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DaVinci Resolve 15: Core i7 9700K & i9 9900K Performance

Written on October 19, 2018 by Matt Bach


DaVinci Resolve is known for its ability to leverage the power of your GPU to improve performance, but it is still very important to have a CPU that is able to keep up. Our recent AMD Threadripper 2990WX & 2950X Performance Testing was a great example of this as with a single GTX 1080 Ti there was very little difference between each CPU we tested, but adding more GPUs made it more important to have a powerful CPU as well. In that testing, the Core i7 8700K lagged behind the Intel X-series and AMD Threadripper CPUs, but with Intel's new 9th Gen CPUs seeing an increase in both core count and frequency, it may be enough to overcome the performance gap.

It is worth noting that one of the biggest issues with these new CPUs is not their performance, but rather the fact that the Z370/Z390 platform they use can only effectively handle up to two GPUs. So even if they do well in our tests, they are not going to be a good choice for a high-end professional color grading workstation since having three or more GPUs is fairly common for DaVinci Resolve.

If you would like to skip over our test setup and benchmark result/analysis sections, feel free to jump right to the Conclusion section.

Test Setup & Methodology

Listed below are the systems we will be using in our testing:

While benchmarking the i7 9700K and i9 9900K against the i7 8700K is likely the most direct comparison we could make, we also wanted to see how these new CPUs stack up against a number of other processors. AMD vs Intel is always a popular discussion, so we included the Ryzen 7 2700X - which tends to be cheaper than either of these new CPUs - as well as the Threadripper 1920X which is similar in price to the i9 9900K. To get an idea of whether or not purchasing a more expensive Intel CPU would give you a notable increase in performance, we also include the i7 7820X and the i9 7900X.

Our testing for DaVinci Resolve primarily revolves around the Color tab and focuses on the minimum FPS you would see with various media and levels of grading. The lowest level of grading we test is simply a basic correction using the color wheels plus 4 Power Window nodes with motion tracking. The next level up is the same adjustments but with the addition of 3 OpenFX nodes: Lens Flare, Tilt-Shift Blur, and Sharpen. The final level has all of the previous nodes plus one TNR node.

We kept our project timelines at Ultra HD (3840x2160) across all the tests, but changed the playback framerate to match the FPS of the media. For all the difficult RAW footage we tested (CinemaDNG & RED), we not only tested with the RAW decode quality set to "Full Res" but we also tested at "Half Res" ("Half Res Good" for the RED footage). Full resolution decoding should show the largest performance delta between the different cards, but we also want to see what kind of FPS increase you might see by running at a lower decode resolution.

Codec Resolution FPS Bitrate Clip Name Source
H.264 3840x2160 29.97 FPS 80 Mbps Transcoded from RED 4K clip
H.264 LongGOP 3840x2160 29.97 FPS 150 Mbps Provided by Neil Purcell - www.neilpurcell.com
DNxHR HQ 8-bit 3840x2160 29.97 FPS 870 Mbps Transcoded from RED 4K clip
ProRes 422 HQ 3840x2160 29.97 FPS 900 Mbps Transcoded from RED 4K clip
ProRes 4444 3840x2160 29.97 FPS 1,200 Mbps Transcoded from RED 4K clip
XAVC S 3840x2160 29.97 FPS 90 Mbps Provided by Samuel Neff - www.neffvisuals.com
XAVC Long GOP 3840x2160 29.97 FPS 190 Mbps Transcoded from RED 4K clip
Blackmagic RAW 4608x1920 24 FPS 210 Mbps A001_08122231_C008 Blackmagic RAW
RED (7:1) 4096x2304 29.97 FPS 300 Mbps A004_C186_011278_001 RED Sample R3D Files
CinemaDNG 4608x2592 24 FPS 1,900 Mbps Interior Office Blackmagic Design
[Direct Download]
RED (7:1) 6144x3077 23.976 FPS 840 Mbps S005_L001_0220LI_001 RED Sample R3D Files
RED (9:1) 8192x4320 25 FPS 1,000 Mbps B001_C096_0902AP_001 RED Sample R3D Files

With the addition of the "Fusion" tab in Resolve, we are also going to be including some basic tests for that tab as well. At the moment these are relatively easy projects that specifically test things like particles with a turbulence node, planar tracking, compositing, and 3D text with a heavy gaussian blur node. These projects are based on the following tutorials:

If you have suggestions on what we should test in the future, please let us know in the comments section. Especially if you are able to send us a sample project to use, we really want to hear from you!

