So, you decided to finally switch to Davinci Resolve or simply new to editing and color grading. In this little article, I am going to talk about what things you need to know before pulling the trigger. First, let me be clear, that this article aimed at the beginners and intermediate professionals “aka freelancers”, so before you continue make sure you one of them.
Let’s talk about the real-life system requirements. On paper, requirements seem to be pretty low and I know many people even using their laptops to do the work, now that doesn’t mean you should. Davinci is resources hungry. Everything about that program is interlinked. If you can get away with weak components but the strong processor let’s say… in Photoshop, that may not be the case here. Let me break things down for you. Obviously the better and faster components you have the smoother things going to run.
That brings me to Hard Drives aka SSD, NVME drives. 4K becoming default standard and fast drives are the wheels of the system. At this point, you no longer can get away with standard hard drive disks. They are slow and can’t provide real time playback performance. If you planning on using them, prepare for the big bottleneck. Not being able to see real time frame rate playback will make you make tons of mistakes and extra time going back and forward. I been color grading for 8 years now and can tell you that if playback is choppy, you missing around 50% of the real image.
That brings me to the second most important thing is your graphics card, at this point, you must have a bare minimum of 6gb of VRAM in order to keep up with the progress. Graphics card is being used during the project playback along with the processor depending on what source format it is. In most cases, at around 4-6K resolution, for example, graphics card like Nvidia 1080TI will have about 80-90% use, just for simple playback. Now, add noise remove and decent color grading to it, and you will find yourself in the big mess. Again that will lead to bottleneck and things will go downhill from there.
CPU is the next very important component that sparks debate across the web. By default, many people assume that Xeon is the best default choice…Sure it will give you extra PCI lanes and tons of cores…HOWEVER! Color Grading and Editing Programs are not optimized to take advantage of the large numbers of cores architecture, but rather prefer fewer cores and faster performance per core. Despite false narrative on many platforms, those programs simply don’t benefit from Xeon architecture. If you do CGI and VFX, or some kind of other large computing than Xeons are the perfect choice for you. That being said, at this point, your bare minimum option is at least intel i7 6x series and higher. CPU needs to handle all operations quickly and provide enough support for all components to run smoothly. I recommend a bare minimum of 6 cores CPU and preferably overclocked to at least 4.00ghz for better operation.
Finally, the fourth most important component is the RAM. For 1080p, 16gb of 2300mhz or faster speeds will do the job, but for 4k playback, you want to have between 32gb-64gb. Faster the speed is better obviously but make sure motherboard and CPU support that speed, otherwise overclocking above supported speed may cause a lot of stability issues.
If you have weak components, you can use few secrets to make your playback real time. Check out this video below.
Using Dual Monitor with Davinci Resolve
A very common question about using the second screen for DaVinci Resolve. I hate to break your bubble, but as of right now you cannot do that. However, rumors that blackmagic team is working on it, and maybe will have it possible to run the second screen over graphics card ports. Now! if you really need to use external, or reference display for DaVinci Resolve, you must have what’s called a Decklink Card. Basically, to make explanation simple, that card goes to your PCI port, and it bypasses system color management and outputs pure 10bit signal without contaminating it with operating system color management.
Hopefully this little article was helpful to you guys and if you like to see my setup that I just build for 4k, I will put link over here.