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Adobe After Effects - AMD Radeon RX 6800 (XT) Performance

Written on December 1, 2020 by Matt Bach
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TL;DR: AMD Radeon RX 6800 & 6800 XT performance in After Effects

For most users, After Effects is going to be CPU bottlenecked long before the performance of your GPU comes into play. But in certain situations, the new AMD Radeon 6800 and 6800 XT can be around 30% faster than the Radeon 5700 XT or Vega 64. However, this isn't enough to quite catch up to the NVIDIA RTX 3000 series cards, so unless you need the 16GB of VRAM, NVIDIA continues to hold the lead in terms of After Effects performance.

Introduction

Recently, AMD launched their new Radeon RX 6800 and 6800 XT GPUs and while supply has been especially tight, we have finally managed to get our hands on a pair of cards courtesy of our friend Brian Stroh at BPS Customs. AMD has advertised very large performance gains with these cards, although gaming has been AMD's focus for the Radeon series of cards for the last few generations so we don't quite know what to expect in professional applications like After Effects.

While the number of GPU accelerated effects in After Effects has increased in recent years which has made the GPU increasingly important, most of After Effects is still limited by the performance of your CPU. In the past, however, there was a small benefit to using an NVIDIA GPU over AMD, so it will be interesting to see if this continues to hold true or if the new Radeon RX 6800 and 6800 XT GPUs allow AMD to match or beat NVIDIA in After Effects.

After Effects GPU Performance Benchmark - AMD Radeon RX 6800 and 6800XT 16GB

If you want to see the full specs for the new Radeon 6800 cards, we recommend checking out AMD's product page for the Radeon RX 6800 and the Radeon RX 6800 XT. But at a glance, here are what we consider to be the most important specs:

VRAM Cores Boost Clock Power MSRP
Radeon 5700X 8GB 2,560 1.9 GHz 225W $399
Radeon Vega 64 8GB 4,096 1.55 GHz 295W $499
RTX 3070 8GB 5,888 1.70 GHz 220W $499
Radeon 6800 16GB 3,840 2.1 GHz 250W $579
Radeon 6800 XT 16GB 4,608 2.25 GHz 300W $649
RTX 3080 10GB 8,704 1.71 GHz 320W $699
RTX 3090 24GB 10,496 1.73 GHz 350W $1,499

While specs rarely line up with real-world performance, it is nice to see AMD including 16GB of VRAM on the new 6800 cards. This really shouldn't be necessary for After Effects, but it can make a difference if you also use your system to edit 8K timelines in programs like DaVinci Resolve Studio.

From a pricing standpoint, these cards are right in between the NVIDIA RTX 3070 and 3080 - although currently, supply is so poor that you will be lucky to find a card for anywhere near the MSRP price. However, we typically use the MSRP as a baseline for price in order to rule out fluctuations due to different brands, sales, and scarcity. This means that from a performance perspective, we will be primarily looking to see if these cards are able to out-perform the RTX 3070 and whether or not they can beat the more expensive RTX 3080.

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Test Setup

Listed below is the specifications of the system we will be using for our testing:

To test each GPU, we will be using the fastest platform currently available for After Effects - most notably the AMD Threadripper 3960X. Since After Effects utilizes the CPU so heavily, this should minimize the impact of the processor and allow each GPU to perform at their fullest potential.

For the testing itself, we will be using our PugetBench for After Effects benchmark. This tests a number of different projects and includes a dedicated "GPU Stress" test that is meant to put as much load on the GPU as possible while still staying within the realm of what someone might actually do in the real world. If you wish to run our benchmark yourself, you can download the benchmark and compare your results to thousands of user-submitted results in our PugetBench database.

One thing to note is that due to the rolling GPU launches from NVIDIA and AMD, we will be re-using many of the results from our
Adobe After Effects - NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3070, 3080 & 3090 Performance article, which is why we are not yet using the latest version of Photoshop (22.0). Our current plan is to re-do all our GPU testing with the latest version of After Effects once AMD launches the Radeon RX 6900 (XT) in December (assuming we can get our hands on them before 2021).

Raw Benchmark Results

While we are going to go through our analysis of the testing in the next section, we always like to provide the raw results for those that want to dig into the details. If there is a specific task you tend to perform in your workflow, examining the raw results is going to be much more applicable than our more general analysis.

AMD Radeon RX 6800 XT After Effects GPU Performance Benchmark

Overall After Effects Performance Analysis

Since looking at GPU performance in applications like After Effects is often a case of examining extreme situations where the GPU is put under a heavy load, we first wanted to start off by looking at the overall performance we saw from our After Effects benchmark with each GPU. For most users, this is likely to be the most accurate representation of what they would experience in their day-to-day work since even if you use a ton of effects, they will usually be a mix of both CPU and GPU-based effects.

Looking at the overall performance, the new AMD Radeon 6800 and 680 XT do just fine, although they were technically 2-3% slower than the RTX 3070 and 3080. This isn't much of a difference and is right at the margin of error for real-world testing like this, so from an overall sense, they are effectively tied with NVIDIA's latest RTX 3000 series cards.

