Build Advice After Effects Workstation Build

Jun 18, 2019
So I've been reading around, seeing builds similar to the one I am in the process of working out, but not identical. Touching on the parts that I'm concerned about, but not directly addressing it. So I figure I'll bite the bullet and post my first OP here on Tom's Hardware.

I'm building a purpose built workstation for After Effects, I got to dabbling with AE back in 2018 when I started a digital marketing company, thinking I'd use some of the apps to help make creatives for clients. Then I found Video CoPilot's tutorials and thought "Whoa, this guy is so far beyond my abilities, I shouldn't even be watching this", and then following along Andrew Kramer's 40 minute tuts, mashing the pause button for the next four or six hours, or until my system just locked up from not having enough RAM for the RAM preview for even the basic effects. My desktop was a screamer (in 2008) An old HP running a Phenom II, and a Radeon 7770, this was November 2018.

Fast forward to January, when I bought my current system from a buddy for practically a song. Specs below:

Asrock extreme 4 Z77 motherboard
Intel i7-3770k
Crucial MX500ssd 500GB (Programs, Apps, Project Files)
Samsung 850EVO SSD 500GB (Render Output Folders)
Kingston UV400 SSD 480GB (Current Project Assets)
Samsung 860EVO SSD 250GB (Adobe Cache)
Seagate Barracuda 1TB HDD (Slow Bulk Storage)
32GB G.Skill Ripjaws-Z 1600mhz
MSI GTX 1060 Gaming-X
EV3A G3 750 Supernova
Thermalright Macho Cooler
Sharkoon Skiller SGCI case w/6 120mm case fans

Worth noting that it only had 16GB of G.Skill Sniper RAM, didn't come with the SSDs, and it had two MSI "Twin Frozr" GTX 770s and a SLi bridge, great for gaming but not for my purposes. Either way, the difference was night and day. Before I figured out the optimal drive setup (I still only had one SSD installed) I had renders that took 20 hours (for a 15 second video I think? Might have been 1min but still).

So now, a few months later, I've learned a few things, I've bought some plugins, After Effects is a RAM pig (still) and sometimes I still have to render off a project to get to see what it's going to look like in final form because the effect and/or layers/precomps stack I have is a little heavy for even 32GB of DDR3 to handle, often this takes 30 minutes or so, and then I have to go back and fix it, and render it off again to see if it worked out.

Big PITA. So I decided to go all in on a rig that's pretty much the best you could put together in the consumer components realm where the bang is the best for the buck (someday maybe I'll have Pixar's or ILM's budget, but till then....).

And this is what I came up with:

Intel - Core i9-9900K

CPU Cooler
Noctua - NH-D15

Thermal Compound
Thermal Grizzly - Kryonaut 1g 1 g Thermal Paste

Gigabyte - Z390 AORUS MASTER ATX LGA1151 Motherboard

Kingston HyperX Predator RGB, DDR4 3000MHz

Western Digital - Red 10 TB 3.5" 5400RPM Internal Hard Drive [bulk slow storage]

Samsung - 860 Pro 1 TB 2.5" Solid State Drive [C drive]

Samsung - 860 Pro 2 TB 2.5" Solid State Drive [bulk fast storage/general stock assets]

Samsung - 970 Pro 512 GB M.2-2280 Solid State Drive [Adobe Cache]

Samsung - 970 Pro 1 TB M.2-2280 Solid State Drive (x2) [Project Specific Assets, Rendering Output]

Video Card
MSI - GeForce GTX 1080 Ti 11 GB GAMING X TRIO

Corsair - 500D Premium ATX Mid Tower Case

Case Fans
Corsair - LL120RGB LED 43.25 CFM 120 mm Fans

Power Supply
EVGA - SuperNOVA G3 750 W 80+ Gold

Operating System
Microsoft - Windows 10 Pro 64-bit

I might end up breaking up that 10TB HDD into say two 6GB or 8GB HDDs IF the MoBo will let me have four SATA drives with three M.2 NVMe drives installed.

Whether I can actually run three 970 Pro M.2 drives simultaneously in NVMe mode is also one of my concerns.

Other than that the only think I'm thinking of doing different is going with a Noctua NH-D15s and then strapping one of their 120mm fans on the front if there are clearance issues with the RAM. As far as the case fans, I'm planning on having the three in front and the forward fan on top running as intake, and the rear two top fans and the rear fan running as exhaust. Hopefully this will provide both positive case pressure as well as good airflow in the case.

That's all I've got for now, I know it's a lot to go through, sorry for that.
Jun 18, 2019
get that ram up to at least 3200 and use a modern rtx card maybe a 2070 or 2080. also go with at least an 850 watt psu for that build maybe a 1k.
RTX cards, (at the moment at least) are useless to me, Adobe won't touch those tensor cores with a ten foot PCIe adapter cable. If the Titan Xp wasn't 5x the cost I might shoot for that right now, but ATM I feel like the 1080 Ti is the best bang for the buck.

The CPU cooler is either a Noctua - NH-D15, or D15s with a 120mm fan if necessary for clearance.

RAM may very well be a higher frequency, my buddy I'm buying the parts through is crashed out for sure right now, but later I'll verify what the actual sticks will be, I'm thinking they were at least 3000Mhz, but honestly they may have even been something like 2933? I'll get back to you with the actual in a few hours.
Jun 18, 2019
What was the 1080ti cost
Not totally sure, but my buddy figures he can beat Amazon by 10-35% on most of the parts and the 1080 Ti price I sent him when I first talked to him about it was "MSI - GeForce GTX 1080 Ti 11 GB GAMING X TRIO {Amazon DE: 771,91€ no VAT} "
Jun 18, 2019
As far as I know the GTX 1080 Ti is still performing slightly better than the RTX 2080, or 2080 Ti in a After Effects specific build. Until we get a better benchmark test than this one put out by Puget Systems last year at least.

I'm sure at some point I'll make the jump into Nuke, 3DS Max, C4D, etc. and those tensor cores and RT cores will come in handy, but that's probably a few years down the road and by then who knows what will be out there.