Color Tab FPS - Raw Benchmark Results

Color Tab FPS - Benchmark Analysis

To analyze our benchmark results, we are going to break it down based on whether we used one or two RTX 2080 GPUs and the three different levels of color grading we tested. The easiest level of grading - a basic grade with 4 power windows - is not too difficult and every CPU we tested should be able to give full playback FPS in everything but RED 6K/8K. However, each level up should show more and more of a difference between the different processors.

The "Score" shown in the charts is a representation of the average performance we saw with each GPU for that test. In essence, a score of "80" means that on average, the card was able to play our project at 80% of the tested media's FPS. A perfect score would be "100" which would mean that the system gave full FPS even with the most difficult codecs and grades.

Starting with the results with a single RTX 2080, the i7 9700K did a bit worse than we expected. In fact, it was just a hair slower than the i7 8700K and about 5% slower than the Ryzen 7 2700X. The reason for this is likely the fact that the i7 9700K does not support Hyperthreading, which appears to be fairly important for DaVinci Resolve.

The Core i9 9900K, on the other hand, did fairly well and ended up being up to 10% faster than the Core i7 8700K. That may not sound like much, but it puts it right on par with the much more expensive Core i7 7900X and Threadripper 1920X CPUs.

With dual RTX 2080 GPUs, the i7 9700K was almost exactly the same as the i7 8700K, but both of these CPUs were about 4% slower than the more affordable Ryzen 7 2700X. Once again, however, the Core i9 9900K did fairly well, coming in at about 8% faster than the Core i7 8700K.

Since we have more GPU power available to the system, the i9 9900K was no longer able to quite keep up with the more expensive CPUs from Intel and AMD. This time, it was up to 10% slower than the Core i9 7900X - although considering the i9 9900K is less than half the price, that is still a very respectable performance.

Fusion Tab FPS - Raw Benchmark Results

Fusion Tab FPS - Benchmark Analysis

Fusion doesn't scale well with multiple GPUs (at least not with our test projects), so while we do have dual GPU results available in the previous section, we didn't feel it was necessary to spend time analyzing both the single and dual GPU results.

Fusion is relatively new to our DaVinci Resolve testing, but so far it looks like it is a completely different beast than the rest of Resolve. Where higher core count CPUs can help in the Color tab (assuming you have the GPU power to match), in Fusion it appears to be all about the per-core performance from each CPU. In fact, these results are very similar to what we saw in Adobe After Effects.

One thing is clear: if you want the best performance in Fusion, these new 9th Gen CPUs are the best you will be able to get. Relative to the i7 8700K, we saw a 6-10% performance increase depending on whether you use the i7 9700K or the i9 9900K. Compared to something that is otherwise great in Resolve (like the AMD Threadripper 1920X), these CPUs end up being 23-28% faster.

Are the 9th Gen Intel Core Processors good for DaVinci Resolve?

The i7 9700K and i9 9900K CPUs range from being decent to great depending on exactly what you are doing in Resolve. For color grading the i7 9700K is a bit lackluster, but the i9 9900K is able to keep pace with much more expensive CPUs. If you use the new Fusion tab, however, either of these CPUs should outperform everything else currently on the market.

What we found interesting in our testing was not how good the i9 9900K is, but rather how mediocre the i7 9700K is. In much of our other 9th Gen testing the 9700K handily beat the 8700K, but at least for color grading the i7 9700K was only able to just barely keep up. While we haven't done any specific testing to verify, our best guess is that the lack of Hyperthreading on the i7 9700K is what is holding it back in DaVinci Resolve.

The i9 9900K, on the other hand, did very well. If you are just using a single powerful GPU, it should be able to easily keep up with the much more expensive Intel X-series and AMD Threadripper CPUs while giving the best performance we've seen yet in the Fusion tab. The main issue with this CPU is really that it will likely start to fall further behind as you add more GPUs. However, since Resolve relies so heavily on the GPU you are probably better off with an i9 9900K and two GPUs than an i9 7900X and a single GPU. Another issue is that like the i7 8700K and Ryzen 7 2700X, these new CPUs are limited to 64GB of RAM which may be an issue for heavy Fusion users. It has been reported by Anandtech that the i9 9900K may support 128GB of RAM in the future, but we will have to see if it ends up being stable or if the 32GB RAM modules will be at all cost effective.

Core i7 9700K vs Core i7 8700K for DaVinci Resolve

In most cases, the i7 9700K will perform almost the same as the i7 8700K. The main area where this CPU should give you a performance increase is in the Fusion tab where the i7 9700K is about 6% faster than the i7 8700K.

Core i9 9900K vs Core i7 8700K for DaVinci Resolve

The Core i9 9900K is about 20% more expensive than the i7 8700K, but in exchange for the higher price you can expect a 10% increase in performance in both the Color and Fusion tabs. This may not sound like much, but it is enough to allow the i9 9900K to keep up with much more expensive Intel and AMD CPUs if you only use a single GPU while giving the best performance we've seen yet in Fusion.

