Building a PC Workstation for Davinci Resolve


(A very nerdy picture of the inside of a PC workstation)

Building a PC Workstation for Davinci Resolve

Good or bad, filmmaking has changed. Digital has, for the most part, superseded analog. In this post I detail the build of a relatively high-end PC designed for low-end use of Davinci Resolve.

I edited one short 16mm film on a flatbed editor, but after that I started editing in Final Cut 7. Now, three or so years later, I’m also going to start using Adobe Premiere to edit, as well as Davinci Resolve for color correction.

Davinci Resolve

Davinci Resolve is a very powerful piece of color correction software that is used to edit high-budget feature films, but is available in a limited version for free (basicaly the “lite” version can’t do noise reduction or use multiple GPUs). Also, the full version comes free, a $995 value, with Black Magic Cinema Cameras.

But in order to use Davinci Resolve, you need a fairly high-end PC, so I decided it was time to invest in a new computer.

I did quite a bit of research, but the best documentation I found was found the Davinci Resolve 9 Configuration for Windows document, which has some hardware recommendations.

Davinci Resolve recommendations for a single shared GPU workstation

On page 18 of that document, Black Magic lists some suggested hardware for a single shared GPU workstation. There is emphasis on the word “shared” here, because Davinci Resolve can use multiple GPUs. But, the average PC cannot really support multiple GPUs, or at least some do it much better than others. Shops that edit 4K footage will be using insanely expensive workstations often with two Red Rocket cards.

It’s beyond the scope of this short blog post as to the technical details regarding multiple GPUs and PCI buses but if you want to read more I suggest taking a look at the configuration document, especially the reasons why they suggest the ASUS P9X79 motherboard.

For now I am running with one shared GPU, an EVGA 660Ti.

Here are Black Magic’s recommendations:

Chassis: Generic ATX chassis such as Cooler Master HAF 932 Advanced

Motherboard: ASUS P9X79 PRO

CPU: Intel Core i7-3960X 3.3 GHz

RAM: 16GB (4 x 4GB RAM)

PC3-12800 DDR3-1600 SDRAM

Hard Disk: SATA 7200 1TB

DVD Drive: DVD-RW drive, SATA, Black

Power Supply: 1000W or greater ATX PSU

such as Corsair Professional Series HX1050

Operating System: Windows 7 Pro with SP1, 64-bit 

Below is the configuration I went with, and if you click this link it will bring you to PC Part Picker which can search Canadian computer part retailers and show the best online prices.

Note that several of these parts were chosen because of their availability at Memory Express. Usually I don’t recommend businesses, but I actually kind of like Memory Express—they have a “System Configurator” option and they will price match any valid Canadian online store, as long as Memory Express has the part in stock. And then, for $40, they will build the system for you, which I think is a great little deal. Plus they are in Edmonton.

CPU: Intel Core i7-3820 3.6GHz Quad-Core Processor 

CPU Cooler: Thermaltake Water 2.0 Performer 81.3 CFM  Liquid CPU Cooler  

Motherboard: Asus P9X79 PRO ATX  LGA2011 Motherboard

Memory: G.Skill Ripjaws X Series 32GB (4 x 8GB) DDR3-1600 Memory

Storage: Crucial M4 512GB 2.5” Solid State Disk

Video Card: EVGA GeForce GTX 660 Ti 3GB Video Card

Case: Cooler Master Silencio 550 (Black) ATX Mid Tower Case

Power Supply: Corsair Professional 1050W 80 PLUS Silver Certified ATX12V / EPS12V Power Supply

This is fairly high-end PC, but what I like about it most is that I should be able to upgrade it over time and increase the period that this computer is useful by a year or two. So while I spent a bit more now, I’ll save a lot later on, as I can add more GPUs, add more memory, and even change the CPU when the faster versions come down in price.

Look for more posts about Davinci Resolve as I learn how to use it. :)

If you have any questions or see any errors, please let me know in the comments.


Posted by: yegfilm on Mon, Jan 21, 2013




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