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PugetBench for AERender (After Effects Render Node)

Written on December 11, 2019 by Matt Bach

At Puget Systems, one of our primary goals is to make sure that our customers end up with a fast, reliable workstation that is perfectly tailored to their unique workflow. The main way we do this is by benchmarking a wide range of hardware in After Effects (and numerous other software packages) that we then publish in our ongoing series of hardware articles.

While most motion graphics artists use After Effects in a fairly traditional manner, many are starting to leverage multiprocessing plugins or homemade scripts like BG Renderer Max or RenderGarden to improve rendering performance. These typically leverage an application called "aerender" that is installed alongside After Effects that lets you divide up your render across multiple threads in order to fully utilize the performance of your CPU and GPU. In fact, the limiting factor is often the amount of RAM and VRAM you have available since each thread requires its own share of memory.

However, while our testing ensures that we are selling the right hardware, it does not give our customers a great idea of how much faster a new workstation might be compared to their existing system. In addition, with the amount of hardware that is currently available, it is impossible for us to test everything on our own, so we want to provide tools for other hardware reviewers to perform real world benchmarking in professional applications like After Effects.

To address both of these issues, we are making our After Effects benchmark available for download so that anyone can can perform the same testing we do in our hardware articles. Even better, this benchmark is compatible with both Windows and Mac-based systems which allows for cross-platform performance comparisons.

Download PugetBench for AERender

PugetBench for AERender free edition

Free Edition

Download V0.92 BETA

Suitable for personal use.
Results upload to the PugetBench online database.

PugetBench for AERender commercial edition

Commercial Edition

More Information

For commercial use.
Includes optional uploading of results, email support, automation, and logging.

Be sure to check out the full list of benchmarks we have available!

PugetBench for AERender

System Requirements

  • Adobe After Effects 2020 version 17.1.4 (or older) or Adobe After Effects CC 2019
  • 16GB of memory
  • Windows 10 (no MacOS support currently)

Note that since spawning multiple render threads quickly increases the RAM/VRAM usage, having more system resources generally means you will be able to spawn more render threads which often results in faster performance. In addition, plug-ins and customized preferences in particular may prevent the benchmark from running properly. If you run into any issues, we recommend resetting your preferences either by following Adobe's guide or by using our Adobe CC Preference Backup/Restore/Clear utility (Windows only).

How to run the benchmark

  1. Download and unzip the benchmark from the link above.
  2. Download a ZXP (Adobe plugin) installer and use it to install the plugin. We recommend using aescripts ZXP installer to install the .zxp file
  3. Launch After Effects
  4. Configure the necessary After Effects settings:
    • Enable "Allow Scripts to Write Files and Access Network" in "Edit -> Preferences -> Scripts & Expressions"
  5. Start the plugin from "Window->Extensions->PugetBench for AERender"
  6. Configure any settings you want to change (especially if you have a commercial license)
  7. Run the benchmark!

When the benchmark is complete, it will give you an "Overall Score" and upload the results to to our online database (unless told not to with the commercial version). From the uploaded results, you can view the sub-scores and individual test results.


If you have any issues with the benchmark not properly running, firs verify that your system meets the System Requirements and that the version of After Effects or AERender you are using is supports. If there are no issues with your system or software, there are a number of troubleshooting steps you can try:

  • Make sure you are following each step listed in the How to run the benchmark section
  • Clear the After Effects application preferences and reset them to default by following ​​​​​Adobe's guide or our Adobe CC Preference Backup/Restore/Clear utility (Windows only).
  • If you are on MacOS and have renamed your drive, the benchmark will not be able to get your system specs. The only work-around at the moment is to rename your drive back to "Macintosh HD", or you can continue to run the benchmark without it being able to pull specs.
  • Ensure that your OS and After Effects is set to English and that the path to the benchmark script does not have any special or non-English characters.
  • The benchmark does not work over an unmapped network drive (I.E. // Mapped drives should work, but we highly recommend having the benchmark on a local drive as storage performance can affect the results.

