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Adobe After Effects - AMD Ryzen Threadripper PRO 3000 Series CPU Performance

Written on February 19, 2021 by Matt Bach
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TL;DR: AMD Ryzen Threadripper PRO 3000 Series performance in After Effects

For most users, Threadripper Pro is probably not the right platform to use in an After Effects workstation since AMD's Ryzen CPUs are both cheaper and faster in AE. However, with the rise of 4K media, a growing number of users are finding that they need more than the 128GB of RAM that Ryzen supports, which is where the Threadripper and Threadripper Pro platforms come into play.

Between Threadripper and Threadripper Pro, the choice is more complex than you might think at first glance. In terms of cost, you end up having to pay a price premium of $24 per core in order to get a Threadripper Pro CPU instead of a normal Threadripper processor. However, Threadripper Pro includes the 16-Core 3955WX model which, since it has fewer cores, ends up being $250 less expensive than any of the Threadripper CPUs. And due to the fact that After Effects does not currently scale well with more CPU cores, this less expensive Threadripper Pro 3955WX processor is just as fast, or faster, than the more expensive Threadripper and Threadripper Pro CPUs. This means that Threadripper Pro can be just as fast in After Effects as Threadripper, at a lower price, while also supporting eight times the RAM and twice the number of PCIe lanes.

Introduction

Over the last four years, AMD has been pushing the boundaries of CPU performance - steadily increasing core count and improving per-core performance with their Ryzen and Threadripper lines of processors. In addition to these mainstream areas, they have also been competing with Intel in the server world with their EPYC line.

With the launch of Threadripper Pro, AMD is now also breaking into the "workstation" space. For workstation products, straight CPU performance is not typically the most significant factor, but rather it is things like memory and PCIe capability that sets it apart from a consumer or enthusiast CPU. And in these areas, in particular, Threadripper Pro has a number of advantages over the normal Threadripper CPUs including eight-channel memory support (which maxes out at 2TB of total RAM) and 128 lanes of PCIe Gen4. Workstation products like this are also typically more reliable and include manageability features that can be important for some users.

If you want to read about what sets Threadripper Pro apart in more detail, we recommend checking out our landing page for Threadripper Pro.

AMD Ryzen Threadripper PRO 3000 Series for After Effects

In this article, we will be examining the performance of the new AMD Threadripper Pro CPUs in After Effects compared to a range of CPUs including the AMD Threadripper 3rd Gen and Intel Xeon-W lines, as well as the AMD Ryzen 5950X. If you are interested in how these processors compare in other applications, we also have other articles for DaVinci Resolve Studio, Premiere Pro, Photoshop, and several other applications available on our article listing page.

If you would like to skip over our test setup and benchmark sections, feel free to jump right to the Conclusion.

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Test Setup

Listed below are the specifications of the systems we will be using for our testing:

AMD Ryzen Test Platform
CPU AMD Ryzen 9 5950X 16 Core ($799)
CPU Cooler Noctua NH-U12S
Motherboard Gigabyte X570 AORUS ULTRA
RAM 4x DDR4-3200 16GB (64GB total)
Intel Xeon W Test Platform
CPU Intel Xeon W-3265 24 Core ($3,349)
Intel Xeon W-3245 16 Core ($1,999)
CPU Cooler Noctua NH-U12DX i4
Motherboard Asus Pro WS C621-64L SAGE-10G Series
RAM 6x DDR4-3200 16GB Reg. ECC (96GB total)
AMD Threadripper 3000 Series Platform
CPU AMD TR 3990X 64 Core ($3,990)
AMD TR 3970X 32 Core ($1,999)
AMD TR 3960X 24 Core ($1,399)
CPU Cooler Noctua NH-U14S TR4-SP3
Motherboard Gigabyte TRX40 AORUS PRO WIFI
RAM 4x DDR4-3200 16GB (64GB total)
AMD Threadripper PRO 3000 Series Test Platform
CPU AMD TR Pro 3995WX 64 Core ($5,489)
AMD TR Pro 3975WX 32 Core ($2,749)
AMD TR Pro 3955WX 16 Core ($1,149)
CPU Cooler Noctua NH-U14S TR4-SP3
Motherboard Asus Pro WS WRX80E-SAGE SE WIFI
RAM 8x DDR4-3200 16GB Reg. ECC (128GB total)
Shared PC Hardware/Software
Video Card NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3080 10GB
Hard Drive Samsung 970 Pro 1TB
Software Windows 10 Pro 64-bit (Ver. 2009)
Adobe After Effects (Ver. 17.6)
PugetBench for After Effects (Ver. 0.93)

*All the latest drivers, OS updates, BIOS, and firmware applied as of Feb 1st, 2021

To see how well the Threadripper Pro CPUs perform, we are primarily going to be comparing them to the AMD Threadripper (non-Pro) processors. However, we will also be including the AMD Ryzen 5950X 16 Core CPU (to act as a core-to-core comparison for the Threadripper Pro 3955WX 16 Core CPU) as well as two of Intel's Xeon-W processors to see how AMD compares to Intel's workstation CPUs. There is a higher-end processor that Intel makes (the Xeon W-3275), but we, unfortunately, did not have access to one at the time of this testing. But as you will see throughout this article, that isn't a big deal because the Xeon W CPUs do not fare particularly well versus Threadripper Pro.

While most of the specs are as similar as we can make them across each test platform, the one thing we did vary was the number of RAM sticks and whether they were Reg. ECC or not. Essentially, we used Reg. ECC when supported by the platform (Xeon W and Threadripper Pro), and matched the number of sticks to the number of memory channels supported by the CPU and motherboard. This meant using 8 sticks for Threadripper Pro (8 channel), 6 sticks for Xeon W (6 channel), and 4 sticks for Threadripper (quad channel). The only exception to this rule is the AMD Ryzen platform where we used 4 sticks even though it is only dual channel.