If you are interested in how the 9th Gen Intel Core Processors perform in other applications, be sure to check out our recent Processor articles as we have a number of other articles for looking at the i7 9700K and i9 9900K.

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Tags: DaVinci Resolve, 9700K, 9900K, 8700K, 7820X, 7900X, 2700X, 1920
Joe S.

hi thanks a lot for your reviews, really made me think about an uogrupg from 8700k!

Just a quick heads-up: you have a copy paste error, your comparison headline reads: Core i7 9700K vs Core i7 8700K for __Premiere Pro__

Posted on 2018-10-29 19:18:16

Thanks for that, I got that fixed. I'm always amazed at how it doesn't matter how much proof-reading you get, there is always something that sneaks through!

Posted on 2018-10-29 19:25:49
Didier Martinez

Hello, thanks for your usefull reviews... I would want to know if your test was proceed with bkackmagic decklinck 4k (or other equivalent stuff) ? I Wonder how it could alter the results, especially in dual gpu configuration with poor PCI lanes cpu...

Posted on 2018-11-23 09:05:20

Right now, we are not using a reference monitor (either through a Decklink or just through the GPU). From what I have seen, it doesn't make too much of a performance difference, although at some point I want to do a full article on it to get some hard numbers. You are right that using a Decklink could potentially cause issues if you don't have enough PCI-E lanes, but I wouldn't worry too much unless it will bring your GPU to below x8. The difference between PCI-E 3.0 x8 and x16 for GPUs is pretty minor so I wouldn't worry about it unless it will bring it below that.

Posted on 2018-11-26 17:36:18
Didier Martinez

Thanks for your answer... In the case of i9 9900k, i assume that unfortunately GPUs will be used at PCI-E x8 and x4. I read your article about the little difference between x16 and x8. I also read an article about importance of pci mode in gaming and there was not so much difference between x4 and x16 (5 tout 10%). But what is true somewhere may be wrong elsewhere...

Posted on 2018-11-26 18:19:02

Most of the Z390 boards we use and that I have seen have the two primary PCI-E slots through the CPU so they will run at x8 if both are populated. There is often another x4 slot, but that is not using the direct CPU lanes, but uses PCI-E lanes through the chipset. So if you put a Decklink card into that slot, it won't bump the GPUs down to x4 at all.

It really depends on the motherboard and how they designed it, however.

Posted on 2018-11-26 18:50:19
Didier Martinez

Thanks again for all this informations, i really appreciate...

Posted on 2018-11-26 21:16:01
Stefan Resorb

Could you attribute the Performance difference between the usually faster 9900k (20 Lanes) and the 7820x (28 Lanes) in the Dual GPU Color Grading Test to the 7820x ´s higher Lane Count? The 7820x is 10% faster - but only in Dual GPU Mode - and only with TNR enabled which requires a lot of inter-card communication. Would be nice to see a benchmark with 7820x in Dual and Quad Channel Memory mode and with manually restriced pice speeds to see where the bottleneck is with the 9900K (RAM Bandwith or PCIe Lanes)

Posted on 2018-11-28 14:42:51
Stjepan Vrbanc

Hi, now im doubting a decision on going with 9700k. I'm building new system for Resolve with 1 590 8G and was planning to go 9700k as it is allmost no difference than 8700k, 15$ more. Or should I go with 9900k all the way? Dont know is there anything to gain with 9900k.

Posted on 2019-02-19 18:03:30
JP Morais

i would go with 2700x to be honest! great value

Posted on 2019-03-03 05:34:59

Thank you for these extensive reviews! They are my go to for CPU/GPU upgrading. The only downside is when I leave this site my wallet seems much lighter...

Posted on 2019-03-14 14:35:17
Chad Lancaster

it would be interesting to see a Der8auer 9900k in the mix to see what if any difference there would be

Posted on 2019-04-11 19:57:59

So, question. I know this is an old article but, I am in a situation at the moment where my i7 8700k on Z370-A motherboard just aren't cutting it. What are my options? I don't really want to spend the money but if I do I want to have it at least last me for a year. If I go up on the processor do I pretty much have to upgrade motherboards no matter what?

Posted on 2019-11-23 01:12:08

Z370 should be able to support the latest Intel Core 9th Gen CPUs like the Core i9 9900K. This relies on the motherboard having specific BIOS support for them, however, so definitely check to see if there is a newer BIOS available that you can flash to that adds Intel 9th gen support.

Unless Intel does something weird, I don't expect that your board will support the future 10th Gen CPUs (whenever those launch). Typically, you get two generations of CPU support per motherboard platform.