Lower than expected performance can be caused by a number of factors, but the most common are:

  • Outdated BIOS/drivers/software
  • Running background processes (Antivirus, Windows Updates, etc.)
  • Windows power profile (High Performance is recommended for the best results)
  • Adobe application settings are not correct (GPU acceleration not enabled, etc.)

If you continue to have issues, we recommend posting in the comment section below - ideally with a screenshot of the problem and a copy of any log files that are generated by the benchmark.

How does the scoring work?

The scoring system used in our benchmark is based on the performance relative to a reference system with the following specifications with a single render thread:

  • Intel Core i9 9900K 8 Core
  • NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2080 8GB
  • 64GB of RAM
  • Samsung 960 Pro 1TB
  • Windows 10 (1809)
  • Adobe After Effects CC 2019 (ver. 16.1.2)

The Overall Score is simply the average of the tested compositions and multiplied by 10 since bigger score = more important.

Update Log

Version 0.92 BETA

  • Moved to using node-wmi to gather system specs on Windows systems. This should be significantly faster and more reliable than the previous command line method
  • Added GPU driver and motherboard BIOS to the system specs for Windows systems
  • Misc bug fixes

Version 0.91 BETA

  • Improved system spec gathering reliability

Version 0.9 BETA (Major Update)

  • Results are now uploaded to our online database. This is required for the free version, but opt-in if you have a commercial license.
  • Removed the result screen at the end of the benchmark run now that the full results can be viewed on our benchmark listing page.
  • Moved from a stand-alone .exe to a full After Effects plug-in. This was required for the result uploading, but also allows us much more flexibility for configurable settings and increases consistency between our various Adobe benchmarks. This will slightly increase the amount of RAM/VRAM required, but shouldn't be by a significant degree.
  • Added the ability to do a "Custom" test which does the same tests as normal, only on whatever compositions are on the root-level of the currently opened project.
  • License validation moved from the CLI utility to the plugin itself.
  • Added ability to set the location for any disk-based tests (rendering).
  • Added tooltips for the various settings that can now be configured.
  • Status logs and configuration settings moved to "~Documents⧵PugetBench⧵AERender⧵TIMESTAMP" since we cannot log directly to the plugin folder.
  • General bug fixes and stability improvements.

Version 0.8 BETA

  • Added support for After Effects 2020
  • Renamed benchmark to "PugetBench for AERender"
  • Removed initial benchmark GUI (all it did was make you press another button)
  • There is now a "Benchmark Results" screen that comes up at the end of the benchmark that displays a bunch of useful information including: benchmark version, cores, results for each individual test, and system information like CPU, RAM, OS, GPU, and Photoshop version
  • The benchmark now also makes a PNG of the "Benchmark Results" screen for easy sharing
  • Removed .csv log file support in the free edition (log files will be a feature in the commercial use version)
  • Removed Mac support (hoping to add back in later)
  • Miscellaneous bug fixes and improvements

Version .51 BETA

  • Fixed individual score display bug (log file scores not affected)

Version .5 BETA

  • First release.

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Tags: After Effects, Benchmark, Public, Render Node, Download

Not bad, was possibly expecting higher though...


Posted on 2019-07-23 14:08:12
James Nielson

My 6-core Macbook Pro with 32GB RAM and an RX580 eGPU scored 1588. So yours scores about 20% higher but I, too, would expect a bit more from a 10-core with a 1080Ti. I'm no expert though. Is that the right benchmark version?

Posted on 2019-08-16 20:21:06
James Nielson

What if, hypothetically speaking, a person were to get an error of "You don’t have permission to create a folder here. (-10000)" on a Mac?

Posted on 2019-08-15 23:42:27
James Nielson

And when I try to edit your script (to try another path for that folder) I am told the file (the script I'm looking at) does not exist. That's deep. I'm stumped.

Posted on 2019-08-15 23:50:16

Sounds like you have the benchmark in a folder that you don't have write access to, or have some other security/permission setting set that doesn't allow scripts to create folders. Apple has a guide for folder permissions here: https://support.apple.com/e... , but if it is a security thing you might need to talk to Apple or check in your security and permission settings to see if there is something you can change.

