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After Effects CC 2018: NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2080 & 2080 Ti Performance

Written on September 27, 2018 by Matt Bach


After Effects has had a bit of a rocky relationship with video cards ever since GPU acceleration was added back in 2015. At that time, After Effects dropped support for the "render multiple frames simultaneously" (which allowed for efficient use of high core count CPUs) in part to make way for GPU acceleration. While obviously frustrating for users who had invested thousands of dollars in dual Xeon workstations, for most users this resulted in great performance improvements at little to no cost. But even with the improvements made to AE's GPU acceleration over the years, there has been little reason to use more than a mid-range video card.

However, NVIDIA's new RTX series cards are here and they bring to the table two new features that may finally give you a reason to invest in a high-end GPU for After Effects: Tensor cores and RT cores.

What are Tensor Cores?

While already available on the more expensive Titan V GPU, the RTX line introduces tensor cores at a more reasonable price point. These tensor cores operate alongside the normal CUDA cores that traditionally do the heavy lifting, but are designed specifically for machine learning inference (running already created and trained machine learning models). While not utilized in Adobe applications today, these cores may be used in the future - especially as Adobe continues to develop their "Adobe Sensei" AI and machine learning technology.

What are RT Cores?

RT cores are brand new in this generation of graphics cards, and are specialized for a single type of operation: ray tracing. It is possible that Adobe may utilize these cores for ray tracing in After Effects - or Maxon may use it in Cinema 4D - but if or when they will take advantage of these RT cores is currently unknown.

What makes these new RTX cards hard to review and test is the fact that After Effects currently does not use either of these new types of cores. We can (and will) look at straight performance gains with the current version of After Effects, but really what you are paying for is technology that might give you significant performance gains in the future.

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

Test Hardware & Methodology

Listed below is the test platform we will be using in our testing:

Test Hardware
Motherboard: Gigabyte Z370 Aorus Gaming 5
CPU: Intel Core i7 8700K 6 Core
3.7GHz (4.7GHz Turbo)
RAM: 4x DDR4-2666 16GB (64GB total)
Hard Drive: Samsung 960 Pro 1TB M.2 PCI-E x4 NVMe SSD
OS: Windows 10 Pro 64-bit
Software: After Effects CC 2018 (ver. 15.1.2)

To see how the new RTX cards perform in After Effects, we tested it against a selection of cards from NVIDIA as well as AMD's Vega 64 GPU. 

In order to accurately benchmark the different systems, we used a range of After Effects projects that are mostly publicly available for download. The projects we used (along with their source) are:

Project Name Comp Name Tested Frames Notes
by Rocketstock

Example Composition 0-40 (40 total frames)  
Electric FX
by Video Copilot

212-238 (26 total frames)
0-97 (97 total frames)
Animated Polygon
by Video Copilot

Green Polygon 0-78 (78 total frames)  
GPU Stress
  32610-32710 (100 total frames)

4K H.264 video with:

  • Find Edges
  • Glow
  • Brightness/Contrast
  • Transform
  • Sharpen
  • Directional Blur
  • Lumetri Color
Cineware Party
by Cineversity

Party-Lite-004Full 0-169 (169 total frames)

"Video Wall" and "*.mov" layers
removed. Tested with C4D Renderer:

  • OpenGL
  • Standard (Draft)
  • Standard (Final)

RAM Preview - Raw Benchmark Data

RAM Preview - Benchmark Analysis

In After Effects, there is a big difference between standard projects and those that utilize the Cinema 4D CPU renderer. This mostly impacts CPU performance, but since there is the chance that it will impact our GPU performance results as well, we decided to separate out our testing results between "standard" projects and those utilizing the C4D CPU renderer.

Before we get into the results themselves, we want to explain the scoring system used in this test. In essence, a score of "20" would mean that on average that processor was able to play our projects at 20% of the project's defined FPS. A perfect score would be "100" which would mean that the system was able to play it back in real time, although with the difficult projects we use this should never actually occur.

