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Adobe After Effects: 12th Gen Intel Core vs AMD Ryzen 5000 Series

Written on November 4, 2021 by Matt Bach
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TL;DR: 12th Gen Intel Core vs AMD Ryzen 5000 Series Processors for After Effects

Overall, the new 12th Gen Intel Core processors are terrific for After Effects, providing roughly a 15% performance gain over the previous generation Intel CPUs when using DDR4 memory. And while DDR5 is likely going to take some time to become widely available, our early testing showed that we could get nearly another 10% on top of that with DDR5 memory.

Compared to a similarly priced AMD Ryzen 5000 series processor, the 12th Gen CPUs were anywhere from 6-14% faster on average with DDR4 RAM. This gap should widen once DDR5 becomes a viable option, and our Windows 11 vs Windows 10 testing found that the 12900K is actually roughly 6% slower in Windows 11. This means that Intel should be able to expand their lead even further when the Windows 11 performance issues are presumably fixed.

Introduction

Last week, Intel announced their 12th Gen Intel Core desktop processors (code-named "Alder Lake") with the most notable feature being the new hybrid architecture which utilizes a mix of Performance and Efficient-cores. The Performance-cores (P-cores) are what you typically would think of when it comes to a CPU core, and are designed to maximize performance for heavier workloads. The Efficient-cores (E-cores), on the other hand, are intended either for tasks that can be run in parallel, or for background tasks where higher performance isn't necessary.

The benefit of this type of hybrid setup primarily comes down to the fact that the E-cores take up significantly less room on the CPU die, along with having much lower power requirements. Because of this, Intel is able to pack a higher number of total cores into their processors which should give them a nice boost to multi-threading performance.

However, the difficulty is that the system needs to be able to dynamically choose what tasks are run on each type of core. For example, it would be less than ideal if Photoshop was to run on an E-core because your web browser decided to take up all the P-cores. To account for this, Intel has also launched a technology called Thread Director, which works with the OS in order to dynamically adjust which processes are run on each core.

This new hybrid architecture should, in theory, allow the 12th Gen Intel CPUs to excel at both lightly and highly threaded tasks, but that is not the only change they made. Among various architecture improvements, the 12th Gen CPUs also have support for both DDR4 and DDR5 RAM, as well as having 16 lanes of PCIe 5.0. Both DDR5 and PCIe 5.0 likely won't have much of an impact at launch since they are very new technologies that need time to evolve before we will see their full potential, but all of these improvements together should help give the 12th Gen CPUs a big boost over previous generations.

If you want to read about what sets these CPUs apart in more detail, we recommend checking out our landing page for the 12th Gen Intel Core Processors, or if you want to see performance across a range of applications, you can read our 12th Gen Intel Core CPU Review Roundup article.

12th Gen Intel Core Processors for Adobe After Effects

Because of how many things have changed, we were not quite sure how these CPUs would end up performing. If everything goes as planned, the performance should be terrific, but there is a lot of new technology that could potentially cause problems if something does not work right.

In this article, we will be examining the performance of the new Intel Core i9 12900K, i7 12700K, and i5 12600K in After Effects compared to a range of CPUs including the Intel 11th Gen and AMD Ryzen 5000 Series processors. If you are interested in how these processors compare in other applications, we also have other articles for Premiere Pro, Lightroom Classic, Photoshop, DaVinci Resolve, and several other applications available on our article listing page. Or, you can check out the summary of all our results in our overarching 12th Gen Intel Core CPU Review Roundup article.

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:

12th Gen Intel Core Test Platform
CPU Intel Core i9 12900K 8+8 Core ($589)
Intel Core i7 12700K 8+4 Core ($409)
Intel Core i5 12600K 6+4 Core ($289)
CPU Cooler Noctua NH-U12A
Motherboard Gigabyte Z690 UD AX DDR4
Gigabyte Z690 UD AC-Y1 DDR5
RAM 4x DDR4-3200 16GB (64GB total)
4x DDR5-4800 16GB (64GB total) @ 4400MHz
11th Gen Intel Core Test Platform
CPU Intel Core i9 11900K 8 Core ($513)
Intel Core i7 11700K 8 Core ($409)
Intel Core i5 11600K 6 Core ($272)
CPU Cooler Noctua NH-U12S
Motherboard Gigabyte Z490 Vision D
RAM 4x DDR4-3200 16GB (64GB total)
AMD Ryzen 5000 Series Test Platform
CPU AMD Ryzen 9 5950X 16 Core ($799)
AMD Ryzen 9 5900X 12 Core ($549)
AMD Ryzen 7 5800X 8 Core ($449)
AMD Ryzen 5 5600X 6 Core ($299)
CPU Cooler Noctua NH-U12S
Motherboard Gigabyte X570 AORUS ULTRA
RAM 4x DDR4-3200 16GB (64GB total)
Shared Hardware & Software
Video Card NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3080 10GB
Storage Samsung 980 Pro 2TB
Software Windows 11 Pro 64-bit (22000)
Adobe After Effects 22.0
PugetBench for After Effects

