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After Effects CC 2019: Intel Core i9 9990XE Performance

Written on February 8, 2019 by Matt Bach


The Intel Core i9 9990XE 14-core CPU is a special, OEM-only, no warranty processor that only select system manufacturers like Puget Systems has access to via a once-per-quarter auction. While that means that availability and pricing may end up being highly fluid, the capabilities of this processor should (on paper at least) be second to none. This is not a product for the masses, but rather a niche offering for those looking to get the absolute best of the best Intel processor.

While specs alone are not a perfect representation of performance (especially across different product families), there are a few interesting things to point out about this CPU before getting into our After Effects testing. First, it has a max Turbo Boost frequency of 5.1 GHz which means that it should perform much better than any other Intel X-series CPU in lightly threaded applications. At the same time, even if you are using all the cores, the Turbo Boost frequency only drops to 5.0 GHz which theoretically puts it at about the same performance as the Intel Core i9 9980XE in highly parallel applications. These two things working together are especially important for After Effects since much of the application is single threaded, but there are some features (like the C4D 3D Renderer) that can make more effective use of higher core counts.

On paper, this makes the i9 9990XE a bit of a golden CPU that should match or beat any other Intel consumer or enthusiast processor regardless of the application. In fact, it should be especially good in applications like After Effects that contain a mix of lightly and heavily threaded tasks. In order to achieve this level of performance, however, this CPU draws about 50% more power than any other X-series CPU. While this obviously means that you need a beefy CPU cooling setup, you also need to have a motherboard and power supply that can provide said power.

  Core i9 9990XE Core i9 9980XE Core i9 9940X Core i9 9900K
# of Cores 14 18 14 8
Base clock 4.0 GHz 3.3 GHz 3.0 GHz 3.6 GHz
Max Turbo Boost 5.1 GHz 4.5 GHz 4.5 GHz 5.0 GHz
All-Core Turbo Boost 5.0 GHz 4.1 GHz 3.8 GHz 4.7 GHz
TDP 255 W 165 W 165 W 95 W
MSRP Auction $1,999 $1,399 $499

In this article, we are going to take a look at how the Intel Core i9 9990XE performs in After Effects compared to the other Intel X-series CPUs as well as the Intel Core i9 9900K which is currently the king of single-threaded performance. We also have a number of other articles available looking at the performance of the i9 9990XE in a range of other applications that you can view by filtering our recent articles to just show the ones about Processors.

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 Setup & Methodology

Listed below are the systems we will be using in our After Effects CC 2019 testing:

For the testing itself, we will be using After Effects CC 2019 (ver. 16.0.1) along with version 18.12.18 of our Puget Systems After Effects CC Benchmark which is currently available for public download. This benchmark tests RAM Preview, Rendering, and Tracking in a wide range of compositions. Full details on the benchmark are available on the benchmark download page.

Benchmark Results

While our benchmark presents various scores based on the performance of each type of task, we also wanted to provide the individual results in case there is a specific task someone may be interested in. Feel free to skip to the next section for our analysis of these results.

Benchmark Analysis

After Effects CC 2019 Core i9 9990XE Benchmark Performance

Our After Effects benchmark (which is available for public download) tests a range of compositions looking at performance for RAM Preview, Final Render, and Tracking. These results all combine into a single "Overall Score" that represents the overall performance of the system in After Effects.

If we sort by the overall score, you can see that the Intel Core i9 9990XE's out-performs every other CPU we tested, coming in at about 5% faster than the Intel Core i9 9900K or about 12% faster than any of the standard Intel X-series CPUs. However, what is really impressive is the fact that it is very consistently the fastest CPU for After Effects.

The reason why this is unusual is due to the fact that After Effects contains a mix of lightly threaded and highly threaded features. On the one hand, the vast majority of Ae can only utilize a handful of CPU cores which makes a processor with high single-threaded performance (like the Intel Core i9 9900K) the best choice. On the other hand, if you use the Cinema 4D rendering engine, a CPU with a higher number of CPU cores can give you a small, but sometimes very important, bump in performance.

Since the Core i9 9990XE has terrific single-threaded performance that is on par with the Core i9 9900K and terrific multi-threaded performance that is on par with the Core i9 9980XE, that makes it the best performing CPU currently available for After Effects regardless of what you are doing.

Is the Intel Core i9 9990XE good for After Effects CC 2019?

In terms of raw performance, the Intel Core i9 9990XE is definitely the fastest processor currently available for After Effects CC 2019. If you only care about certain aspects of After Effects, you can get similar performance out of other processors, but no other processor should be able to give you the kind of consistently high performance as the Core i9 9990XE.

If you don't use the C4D renderer that much, you might find it a bit hard to justify this CPU over the much more affordable Core i9 9900K. For most tasks in Ae, the i9 9990XE is only about 3% faster than the i9 9900K which really isn't all that much. However, one thing to keep in mind is that the i9 9990XE allows for 128GB of system RAM which can be extremely useful for RAM Preview. The more RAM you have, the more frames that can be stored in RAM Preview, which limits the number of frames Ae has to re-render over and over again. There are new 32GB RAM modules coming that are should allow for 128GB of system RAM even with the Core i9 9900K, but general availability for those sticks is still unknown at this time.

Another thing to keep in mind is that while the i9 9900K is an excellent CPU (and one of my personal favorites at the moment), it can fall behind the X-series processors in software that can effectively utilize higher core counts. If you are one of the people who regular uses not only After Effects, but applications like Premiere Pro as well, the i9 9990XE should be able to give you top performance no matter what application you are using.

With the very limited availability and power/cooling requirements of this CPU, there is no question that the i9 9990XE is a very niche product. The fact that only select OEMs can even get their hands on it should be an obvious indication that Intel doesn't intend for this processor to be used by mainstream users. This is intended for those that want the best of the best processor, no matter the hurdles they have to jump through in order to get it. And the fact is, this really is one of the highest performing all-around processors available right now.

While we only tested After Effects in this article, we highly recommend checking out our recent processor articles where we look at (or will be looking at) the performance of the i9 9990XE in Premiere Pro, Lightroom Classic, and Photoshop as well as a number of other applications.

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Tags: After Effects, Intel 9th Gen, Intel X-series, 9990XE, 9900K, 9980XE, 9960X, 9940X, 9920X, 9900X, 9980X, 9800X