Compared to the older Radeon RX Vega 64, the new cards are around 4% faster which is just enough for us to say for certain that they are definitely faster than the older Vega series of cards. Compared to the less expensive Radeon RX 5700 XT, the Radeon RX 6800 and 6800 XT are both a slightly higher 6% faster. These numbers go up a bit if you only look at the RAM Preview and Rendering results, and for those tests, the new cards are up to 8% faster than the 5700 XT in an overall sense.

However, if we examine our "GPU Stress" project by itself (which pushes the GPU as much as is realistic in After Effects), we can get a better look at how the Radeon 6800 (XT) compares when the GPU is playing a more central role:

GPU Score Analysis

After Effects GPU Effects benchmark performance AMD Radeon RX 6800 XT

Our GPU Score is calculated based on the performance of our "GPU Stress" composition which is designed to put as much load on the GPU as possible while minimizing the CPU as a bottleneck. This test is borderline synthetic since it is rare that you will only use GPU-accelerated effects, but it does a good job of showing the maximum performance delta between different GPUs in After Effects.

In this composition, we actually see a huge bump in performance with the new AMD Radeon 6800 cards. There isn't much of a difference between the 6800 and 6800 XT, but both are close to 30% faster than the Radeon Vega 64 and 5700 XT. That is a terrific performance gain from a single generation and out-paces the 6-13% performance gain we saw with NVIDIA's new RTX 3000 series over the previous RTX 2000 series cards.

Unfortunately, even this 30% performance gain isn't enough to quite catch up to the NVIDIA RTX 3000 cards. The Radeon 6800 and 6800 XT do effectively match the RTX 3070, but since that card has an $80 lower MSRP, this is still a solid win for NVIDIA unless your workflow can make use of the larger 16GB of VRAM that the Radeon 6800 cards have.

How well does the AMD Radeon RX 6800 and 6800 XT perform in After Effects?

For most users, After Effects is going to be CPU bottlenecked long before the performance of your GPU comes into play. But in certain situations, the new AMD Radeon 6800 and 6800 XT can be around 30% faster than the Radeon 5700 XT or Vega 64. However, this isn't enough to quite catch up to the NVIDIA RTX 3000 series cards, so unless you need the 16GB of VRAM, NVIDIA continues to hold the lead in terms of After Effects performance.

Another factor you may want to keep in mind is GPU support in rendering engines like OctaneRender, V-Ray Next, and RedShift. Even if you do not use these engines today, After Effects has been indicating a trend towards using them more heavily in the future - especially since RedShift was acquired by Maxon (which has tight integration with Ae through Cinema4D). If you do any 3D work (or plan to), it is likely that you will be using one of them in some capacity in the future.

Unfortunately, many of the most popular 3rd party rendering engines for After Effects currently only support NVIDIA cards. Many of them have publicly stated that they plan to add support for OpenCL (and thus AMD) in the future, but at best this support is in the beta stage right now. So, while NVIDIA may have a slight lead in terms of straight performance at the moment, depending on your workflow and what updates Adobe may make to Ae in the near future, NVIDIA may be an even better choice from a future-proofing standpoint.

As always, keep in mind that these results are strictly for After Effects. If you have performance concerns for other applications in your workflow, we highly recommend checking out our Hardware Articles (you can filter by "Video Card") for the latest information on how a range of applications perform with the new AMD Radeon 6000 series GPUs, as well as with different CPUs and other hardware.

After Effects Workstations

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Our Labs team is available to provide in-depth hardware recommendations based on your workflow.

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Tags: NVIDIA, NVIDIA vs AMD, AMD, Vega 64, Radeon RX 5700 XT, RTX 2060 SUPER, RTX 2070 SUPER, RTX 2080 SUPER, RTX 2080 Ti, Titan RTX, RTX 3080, RTX 3090, RTX 3070, Radeon RX 6800, Radeon RX 6800 XT, After Effects
CakeInMotion

First of all, congrats on the new look. I have an Irrelevant question to this topic. Did you compare SSD(s) in regard to after effects performance when rendering or using encoder for processing? How much of a difference - regard to Ae - would a 3500 MBs speed SSD offer vs 500 MBs ones? in terms of speed?

Posted on 2020-12-04 17:57:04

For exporting, a faster drive generally doesn't do much. Sometimes an SSD will give a boost over a platter drive (depends on your project), but a NVMe drive shouldn't give you anything noticeable.

The one area it does help, however, is letting you write frames to the disk cache. Every frame you render is stored in RAM, then written to the disk cache whenever Ae thinks it can sneak it in without affecting your workflow. Faster drives tend to allow for these frames to be written a bit faster, which means you will have more frames stored in the disk cache if you exit Ae or otherwise overwrite the frames stored in RAM.

It isn't a huge difference though, maybe 10% going from an SSD to a 3.5GB/s NVMe? Unfortunately, since writing to the disk cache is more of a background task, we have never found a reliable way to test this. We can play a comp and let it sit for 10 seconds, and one time it will write all the frames to the disk cache, and another time it will only write half. Or less... Or more... It is extremely random, so that is more of a gut feeling than anything backed up by hard numbers.

Posted on 2020-12-04 18:23:17
CakeInMotion

Thanks for your explanation, appreciate it.

Posted on 2020-12-04 20:52:41