Buying A Workstation PC

Imagine your PC as an artist’s canvas. As a hobbyist or enthusiast content creator, your workstation represents both your brushes and your paints. The more capable your workstation, the more paints and brushes you have at your disposal, allowing your skills and imagination to flourish, free of limitations and restrictions. As a creative professional, a PC is more than just your tool. It’s your livelihood. If you earn a living from the work performed on your PC, look at the purchase of Photoshop and Lightroom workstations as an investment.

The ideal workstation is powerful, reliable, and most importantly, well-optimized. At MAINGEAR, we recognize that our creative users all have specific needs. A sculptor wouldn’t use tools designed for a painter, and that’s why it’s important that your PC is tailor made for the software you use every day. Regardless of your price point, whether you’re a hobbyist or a professional, we’ve got the perfect system for you, and as always, MAINGEAR PCs ship 100% bloatware-free, with unrivaled craftsmanship and support.

Optimizing Your Workstation For Davinci Resolve

Davinci Resolve

Video editing is one of the more demanding tasks you can throw at a PC. An inadequate workstation won’t just slow you down, it could impede your ability to get work done at all. Blackmagic Design’s DaVinci Resolve editing suite is an extremely well-optimized and robust piece of software, giving users 8K video editing, color grading, visual effects, and audio post-production all under one room, all one click away. It’s industry-leading collaboration tools allow for an entire team to work on various parts of the project all at the same time. If you’ve ever used DaVinci, you’ll see why it’s becoming the standard for high end post-production and finishing on more Hollywood feature films, television shows and commercials than any other software.

Part of the reason for its success is due to its excellent optimization. Two main things separate DaVinci Resolve from programs like Adobe Premiere: scalability and hardware usage.  Unlike Premiere, where nearly all video effects and playback are taken on by the CPU, in DaVinci Resolve, all image processing is performed on the GPU. This is important to note, and we’ll dive deeper in the graphics card section. To the point of scalability, DaVinci Resolve performance improves substantially as you increase cores to your CPU and graphics card. Even adding a 2nd or 3rd graphics card will show gains of up to 75% and 50% respectively. You simply don’t reach that point of diminished returns as quickly as you might when looking to beef up your hardware for an Adobe Premiere workstation.

With software like DaVinici Resolve, where all major components (CPU/GPU/RAM/Storage) are utilized so heavily and frequently, maintaining a balance is key. It’s important to avoid bottlenecks. If customizing a system, we recommend working with our Creative Solutions team to ensure your budget is best utilized. We find that starting with a fixed budget helps, as it allows us to best appropriate that budget across the core components you’ll need in your workstation.  Pouring all your funds into any one high-end component is not only ill advised, but it would likely hinder performance by creating a chokepoint. For example, pairing a high-end graphics card such as the NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2080 Ti with a well-priced, but underpowered Intel i5-9400F processor, wouldn’t be nearly as capable as an equally priced workstation running a less costly NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2080 Super with a much faster Intel i9-9900K.

We’ve discussed the importance of selecting well-balanced workstation components with nearly every software title we’ve written about, but that is especially important with DaVinci Resolve. You’ll also want to consider the type of video you’ll be working with, as your needs will vary tremendously whether editing 1080p iPhone or GoPro footage, 4K DSLR footage, or 8K RAW.  The type of clips, resolution, and complexity of your timeline should dictate the kind of workstation you choose.

Processor

Both speed and core count should be equally considered when it comes to the CPU. While speed will impact the quality and consistency of your real-time playback, having additional cores will improve more CPU-intensive tasks like renders and exports. Traditionally, for temperature and stability reasons, the more cores present on a CPU, the lower the core frequency had to be. AMD has made huge strides here with the release of their 3rd gen Ryzen 9 CPUs, which feature a very respectable industry leading boost speed to core count ratio, making a CPU like the Ryzen 9 3900X with it’s 12-cores and impressive 4.6GHz turbo, a great choice for 1080p (and some 4K) editing.

