Optimize DaVinci Resolve’s Performance Like a Pro

DaVinci Resolve is one of the most powerful video editing software on the market, but with great power comes great resource requirements. Editing and rendering high-resolution footage can tax even the latest hardware, resulting in frustrating lag, dropped frames, and crashes.

As a professional video editor, smooth playback and a responsive timeline are critical for an efficient editing workflow. Thankfully, there are several ways to optimize DaVinci Resolve to achieve silky smooth performance by making a few tweaks and upgrades. Follow these tips from the video editing pros to make DaVinci fly through even the most demanding projects.

Upgrade Your Hardware

While the software optimizations discussed below can help, upgraded hardware is the most impactful way to enhance performance.

Focus on GPU and Storage Upgrades

DaVinci Resolve leverages the GPU for many operations, so a powerful discrete graphics card is key. Similarly, fast NVMe SSD storage can vastly improve read/write speeds.

When upgrading:

  • Choose an NVIDIA RTX card for the best DaVinci performance
  • Get the fastest NVMe M.2 SSD your budget allows
  • 32GB+ RAM recommended for 4K+ editing

Benchmark Performance Gains

Be sure to benchmark export and timeline playback times before and after upgrading hardware. Comparing these metrics will clearly demonstrate if upgrades provide meaningful real-world speed improvements.

Enable Proxies for Smooth Playback

Proxies are lower-resolution copies of your full-resolution media that allow for much smoother timeline scrubbing and playback.

To enable proxies in the Delivery tab:

  1. Click Generate Proxy Media
  2. Set proxy resolution
  3. Click Generate Proxies

Generating proxies can be time-consuming, so let it run overnight for large projects. But proxies can improve playback performance by up to 10-15x based on testing.

LowerTimeline Resolution

Even with upgraded hardware, editing and rendering at full 4K or above resolutions can cause performance issues.

DaVinci provides two handy options to lower timeline resolution:

1. Proxy Mode

Enabling Timeline Proxy Mode under the Playback menu drops preview resolution for improved performance but does not affect export quality.

2. Custom Timeline Settings

Right click the timeline in the Media Pool and lower its resolution under custom settings (e.g. to 1080p). Just remember to change it back before exporting master files.

Generate Optimized Media

DaVinci can automatically generate optimized media tailored for smooth editing. Enable this under Project Settings > Master Settings.

Set optimized media to ProRes Proxy or LT for a good balance of quality and performance. Let media generation run overnight before starting edits.

Limit Fusion Effects

DaVinci’s Fusion visual effects tools are incredibly powerful but require a ton of GPU and CPU horsepower. Limit the number of effects on clips wherever possible. For complex effect shots, try rendering that clip instead of applying more effects.

Sequence Rendering

For timelines struggling even with proxies and optimized media, selectively render clips and segments:

  • Render clip Fusion or color grading by right clicking
  • Render In Place intensive sections of the timeline

Rendered clips and segments play back smoothly regardless of effects, transitions, and grading complexity.

Before and After Performance Comparison

Be sure to compare timeline playback and export times before and after using these optimization techniques. Generating metrics clearly demonstrates their impact – allowing you to focus your efforts on the optimizations that provide the biggest real-world speed boost.

By combining selective hardware upgrades with intelligent use of DaVinci’s built-in software optimization features, you can achieve smooth editing and render times – even with the most demanding projects.

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