Like most of the professional grade software, Adobe does not have a specific mentioning of the CPU that you need in their system requirements. As such the choice of the Best CPU for After Effects is literally open-ended.
It is open-ended in the sense that the choice will mostly depend upon your workload and the complexity of the projects that you will work on. It also depends upon your budget and your level of expertise.
There is no one-size-fit-all-solution to the question of the best processor for after effects. However, in this article we do recommend that you at least stick with mid range processor.
Of course, the ideal choice would be to go for a high end processor that tends to have the highest single core performance. But if budget is a concern for you, then we have some good recommendations below.
Comparison of Best Processors for After Effects
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List of Best CPU for After Effects
The following are some of the most popular high performing processors for After Effects power users.
- Intel Core i9-10900KF – Recommended Workstation CPU for After Effects – Awesome Single Core Performance
- AMD Ryzen 9 3900XT – Workstation AMD Processor for AE
- AMD Ryzen 7 3800XT – High End AMD CPU for Professionals
- Intel Core i5-10600K – Reasonably Priced with Excellent Single Core Performance
- Intel Core i7-9700K – Older Gen Processor with Phenomenal Value
- AMD Ryzen 5 3600XT – Mid Range Processor with Balance of Single and Multi-Core Performance
Brief Look at the Type of Processor You Need for After Effects
The CPU requirements for Adobe After Effects, as stipulated on the system requirements page, cannot be more vague.
Basically, since Adobe AE is a professional software, it is assumed that someone getting into the software, would have a good sense of gauging their requirements themselves depending upon the level of their work and hence choose the right CPU.
Also, note that in the requirements it reads “Multicore Intel Processor”. However, a good AMD processor would perform equally well too. As tested by PudgetSystems.com, AMD 5000 Ryzen processor actually perform better with AE than the Intel counterparts.
It is also worth noting that while Adobe After Effects does use multicores, it benefits more from a processor with a better single core performance.
As noted by PudgetSystem.com:
To a certain extent, more cores should improve performance. However, After Effects doesn’t scale particularly well since version 2015.3 so the number of cores tends to be less important than the speed of each individual core.
With that said, the point of this guide is NOT to highlight and list the best performing processors only, but to list processors that have an excellent performance/dollar value.
In other words, if a certain processor only performs about 1% better than its inferior model, but costs significantly more, it is not worth investing into and thus will not make it to this list.
1. Intel Core i9-10900KF – Recommended Workstation CPU for After Effects – Awesome Single Core Performance
Compared to AMD processors, Intel processors are generally well known for their Single Core performance and since Adobe After Effects heavily relies on single core instead of multiple cores for many of its effects and rendering, the Intel Core i9-10900KF processors makes a lot of sense.
This processor has a high base clock speed per core with turbo boost that can take this processing to a whopping 5.3 GHz. Since this is an unlocked processors, it can be overclocked too if you have the right cooling to accompany it.
This is an expensive processor, however, if you are looking for the best CPU for After Effects than we cannot recommend this enough.
While the single core performance is awesome, its multi core performance isn’t bad either. As such, applications that make use of multi-threading processors can benefit from this processor too.
Intel Core i9-10900KF Cinebench R20 Score
- Single Core : 539
- Multi Core : 6399
2. AMD Ryzen 9 3900XT – Workstation AMD Processor for AE
For starters, this processor is cheaper than the Intel Core i9 processor reviewed above. Secondly, according to benchmarks, it is equal or very close to in term of single core performance as the Intel Core i9 above.
However, as far as sheer clock speed goes, this is slightly weaker than the i9 above. While the i9-10900KF has a 5.3 GHz boost, this processor can upto 4.7 GHz per core. Hence, this will definitely result in relatively inferior performance particularly when rendering.
However, given its price, its performance/value is phenomenal making this one of the best CPU for After Effects.
For multi-threaded applications though, this processor easily takes the case. Since it features 12 cores and 24 threads, it is superior compared to the Intel Core i9-10900KF above.
AMD Ryzen 9 3900XT Cinebench R20 Score
- Single Core : 539
- Multi Core : 7244
3. AMD Ryzen 7 3800XT – High End AMD CPU for Professionals
According to benchmarks, this processor too has a very decent single core performance making it worthy of Adobe After Effects. While it has a lower core and thread counts i.e 8 Cores / 16 threads as compared to the processors above, since AE doesn’t really benefit much from an overkill of cores, this processor more than suffices.