Posted on 2019-08-16 16:02:57
James Nielson

I should have mentioned that I was running straight from the unzipped folder in my Downloads folder. I did check permissions and I have Read+Write (while "everyone" is granted no access). I copied the code into a new app (same directory, RW for me, R only for "everyone" and "staff") and it works fine, but the original app still gives me "You don’t have permission to create a folder here." Wierd.

Posted on 2019-08-16 19:55:14
Dmyto Korolkov

Hi! I'm using Win10 x64, admin login, run exe file as administrator, but get this:

Unable to read vr path registry from c:\Users\**Username**\AppData\Local\openvr\openvrpaths.vrpath

The same error I see in log file for PugetBenchmark for AE 2019 for step of Cloud Lightning Project (only it fails instead of all other steps)

Any ideas? I've read one of your posts regarding plugins and clean preferences, but all are cleaned now.

Posted on 2019-09-15 17:14:00

I haven't seen that error. You might want to try re-installing Ae and/or clearing your Ae preferences.

I looked around a bit and it doesn't look like many people have found a solid fix for that issue. There are indications it might be a Firefox thing (if you have that installed) or possibly due to special characters being used in your username.

Posted on 2019-09-16 17:20:09
Samuel Shi

Tried fresh Windows10 with no special characters in username. The issue remains.
There is no "\openvr\openvrpaths.vrpath" in "local". (No such doc was created in my PC in the first place). I was wondering does this issue related to my GPU driver. Or sth wrong with my AE, or specific setting...

Posted on 2019-10-24 11:11:36
Samuel Shi

I have same issue and it is remaining. Did you find solution yet?

Posted on 2019-10-24 10:57:47
Samuel Shi

And I failled to run all of the steps~ tried AE 2019 and 2020

Posted on 2019-10-24 10:59:02
Andrew Hoeveler

https://uploads.disquscdn.c... Woah. You might be inadvertently distributing a virus!

Posted on 2020-02-23 15:19:55

It's a false positive. We use a coding platform that is designed for automation (Autoit), which given its nature, is unfortunately fairly common for people making malware/viruses. It seems like a couple of times a year anti-virus starts flagging our applications, but it usually resolves on its own after a week or so.

We're looking into porting over to a different platform, but nothing we have found beats the ease of development and functionality of AutoIt to do all the automation work involved in benchmarking applications that are not designed to be benchmarked.

Posted on 2020-02-23 15:26:12
Andrew Hoeveler


Posted on 2020-02-23 22:10:28

Hey Matt,

I have this exact machine from you guys. I'm curious if you recommend using BG Render MAX, and if so, at how many cores of the 8?


Posted on 2020-02-26 00:15:09

I can't really speak for how well BG Render MAX works to be honest, but I know that it and RenderGarden are the two that are most commonly recommended. As far as how many render threads to allocate, usually around 1 for every 2 cores works well for CPUs with less than a dozen cores - so 4 render threads in your case.

Posted on 2020-02-26 00:37:32

Thanks Matt. I appreciate the insight!

Posted on 2020-02-26 01:01:12

So what exactly dose this benchmark measure?

I run the test on my laptop and i got a very low score 284

and I run it on the PC and got 1292

except, in real project situation the laptop finishes the render faster than my PC. What is going on there If you can explain it to me please?

Posted on 2020-02-29 14:31:40

Laptop https://uploads.disquscdn.c...

Posted on 2020-02-29 14:32:12

Dose the benchmark completely ignore the usual render from inside Ae and only uses aerenderer to do the task?

Posted on 2020-02-29 14:41:51

Yes, this is a benchmark for AERender, not the render queue built into After Effects. If you want to test that, then you should run our After Effects benchmark: www.pugetsystems.com/go/aebenchmark (which it looks like you did run on your PC) . AErender spawns multiple render threads to decrease the render times, but each thread requires it's own share of RAM/VRAM. You laptop only has 8GB of RAM and whatever the Radeon 530 has, so it can only successfully spawn a single render thread it looks like. Your PC, on the other hand, can spawn more so it is able to actually render the project on multiple CPU cores at the same time.

