GPU & DaVinci Resolve (9 Things Most Beginners Don’t Know)

gpu davinci resolve

There are a lot of questions and doubts around GPU in DaVinci Resolve, especially for beginners.

There are differences in how DaVinci Resolve Studio (paid version) and the free version use GPU.

Today, we’ll see the differences and answers to the beginners’ questions.

Let’s dive right in!


Table Of Contents


How Do I Use My Graphics Card in DaVinci Resolve?

First, make sure DaVinci Resolve recognizes your graphics card (also known as GPU).

From the menu “DaVinci Resolve” -> “Preferences” -> “System” -> “Memory and GPU” -> under “GPU configuration”, check whether or not your graphics card is displayed.

If you have your graphics card displayed, then read:

How to Make DaVinci Resolve Use GPU (Helpful Tips!)


DaVinci Resolve is Not Using My GPU

If it does not display your GPU in the “Memory and GPU” section in the “Preferences” window, then either you have a very old graphics card or the Nvidia or AMD drivers do not meet the minimum requirements.

In these cases, Resolve doesn’t recognize your GPU.

As per BlackMagic, after DaVinci Resolve 16.2.7 (including DaVinci Resolve 17), your Nvidia card should have a compute capability of 3.5 and above.

Read the section “How to Check your Nvidia GPU Card is Supported by DaVinci Resolve?” from the below article for more information:

Most Common DaVinci Resolve GPU Issues (& How to Fix Them)

If your GPU is displayed, then make sure in the “Preferences” window -> “Memory and GPU” -> under “GPU Configuration”, you have unchecked “Auto” and select either “AMD” or “Nvidia” based on your graphics card. Also uncheck “Auto” for “GPU Selection” and manually check your graphics card from the list.

The important point here is to not let Resolve auto select, which can cause your integrated gpu (like intel graphics or amd graphics) being selected.

This setting will ensure image processing is taken care by your discrete graphics card.


Can I Use DaVinci Resolve Without Using GPU?

It is not possible to use DaVinci Resolve without using GPU (including the integrated GPU). DaVinci Resolve will need either a discrete GPU or integrated GPU.

You should be aware that DaVinci Resolve squarely gives the image processing and realtime playback responsibilities to GPU. CPU takes care of decoding and encoding.

Naturally, without a discrete GPU, it makes sense that your post production might suffer (unless you have a beefier CPU) which involves editing, color grading, applying effects, transitions, OFX plugins, etc, where your integrated gpu is used.

In many cases, Resolve might not start at all without a discrete GPU.

Even if you navigate to the menu “DaVinci Resolve” -> “Preferences” window -> “Memory and GPU” -> under “GPU Configuration”, if you uncheck “Auto” against “GPU Selection” and deselect your discrete GPU, the integrated gpu will be disabled. (You won’t be able to select it).

When you try to click save, Resolve will throw an error saying “Please set GPU selection mode to ‘Auto’ or select at least 1 GPU“.


Does DaVinci Resolve Support Nvidia NVENC and AMD VCE?

DaVinci Resolve supports both Nvidia and AMD encoders, namely NVENC and VCE, respectively. GPUs supporting NVENC and VCE have dedicated hardware for encoding purposes only.


Does DaVinci Resolve Use CUDA and OpenCL?

DaVinci Resolve makes use of GPUs that support CUDA (Nvidia graphics card) and OpenCL (AMD graphics cards) programming framework.

More specifically, Nvidia GPUs must support CUDA 11 (compute capability 3.5 and above), AMD GPUs must support OpenCL 1.2.

The more the number of Nvidia CUDA cores or AMD shaders, the faster the GPU.


Does DaVinci Free Version have Nvidia and AMD Encoders?

For Windows and Linux, DaVinci Resolve free version doesn’t support Nvidia and AMD encoders. But the paid version (Studio) does support them.

For Mac, the DaVinci Resolve free version does support Nvidia and AMD encoders.

davinci-resolve-codec-support-1

The encoders option gets enabled when H.264 or H.265 codecs are selected for encoding (or rendering).


How to Use Nvidia Or AMD Encoder in DaVinci Resolve Studio?

  • Go to “Deliver” tab.
  • Under “Video” tab, select your required format (Quicktime or MP4)
  • Select codec (H.264 or H.265).
  • After selecting either H.264 or H.265, a new dropdown “Encoder” will be displayed.
  • Under the “Encoder“, select “Nividia” (or “Amd” as per your GPU), instead of “Native”.
  • Update other settings as usual and start the render process.

The “Encoder” setting will make sure your Nvidia or AMD GPU is used for encoding (or rendering). The rendering is faster when done through hardware encoders.


DaVinci Resolve Studio Version Doesn’t Display Encoder Option

If you have the paid Studio version and don’t see “Encoder” option, then it could be due to:

  • “Encoder” option will be displayed only for H.264 or H.265 codecs. Selecting other codecs like “DNxHD”, “GoPro Cineform”, will not activate “Encoder” dropdown (it will not be displayed).
  • The GPU doesn’t support encoders for Nvidia or AMD. Either because the GPU is too old and has a compute capability of 3.5 and less, or the video driver doesn’t meet the minimal requirement. (Check this article for more information “Most Common DaVinci Resolve GPU Issues (& How to Fix Them)“)

DaVinci Resolve Native vs Nvidia Encoder

Native EncoderNvidia Encoder
Studio (paid) only version.Studio (paid) only version.
Gets activated when H.264 or H.265 codecs are selected for encoding.Gets activated when H.264 or H.265 codecs are selected for encoding.
Also known as Software encodingAlso known as Hardware encoding
Makes use of CPU for renderingMakes use of GPU for rendering
Rendering is slowRendering is faster

The main reason Nvidia or AMD encoder is selected because your dedicated GPU hardware can take up the task of encoding from the CPU. Especially GPUs having NVENC (Nvidia) and VCE (AMD) support have dedicated encoding hardware for H.264 and H.265, which speeds up the rendering process.


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