxed all of those factors and still had some money left over, I might buy a spoiler for the back. But that wouldn't be my first area of focus.

                               

                              Graphics cards can be very expensive. I see far too many people spend all of their budget on this less-important item and neglect the less expensive and more important factors like extra RAM and a second fast hard disk. I'm trying to keep you from making the same mistake.

                               

                              BTW, the graphics card is much, much more important for Premiere Pro CS5. But that's a conversation for the Premiere Pro hardware forum.

                              • 12. Re: Best option for better performance? Graphics card, RAM or new machine
                                Dad Gone Mad Level 1

                                Thank you very much for clearing those issues up,

                                I understand fully now. I just wanted to know what kind of perfomance gain (or not) that I could expect in AE with this graphic card. I believe I have the RAM and CPU covered in my configuration as listed in previous post ( I already made that CPU/RAM mistake in my last sports car, er uh computer build...lol),

                                My reason for opting for the workstation card is not based solely on optimal performance in CS 5 but for a possible transition to other 3d apps such as Maya or maybe LIghtwave.

                                I thank you again Andrew and Todd for your quick and informative responses.

                                • 13. Re: Best option for better performance? Graphics card, RAM or new machine
                                  Szalam Adobe Community Professional & MVP

                                  Todd Kopriva: "If I wanted a car that went fast, I'd focus on horsepower, low-weight materials, and good tires first. Then, if I'd maxed all of those factors and still had some money left over, I might buy a spoiler for the back. But that wouldn't be my first area of focus."

                                  Uh-oh, I wonder if they'd take a refund.

                                  http://assets1.thrivesmart.net/pictures/18/pimped-red-car-huge-spoiler.original.jpg

                                  • 14. Re: Best option for better performance? Graphics card, RAM or new machine
                                    Dad Gone Mad Level 1

                                    aaaaaahahaha! Even if they do take a refund (at the

                                    mall it's parked in...) it will still be an ugly sports car.hee hee I hope it's fast

                                     

                                    you may want to trade in the spoiler for a body kit and some wheels.

                                     

                                    ps: I was thinking about doing the same thing to my Focus.

                                    ...