*All the latest drivers, OS updates, BIOS, and firmware applied as of October 27th, 2021

In order to see how the new 12th Gen Intel Core processors perform in After Effects, we will be comparing them not only to the previous 11th Gen Intel Core CPUs but also to AMD's Ryzen 5000 series. For the test itself, we will be using our PugetBench for After Effects benchmark and the new 22.0 version of After Effects. This benchmark version includes the ability to upload the results to our online database, so if you want to know how your own system compares, you can download and run the benchmark yourself. Note that we are using the updated 0.95 version of our benchmark, which has updated testing to account for multi-frame rendering and as such, the results are not comparable to previous versions of the benchmark.

As for the test platforms we will be using, there are a number of things we want to point out:

First, you will note that we are using Windows 11 rather than Windows 10. Windows 11 includes features that work closely with the Intel Thread Scheduler, which may be necessary to get the full performance possible from the 12th Gen Intel CPUs. VBS was left disabled, and all chipset and Windows updates were applied to fix a number of AMD performance issues.

Windows 11 had a rocky start with AMD CPUs and processors with more than 32 cores, but with the latest updates, we found the difference between Windows 10 and Windows 11 with these Ryzen CPUs to be negligible for After Effects. We will have those results, and similar testing examining Intel 12th Gen performance on Windows 10, in an upcoming "12th Gen Intel Core - Windows 11 vs Windows 10" article.

Beyond the OS, we will be primarily using DDR4 RAM because, at least for the immediate future, DDR5 is expected to be largely unavailable. We did get in a set of Kingston DDR5-4800 16GB sticks early enough that allowed us to get some initial numbers, however, which we will include in the results. Note that while the RAM itself is rated for 4800MHz, the 12th Gen platform only officially supports that speed on motherboards that have just two physical RAM slots. In the cases where four sticks are being used, the supported RAM speed is 4400MHz, which is what the Gigabyte board we used defaulted to when we left the RAM speed on Auto.

The DDR5 RAM we are using is very much intended for stability over raw speed, and has fairly loose CL40 timings. However, we tend to be fairly conservative on RAM speed, so this is actually a good comparison to use against the DDR4-3200 CL22 RAM we are using for the rest of our tests.

Like any early launch content, keep in mind that performance is likely to change over time. Especially in this case where there is still work to be done for Windows 11, the thread scheduler, and DDR5, performance is likely to increase slightly as the technology is developed.

Benchmark Results

While our benchmark presents various scores based on the performance of each test, we also like to provide 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 in After Effects.

Intel Core 12th Gen After Effects benchmark results

After Effects Performance Analysis

Moving to a hybrid architecture is a very significant change and the type of thing where we would expect there to be a few kinks that have to be worked out. But for After Effects, it is evident that Intel has already done an extremely good job getting everything working properly.

Starting at the top, the Intel Core i9 12900K tops our chart for overall performance, coming in at 6% faster than the AMD Ryzen 5900X when using DDR4 memory - even managing to sneak ahead of the more expensive AMD Ryzen 5950X by a few percent. And when using DDR5 memory, the i9 12900K gains another 9% of performance, making it a solid 16% faster than the Ryzen 5900X, or 11% faster than the Ryzen 5950X.

Moving a step down, the Core i7 12700K also does very well, and only trails behind the i9 12900K by a small 4%. This makes the 12700K about 14% faster than the comparable, but slightly more expensive, Ryzen 5800X, or about on par with the Ryzen 5900X/5950X. If we estimate the performance gain from DDR5 based on what we saw with the 12900K, the 12700K should be able to beat the 5800X by at least 20% when using DDR5.

The Core i5 12600K likewise does well and is about 13% faster than the similarly priced AMD Ryzen 5600X. In fact, that is fast enough for it to be roughly equal to either the Ryzen 5800X or the top-end Intel Core i9 11900K from the previous generation.

