Puget Systems print logo
Read this article at https://www.pugetsystems.com/guides/846
Article Thumbnail

Adobe After Effects CC 2015.3 Pascal GPU Performance

Written on September 6, 2016 by Matt Bach


With the launch of After Effects 2015.3, Adobe has finally introduced support for GPU acceleration via the Mercury Playback Engine. Although  AE has been able to use the GPU in the past for ray tracing, this method has largely been replaced with the integration with Cinema 4D and is considered obsolete. However, with 2015.3 AE users will now be able to leverage the power of the GPU to increase the performance for a number of specific tasks.

Unfortunately, AE 2015.3 is only able to use the video card to accelerate a grand total of three effects: Lumetri color correction, Gaussian blur, and Sharpen. More effects should be added in the future, but as of the moment only users who utilize these effects will see a difference in performance.

In this article we will be looking at the performance of After Effects 2015.3 when rendering (exporting) and scrubbing the timeline with the latest Pascal video cards from NVIDIA. Specifically, we will be testing the GTX 1060 6GB, GTX 1070 8GB, GTX 1080 8GB, and the Titan X 12GB video cards. In addition, we will also be testing the Quadro M6000 24GB (even though it is based on the older Maxwell architecture) to see if there is any significant performance advantages or disadvantages to using a Quadro video card.

Test Setup

For our test system, we used the following hardware:

This hardware is similar to the hardware we list in our After Effects Recommended Systems and should be an excellent platform for our testing. While there might be faster CPU options you could use depending on exactly what you are doing in AE (more information on this is available in our Adobe After Effects CC 2015.3 CPU Comparison article), the Intel Core i7 6900K is among the best choice when working with video footage in After Effects which makes it ideal for comparing different video cards.

The different video cards we will be testing are:

To help with consistency - and since the benchmarks we performed ran for several days - we programmed a custom script using AutoIt to start After Effects, load the relevant project, flush the memory and disk cache, time how long it takes to render with the appropriate settings or scrub the timeline, close After Effects to clear any remaining data from the system RAM, then loop while changing the project file.

The length and source of the files we will be using in our testing are:

Video Editing Projects Length Source Tested Effects
H.264 1080p 15 seconds
(59.94 FPS - 900 frames)
Provided by: Jerry Berg
Barnacules Nerdgasm - YouTube

-Lumetri Color Correction

-Gaussian Blur


RED 4K 20 seconds
(23.976 FPS - 480 frames)
Provided by: Mike Pecci
Director & Photographer

In order to make our testing as accurate as possible, we used relatively simple timelines for our testing and only applied one effect at a time. In the past, we've loaded on the accelerated effects to show the maximum difference between cards, but we found that this was not representative of real-world performance gains. This way, we can accurate gauge the performance difference between the different video cards while introducing the smallest number of variables.

Rendering (Export)

After Effects GPU Benchmark

Right off the bat, you can easily tell that utilizing GPU acceleration results in extremely significant performance advantages compared to using the CPU alone. At worst, performance was about 1.5 times faster (Gaussian Blur), and at best was about 6 times faster (Lumetri Color Correction).

While the massive gains in performance make it look like all of the video cards perform at the same level, there is actually a little bit of variation. Compared to the GTX 1060, the GTX 1070 was on average about .3% faster (essentially the same), while the GTX 1080 and Titan X were about 1.5% faster. The Quadro M6000 was in between clocking in at about 1% faster than the GTX 1060. This is a very small difference between each card, but it was fairly consistent across each test.

Timeline Scrubbing

After Effects GPU Timeline Scrubbing Test

The results for scrubbing the timeline may look very similar to the rendering results, although if you look closely you will see that they are actually even better. This time, the lowest performance gain we saw was about 2x (with Gaussian Blur) compared to using just the CPU which means you can scrub the timeline almost exactly twice as fast. The best we saw, however, was with Lumetri Color Correction where we saw between a 8x and 10x speedup depending on whether the source footage was RED 4K or H.264 1080p. We still are not quite at realtime playback, but at least for H.264 1080p it is getting really close.

As for the average performance between the different cards, compared to the GTX 1060 the GTX 1070 was about 1.6% faster, the GTX 1080 about 1.9% faster, and Titan X about 2.3% faster. The Quadro M6000 was similar to the GTX 1080, measuring about 1.8% faster on average than the GTX 1060.