As we expected, since the C4D rendering engine relies almost exclusively on the CPU there was almost no difference in performance between each GPU for those projects. For the standard projects, however, there is a small benefit to using a more powerful GPU, but it isn't very much. Here, we saw a small gain in performance up to about the GTX 1080 Ti - after which the results were pretty much within the margin of error for this test. This means that we only saw a whopping 5% performance gain with the new RTX cards over the much more modest GTX 1060 GPU.

Final Render - Raw Benchmark Data

Final Render - Benchmark Analysis

Once again, since the results may vary based on whether or not you utilize the Cinema 4D CPU renderer, we have separated our testing results between "standard" projects and those utilizing the C4D renderer:

For the final render (or export), we saw a bit larger of a performance gap between each of the cards. The Vega 64 GPU also surprised us a bit here, performing right in line with the top-end NVIDIA cards. Once again, however, we seem to top out at about the GTX 1080 Ti and above since the GTX 1080 Ti, Titan Xp, Titan V, and the new RTX cards all performed about 10% faster than the GTX 1060.

Are the RTX video cards good for After Effects?

GPU acceleration is relatively new to After Effects, and it still shows in how well (or not well) it is able to utilize high-end GPUs. While the RTX 2080 and 2080 Ti are certainly not bad for AE, they probably aren't worth purchasing for their raw performance alone.

NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2080 & 2080 Ti After Effects CC 2018 Benchmark

The score in the chart above is a weighted average of our testing based on what our customers tend to be the most concerned about. RAM Preview of standard projects makes up 40% of the overall score while the Ram Preview (C4D Renderer), Final Render (Standard), and Final Render (C4D Renderer) tests each contribute 20% towards the score.

In terms of pure performance, the new RTX 2080 and 2080 Ti perform on par with the GTX 1080 Ti and slightly under the Titan Xp and Titan V. However, the question is not really whether they are good today, but whether the RTX GPUs will be good for After Effects in the future. The new RT and tensor cores could potentially have significant performance advantages for some tasks, but it all depends on when or if the After Effects developers are able to make effectively use of these new features. Given how long it has taken for GPU acceleration to make it into After Effects in the first place, our guess is that it will be quite a while before we see significant performance gains from the RT and tensor cores, but there is really no way to know for sure.

Overall, while not really necessary for After Effects alone, if you already need a new high-end GPU for other applications (Premiere Pro, GPU-based rendering, etc.) we would recommend using one of these RTX cards if possible. The RTX 2080 does have less VRAM than the comparably priced GTX 1080 Ti (8GB vs 11GB), but the potential these cards offer for the future is likely worth investing in.

If you are interested in how the RTX cards perform in other applications, be sure to check out our recent Video Card articles as we have (or are working on) a number of other articles for the RTX 2080 and RTX 2080 Ti.

Tags: After Effects, GeForce, RTX, 2080, 2080 Ti, 1060, 1070, 1070 Ti, 1080, 1080Ti, Radeon, Vega
Dennis L Sørensen

Not great news for the 20xx series.. So this makes me ask, what are they good for?

Posted on 2018-09-28 12:17:22

They are really good for GPU-based rendering like OctaneRender https://www.pugetsystems.co... and Redshift https://www.pugetsystems.co... . Also great for DaVinci Resolve https://www.pugetsystems.co... and pretty good for Premiere Pro as well (article for that is coming early next week).

After Effects is simply not GPU-limited in almost all situations, so it really isn't too surprising that the new RTX cards don't give you very much of a performance gain.

Posted on 2018-09-29 18:36:31
Dennis L Sørensen

I dont think the difference is that big in Resolve seeing your tests.. Keeping in mind that in my country atleast the RTX 2080 is 10-20% more expensive than 1080 ti. I would argue that the small performance increase is an expensive one.

But I still think the RTX 20xx series has something up in its sleeve once programs and drivers are ironed out.

