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Which to upgrade? CPU or GPU

Participant ,
Aug 31, 2020 Aug 31, 2020

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Hello all,

 

I'm looking for some advice. About a year ago, I built a pretty hefty editing machine. The specs are below:

 

Windows 10 Pro 64-bit

Motherboard-ASUS ROG Maximus XI Hero Wi-Fi
CPU-Intel i9-9900K, 8 cores, 5.0GHz overclocked
GPU-EVGA GeForce RTX 2080, 8GB GDDR6, Black Edition
RAM-64 GB (16x4) Crucial Ballistix Sport, 3200 MHz
Water Cooler-Cooler Master MasterLiquid ML240L
Boot Drive-Samsung 970 Pro NVMe M.2 2280, 512 GB
Cache Drive-SanDisk Ultra 3D NAND 1TB SSD
 
It has been a huge update from my old machine, a 2013 Mac Pro (trash can), but I'm still running in to some bottlenecks. My primary workflow from day-to-day is approximately 50% Premiere, 45% After Effects, and 5% Illustrator/Photoshop. Not surprisingly, I'm finding that my machine bottlenecks when rendering motion-heavy comps in After Effects or when exporting (via Media Encoder) a timeline from Premiere with a lot of Dynamic Links within. Even though I have an entire 1TB SSD drive that is dedicated solely as a cache drive for After Effects, the machine still struggles before I feel it should.
 
To add to the confusing, I also often have GPU crashes when Mercury Transmitting in After Effects. I am transmitting to my 3rd monitor (which is a 4K Television), and there have been IT professionals who have told me that it is crashing because I have maxed out my 8GB of VRAM. However, my control panel never--and I mean NEVER--shows my GPU stats even breaking a sweat or coming close to using all of the VRAM, and barely ever going over 5% usage, even under heaviest load.
 
I have overclocked the CPU and GPU to their highest capabilities within my system.
 
Whenever I experience slow downs in my system (again, rendering or working on a dense AE project), according to my control panel, my CPU is under full load and the GPU is barely moving the needle.
 
All of this is to ask two questions:
 
1) Why is my GPU/Mercury Transmit often crashing when it doesn't appear to be maxed out?
 
2) When I can afford to upgrade a part of my system, based on my workflow, do I upgrade the CPU/Motherboard or the GPU (either upgrade to a RTX 2080Ti, a RTX Titan; or SLI together a second card)? I've read that SLI can be beneficial to gaming, but has little effect on editing and animation workflows like mine.
 
To my eyes, it looks like the CPU is the bottleneck, but I'm wondering then why I'm still having GPU crashes. I thought Adobe products were becoming optimized to take advantage of more GPU.
 
Any advice is appreciated. If I wasn't clear about any part of my set up, please ask and I'll try to provide more information.
 
 
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CPU , Hardware or GPU

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LEGEND ,
Aug 31, 2020 Aug 31, 2020

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I am afraid to tell you this, but the only fix is an entirely new and extremely expensive (costing well over $10k) workstation-level PC build with a $2k+ CPU (prices are in USD). Premiere does not support SLI or any linked multiple GPUs at all (that is, if multiple GPUs are to be used, they must be unlinked). And right now there is absolutely no economically worthwhile upgrade at all to your i9-9900K system, since everything (hardware-upgrade-wise) would cost you far more money than is justified by the performance increase/improvement.

 

And that i9-9900K is the most powerful CPU that you can use at all on your existing motherboard (I do not count the i9-9900KS as that part is just a better-binned i9-9900K, and today costs far more expensive than it was released at due to it being rare). All newer or more powerful CPUs will require a completely new motherboard: None of the higher-core-count or newer CPUs will even physically fit the CPU socket on your current motherboard. That makes LGA 1151 a dead-end socket with no upgrade path at all whatsoever from your current CPU.

 

As a result of all that, if you must spend as much money as a GPU upgrade to even the best available, then you'd be better off switching to an AMD Zen2 or newer CPU platform: A Ryzen 9 3950X plus an X570 motherboard would cost you the same amount of or less money than just a single RTX 2080 Ti, which is outgoing as the introduction of the successor RTX 3000 series GPUs rolls around in a few weeks. So, it's just not worth paying full or nearly full price on a GPU that's already out of production and is being phased out of availability to make room for newer-gen parts (and still produces only a 1 to 2 percent total improvement in performance for your particular system).

 

Secondly, how many processes are you running in Windows? Premiere will start choking at around 200 Windows background processes.

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Participant ,
Aug 31, 2020 Aug 31, 2020

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Thank you for the thoughtful reply!

 

Unfortunately, it was only after my build was complete that I realized my current CPU / Motherboard configuration was a "dead end," so yes, now I realize that a CPU upgrade also requires a motherboard upgrade. One of my thoughts when budget allows is to upgrade the motherboard to one that supports a LGA2066 X299--something like the Asus Prime X-299 Deluxe II--so I can also upgrade the CPU--something like the i9-9940X X-series 14-cores). Is that not an option? I think the extra cores will make a difference.

 

I believe the rest of my hardware is compatable - GPU, Water Cooler, Power Supply, and RAM. I know that will require a tear down and rebuild, but I'm willing to do it if I'll see results.

 

Just wondering if the Adobe hivemind thinks this $1,300 upgrade will be worth it.

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LEGEND ,
Aug 31, 2020 Aug 31, 2020

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Not a good choice for the price that you'd be paying for it. You see, that i9-9940X is a bit outdated, with a relatively poor IPC (Instructions Per Clock cycle) and relatively low stable clock speeds compared to competing CPUs. The i9-10940X uses the same socket and chipset as the i9-9940X, only with somewhat higher clock speeds. In other words, you'd be practically going nowhere for the price that you'd be paying for that platform.

 

As a matter of fact, all Intel desktop CPUs use a tweaked-over-and-over-again variant of the Skylake architecture that dated all the way back to the 6th-Generation CPUs from late 2015.

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Participant ,
Sep 01, 2020 Sep 01, 2020

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I see. In your mind, the only way I'd see tangible improvements would be to build a $10K+ machine, correct?

 

Just out of curiosity, which motherboard/CPU and GPU would you consider putting in a machine going forward?

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LEGEND ,
Sep 01, 2020 Sep 01, 2020

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It's just that I am advising against paying too much money for too little of a tangible improvement in performance. And when I stated that you'd need a $10k+ build for a significant enough tangible improvement, I meant it in the current context, as all of the Intel options that are currently available either do not produce a substantial enough of a performance improvement over your current build to justify paying their asking prices for or are simply way too expensive in the first place.

 

And I just saw the PugetBench scores for the i9-9940X, running recent versions of Premiere Pro. Despite its 14 cores and 28 threads, it does not perform sufficiently better than a 10-core/20-thread i9-10900K to justify the purchase of a $400 to $600 motherboard for it. Whereas one can get away with a $250 motherboard for a i9-10900K.

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Community Expert ,
Aug 31, 2020 Aug 31, 2020

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