Bug: UI is glitchy and slow on high DPI monitors
I'm on Windows, using a UHD 4K monitor and running 175% display scaling.
After Effects scales the UI correctly, but the performance of the Timeline panel especially is atrocious. Merely trying to scrub the timeline is very laggy. There are also visual glitches, like vertical black lines, and the playhead not redrawing correctly when using J & K to move between keyframes (the playhead gets disconnected from the line in a redraw glitch). Even doing a RAM preview on a fully cached timeline causes frame drops.
If I use the Windows high DPI settings dialog to override the scaling behavior (set scaling to be performed by System), all these performance and glitch issues go away. Scrubbing the timeline and resizing panels is smooth, and no visual glitches appear. Unfortunately, the entire UI is drawn in low res - pixellated and blurry, so it is not usable like this.
This has been a long-standing bug and I reported it over a year ago, thinking it was a graphics card issue, but it is clearly related to severe performance issues when doing high DPI scaling.
Here is the original post, which has screenshots and more details about the problems that occur:
Christoph Heimer commented
This problem still persists. With each update I'm hoping for a fix but getting just more and more hopeless... These displays are not around just since yesterday. Is there ANY official statement on this from Adobe?
The same problem persists in Premiere too (and lightroom classic, but at least there you have the option to switch to CC, which solves the issue!). In Premiere it's even worse because you are scrolling ALL THE TIME.
Seth Short commented
FYI I found that the Windows system's display "Scale and Layout" is causing the issue for me. If I set (in Display settings) the Scale to 100%, After Effects works like butter. If it's at 125% (which I'm more comfortable with), all the glitches mentioned in this post appear. At 150% scaling, I'm still getting a little lag but not as nice as 100%.
So, as long as you don't mind squinting 6 inches from your screen, problem solved?
Also... if you set the Scale to 100%, open AE, and then change the scale without closing/reopening AE, the interaction stays very smooth... but the UI is blurry. It's definitely an issue with AE's scaling to various resolutions.
Turning off the "Advanced scaling" > "Fix scaling for apps" doesn't work, FYI.
Simeon in't Veld commented
I cant believe this is still not fixed... 4K is the norm nowdays and it is almost unusable on a 5000$ PC. unbelievable...
Francisco Ramon Santiago Moray commented
Please fix asap. It's a mess of using the UI that laggy when in 4K nowadays.
Kris Cave commented
Just got the Adobe suite set up on my new PC that has an i7, 32gb RAM, and a GTX 1070 Ti on my 4K Dell monitor, and good lord this is awful. The lagginess from the UI makes the app literally unusable to work in.
It blows my mind that my 2015 Macbook Pro had no problem powering the same 4K monitor and After Effects without a GPU yet this mid-tier PC can't handle it because of Adobe's poor optimization. It's even more disappointing that after 12 years of Apple, I reluctantly yet excitedly made the switch to PC (I'm not a fan of Windows, but the cost to performance ratio is incredible). Now I have to deal with a goofy OS and I can't even use it to work.
Ignatz Johnson Higham commented
Switched from a mac as I've been disappointed with apple for a while. Got a shiny new pc and 4k monitor. The lag is minor, but it's annoying enough that it slows down my workflow, a missed click here and there adds up as does the frustration. Adobe really needs to focus on fast and stable apps, lose the extra features. Yes its boring and it doesn't make people gasp at their events. But it would make the majority of their users so much happier.
Though - I have found that switching to scaling of 150% and allowing windows to fix blury apps is the smoothest.
Chris Phillips commented
Same as above. I've had to get an old 12 year old 1080 monitor out of storage to use instead of my brand new beautiful 4K monitor. Such a bummer. I'm so unsatisfied with After Effects these days and just don't want to work in it at all.
Michael Jakob commented
What I recently found out is that as soon as I have the display with the highest resolution set to "make this my main display" (Windows 10 settings: https://windowsreport.com/change-primary-monitor/), the interface is running considerably smoother (for AE terms).
Not only in AE but also in Premiere, Figma, Miro etc.
Even without the "High DPI scaling override" to system (recommended by eikonoklastes Jul 17, 2018 in the original post linked above)
I'm running a Huawei MateBook X Pro 2018 (3000x2000px display) and two 4K external monitors on an Aorus Gaming Box RTX 2070.
When I switch my main display back to my laptop screen, beforehand mentioned software works only smooth within this main screen, not anymore in the external screen.
I switch it back to the screens with the highest resolution. Smooth again. On all 3 screens.
Martin Aggerholm commented
thanks for posting this!!
Same problem here.
Sitting on a ryzen 3900x with a 2080ti-card on win10. my screens is also a UHK 4k, with 125% display scaling.
and after effects is paaaainfully slow.
