There is tons of information published online about general computer configuration for Davinci Resolve, but from personal experience, it appears that most of it a little bit misleading in terms of what you really need. In this article, I am going to give you some inside specs of the decent system that you can build and start taking paid jobs
To begin let’s make it clear, that color grading business is not cheap, meaning that you can’t do real work on the weak system. What do I mean by real work? Well…something that plays back pretty fast, without waiting or glitching every second. Also, keep in mind that editing requires way less processing power than color grading. Many modern decent computers even including laptops can easily edit 1080p, some may even 4k. Color Grading work, however, requires different algorithm, so it needs more juice. Let’s break down some configuration and see how much it’s gonna cost to make a decent computer ready for serious work.
QUICK NOTE: If budget is not an issue for you, just go ahead and get top line products, you won’t regret it.
Let’s start with CPU choice. Thre are tons of options on the market. we have Intel and AMD are main competitors. I personally always been leaning towards Intel Processors, as in my personal experience, they are much more stable and give much better performance. I had multiple AMD processors and had a lot of issues with performance, but that just personal experience. There is a really great website out there CPU Benchmark it provides good data performance for you to compare what CPU you want to buy. We can see that sometimes expensive processors are just couple points ahead of something that cost twice cheaper. So the decision is on you. One important tip I’m gonna give you, that programs like Davinci Resolve like more cores, rather than clock speed. In the perfect world, a good combination is a jackpot!! Keep in mind that building a system is like a good blend, you want to make sure your processor going to support video cards you going to install and the amount of ram. Do you RESEARCH!
This one is easier! As of right now, July 2017, you want to have at least 4gb of graphic memory, preferably 8gb. Things moving forward quickly, a good starting graphic card is GTX1070, it delivers great performance and sort of bang for the buck! Check out performance on this website over here! VideoCardBenchmark
All About RAM !!!
RAM is very important I’m color grading, for bare minimum you want to have at least 16gb of ram installed in your system, on a realistic note you should have 32gb for comfortable work. If you can afford 64gb, you going to be golden!
For color grading platform, I suggest you only use SSD drives, aka solid state disks. They deliver fast performance up to 500+mb/sec, and great to use without any complicated raid setups, plus they don’t have any mechanical parts, so you won’t be waiting on regular mechanical hard drive spinning etc… I still use old school hard drives for storage, but have it disconnected when I work. Remember ! Your computer works as fast as the slowest component!
Here things getting a little bit complicated, ideally here is what you must have at bare minimum.
IPS technology display
Minimum 100% SRBG color
and Must have a proper calibration tool (color munki, or spyder) are good options on the budget.
In one of my previous articles, I provided an example of a good website that tests common consumer tv, so there is plenty of options to choose from.
One last and a very important component is to have Decklink Card, that will output signal to your dedicated monitor. Watch my youtube tutorial, I explain this process in details.
You can build pretty decent machine for about $1500, if you planning on hitting color grading and editing work seriously, entire setup should cost you about $3000-$6000 for a decent machine.
Image courtesy of Blackmagic Design