Something we do want to mention is that in our Windows 11 vs Windows 10 testing for the 12th Gen CPUs, we actually saw about 6% lower performance with Windows 11 on the Core i9 12900K. We did not see this on the AMD Ryzen CPUs, however, which suggests that there is currently a bug in Windows 11 that is lowering performance with the 12th Gen CPUs. Because of this, it is very likely that Intel will see a small 6% performance bump in the near future - assuming whatever the issue is is patched, of course.

One thing we do want to point out is that our benchmark tests a wide range of workloads in After Effects in order to show what the majority of users could expect as far as performance goes. However, with the new multi-frame rendering feature that was just added in After Effects 22.0, there are certain situations where the hybrid architecture can fall a bit behind the higher core count of the AMD Ryzen CPUs.

Multi-Frame Rendering Performance

Intel Core 12th Gen multi-frame rendering performance

In the latest version of our benchmark, we added a new "Multi-Core Score" that is calculated from the tests that are best able to utilize the new multi-frame rendering (MFR) feature in After Effects. MFR has dramatically improved performance across the board, but this test in particular is able to see up to a 4.7x increase in performance on higher core count CPUs.

This is a very complex project, however, and is the kind of thing that only the top-end of After Effects users will ever do in the real world. In fact, you could argue that it doesn't matter for the CPUs we are testing, since most people doing this type of project are likely going to want more RAM than the 128GB these platforms are limited to. For the average user, the "Overall Score" is likely a better indicator of what kind of performance you would see in your day-to-day work.

For this test, AMD is able to take the lead over the Core i9 12900K when restricted to DDR4, with the AMD Ryzen 5900X performing about 7% faster. However, when using DDR5 RAM, the Core i9 12900K is again on top, beating the Ryzen 5900X by about 7%.

For the other CPUs, Intel actually manages to extend their lead, as both the Core i7 12700K and i5 12600K were a massive 30% faster than the AMD Ryzen 5800X and 5600X respectively.

12th Gen vs 11th Gen After Effects Performance

Intel Core 12th Gen vs 11th Gen in After Effects

Versus the previous 11th Gen Intel Core processors, the i5 level saw the smallest performance increase in After Effects, but even there the Core i5 12600K is a solid 14% faster than the Core i5 11600K.

The Core i7 12700K and i9 12900K saw slightly larger performance gains, coming in at 17% faster than the Core i7 11700K and i9 11900K respectively when using DDR4 memory. When we tested with DDR5 on the Core i9 12900K, however, it ended up scoring about 28% higher than the Core i9 11900K.

Are the 12th Gen Intel Core Processors Good for After Effects?

Overall, the new 12th Gen Intel Core processors are terrific for After Effects, providing roughly a 15% performance gain over the previous generation Intel CPUs when using DDR4 memory. And while DDR5 is likely going to take some time to become widely available, our early testing showed that we could get nearly another 10% on top of that when pairing the 12th Gen CPUs with DDR5 memory.

Compared to a similarly priced AMD Ryzen 5000 series processor, the 12th Gen CPUs were anywhere from 6-14% faster on average with DDR4 RAM. This gap should widen once DDR5 becomes a viable option, and our Windows 11 vs Windows 10 testing found that the 12900K is actually roughly 6% slower in Windows 11. This means that Intel should be able to expand their lead even further when the Windows 11 performance issues are presumably fixed.

This puts the Intel Core i9 12900K at the top of our performance charts for "consumer" CPUs from Intel and AMD. It is also a hair faster than the more expensive AMD Ryzen 5950X even when restricted to DDR4. The Core i7 12700K isn't far behind, however, coming in at just 4% slower than the 12900K, making it an excellent return on investment for those on a bit tighter of a budget.

At the lower-end, the Core i5 12600K is still a very effective CPU for After Effects and is actually where Intel takes the largest lead over AMD. It came in at 13% faster than the AMD Ryzen 5600X, which actually puts it on par with the more expensive Ryzen 5800X, and solidly faster than the previous generation Core i9 11900K in terms of overall performance.

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 Premiere Pro, Lightroom Classic, Photoshop, and DaVinci Resolve), 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.

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Looking for an After Effects Workstation?

Puget Systems offers a range of powerful 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 Ryzen 5000-series, 5600X, 5800X, 5900X, 5950X, Intel 11th Gen, i9 11900K, i7 11700K, i5 11600K, Intel 10th Gen, Intel 12th Gen, i5 12600K, i7 12700K, i9 12900K, After Effects