If i have to work in ae I have to use my old mac-laptop, which runs fairly smooth
Thomas Carter commented
This would have to be my current number one complaint about after effects at the moment. I have found the more layers I add, the slower the UI gets. The slowest part is scrubing through the timeline with the playhead. I have found it gets slightly faster when you turn off the option to see track mattes and the other layer settings however those are important and I dont have time to be turning those on and off.
I think its also important to note this is on a purpose built after effects machine, 9900K, 64gb of ram, 1080, separate ssd just for cache file so its not the cause of a slow machine.
Also I know this is a thread for 4k displays which I currently use, but the UI is still slow on a 1080p display but just not as slow. My only solution at the moment is to keep the layers per comp under around 30-40 which is fine but gets annoying. Sometimes there is just a need to have all your layers in a single comp.
Guillermo Sevillano commented
This is a huge issue. Since I got my dual 4K monitors, working on After Effects has become a real pain. Scrubbing through the timeline or selecting keyframes is a nightmare.
Reading other comments, it seems like Adobe directly omits user feedback as long as people keep paying the subscription. Year after year they update minor things and keep on going, but still no proper multithreading, useless UI on 4K...
I suggest everyone to take a look at a new app called Cavalry. It's still far behind AE for professional work (specially for composition) but it has very interesting features for motion graphics. They are constantly listening from user feedback and trying to improve the app. There is a free beta for download at the moment. Also they have plans for supporting Linux, which is awesome. Maybe if everyone of us take a look at it or start using it, Adobe will care more for improving AE. It's time for a new competitor to seriously face Adobe.
Carlos Albarrán commented
It still is a huge issue, and it's making my life miserable each time I have to work on a 4K screen on windows. It went away for a couple of versions, and now it's back with a vengeance. I'd even say it's gotten worse on the last updates of 2020.
Uyen Luu commented
I'll chime in and say I probably need medical treatment for the amount of times I've slammed my fist in the desk because of this exact issue over the last 5 years. I remember buying my high end calibrated 4k IPS monitor a week after learning after effects only to see the ui turn into a slideshow. I was in disbelief. Suddenly, every conceivable way of interacting with the software carried a measurable delay. Quickly discovered it's adobes fault. I figured "that's alright, surely they will fix this horrific problem shortly" ... lol.
THIS WAS IN 2015. I've never been able to relieve this issue by messing with DPI scaling or swapping GPU'S, single GPU, none of it.
6850k 6-core, 64GB ram, 2x1080ti running win 10 - Laggy, barely useable, frustrating UI.
random old dell running win8 - No problems. UI is snappy and entirely functional.
I'm glad to see it gaining traction. It's downright shameful on adobes part that they refuse to fix this year after year after year. It's 2020. 4K is a thing. Entire industries depend on this software. We shouldn't have to use 1080p monitors, registry hacks, or use a combination of old drivers and/or software builds to get any relief from this issue.
Neil Ingle commented
There's a 1 second lag when drawing a selection rectangle on the timeline for me (1 out of 4 times approximately). I'm using a fairly bulky new mac pro so It's not a performance problem on the side of the hardware. Please consider fixing this !
Андрей Гаврилов commented
Hello, I'm on two 4k displays, Xeon Silver 4108, RTX 2080 Super, 32Gb RAM, SSD system drive with Win10. The UI is laggy as ****! When will this be finally resolved, Adobe?? Impossible to work with comfort.
Christoph Heimer commented
Awful, awful awful! Got a brand new Mac Pro with Dual Vega GPUs and STILL. What’s worse is that this is a problem that spans across the entire creative suite. Lightroom and premiere are just as laggy and slow in the UI. This makes me wanna switch to final cut, sadly for after effects there’s no alternative.
How can we make adobe move on this?
steven silcox commented
I'm having the same issue on 16.3 build. I've resorted to using the 'hack' described below which gives a After Effects a blurry UI. I would love to see this problem actually resolved.
Ralph Raad commented
Can confirm this on the newest 16.3 build. The lag is intolerable. Running a 2080ti with 2970WX Threadripper. Unnacceptable.
Jonas Hofmann commented
Just got the LG ultra wide 5K display thinking it would benefit my workflow... Hahaha, ouch! The issue is the same on windows 10 and mac os (retina imacs). Once you check the task manager you figure out instantly whatˋs going on: The UI in Premiere and AfterEffects are rendered using only one single CPU thread and without special graphic card support. Once that single CPU thread is fully used, it throttles everything down, also the playback. So, if you want smooth playback, resize the timeline window or zoom in, so less objects have to be loaded and displayed in the UI. Very CPU intensive are also the layer option raws in the AE timeline. Or disable high dpi rendering in the windows settings. We can only hope that adobe implements soon graphic card acceleration of the interface, just like their more optimized competition resolve and final cut pro has it.
Mindaugas Suchockas commented
The bug is still there... I've been posting in forums, calling Adobe, no help, had to give up my 4k screen and get back to my 1920x1080 from 2002... yey...