While GPU acceleration in After Effects 2015.3 may be limited to only three effects at the moment, it is clear that it has tremendous potential to dramatically increase the productivity of After Effects users. For rending, using a GPU allowed us to render in about 2/3rd the time at minimum, and at best rendered about 6 times faster. Scrubbing the timeline was even better with between a 2x and 10x (!) increase in performance. If you use Lumetri Color Correction, this means that what used to take 10 minutes to scrub could now only take about a minute and twenty seconds!

While these performance gains are really impressive, this article is really about helping you decide what video card you should use in an After Effects workstation. With that in mind, here is the average performance gain we saw compared to the GTX 1060 (the lowest end card we tested):

After Effects GPU Benchmark
This is just an average of all the tests we ran, but it tells the story pretty well. What it comes down to is that if you want every little bit of performance you can squeeze out of your system, there is a small performance advantage to using a higher end card. It really isn't much - only one or two percent - but it is there. Honestly, however, for a workstation strictly for AE you will likely be better off spending your money on getting the exact right CPU (check out our AE 2015.3 CPU Comparison) and plenty of RAM before getting a higher end video card. Of course, if you use other programs that can utilize the GPU even more effectively (such as Premiere Pro) that may impact your decision, but for AE alone the difference between the different models is small enough that a more powerful GPU shouldn't be at the top of your purchasing list.

After Effects Workstations

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: GTX, 1060, 1070, 1080, Titan X, After Effects, Performance
Dany Gee

Great, informative article. THX!

Posted on 2016-09-10 08:32:55

Thx for posting.

Posted on 2016-12-07 10:38:02

Great post.
It would be interesting to see some comparisons with cheaper Quadros.
The 1060 is around ~US$ 250~.
How will perform a Similar value GPU like the Quadro k1200 or even a k620.

Posted on 2016-12-10 06:33:46

GTX 1070 does not support CUDA for 3D Ray Tracing?!?

Posted on 2017-04-27 14:51:18

Unfortunately, no - no modern cards support Ray-Traced 3D. More information is here: https://helpx.adobe.com/aft... but the crux of it is that Adobe wants you to start using the C4D rendering instead. Adobe straight says "This is a feature that is no longer being developed, so it is not an important one to be concerned about." so I wouldn't expect support to ever be added for newer cards.

Posted on 2017-05-01 18:29:53
Dennis Mungai

Actually, partly correct.

Whereas Adobe's stance remains, support for GPU accelerated 3D ray tracing can be re-enabled by using a custom raytracer_supported_cards.txt file with an entry for your GPU (e.g GeForce GTX 1070) and a copy of the Nvidia Optix SDK 3.9.1's optix.1.dll file in the Adobe After Effects' installation directory (see support folder in the installation path), and you'll be able to use the raytracer again.

Personally, I find it off-putting that Adobe would have its' customers switch their workflows to a new render path on a whole new product (C4D) instead of enhancing an in-built capability that newer GPUs would excel from.

Posted on 2017-07-21 22:40:58

I updated my workstation yesterday. Got the optix.1.dll file version 3.8 to use with CS6 and it worked fine. Got it from a Redit thread. I have a GTX 970. Did test before and after. Before with CPU rendering it took 32 minutes to render (dual CPU 24 cores). After updating .dll it took :55 seconds to render the same thing. Adobe forums has link to version 3.9.1. Downloaded it also...Going to try them both and see which works better...

Posted on 2017-08-24 10:16:35

Hi Jeff,
Can you please expand on this wizadry?
What exactly does replacing the .dll file do? Does it allow you to use modern GPU's (e.g. 1080ti) to render ray traced 3D in AE CC?

Posted on 2017-08-24 19:45:02

Tried the new optix.1.dll vers 3.9.1 and it works perfectly. I don't know how well it works with other cards. I just know the astounding difference it made in mine. I am running dual Xeon's with a total of 24 cores and 48Gig of RAM with a GTX 970 (I had a NVIDIA TITAN before the 970, but it sadly died after 4 years of steady work). I expected the 970 to at least be close. As stated before, my render time on a simple ray-traced 3D animation went from 32 minutes to :55 seconds. Everything else seems smoother too.

Posted on 2017-08-25 06:42:46
Yanny Nao

gtx1060 giving performance equivalent to titan x and 24g quadro. Strange, unbelievable.

Posted on 2019-04-11 16:58:39