The processor offers a good 4.7 GHz max clock speed giving it a single core performance as good as the AMD Ryzen 9 3900XT above.
However, it is inferior in terms of multi-threading environments in comparison. Basically if you use AE alone, then this is one of the best CPU for After Effects.
If, on the other hand, you make use of other software, or multi-task with heavy applications running at the same time, then the processors above would make more sense.
AMD Ryzen 7 3800XT Cinebench R20 Score
- Single Core : 539
- Multi Core : 5122
4. Intel Core i5-10600K – Reasonably Priced with Excellent Single Core Performance
The processor has a base clock speed of 4.1 GHz per core and can turbo boost to a high 4.8 GHz per core. This is astoundingly fast for a mid range processor such as this.
While this has only 6 cores and 12 threads, thanks to its high clock speeds, it should suffice for good degree of complex After Effects projects.
Of course this processor is not a replacement for workstation grade processors. It is, however, one of the most powerful processors for After Effects for those looking to build a semi-professional PC in the mid price range.
Intel Core i5-10600K Cinebench R20 Score
- Single Core : 501
- Multi Core : 3629
5. Intel Core i7-9700K – Older Gen Processor with Phenomenal Value
This is a very affordable high performance processor and in fact, it used to be the flagship processor of the the 9th Generation Intel CPUs. For the price it is available now, we consider this a steal.
This processor has 8 cores and 8 threads with a max clock speed of 4.90 GHz per core giving this processor perhaps the best performance / value in this list.
However, given that this is an older CPU and would require you to procure the older LGA 1151 motherboards with inferior features compared to motherboard based on the newer LGA 1200 sockets, can be off putting to some.
Intel Core i7-9700K Cinebench R20 Score
- Single Core : 481
- Multi Core : 3656
6. AMD Ryzen 5 3600XT – Mid Range Processor with Balance of Single and Multi-Core Performance
It offers 6 cores and 12 threads with a max clock speed of 4.5 GHz. If you want to a mid-budget professional AMD rig, then we believe this processor can serve you quite well.
The processor scores well on both single core and multi-core performance benchmarks.
One of the best aspect of this processor and all the 3rd Gen Ryzen processor and beyond is that they support the newer PCIe v4.0 interface, something which Intel is still lagging behind on
Hence, if you want performance and to use a PC with the latest features in the market, then we recommend this as the best CPU for After Effects for mid range AMD builds.
AMD Ryzen 5 3600XT Cinebench R20 Score
- Single Core : 519
- Multi Core : 3855
How Many Cores Do I Need for After Effects?
Adobe After effects would rarely use all of the CPU cores. There are certain effects and rendering that is multithreaded for instance grain effects, Cinema 4D renderer etc.
While in the future it is possible that AE may use multithreading efficiently, since a lot of the video processing is linear, it can only be performed well on a single thread / single core.
Unlike Audio Production, which uses multithreading CPUs very well, a linear rendering job, as with videos, can only be performed on a single powerful core.
While there is no right answer to how many cores you need, we recommend that you do not go overboard with a processor with an overkill number of cores.
8 cores is a good number. However, if you can find a good single core performance even on a hexa core or a quad core processor then these would be more preferable.
Generally, a processor with higher core count has lower single core clock speed. Hence, unless you plan to use other software that use multi-threaded CPUs very like like FL studio, your primary concern should be clock speed of a single core.
Also Read: Best CPU for Audio Production
GPU is Equally Important
Unlike in Audio Production, photo editing, 2D modelling, a GPU in After Effects is a critical component.
After Effects uses a lot of effects that use GPU acceleration and if you make heavy use of such effects, then the better the graphics card you have the better the performance you will get.
Also Read: Best Processors for AutoCAD
Here we reviewed some of the best CPU for After Effects as well as talked about what to look for in the right processor.
The key takeaway from this article is that first you need to gauge your requirements, your levels of expertise, your budget and the complexity of the projects you plan to work on very well.
Secondly, you need to choose a performance that has a good single core performance as compared to a good multicore performance.