Hardware Recommendations for DaVinci Resolve:
While Blackmagic maintains a Hardware Selection and Configuration Guide for DaVinci Resolve 15 that is much better than the simple "Hardware Requirements" list most developers provide, it contains some information that in our experience is either dated or simply not the best practice for a solid and reliable workstation. In addition, it lacks specific information on performance between different hardware options such as what the benefit actually is between different models or numbers of GPUs.
To offset this missing information, we've taken the time to perform our own testing to determine both what hardware runs DaVinci Resolve the best and exactly what kind of performance you can expect from different hardware options.
While DaVinci Resolve heavily relies on the performance of your GPU (especially when using OpenFX or noise reduction), the processor (or CPU) is still a critical component in your system. While many other parts of the system impact performance to some degree, the CPU is the core piece of hardware that is a part of absolutely anything and everything you do. Note that while Dual Xeon workstations used to be ideal for DaVinci Resolve in the past as they were often required for higher GPU counts, recent changes in both hardware and software make this no longer the case. In nearly every instance, a single Core i9 workstation should easily match a Dual Xeon system at a much lower cost.
What CPU is best for color grading and editing in DaVinci Resolve?
The best CPU for Resolve depends primarily on how much GPU power you have in your system. If you have a single GPU, then even a mid-range CPU is going to be just fine, but if you have two or three GPUs you will see a performance boost when using a higher-end processor.
Overall, however, the AMD Threadripper 3970X and 3960X give the best performance in DaVinci Resolve, although the Intel X-series processors are terrific for their price.
What CPU is best for Fusion?
Fusion was integrated into DaVinci Resolve relatively recently, and currently is quite a bit different than the rest of Resolve. Here, you are better off with a CPU that has a high frequency than one with a lot of cores. In fact, the AMD Ryzen 9 3900X will easily match or outperform any Intel X-series or AMD Threadripper CPU.
Do more CPU cores make DaVinci Resolve faster?
To a certain extent, more cores should improve performance, although more complex projects with OpenFX and noise reduction will often be influenced more by the performance of your GPU(s) than your processor. In addition, Resolve is in many ways a collection of different software packages combined together and some (like Fusion) much prefer a CPU with higher pre-core performance than one with a lot of cores.
Keep in mind that core count is just one of many different specifications that affect performance. Because of this, we highly recommend that you look at straight benchmark performance for different CPUs rather than trying to pick a CPU based on core count (or any other specification) alone.
Full benchmark and test data available in our article:
DaVinci Resolve Studio CPU performance: Intel Core X-10000 vs AMD Threadripper 3rd Gen
Recent DaVinci Resolve CPU articles:
DaVinci Resolve heavily leverages the video card(s) in your system to improve playback and rendering performance. Because of this, your choice of GPU has a direct impact on how well your system performs. One key thing to note is that while the Free Edition of Resolve can utilize powerful cards like the RTX 2080, it is limited to just a single GPU. The Studio Edition, however, can technically utilize up to eight GPUs - although in our testing the performance typically peaks at around 3-4 GPUs.
In addition, the Studio version includes GPU-accelerated H.264 encoding and decoding which can often result in a signficiant increase in performance when working with that type of media.
What GPU (video card) is best for DaVinci Resolve?
DaVinci Resolve benefits greatly from using a GPU and currently the NVIDIA RTX 2080 Ti is the best card you can get for Resolve - followed closely by the RTX 2080.
If you are on a bit more of a budget, the AMD Radeon Vega cards do very well for their price, although even the Radeon Vega (the fastest Radeon card currently offered by AMD) is easily beaten by the more expensive NVIDIA cards.
Will multiple GPUs improve performance in DaVinci Resolve?
Yes! As long as you are using DaVinci Resolve Studio, we have measured a performance gain of up to 75% when adding a second GPU, and a further 50% after that when adding a third. In most cases, however, we have seen little benefit to using four GPUs unless you are using relatively low-end cards.
