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Does DaVinci Resolve process efficiently?

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Joe Myles
Does DaVinci Resolve process efficiently?
on Nov 21, 2016 at 12:11:51 pm


In my quest to find an editor that suits me I was quite taken with my recent trial of the free edition of DaVinci Resolve. However, I'm a bit concerned about whether it's going to wear out my hardware from the amount the fans kick on the simplest of tasks. I have less than ideal hardware, sure (a 2014 mbp*), but activity monitor shows Resolve 12.5.3 using 200% CPU just playing back ProRes 1080p clips on the timeline. No effects or nodes have been added. Clips match the project settings. My 2006 mbp could do this in FCP7 without the fans kicking in. FCPX barely used any CPU doing this on the same machine.

Any worries about my current hardware limitations were about struggling with additional effects or nodes but I'm a bit baffled as to how simply playing a clip that's appearing scaled down in the viewer is eating that much CPU and kicking in the fans after 20 seconds of playback. Nothing is rendering or caching as I'm playing back. I haven't changed any settings from defaults but have noted they already match recommended settings in articles on DaVinci using hardware resources. If I leave the program idle it still eats 40 - 50% cpu.

This is specific to my current hardware, yes, but it's a broader question that would make me question using the software with better hardware if I knew it was using it pretty inefficiently. I've hard that Resolve is very GPU orientated but is this so much the case that it's sacrificed any efficient use of the CPU?

*Hardware, more specifically is:
Quad 2.5 GHz Intel Core i7
16gb ram
nVidia GeForce GT 750m 2gb

I tried posting this on the official forum but it was never posted after saying it needed to be cleared by a moderator so I thought I'd try here. Thanks for any opinions.

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Joseph Owens
Re: Does DaVinci Resolve process efficiently?
on Nov 21, 2016 at 7:28:32 pm

The core media engine in Resolve is fundamentally different than the playback approach that NLEs are equipped with. Essentially, they are glorified media players that allow you to re-arrange how the clips follow each other and select portions of the media to exhibit.

Resolve is closer to being a VFX processor than anything else, as it presents a float-computed whole-frame RGB image to the application. That's what you need to do in order to re-define the values and positions of every pixel. Up until very recently, real-time color correction was confined to very expensive hardware solutions simply because the sustained bitrate through storage, processing and display could only be supplied by a combination of hardware and weapons-grade servers. Not so much anymore, the efficiencies for this task have been found, although the requirement is still profound, and the bigger and faster your hardware is, the closer you will get to a real-time solution. Much of the image processing does take place on the GPU. Having several available in a system is the target configuration. CPU still does most of the image decoding, so if you are stuck with a relatively low-performing mother board, the application will have trouble with both ends of the file-size spectrum. That is, huge files (4K RGB dpx image sequences vs. extremely highly compressed Long-GOP Quicktimes) will both cause your system to either bog down or over-stress. There is a sweet spot with ProRes and DnX-type middle-compression codecs.


"I always pass on free advice -- its never of any use to me" Oscar Wilde.

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