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Forums DaVinci Resolve What is the best bang-for-buck computer for Resolve?

  • What is the best bang-for-buck computer for Resolve?

  • Bob Cole

    January 19, 2021 at 7:23 pm

    Sorry for the repeated question, but at least I have a new angle.

    For awhile now, I’ve just accepted the lack of fluent, quick, frame-perfect playback in Resolve. I make a minor change, but can’t see the result of that change until Resolve renders it. The other day, it occurred to me that this should not be so. My first non-linear editor, a very simple program called D/Vision Pro, was actually far better at off-line editing than Resolve. Oh, when was that? A couple of decades ago? And with a very basic computer, by today’s standards.

    For me, smooth, accurate playback – preferably without rendering – is critically important. I want to make little changes, and see the results immediately. daVinci Resolve falls very short of smooth playback. I’ve tried a number of suggestions to improve playback of the timeline. But even with optimized media and reduced resolution, I still see lurching playback which cuts out many frames at a time.

    So I will ask again, but with better focus this time: What is the best bang-for-buck computer for Resolve, given this type of editing: Up to 4 layers of optimized but color-corrected media, and absolutely smooth playback without delay. Off-line quality is perfectly fine; I don’t mind waiting for final output while the computer renders a completed edit. Either Mac or Windows is acceptable. I just want to spend as little as possible, because whatever I get, I have to get a pair of systems.

    Related question: Does the Studio version offer an improvement in performance — or does it make playback even less fluent?

    Thanks for your input.

    Bob C

  • Joseph Owens

    January 19, 2021 at 7:55 pm

    No, not particularly “free”.

    First point of reference should be the BlackMagic Configuration Guide:

    scroll down under “Latest Support Notes” to the guide published for version 15, dated 09 August 2019.

    I’m running version 16 on an iMac 5K with a Thunderbolt / USB3 external media drive and can get reasonable results with a couple of XAVC 4K layers; gets a bit spotty with more than that (mostly in audio interrupt), but turn on “Smart” cache. Also: structure node trees so that anything intense gets taken care of at the beginning of the concatenation and won’t have to be re-rendered if you tweak a secondary *or something* towards the end. The big bottleneck-reliever is always to divide-and-conquer. Share out as much of the processing load as possible so that drives are not being addressed for both input and output (cache should not be on your source drive, that sort of thing). It always helps if your media itself is not so bitrate-dense that the CPU is being dragged down trying to make the initial picture before the float takes it apart again.

    We are *always* skating on thin ice trying to make this thing go fast, so it really helps to spread out the point pressures.


  • Merlin Vandenbossche

    January 19, 2021 at 8:48 pm

    I have found Resolve to be fairly hardware intensive. Once you reach a certain threshold it’s often faster than competitors like Adobe’s software. But below it, it is struggling harder than what the competitors do. I remember a review/benchmark by Max Yuryev of the (old) low-end macbook pro’s for example and it would surprisingly hold up well for FCP X and Premiere but not at all on Resolve. I see students of mine struggle a lot as well with laptops that are <1000 EUR.

    It is generally also very GPU-oriented, so having sufficient power there is always going to be important. Looking for a good experience you could go both PC or Mac:

    Windows: check out some of the benchmarks by Puget Systems inside of their Resolve articles. You can compare what parts perform well compared to others.

    If you are looking for reasonable enough prices, I’d look to have a system built (by a vendor) on Ryzen 5600X or Intel i7 10700k for CPU (both <400 EUR) combined with RTX 2060 or RTX 3060 (you will not yet find the 3060 at normal prices though as they are getting scalped now). Both CPU/GPU perform very well on par with their more expensive counterparts. The get 32 GB of RAM and SSD to load up your software/media.

    Mac: The new M1 macs are actually doing very well. You can get a version of Resolve 17 in beta that works natively on the new architecture. So I would probably consider an M1 Mac Mini or Macbook Pro. The M1 iMacs are coming, but likely at the earliest 6 months away. Buying Intel Macs is bad value now unless you buy a little higher on the ladder like 27-inch iMacs.

