Best Workstation For DaVinci Resolve
DaVinci Resolve is one of the most powerful and popular tools for post-production and visual effects professionals in Hollywood. The software started over a decade ago as a premium colour grading and correction tool. Since then the platform has evolved to include audio post-production and visual effects. The now comprehensive post product suite is a go-to choice for high-end tv and film creators worldwide.
The varied array of capabilities of DaVinci Resolve makes it very difficult when configuring a Workstation and many guides may seem contradictory because of this. A user working with audio understandably has very different needs to those working on visual effects. In this guide, we break down these complications to give you the information you need to choose the perfect DaVinci Resolve Workstation for your workflow.
What Is The Best CPU For DaVinci Resolve?
Due to the varied nature of tasks DaVinci Resolve can perform, there are two significant components to consider when configuring your next editing Workstation; the CPU and the GPU. Many tasks, such as Audio post, as well as compression and decompression of highly compressed video formats such as H.264 and H.265 files are performed on the CPU. A high-frequency multi-core processor can be a massive benefit to users working on heavily compressed video files.
Raw formats such as DPX or EXR files are less CPU intensive than compressed files. If you only work with raw files, then you may be able to scale back on your CPU performance. Be aware, however, that the large files common with raw formats are demanding on your storage drives, so more memory and higher speed storage are required.
We have found that 10 – 14 high-speed cores are a sweet spot for DaVinci Resolve users. Going beyond this offers minimal benefit and is often a waste, so you should allocate your budget to other areas of your system. Processor options that offer high frequencies around 10-14 cores are the Intel X-Series processors, AMD Ryzen Threadripper processors or the excellent value AMD Ryzen 9 processors. The AMD Ryzen 9 processor range currently gives the best bang for your buck performance in terms of CPU performance in DaVinci Resolve. If strong GPU performance is also critical to you, however, you have limited expansion options with this range compared to X-Series and Threadripper based solutions.
Should You Use Intel Xeon For DaVinci Resolve?
Intel Xeon was a popular choice for DaVinci Resolve users some years ago. The high core counts and a large capacity for GPU expansion they provided made them ideal for DaVinci Resolve. In recent years, however, Intel X-Series and AMD Ryzen Threadripper Workstations have been able to offer plenty of cores, threads and GPU options. When considering the higher clockspeeds and more competitive pricing, the alternatives provide there is no longer a definitive reason to use Intel Xeon processors for DaVinci Resolve.
What GPU should I configure For DaVinci Resolve?
Image editing and visual effects work within DaVinci Resolve are predominantly performed on the GPU. Therefore we recommend allocating a large portion of your budget towards this area. You should also consider that if you are working on Audio post, there is a good chance you will open files that have substantial visual effects applied to them. As a result, your machine also needs to be able to cope with these files.
DaVinci Resolve is a large collection of tools, features and effects, meaning it may vary as to what hardware is best for a particular use case. Your system needs to be able to deliver no matter how you use it, and therefore we recommend a high-end NVIDIA GeForce RTX graphics card. If your budget allows, we would recommend additional cards as DaVinci Resolve can make use of multiple graphics cards. Once you go beyond three, however, performance improvements diminish so you do not receive a good return on your investment.
Should I select NVIDIA Quadro or AMD Radeon Pro Graphics?
Both these professional graphics options are good choices and work very well on DaVinci Resolve. They do not offer as good value for money as NVIDIA GeForce options in terms of raw performance. Professional NVIDIA Quadro and AMD Radeon Pro WX graphics cards do offer robust driver stacks, excellent reliability and far higher VRAM. If you work with very high resolutions projects with many visual effects, then the higher VRAM featured on these cards may be critical to you. If you are working on simpler 2K or even 4K projects, then the NVIDIA GeForce RTX range is generally our recommendation.
How Much Memory (RAM) Do I Need For DaVinci Resolve?
DaVinci Resolve is a memory-intensive application. We generally configure our customer’s workstations with 32GB of memory for 4K and below projects. 64GB is our recommendation for 8K projects, and our workstations are capable of higher capacities should your projects demand even higher.
Best Storage Configuration For a DaVinci Resolve Workstation?
We recommend at least a two-drive configuration for DaVinci Resolve, and high-end users often choose a 3 or even 4 drive configurations to optimise performance further. There are currently 3 major drive choices for professional Workstations:
• NVMe SSD is the fastest and most expensive storage option.
• SATA SSD is a bit cheaper and still offers fantastic speeds.
• Traditional platter HDD is slow but offers huge storage capacities at low prices.
We generally configure our customers DaVinci Resolve Workstations with either an NVMe SSD or SATA SSD as their primary drive. On this drive, we recommend installing the operating system, applications and active project files. For long term storage of project files, a traditional HDD should be configured as a secondary drive.
Users may opt for an additional NVMe or SATA SSD drive to further segregate active project files from your primary drive. For the very best performance possible, a fourth drive may also be installed as a dedicated caching or scratch drive.
High-resolution raw video files are often extremely large. Therefore dedicating a high-speed drive to these files ensures your system has the bandwidth needed to access the data immediately. This enables your powerful CPU and GPU to work at 100% and guarantees they are not waiting for files to load.
Many DaVinci Resolve users make use of more specialist hardware technologies to enhance their workflow. Blackmagic Design range of DeckLink and UltraStudio products amongst other devices are hugely popular among DaVinci Resolve users.
You must make sure you have enough PCIe, thunderbolt and USB connectivity available for such devices to ensure compatibility. Speak to our team of expert technical consultants today to guarantee the compatibility of SDI video, Audio and Colour Grading control panel I/O devices.