Interesting about Pr. Looking forward to it.

Posted on 2018-10-01 08:56:11

AH yea, we are basing all our conclusions off pricing in the US where the RTX 2080 is about the same as the GTX 1080 Ti. If it really is that much more where you are then I would probably stick to the GTX 1080 Ti for the extra VRAM unless you do any ray tracing with a GPU-based renderer. I think for that it is worth investing in the RTX cards for the RT cores since those should be utilized fairly soon, but for things like video editing I think you will get better bang for your buck with a GTX 1080 Ti.

Don't get too excited about the Premiere Pro tests in this case. I'm working on the results right now and the RTX 2080 is almost the same as the GTX 1080 Ti - it's the RTX 2080 Ti that is really better than the existing cards. So again, due to the higher price of the RTX cards where you are it probably won't make sense for you to use the 2080 over the 1080 Ti for Premiere Pro.

Posted on 2018-10-01 16:08:50
Dennis L Sørensen


Posted on 2018-10-01 22:20:39

I'm wondering If we can have some After Effect & Premiere Benchmarks for Radeon Pro SSG

Posted on 2018-10-06 14:11:39

The SSG doesn't work in After Effects as far as I'm aware - at least not the actual SSG part. You can still using it like a normal Radeon Pro, but you might as well just get a WX 9000.

In Premiere Pro it works, but to us it feels very limited in its use. How it works is that you have to render in to out of the section you are working on, and it just renders to the SSG storage than you normal storage drive. I believe it let's you use uncomprrssed previews easier, but the drive size limits you to only a few minutes of previews at a time with something pile 8k footage.

Once you want to move to say the minute 5 of your timeline, you have to re-render previews which takes a few minutes and overwrites the old previews. So it ends up being fairly clunky by forcing you to wait on renders constantly.

I was actually just thinking about the SSG this morning and whether I should make a video showing how it actually works. I wasn't sure if anyone even remembered that card anymore. Sounds like maybe I should!

Posted on 2018-10-06 14:24:43

I've always wondered how it works actually, but never saw any reviews on it on how it works and performs.

If I understood correctly from some of the product release videos, it has two NVMe M.2 drives in the card, working on RAID 0 as a single fast drive, the drive can be directly accessed by the GPU it self or the system, the system (Windows only support now) sees it as a regular drive, which you can set on Premiere as a cache drive.
Normally, GPU's will have to copy the cache drive data to it's memory in order to preview/render it. But with the SSG no need for that as the data are already in the SSG memory which can be accessed directly by both the OS and GPU in the same time without copying it again and again. They call it the HBCC I guess.

Maybe the issue is with how big a RAW 8K footage are compared to the amount of storage on the SSG which is about 2TB, so in theory that can fit about 16:27 Minutes of RAW 8K footage assuming 8K RedCode Raw 75 footage. But in theory you can also use larger M.2 drives which now tops at 2TB each, and there's 4TB in the near future.

Posted on 2018-10-07 18:15:36

That's pretty much how it works, but you can store a lot less frames than you expect. The "Abobe Premiere Pro Solution Guide" has the exact info at https://www.amd.com/en/prod....

Here is the relevant part though https://uploads.disquscdn.c...

188 seconds is just not enough to really be productive for most people. I'm sure someone would find it useful, but it takes 5-10 minutes to generate those previews, and as soon as you want to work elsewhere in your timeline, you have to delete those previews and generate new ones. I think between that workflow or just switching between half res (for real time playback) and full res (for really precise work whole grading/etc.) is simply a better workflow than what you get with the SSG for most people.

Posted on 2018-10-07 18:26:49
Jacob Pawloski

Matt Back - Your a genius and we seriously love these articles you put out. I don't buy hardware without checking your articles first. Its really that simple for me! Very much looking forward to the premiere pro 2080 ti results :D

Keep up the good work Matt!!!

Posted on 2018-09-29 01:38:25