However, since Resolve does not scale perfectly with multiple cards, at times a single GPU like the RTX 2080 Ti will be both faster and cheaper than dual RTX 2080 cards. In addition, some aspects of Resolve (most notably the Fusion tab) can only effectively use a single GPU even if you have Resolve Studio.
How much VRAM (video card memory) does DaVinci Resolve need?
Straight performance is not the only thing to consider when choosing a GPU, it is also essential that your video card has enough VRAM or video card memory for your projects. This can change based on the length and complexity of your timeline or grade, but in general we recommend having at least the following amounts of VRAM depending on the resolution of your footage:
|Minimum VRAM capacity||4GB||8GB||20GB+|
Does VRAM add together with multiple GPUs?
At the moment, if you have two GPUs with 8GB of VRAM you still only get 8GB of usable video memory. The reason for this is that in order for each GPU to do it's share of the processing, it needs to have access to all of the data, so each card needs to have it's own copy. This may change in the future with new technology like NVLink on the NVIDIA RTX cards, but at the moment this is not a feature available in DaVinci Resolve.
Does DaVinci Resolve need a Quadro card?
DaVinci Resolve works great with a Quadro card, but for most users a GeForce card is the better option. Not only are GeForce cards much more affordable, they are able to match or beat the performance of the Quadro cards. However, the main benefit to using a Quadro is that you can get much higher VRAM capacities which can be essential for those working with 8K media.
Can you mix GeForce and Quadro cards?
Technically, yes. However, while Resolve itself should work just fine as long as you have it configured correctly, many other applications (especially ones from Adobe like Photoshop) tend to get confused and can give errors with mixed GPU configurations. Because of this and general driver conflicts that can occur, we recommend against doing so if possible.
Is DaVinci Resolve faster with NVIDIA or AMD?
Dollar-for-dollar, we have found that AMD cards tend to give slightly higher performance in Resolve. However, most AMD GPUs are really only equivalent (both in price and performance) to a mid-range GeForce card like the GTX 2070. If your budget allows for a higher-end GPU, you should get better performance by using an NVIDIA video card.
Does DaVinci Resolve support NVLink?
No, NVLink does not work in DaVinci Resolve 15.1.2 and will actually significantly reduce performance! Right now, in order to enable NVLink you have to enable SLI which currently means that Resolve can only effectively see and use one of the two installed GPUs. This means that even if you have two GPUs, with NVLink on you will only get the performance of one of those cards.
How do I get 10-bit HDMI or SDI display support for DaVinci Resolve?
While all the video cards in our DaVinci Resolve workstations support 10-bit displays, if color accuracy is concern we recommend using a Blackmagic Decklink Mini Monitor 4K and the Studio 4K 6G-SDI PCI-E cards. These video monitoring cards are specifically designed to deliver unaltered video signals to your display, resulting in the best possible video and color quality. Note that you will need a dedicated, highly accurate display that is capable of handling the FPS and resolution of your project in order to take full advantage of these cards
Full results including playback FPS and Fusion scores is available in our article:
DaVinci Resolve 15: NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2080 & 2080 Ti Performance
Full results including playback FPS and Fusion scores is available in our article:
DaVinci Resolve 15: NVIDIA Quadro RTX Performance
Recent DaVinci Resolve GPU articles:
The exact amount of RAM you need is going to depend on the resolution, length, and complexity of your project, but Resolve in general is fairly light on RAM requirements. However, keep in mind that if you often work with multiple programs at the same time, you may want to have even more RAM in your system as each program will need its own chunk of RAM.
How much RAM does DaVinci Resolve need?
The exact amount you need will depend on exactly what you are doing, but we do have a general guideline depending on the different resolutions you work with:
|Minimum RAM capacity||32GB||64GB+|
Storage is a commonly overlooked aspect of a video editing workstation. While the CPU or video card may be what does all the processing, if your storage isn't able to keep up it doesn't matter how fast those components are. What makes storage complicated is the fact that not only do you have to deal with the various types of drives available today, you also want to have them configured in a way that will maximize performance in DaVinci Resolve
What type of storage drive should I use for DaVinci Resolve?
