DaVinci Resolve System Requirements
DaVinci Resolve is an amazing and powerful piece of software, however just installing the software does not constitute a workable system. Resolve is one of the most resource intensive applications you can use and will bring any unprepared system to its knees.
UPDATE: DaVinci Resolve version 12.5 is out and adds some amazing new features and functionality. However, the system and technical requirements are largely the same as for version 12.
Please download and read the DaVinci Resolve 12 Configuration Guide. Everything I’m summarising here is stated in more specific detail in the official configuration guide.
The point is not to call you out about your hardware, but to help you understand there are some minimum requirements if you want to get the most out of Resolve.
Proxies and Timeline Resolution
First a quick note about expectations and real world needs. For most of us there is little real need for real-time 4K playback unless you’re monitoring in 4K. Even if your media is 4K+ resolution and you intend to render at 4K, you can easily edit in an HD resolution timeline and make far more efficient use of your system resources where real-time playback is essential.
One of the most powerful features of Resolve is how quickly you can change timeline resolution non destructively, and for RAW formats you can change decode or playback debayer resolution. This allows you to drop resolution to ensure playback performance for editing, and then ramp it back up for grading where real-time playback is not so critical.
In situations where even dropping debayer and/or timeline resolution still doesn’t result in real-time playback on a particular system, you can make lower resolution proxies of your high res camera source files for your edit and work with your original full res camera files for grading and delivery.
Resolve’s render cache is also a very useful tool enabling a background render of a particular shot, sequence, or even an entire timeline to a intermediary codec to ensure real-time playback. I wrote up a quick guide to optimized media, smart cache and proxy mode here on cinema5d – Three Tips to Boost DaVinci Resolve Performance
It’s ALL About The GPU
DaVinci Resolve offloads intensive image processing to the GPU. It also employs YRGB 32-bit floating point processing for exceptional color precision.
Your GPU is everything! It is more important than your CPU or system RAM (both of which should not be skimped on either).
This should be a dedicated GPU just for image processing in addition to the graphics card running your desktop GUI (user interface). In the case that you are using a laptop or any system with a single, or integrated GPU you can still run Resolve, but performance will be compromised compared to a dual or multi-GPU system.
512MB – Forget about it.
1GB – You’ll be okay with basic HD ProRes work, checking RAW files but avoid noise reduction and optical flow.
1.5GB – Approaching the absolute minimum to use Resolve with some level of complexity in HD. Noise reduction and optical flow will still be problematic. I’ve made a 1.5GB Intel Iris Pro GPU work well on a iMac and managed to render a full 4K delivery (no noise reduction or optical flow speed changes): 4K Post Workflow for Cinema DNG RAW on Entry Level iMac
2GB – A comfortable HD experience, limited 4K work.
4GB – Minimum for comfortable 4K work.
6GB – You can tackle pretty much everything a project is likely to require.
8GB+ – You can actually tackle everything any project is likely to require.
Bottom line, if you’re looking at a new system and you’re working mostly in HD, I’d recommend a minimum of 2GB GPU memory. Performance also depends on the resolution of your media, the resolution of your timeline and the codecs of the media you are using. The Nvidia GeForce GTX GPU’s offer excellent value for money, see my article: The Best GPU for DaVinci Resolve | Nvidia Quadro vs GeForce GTX
The next biggest issue is how fast Resolve can read media from your storage. Expecting real-time playback performance with heavy high res RAW media stored on a single internal spinning hard disk is madness. It’s completely impossible. If you’re considering a laptop, make sure it has SSD or PCIe flash storage, or you connect fast external media storage via Thunderbolt or USB 3.
SSD drives and RAID arrays are the only solution unless you’re connected to a SAN or fast NAS, and there are so many options at the moment. Using an internal SSD or two in a RAID 0 configuration is perfect, but you’ll have limited total capacity. External SSD’s provided they are Thunderbolt or at least USB 3 can also work.
External desktop Thunderbolt RAID arrays are perfect solutions for a single system, or you can configure a RAID internally as long as your system chassis has at least four drive bays free and you have a motherboard supporting hardware RAID, or a PCIe slot free for a dedicated RAID controller card.
Generally speaking, your GPU and storage are the primary key factors you have to address with any system you expect to run DaVinci Resolve. Secondary to that, your CPU and system RAM are also important, you should be on 16GB of system RAM at least, 8GB is an absolute bare minimum.
These are the basic facts if you expect to get any real work done with DaVinci Resolve.
Heres the link to download the official DaVinci Resolve 12 Configuration Guide
XAVC / XAVC-S / AVCHD / H.264 and DaVinci Resolve
Are You A Sony A7Sii Shooter? or are you working with H.264 based formats like XAVC, XAVC-S or AVCHD?
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