  • Marc Wielage

    January 21, 2021 at 3:31 am

    Much good advice above. The cold reality is that while Resolve may “appear” to be inexpensive (either using the free or the $299 version), the fact is if you expect really fast performance with large files, you need to throw a lot of hardware at it. I’m guessing we have somewhere north of $60,000′ worth of hardware to get what we need out of Resolve, but we do some fairly demanding projects. (And without too much trouble, you could easily go way over six figures, particularly for Dolby Vision or projection applications.)

    I think it’s possible to do low-end stuff in Resolve if you just work with very simple, low-compression HD files and don’t push the material too hard. I routinely do little tinkertoy things on my 16″ MacBook Pro, and both Resolve 16 and 17 have been very fast and responsive. It’s rare I do 4K there, but the 2K ProRes 444 stuff works fine and is very quick.

    Jason Bowdach did a one-hour webinar over on MixingLight awhile back which was all about “performance optimization” with Resolve. I think a lot of what he says makes sense, and he might give you some insight as to why things are slower in one program (or with certain kinds of material) than another.

  • Jeff Kirkland

    January 26, 2021 at 12:36 pm

    I guess we’d also have to ask what codecs you’re working with and what sort of computer you’re editing on now. My 2013 Mac Pro has no problem with three or four streams of colour corrected 4k video (h.264, ProRes HQ/422 and Blackmagic Raw). Smooth playback that starts when I press play and I rarely have to render. My Apple Silicon Mac Mini is even faster and smoother.

    It’s been a while since I’ve been on the COW so I may have missed prior discussions but I’d suspect the bottleneck is the hardware it’s running on rather than Resolve itself.

  • Michael Reed

    February 2, 2021 at 10:44 pm

    Your comment” My first non-linear editor, a very simple program called D/Vision Pro, was actually far better at off-line editing than Resolve. Oh, when was that? A couple of decades ago? And with a very basic computer, by today’s standards” is very strange.

    Decades ago you’d have been working with lower resolution video, possibly at lower framerates, very unlikely to have been using VFX/motion graphics etc.

    It’s not at all a useful comparison.

  • Matthew Macar

    February 4, 2021 at 8:39 pm

    Hey Bob, without knowing your specs or what kind of media you’re playing back tough to say, but I’ve typically found that even when I’m on a high-performing system but having playback inconsistency, the problem is typically hard drive speed. If you’re editing off of a WD passport drive, not gonna work. An SSD? Different story.

  • Tristan Summers

    February 5, 2021 at 12:55 pm

    transcode to pro res and you can probably run it on your iWatch. Leave it as h264 and you will need a fast processor. smoothest playback I got was from a 4x ioFX raid0.

    currently I would say (as in , if my machine died today, I would buy!)…

    Processor : Threadripper pro 3995

    RAM: 128GB

    GPU: RTX 3080

    Storage : 4 x Corsair MP600 RAID 0

    Decklink 4K Extreme

    Is a good place to start!

    MOBO for the threadripper Pro should allow quad channel Ram and throughput to RAID should be pure PCIe

    Bottom line. If it is laggy you need to transcode. Camera compressed data needs a fast processor with a large cache

    side note: Afterburner card only helps with Pro Res Raw.

  • Adriano Castaldini

    February 9, 2021 at 3:33 pm

    Hi, I run Davinci 17 on an hackintosh. I work mainly on cDNG 14-bit RAW uncompressed 2K-flat (scaling original HD to 2K flat).

    Main issues I experienced with Davinci are: GPU and drive-speed.
    For this reason I set my hackintosh in this way:
    -CPU: old i7 EXTREME 10-core 6950X;
    -MB: old Gigabyte X99P SLI (with 1x TB3);
    -Ram: 64 GB;
    -2 GPUs: 2x Radeon VII;
    -ssd-OS: Samsung EVO 1TB nvme-M2;
    -ssd-scratch/data: raid-PCIe (
    HighPoint SSD7101A-1) with 4x 2TB Samsung EVO nvme-M2 (tot. 8TB) RAID-0;
    -Decklink Mini Monitor 4K.

    The 2 GPUs and the RAID-0 HighPoint are the 2 main strengths of my setup.

    Obviously I have also external storage connected via thunderbolt: 2x G-Speed Studio 48TB raid where I store all the footage. But I DON’T use the external raid for editing/grading. For that I use only the HighPoint internal raid.

    I hope I was helpful

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