Your PC has a pretty old CPU, however, which is likely why your laptop is faster for "normal" rendering in After Effects. As soon as you use AERender though, the fact that you have enough RAM/VRAM to spawn multiple render threads on the PC lets it end up rendering the test projects much faster (since it can utilize more CPU cores).

Posted on 2020-03-02 18:03:41

Hey Matt thanks for the explanation I guess I will start using BG Render Max on my PC.
Actually I was considering an upgrade to a new machine with E5-1650 V4 and 64GB RAM 2400 but what is keeping me from doing this, is the fact that I don't know how much score I will get on that new machine. If you have any insights please share. Thanks again.

Posted on 2020-03-03 12:22:20


the program didn't give me the full photo showing all the specs so i will add the one that I got from the other benchmark in the next reply.

Posted on 2020-02-29 14:34:54


Posted on 2020-02-29 14:35:50
Patrik Lindahl

I'm unable to run the benchmark, is there anything I can do to make it run?
I have tried it on older versions and also the latest update (AE 17.1.3), same issue.

Posted on 2020-08-23 09:41:46

Try re-downloading and installing the plugin - I made a small change that should help. For whatever reason, some methods of gathering system specs like core count is randomly unreliable, but I've made some great progress recently that I rolled into the update I just uploaded.

Posted on 2020-08-24 16:33:52
Patrik Lindahl

Matt Bach Thanks for the reply!

I re-downloaded the plugin but unfortunately the installer says the ZXP file is corrupted.

Posted on 2020-08-25 04:30:48

Looks like AEScripts ZXP installer doesn't like it for some reason. Works just fine if you install it with Adobe's command line utility or a different extension installer like https://zxpinstaller.com/ . Give that a try.

I really like AEScripts ZXP manager since you can use it to uninstall extensions as well, so I'm going to try to figure out a work-around for why it things the ZXP is corrupt.

Edit: Figured it out. Adobe's ZXP packager utility really doesn't like it when there are hidden files in the extension folder. When I moved to using Node modules, some of them had hidden files that was causing the issue. Making all those files visible appears to clear up the installation issues.

Posted on 2020-08-25 15:59:29
Patrik Lindahl

I got the benchmark to work now, but I got a strange result. I tested the AERender benchmark on a quite old and slow HP Z620 workstation, and I got a score of 5401.
I am not exactly sure how the scoring system works, but isn't that too high? Or is it that the higher the score the worse performance?
Here is the benchmark result: https://www.pugetsystems.co...
The machine was struggling so much on being out of memory that I am not sure all tests ran completely. Perhaps that is why I got so high score? I think that this should be corrected for in the application.

Also, I have been doing my own benchmarking with my own AERender software, and I sometimes see render processes randomly die. Maybe you can try to monitor the health of the spawned processes and try to determine if the benchmark result is valid or not.
You don't even need to call aerender.exe, but can call AfterFX.com directly and then communicate with it using a network socket thru the scripting engine (that is how aerender.exe does it).
Also, it would be nice if you could add some memory limitations on the render processes so they don't eat all memory (I am successful with setting image_cache_percent and max_mem_percent to 5%-10% (@32GB)). The less memory the better performance (as long as there is enough memory to allocate frames). I think AERender uses a lot of unnecessary memory for RAM preview that is not needed.

Also :) Sometimes when I have many render processes running at the same time I see some kind of GPU contention. It seems like there might be a bottleneck with having too many processes trying to access the GPU at the same time. Perhaps you can add another section of the AERender benchmark that also test the SOFTWARE only render engine. I imagine this can make a big difference on a high core count CPU. I also see bottlenecks on writing the frames to disk, so perhaps you can include a disk read/write performance metric at the same time to identify any bottlenecks.
Just some ideas, thanks for your work!

Posted on 2020-09-10 06:56:41
Patrik Lindahl

Matt Bach , any comment on this?

Posted on 2020-09-18 02:31:59