Posted on 2019-11-23 01:23:00

I have been looking at the specs on my Asus z370-A: The one I bought on Amazon, and the description says it stops at 8th gen, but then on another page with the exact same product it says you can go up to i9. So kind of weird. I have been a mac guy for years and this was my first PC build so I get lost very fast.

Posted on 2019-11-23 02:02:19

That board definitely supports 9th Gen CPUs - just make sure to update to the latest BIOS (2401 is the newest). The places it says 8th gen only is probably just the places that didn't get updated when they added 9th Gen support. When that board was released, the 9th Gen CPUs sisn't exist, so they couldn't list support for them.

You shouldn't have a problem as long as long as you update the BIOS before installing the new CPU. Often the motherboard needs the newer BIOS in order to even post, so just make sure you don't do it in the wrong order or you'll have to start playing musical CPUs.

Posted on 2019-11-23 02:23:03

It’s looking like the i9 7900x 10 core is probably my best bet while avoiding having to get another mother board. I’m looking for the biggest impact with the littlest amount of change to the overall system. I do have a 1080ti and maxed out 64GB ram so this is probably the last thing I can do to get it moving faster. From my observations the graphics card isn’t taking that much of a hit yet.

Posted on 2019-11-23 15:52:48

Your motherboard doesn't support the i9 7900X - that Is an X-series CPU that requires a X299 motherboard. With a Z370 board, the only CPU available that will give you any noticeable bump in performance is the Core i9 9900K. Even then, be aware that it is probably going to be a less than a 10% performance bump.

The 8700K is a pretty decent CPU, and you would need to upgrade both your motherboard and CPU to really get a significant performance gain. Your best bet in that situation is either to go with a Ryzen 9 CPU on a x570 motherboard, or an X-series CPU on x299 if you want to stick with Intel (mostly for Thunderbolt support if you need it).

Posted on 2019-11-23 16:01:45

I replied to your previous post before seeing this one posted so you already answered that one a little bit.

Posted on 2019-11-23 16:12:11

I had no idea AMD wouldn’t support thunderbolt. I have a thunderbolt card installed on my Asus right now.

Posted on 2019-11-23 16:13:25

I’m sorry, another question. How many physical or software components would I have to swap out if I just bit the bullet and got a new motherboard and a 16 core threadripper? This is what has been holding me back. I don’t want to do that and then find out I have to swap out all of the ram and the operating system, etc. In theory all of my DDR4 ram I am using now will still work right? I was just going to get another intel chip and move up to something like the 12 core or higher i9 chips but those alone are more expensive than just switching over to AMD.

Posted on 2019-11-23 16:08:06

The RAM should be fine if you switch to Ryzen (I wouldn't do a 16 core threadripper, there is no point to that CPU now that the Ryzen 3950X 16 core is out unless you are going to be using quad GPUs or something like that). The only things you should need are the motherboard, CPU, and CPU cooler - power supply you might want to check as well to make sure it has the right number of 8-pin power connectors for the motherboard since some boards require multiple.

Your OS license should be fine to move over, but you will definitely want to do an OS reinstall. That is really something you should do every few years anyway, but when moving chipsets like this you should really do it even if it technically could boot into Windows OK.

A bit of extra info on Thunderbolt, ASRock does have some Ryzen boards that have Thunderbolt, but it is pretty much their own implementation of it that is not certified by AMD or Intel (who owns Thunderbolt). Thunderbolt on PC can be really finicky, so it may work, or it may not. Sticking with officially certified implementations is really the best way to go - we typically have the best luck with Gigabyte, but Asus and other seems to be much better lately as well.

Posted on 2019-11-23 20:43:09

This has all be very helpful Matt. Thank you. Is there a specific Asus x570 board you would recommend? I only ask about Asus, specifically, in the hopes that any other Asus pieces I have - like the thunderbolt pcie card - might still work even with it not being an x299 intel based motherboard.

Posted on 2019-11-24 16:49:00

And, from what I am seeing, the 570 motherboards max out at 4 ram chips. That was one thing I was liking about the x299 direction is that some of those boards had up to 8 slots for ram.

Posted on 2019-11-24 16:55:41

Yea, that is definitely a limitation. However, Ryzen (and all the latest platforms now actually) supports 32GB DIMMs, so even with 4 sticks you can have 128GB of RAM. For Resolve, that should be enough even for 8K projects, although other apps (like Fusion or After Effects) can always benefit from having more RAM so being able to upgrade to 256GB (8x32GB) is a nice option with X299. Expensive, but nice.

Posted on 2019-11-26 20:04:25

Sorry, I don't know much about the specific Asus models. As long as they list support for your Thunderbolt add-on card, you should be OK though.

Posted on 2019-11-25 17:56:12