I’ve been talking about GPU upgrades so I thought I’d post some rendering tests I did awhile back on the GTX 670 and the GTX 285 with CS6. Adobe CS6 is a bit long in the tooth now that CC is out, but I still know a lot of people who use it. The specs on both of these systems are what I would consider middle and lower end respectively in todays market.
I used two timelines, the first I’ll call the “Easy timeline” which is comprised of a 2 minute and 42 second clip with a few audio tracks, a few video tracks, no major effects, simple transitions, and a few color corrections made. This would represent a basic film, cut, and edit type of situation. The second test timeline I’ll call the “Complex timeline” which is composed of a 2 minute and 36 second clip with 3 audio tracks, 14 video tracks, complex nested sequences, AE timelines, and dozens of effects. This would represent a music video, composting, or a motion graphics situation.
Here are the specs on the two test computers:
Desktop editing system one:
Desktop editing system two:
Number one will set you back around $700 or so used on ebay depending on your motherboard, power supply, and case selection, while number two will set you back around $350 to $400 used depending on the same factors.
Note: Some of the parts are old enough on these systems that you would most likely have to find them used, that includes the GPUs.
For each test I exported the clip using Adobe’s standard Mpeg2 1080p 29.97 preset and timed the render process with and without the Mercury Playback engine GPU acceleration. Above is the Easy timeline with a total length of 162 seconds.
Editing system one: without MPE GPU acceleration enabled, it was able to render the Easy timeline in 133 seconds, with MPE GPU acceleration enabled the Easy timeline rendered in 117 seconds. Even without GPU acceleration, system one was able to render at 21% faster than real time playback, with GPU acceleration that number Jumps up to 38% faster than real time playback.
Editing system two: without MPE GPU acceleration enabled, it was able to render the Easy timeline in 155 seconds, with MPE GPU acceleration enabled the easy timeline rendered in 141 seconds. Without any GPU acceleration it was able to render 4.5% faster than real time, with acceleration it was able to render at 15% faster than real time.
Add the GPU acceleration to the mix and there is a noticeable jump in rendering speeds. If most of your work is simple editing with few complex effects and your average timeline isn’t longer than 15 minutes, you probably won’t need the extra boost in rendering speed. The GTX 670 definitely provides an advantage over the GTX 285, but you’ll have to decide for yourself if it’s worth it to spend an extra $150 on the 670 upgrade. You could render that 20 minutes timeline in 12 minutes (GTX 670), 17 minutes (GTX 285) or 20 minutes with a low end graphics card.
I used the same render settings on Complex timeline (Mpeg2 1080p 29.97) as I did on the Easy timeline and timed the render process in the same manner. The Complex timeline (above) has a total length of 156 seconds.
Editing system one: without MPE GPU acceleration enabled, it was able to render the Complex timeline in 27 minutes 46 seconds (1666 seconds), with MPE GPU acceleration enabled the Complex timeline rendered in 9 minutes and 55 seconds (595 seconds). That’s a very impressive jump in rendering speed and really shows how much heavy lifting the GPU can do.
Editing system two: without MPE GPU acceleration enabled, it was able to render the Complex timeline in 38 minutes 45 seconds (2325 seconds), with MPE GPU acceleration enabled the Complex timeline rendered in 11 minutes 34 seconds (705 seconds). That’s still a very nice improvement to render speeds over the base system.
This test really shows how much the MPE GPU acceleration can do for render speeds even on a lower end system. However, I was less impressed with the 18% speed difference between the GTX 670 and the GTX 285 rendering the Complex timeline. The 670 wins the battle for speed but loses the battle for value. You can buy a used GTX 285 for around $60 v.s. the GTX 670 at around $230 used, is an 18% speed gain worth the price difference?
That’s not quite the end of the battle though. Timeline playback is also a very important issue to address. I can set Timeline playback on the GTX 670 to 100% quality without any playback issues on the Easy timeline, and 50% quality on the complex timeline and still get real time playback.
The GTX 285 stutters a bit on the Easy timeline at 100% quality, and plays smooth at %50. On the complex timeline, even at the lowest quality settings, playback is choppy after about 30 to 40 seconds. Pre-rendering effects in the timeline was really the only way to get smooth playback on the GTX 285 running the Complex timeline.
Although the GTX 670 does provide a noticeable rendering speed increase, it’s biggest value for me is real time playback. With the MPE GPU acceleration enabled most GTX cards (1GB and above) will provide a good boost to rendering speeds. If you’re work doesn’t require much more than 3 or 4 video tracks and some basic editing, the best value is going to be one of the lower priced cards like the GTX 285. On the other hand, if you use a lot of motion graphics, multi-cam, and AE projects in your timeline, spending the extra money on something like the GTX 670 or newer is definitely worth consideration.
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All credit is given to author DSLR Film Noobdeejay scharton