Raw Benchmark Results

While our benchmark presents various scores based on the performance of each test, we also like to provide the individual results for you to examine. If there is a specific task that is a hindrance to your workflow, examining the raw results for that task is going to be much more applicable than the scores that our benchmark calculated.

Feel free to skip to the next sections for our analysis of these results to get a wider view of how each configuration performs.

AMD Ryzen Threadripper PRO 3000 Series After Effects Benchmark Results

Overall After Effects Performance Analysis

The new Threadripper Pro 3000 series is very interesting to test since the processors themselves have slightly lower maximum boost clocks compared to Threadripper (non-pro), but feature twice the number of memory channels. These two factors may simply cancel each other out, or one can end up being more important depending on the application.

In the case of After Effects, the net result is that Threadripper Pro is almost exactly the same as Threadripper in terms of performance. A little faster in some tests, a little slower in others, but overall within the margin of error for real-world testing like this. This means that while Threadripper Pro performs just fine in After Effects, since a good portion of AE is single-threaded they are not going to be as fast as the latest AMD Ryzen CPUs. They will, however, still be a good deal faster than Intel's Xeon W-3200 processors.

Many will look at this and conclude that both Threadripper and Threadripper Pro are not good candidates for an After Effects workstation. And in fact, for most users, this is absolutely true. Most of the systems we sell for After Effects are based around AMD Ryzen CPUs since they are the fastest processors available for that type of work. However, Ryzen is limited to 128GB of system memory, and we have a number of customers that work with longer and higher resolution compositions that benefit greatly from having more than 128GB of RAM. For those customers, upgrading to a platform that can support more RAM - even if it is slower for straight performance - is well worth it in terms of their overall workflow.

What is really interesting is that because After Effects does not currently benefit from having a large number of CPU cores, the relatively inexpensive Threadripper Pro 3955WX 16-Core processor is just as fast, or faster, than the other Threadripper and Threadripper Pro CPUs. That means that if After Effects is your primary concern and you need more than 128GB of RAM, going with the 3955WX (which is $250 less expensive than any Threadripper processor) is a very enticing option. For just a few percent less performance than the Threadripper 3960X 24-Core, you have the ability to use up to 2TB of RAM as well as the higher reliability of a workstation platform. Not to mention other benefits like 128 PCIe lanes - although that isn't as important for After Effects.

There are a number of other factors that will go into whether Threadripper Pro or Threadripper is the right choice including what other applications are a part of your workflow, motherboard cost, and specific motherboard features you need. But it is unusual to come across a situation like this where a workstation platform may end up being both cheaper and better across the board compared to a consumer or enthusiast platform.

How well do the AMD Ryzen Threadripper Pro CPUs perform in After Effects?

For most users, Threadripper Pro is probably not the right platform to use in an After Effects workstation since AMD's Ryzen CPUs are both cheaper and faster in AE. However, with the rise of 4K media, a growing number of users are finding that they need more than the 128GB of RAM that Ryzen supports, which is where the Threadripper and Threadripper Pro platforms come into play.

Between Threadripper and Threadripper Pro, the choice is more complex than you might think at first glance. In terms of cost, you end up having to pay a price premium of $24 per core in order to get a Threadripper Pro CPU instead of a normal Threadripper processor. However, Threadripper Pro includes the 16-Core 3955WX model which, since it has fewer cores, ends up being $250 less expensive than any of the Threadripper CPUs. And due to the fact that After Effects does not currently scale well with more CPU cores, this less expensive Threadripper Pro 3955WX processor is just as fast, or faster, than the more expensive Threadripper and Threadripper Pro CPUs. This means that Threadripper Pro can be just as fast in After Effects as Threadripper, at a lower price, while also supporting eight times the RAM and twice the number of PCIe lanes.

This doesn't make Threadripper Pro a universally better choice than Threadripper for After Effects if you need more than 128GB of RAM, but it does make it a very interesting option to consider. Motherboard prices for Threadripper Pro are still up in the air a bit, but especially if you think you will need more than the 256GB of RAM that Threadripper can provide, Threadripper Pro is likely the platform you are going to want to go with.

Intel's Xeon W-3200 line is the other option for extra high RAM capacity, but right now, Threadripper Pro is simply the better platform as a whole compared to Intel. Threadripper Pro has even higher memory capacity than Xeon W (2TB vs 1TB unless you invest in the very expensive Xeon W-____"M" models), has more memory channels, and twice the number of PCI-E lanes - which are also Gen4 to boot. In addition to all of this, Threadripper Pro is going to be around 20% faster in After Effects than the Intel Xeon W-3200 processors.

Keep in mind that the benchmark results in this article are strictly for After Effects and that performance will vary widely in different applications. If your workflow includes other software packages (we have similar articles for DaVinci Resolve Studio, Premiere Pro, Photoshop, and more), you need to consider how the system will perform in those applications as well. Be sure to check our list of Hardware Articles to keep up to date on how all of these software packages - and more - perform with the latest CPUs.

Looking for an After Effects Workstation?

Puget Systems offers a range of poweful and reliable systems that are tailor-made for your unique workflow.

Configure a System!

Labs Consultation Service

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

Find Out More!
Tags: AMD Threadripper 3rd Gen, AMD Ryzen 5000-series, 5950X, AMD Ryzen Threadripper PRO 3000 Series, 3960X, 3970X, Threadripper 3990X, 3955WX, 3975WX, 3995WX, W-3245, W-3265, After Effects