If you’re almost exclusively working with 4K+ video or are someone who plans to be exporting large amounts/durations of video, the 3rd gen AMD Ryzen Threadripper CPU’s are unrivaled. Cost to performance, the 24-core/48-thread AMD Ryzen Threadripper 3960X is one of the best CPU choices you can make today for a professional grade Davinci Resolve workstation.

For a hobbyist video editor, your time isn’t necessarily your money. If it takes you twenty extra minutes to export a video, and three exports to get it finalized, that extra hour isn’t costing you. As a professional, however, saving time on the tasks you complete every day can be invaluable.

Graphics Card

DaVinci Resolve performs all image processing in the GPU so selection is important based on the clip type, resolution of the clips and timeline, the processes selected within Resolve, and f course the final render resolution. Even basic image edits of RAW media is performed on the graphics card, so any 4K or greater RAW files will need a substantial amount of GPU RAM (VRAM) and computing power, even if your timeline is standard HD. For power users, the use of multiple graphics card will definitely improve performance in DaVinci. Adding a second GPU can increase performance up to 75% and a third GPU up to 50%. If you plan to work extensively with high resolution footage (4K+), you’re a good candidate for someone who would see the added benefits of multiple GPUs. For standard HD and more casual editing, a single mid to high tier GPU such as the NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2070 Super would be a great choice. When opting for multiple GPUs, they all need to be from the same supplier, either NVIDIA or AMD, and it is recommended that they all be the same model. All of the graphics cards in our DaVinci workstations support 10-bit color output, but if you have a concern about color accuracy, or need support for SDI connections, speak with our support team about expansion PCI-E cards to complete your solution.

DaVinci offers fantastic support for 6K and 8K footage, but it is important to note that in order to edit this high resolution footage smoothly and efficiently, you’ll require an extensive amount of VRAM, such as the NVIDIA Titan RTX or a high end NVIDIA Quadro graphics card. While multiple GPUs will help with the computing power required to handle this footage, be advised that the VRAM of each graphics card doesn’t get added together. For example, if you have a dual-GPU workstation with two NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2080 Ti’s, each with its 11GB of GDDR6 VRAM, you do not now have 22GB of VRAM, but rather 11GB. The reason for this is that each graphics card, despite working together, still require full access to all of the data in your timeline. Each card needs its own copy of the data within it’s respective memory. This could change in the future as the software is further optimized. Lastly, to avoid unnecessary bottlenecks, no matter how small, it’s important that you scale up your CPU according to the number of GPUs you plan to use. A multi-GPU system will simply perform better when feeding a higher end processor.

Memory

Memory usage can really be pushed in video editing software. If you’re like most editors, you’ve got several browser tabs open, email, and other applications, all at the same time. We recommend not skimping out on RAM, and as is the theme here, scale up according to the quality and complexity of the projects you’ll be working on. When it comes to RAM, the most obvious difference you’ll find between specs is the speed. Faster memory is more expensive and won’t make much of a quantifiable difference on in-app performance.

Because DaVinci Resolve is efficient and well-optimized, it’s fairly light in RAM usage all things considered, however as stated above, clip types, resolution, and the complexity of your timeline will dictate how much RAM is used.

For standard HD (1080p) editing, we recommend 16-32GB of quality DDR4 RAM, such as the high performing and cost friendly HyperX Fury DDR4-3000MHz found in many of our PCs. For 4K editors, consider 32-64GB of RAM, and for 6K/8K editors, 64-128GB of RAM is most ideal.

