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Adobe After Effects - AMD Radeon RX 6900 XT Performance

Written on January 4, 2021 by Matt Bach
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TL;DR: AMD Radeon RX 6900 XT 16GB 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 even in situations where the GPU is being heavily used, the AMD Radeon 6900 XT 16GB is not a card we would specifically recommend. The performance is not particularly bad, but it also is not much better than the much lower-priced Radeon 6800.

In fact, unless you need the 16GB of VRAM (which shouldn't be necessary for the vast majority of After Effects workflows), the "sweet spot" for the latest GPUs from NVIDIA and AMD is probably the GeForce RTX 3080. Although even then, it isn't that much faster than an RTX 3060 Ti or Radeon 5700 XT.

Introduction

For the last part of 2020, both NVIDIA and AMD have been slowly releasing a number of new GPUs. One of the most recent was the AMD Radeon RX 6900 XT 16GB which officially launched on December 8th, but due to extremely tight supply, we have not been able to get our hands on one to test until just recently. In fact, we still have not been able to purchase a card ourselves, but our friends at Linus Media Group were able to loan us a card so we could perform our testing.

While gaming is almost always a major focus during these GPU launches, professional applications like After Effects are becoming more and more important. In fact, if you view the product page for the 6900 XT, you will note that they are starting to include Content Creation performance from benchmarks like our very own "PugetBench for Premiere Pro".

Ever since After Effects 2015.3, Adobe has been steadily adding support for GPU acceleration which has made the video card an increasingly important part of an After Effects workstation. However, most of After Effects is still limited by the performance of your CPU, which means that many users will stick with a relatively moderate GPU in order to spend more of their budget on their system's processor. This likely makes the Radeon 6900 XT complete overkill for After Effects, but the only way to know for sure is to test it to find out.

After Effects GPU Performance Benchmark - AMD Radeon RX 6900 XT 16GB

If you want to see the full specs for the latest GPUs from NVIDIA and AMD, we recommend checking out the NVIDIA GeForce RTX 30 Series and AMD Radeon RX Graphics Cards product pages. 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
RTX 3060 Ti 8GB 4,864 1.67 GHz 200W $399
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
Radeon 6900 XT 16GB 5,120 2.25 GHz 300W $999
RTX 3090 24GB 10,496 1.73 GHz 350W $1,499

While specs rarely line up with real-world performance, the biggest thing to note is that the AMD Radeon 6900 XT 16GB is at the top of the product stack from AMD and has an MSRP that is $300 higher than the NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3080 10GB, or $500 lower than the GeForce RTX 3090 24GB. Based on price alone, this means that we (hopefully) will see better performance from the 6900 XT than the RTX 3080, although there are certainly other factors to consider such as the larger VRAM capacity.

Note that the current supply is so poor that you will be lucky to find many of these cards for anywhere near the MSRP. However, we typically use the MSRP as a baseline for price in order to rule out fluctuations due to different brands, sales, and scarcity. The actual cost you will likely need to pay for either an AMD or NVIDIA card is likely to be quite a bit different, so keep that in mind as you read this article.

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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 one of the fastest platforms currently available for After Effects - most notably the AMD Ryzen 5950X. 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. Even with this, however, be aware that there typically isn't much variation in performance between different video cards outside of very specific workloads.

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.

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 6900 XT 16GB 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 Score, the AMD Radeon 6900 XT does just fine and actually happens to exactly tie with the RTX 3080. Of course, the difference between the fastest and slowest GPU we tested is just under 5%, which essentially ties the performance for all the cards. 5% is right at the edge of what we would call the margin of error for this kind of testing, but even if it is completely accurate, you likely would not be able to notice this small of a performance difference in your day-to-day work.

If we dive into the results a bit closer, however, the 6900 XT does technically top the charts for the RAM Preview and Render tests, although once again the difference is so small that if we were to re-run the benchmark, it is likely that the results for the RTX 3070/2080/3090 and Radeon 6800/6800 XT/6900 XT would jump around since they are all well within the margin of error.

However, the potentially slightly higher performance in those tests is offset by the fact that AMD cards tend to give around 8% lower performance in our Tracking tests. The difference in that test is outside the margin of error, so while the 6900 XT (and other AMD cards) are not definitively better than their NVIDIA counterparts for RAM Preview and Rendering, they are measurably are worse for tracking.

However, many of our After Effects tests are very CPU bottlenecked, so to get a bit of a clearer idea of how these cards perform for straight GPU performance in After Effects, we will need to examine our "GPU Stress" project by itself (which pushes the GPU as much as is realistic in After Effects).

GPU Score Analysis

After Effects GPU Effects benchmark performance AMD Radeon RX 6900 XT 16GB

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, the AMD Radeon RX 6000 series cards all perform about the same; trailing behind the GeForce RTX 3080 by 3-5%, but beating the RTX 3070 by 5-7%. This isn't a great showing for the Radeon 6900 XT as it is more expensive than the GeForce RTX 3080, but the 6800 and 6800 XT are right where you would expect given that they are slightly more expensive than the RTX 3070, but less than the RTX 3080.

How well does the AMD Radeon RX 6900 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 even in situations where the GPU is being heavily used, the AMD Radeon 6900 XT 16GB is not a card we would specifically recommend. The performance is not particularly bad, but it also is not much better than the much lower-priced Radeon 6800.

In most cases, unless you need the 16GB of VRAM (which shouldn't be necessary for the vast majority of After Effects workflows), the "sweet spot" for the latest GPUs from NVIDIA and AMD is probably the GeForce RTX 3070. Although even then, it isn't that much faster than an RTX 3060 Ti or Radeon 5700 XT which are a good chunk less expensive.

In fact, the biggest reason to invest in a higher-end GPU is not for the higher performance in After Effects, but for rendering engines like OctaneRender or Redshift that you might utilize in your workflow. Unfortunately for AMD, most of these GPU-based rendering engines only support NVIDIA CUDA at the moment which removes AMD from the equation entirely. In addition, NVIDIA tends to be even stronger in other Adobe applications like Premiere Pro, making NVIDIA a better choice in most cases.

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 latest NVIDIA and AMD GPUs, as well as with different CPUs and other hardware.

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Tags: NVIDIA, NVIDIA vs AMD, AMD, Radeon RX 5700 XT, RTX 2080 Ti, RTX 3080, RTX 3090, RTX 3070, Radeon RX 6800, Radeon RX 6800 XT, RTX 3060 Ti, After Effects, Radeon RX 6900 XT