There are three main types of drives you might use for a video editing workstation: SSD, NVMe, and the traditional platter drive. Of these three, traditional platter drives are the slowest but are extremely affordable and available in much larger capacities than SSD or NVMe drives. Due to this, they make excellent long-term storage drives, but in most cases are not ideal to working directly off of.
SSDs are several times faster than a platter drive but are also more expensive. These drives are excellent for a wide range of tasks such as holding your OS and applications, storing media and projects you are actively working on, or as a cache/scratch drive.
NVMe drives come in two flavors (M.2 and U.2), but either one will be significantly faster than even an SSD drive. They are about 30% more expensive than an SSD, but in return are up to five times faster! However, in most cases you will not see much of a performance increase with a NVMe drive since a modern standard SSD is already fast enough that it is rarely a performance bottleneck. High bitrate footage (~2,000 mbps or higher) is typically the only time where having your media on NVMe drive is necessary for DaVinci Resolve.
What storage configuration works best in DaVinci Resolve?
While you could get by with just a single drive, we recommend a two to four hard drive configuration depending on your budget and desired performance level:
- Primary Drive - OS/Software (SSD) - Includes your operating system and the base DaVinci Resolve installation. An SSD is highly recommended as it will greatly improve how fast the OS and programs startup, but there is usually not much of a performance benefit to upgrade to a faster NVMe drive.
- Secondary Drive - Project Files (SSD/M.2 NVMe) - If possible, it is a good idea to separate your project files and disk cache onto a secondary drive. For most users a standard SSD will work fine, but if you work with high bitrate RAW footage there can be a large performance benefit to using a M.2 NVMe drive.
- Optional Tertiary Drive - Dedicated Media Cache/Scratch (SSD/M.2 NVMe) - Using a dedicated SSD for your media cache and scratch files can at times improve performance when playing and scrubbing through compositions. Upgrading to an even faster NVMe drive can give some performance gains, but the difference is more pronounce in other applications like After Effects.
- Optional Storage Drive (Platter) - For long term storage where the high speed of SSDs is typically not required, a larger traditional platter hard drive is a good choice as they are still much cheaper per GB than SSDs.
Can you work from an external drive for DaVinci Resolve?
Technically, you could keep your footage and projects on an external drive and edit directly from that drive. However, this is one of the most common causes of performance and stability issues we hear about from our customers. We highly recommend having a large enough internal drive so that you can copy all your files to a local drive before editing. External drives are terrific for backup and archiving, but not ideal to work off of.
While audio may not be the primary concern for all video editors and colorists, depending what you are doing in DaVinci Resolve it can be a critical part of your editing workstation. There are a wide range of audio options to choose from including the onboard audio that is built into the motherboard, a discrete PCI-E sound card, or a USB DAC
Is onboard audio good enough for DaVinci Resolve?
The quality of onboard audio that comes on most motherboards has improved dramatically over the years. However, since the audio chip is on the same PCB as the rest of the motherboard, there can sometimes be issues with signal noise which can degrade the audio quality. This is not a factor if you use digital outputs for stereo or 5.1, but if you use headphones or analog speakers the quality may not be as good as what other dedicated audio devices can provide.
Is a PCI-E sound card or USB DAC better for DaVinci Resolve??
USB DAC's are currently our top recommendation for editing/grading workstations. Not only is the quality excellent, but there are rarely any driver conflicts with DaVinci Resolve and there are a wide range of options to choose from depending on the inputs and outputs you need. While Sound cards can provide excellent sound quality at a relatively low cost, the required software is often bloated and can sometimes cause issues with Resolve.
Looking for a DaVinci Resolve Workstation?
Puget Systems offers a range of workstations that are tailor-made for your unique workflow. Our goal is to provide the most effective and reliable system possible so you can concentrate on your work and not worry about your computer.