Storage

Fast storage and multiple drives will serve to you well on a video editing rig. The ideal configuration would include one drive for the operating system and software, and a second drive for project media and scratch disk/cache duties. If you’re looking to further streamline your setup, a third drive can be used as a dedicated scratch disk/cache drive, but this isn’t a necessity. Drive speed is important; indexing clips, generating previews, and real-time response when scrubbing thru footage is all vastly improved on faster storage devices. As is the case with all modern PCs, we recommend the use of high speed NVMe storage whenever possible, and as much of it as your budget allots for. Video files can take up massive amounts of space, especially at higher resolutions. Just one hour of 4K ProRes footage is over 300GB alone. Because video editors are oftentimes working with large files, strenuously reading and writing large chunks of data at a time, we also recommend pro-grade drives, those geared for longevity with higher program-erase cycles. A higher This just means the drives are more durable and designed for more demanding heavy read/write usage, which is exactly what video editors put their drives through. Storage that features quad-level-cell, or QLC NAND, make a great value for your more typical user, but due to the heavy and more frequent reading/writing on a video editing rig, we recommend triple-level-cell, or TLC NAND, such as that found in a WD_Black SN750. The TLC NAND storage will simply be faster and won’t need to rely on a cache to perform well consistently. AMD’s latest X570 chipset rolled out support for PCIe gen4. If you’re leaning towards an AMD build, taking advantage of a gen4 NVMe SSD like the Seagate FireCuda 520 will offer bleeding edge sequential read/writes up to 5000/4400 MB/s. There are many storage methods and solutions, and for guidance specific to your needs we recommend giving us a call so we can discuss an ideal solution for you.

Specific Needs For Your Workflow?

While our turnkey solutions are ideal for most video editors, we understand some of you may have specific needs beyond our standard solutions. Whether it’s an SDI video connection you need for a preview monitor, an external audio DAC for sound designor support for GPU-based rendering plug-ins for motion graphics, we are standing by to further assist you with customizing your perfect workstation. That’s one of the biggest benefits of working with a knowledgeable custom builder like MAINGER: we can tailor a solution to your exact needs so you’re only paying for hardware you need, and getting exactly the power and capabilities that your work demands. Likewise, if you’re looking for more of a render-node or a desktop geared primarily towards project exportingwe can build that for you! Just give our Creative Solutions Team a call at 1-888-MAINGEAR.

DaVinci Resolve Workstations

We’ve pre-configured the best options together to create a PC that can run Premiere Pro flawlessly. Below you’ll find price aggressive desktop and laptop solutions, all backed by our world class warranty.

1080p

Editing Desktop Workstation
$2549
  • Built for editing and producing HD video


• AMD Ryzen 7 3800X Processor
• NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2060 Super
• 32GB DDR4 Memory
• 500GB M.2 NVME SSD
• 1TB M.2 NVME SSD
• Windows 10 Pro

4K

Editing Desktop Workstation
$4099
  • Built for editing and producing 4K video


• AMD Ryzen 9 3900X Processor
• NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2080 Ti
• 64GB DDR4 Memory
• 500GB M.2 NVME SSD
• 2TB M.2 NVME SSD
• Windows 10 Pro

8K

Editing Desktop Workstation
$8999
  • Built for editing and producing 8K video


• AMD Ryzen Threadripper 3960X Processor
• NVIDIA GeForce Titan RTX
• 128GB DDR4 Memory
• 500GB M.2 NVME SSD
• 2TB M.2 NVME SSD
• 4TB SSD
• Windows 10 Pro

Custom Configure Your Workstation

Everyone Has An IT Rep At 1-888-MAINGEAR

We all have questions sometimes. Many professionals have access to a dedicated IT team, but as a hobbyist or freelancer, you’re oftentimes stuck searching the web for the answers you need, wasting time and creating confusion. Take solace in knowing that our award-winning support team is standing by to assist. Our dedicated and knowledgeable technicians are wellversed in not only your PCbut the programs you use every day. Our technicians live and breathe these things, and we have Photoshop and Lightroom experts available to help. We believe in honesty and transparency, so if there’s ever an issue outside of our scope that we can’t personally resolvewe’ll gladly take the time to point you in the right direction and work together towards a resolution.

Give us a call at 1-888-MAINGEAR

Mac Or PC? Making The Switch?

We could spend all day discussing the competitive differences between PC and Mac, but one thing remains undeniably true: you can stretch your budget further with a PC. For example, if you had around $2000 to spend and were debating between a PC and an iMac, you’re simply going to end up with more on the PC side. You’d likely end up with 2-3x the storage, a faster and higher core count CPU, more graphics memory, and 2-3x the RAM. All for the same price. Why pay more for less?

There are a multitude of reasons why one may switch from Mac to PC, and while it’s much easier to seamlessly transition these days, we realize you may have questions or reservations. Members of our support team are trained and experienced within MacOS and are standing by to assist you with making the switch easy and efficient.