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PC Specialist Nucleus AMD Threadripper 2990WX Workstation

Adobe Media Encoder CC 2018

Like 3D rendering, video encoding is a task that now takes very good advantage of multi-core processors. Although a lot of reviews focus on Open Source encoders such as Handbrake, this is a review of professional applications, so we have chosen Adobe Media Encoder CC 2018 (AME) for our test bed instead. You can download a trial of the latest version of this software from Adobe. For an encoding source, we used the 4K UHD (3,840 x 2,160) version of the Blender Mango Project Tears of Steel movie.

We encoded with the Vimeo 1080p HD preset in AME. This is a MP4 H.264 preset, using High Profile and Level 4.2. There are two modes available for the AME rendering engine (called the Mercury Playback Engine, presumably because it's smooth and, erm, shiny). One uses software only, so will just employ the CPU. But you can also call in CUDA on NVIDIA graphics and OpenCL on AMD graphics. We tried both GPU-accelerated and CPU-only options on both systems.

As we noted in our first review of this processor, the 32-core Ryzen Threadripper isn't actually very good on its own with Adobe Media Encoder. We suspect this is because the software isn't designed for 32-core processors and is bouncing the threads around, which would be less efficient than if you had fewer physical cores.

Factor in CUDA acceleration from the Quadro P4000, however, and encoding performance becomes a lot more impressive, beating most of the competition. Nevertheless, the 16-core AMD Ryzen Threadripper 1950X with AMD Radeon Vega Frontier Edition graphics offering OpenCL acceleration is better still.


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