Buying a laptop to run DaVinci Resolve on a $1500 to $2000 budget is easier than you’d think. I’ve selected a few excellent options.

Article Last Updated: June 2020

Any of the choices I suggest below represent better value for money than a Macbook Pro. Full disclosure, I’m an Apple user. As much as I’d like to, I can’t put a Mac in this list. DaVinci Resolve has a few important minimum system requirements that need to be met, and in this price range Apple gives me nothing that can compete with these Windows laptops.

Below is a summary of what to look for in an affordable 2019 / 2020 model gaming laptop to run DaVinci Resolve. It’ll be good for HD and most 4K work on a budget.

  • The 9th generation Intel i7-9750H is the common processor to the laptops I investigated in this price and performance range. Nothing changes faster than computer specs, so I’ll do my best to update the info here and my selections at least every couple of months.
  • At least 16GB system RAM, but as you’ll see in my selections below, if you look carefully you can find 32GB in this price range also.
  • A decent GPU. Below you’ll see GeForce RTX 2060 6GB (Turing), GeForce GTX 1660Ti (Turing), and GeForce GTX 1650 (Turing). Any of these will be just fine for your average HD and 4K use in Resolve with most common AVC/H.264 mirrorless camera files, Blackmagic BRAW, ProRes, ProRes RAW etc.
  • All of the below has SSD storage, some have SSD + HDD. In any case you’d likely want to consider fast external video storage as well.

I highly recommend you buy DaVinci Resolve Studio rather than use the free version of Resolve. DaVinci Resolve Studio enables H.264/H.265 decode and encode hardware acceleration using the GPU and this will make a world of difference if you’re working with any AVC/H.264 or H.265/HEVC media. The alternative is to transcode these camera files into high quality Avid DNxHR files before you start editing for better performance. The files will be larger, but require less system resources to play back, and are much more post production friendly.

Top Five Best Laptops for DaVinci Resolve Under $2000 in 2020

Below are a few good budget laptop choices for DaVinci Resolve. In fact, they will be suitable for any video post production software. These are Amazon affiliate links. It’s also worth taking a look at the “other products related to this item”. If you click on “see more product details” you can also check “compare with similar items” as well. You might find something slightly different that suits you better, or even at a better price but I would encourage you to make sure you choose a laptop with at least one Thunderbolt 3 port. The Dell XPS 15 is the only one in this list that has a 4K screen. I’ll add links to others as and when I find good deals.

Best Laptops for DaVinci Resolve for $1000 in 2020

Below I’m listing the best laptops for DaVinci Resolve that I can find around the $1000 or under mark (so far only one… I’ve just started). I’ll add more as I research what’s available and update them as often as possible. There is no Thunderbolt 3 on these, so expanding via a Thunderbolt 3 eGPU won’t be an option.

Expand DaVinci Resolve Performance with an eGPU

One important thing to consider when selecting a laptop for DaVinci Resolve is if it has Thunderbolt 3. This makes it possible to use an eGPU to expand performance.

All laptops now come with USB Type C ports. It can be confusing because both USB 3.1 Gen 2 and Thunderbolt 3 use the USB Type C connector. However, just because a laptop has a UBC Type C port, doesn’t mean it has Thunderbolt 3. Be careful and check the technical specs of the laptop carefully. Don’t assume that because you see a USB Type C port, that the laptop must have Thunderbolt 3, it may not be the case.

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45 Comments

  1. Thanks so much Richard for this post, your articles help me understand more about the hardware/software as well!! I ended up purchasing the XPS15 and now Davinci freezes occasionally and sometimes crashes… exactly the reason why I wanted to trade in my old laptop sigh. Any idea for me where I can start to figure out why this is happening? I haven’t purchased Studio (yet) as I want to understand if this is really the reason rather than some setting I am missing. I’ve opened task manager and when I am working in Davinci both the Intel and Nvidia seem to be put to work. I thought fusion was what tripped my computer up, but later Davinci even crashed “just” on the timeline.

    • Richard Lackey

      Hi! So sorry to hear you’re having trouble. Are you using the Nvidia gaming driver or the studio driver? I’d recommend installing the studio driver and see if this makes any difference to stability. Please let me know if this makes any difference, these things all help me to help others also 🙂

      • Aahhh Richard, you have NO idea how grateful I am that you got back to me to help me on my way!! I had already tried to get Davinci to work on Ubuntu and gave up, so it not even working on Windows put me at a loss. The techies in my environment weren’t able to help me either because they don’t have experience with Davinci, and the forums out there are way above my league. Anyway, all to say why I’m so grateful you’re helping me in a way that I understand 🙂 I’ve managed to dowload the studio driver via Geforce Experience so I suspect I wasn’t using that. I’m going to test it out this week and see if it solves the crashes, will let you know!

        • Richard Lackey

          Great, it’s just a guess, and would be the first thing I’d try. I don’t know 100% that it will be the solution for you, but it’s a first step as I know it’s an issue with Resolve on some laptops.

  2. Hi Richard,

    You are doing great work here!!
    I am thinking to buy a laptop with below config for my Da Vinci resolve studio 16. My actual choice was RTX 2070 Super – 8.0GB GDDR6 in place of RTX 2060 – 6.0GB GDDR6 along with Thunderbolt port but it is crossing my budget 🙁
    Please let us know if below will be good enough to take most from Da vinci (4k+ fusion)
    Processor (CPU)AMD Ryzen™ 7 Eight Core Processor 4800H (2.9GHz, 4.2GHz Turbo)
    Memory (RAM)32GB Corsair 2666MHz SODIMM DDR4 (2 x 16GB)
    Graphics Card NVIDIA® GeForce® RTX 2060 – 6.0GB GDDR6 Video RAM – DirectX® 12.1
    M.2 SSD Drive500GB SAMSUNG 970 EVO PLUS M.2, PCIe NVMe (up to 3500MB/R, 3200MB/W)
    External Hard Drive 4TB Seagate Backup Plus, External HDD, USB 3.0
    Memory Card ReaderIntegrated 3 in 1 Card Reader (Full Size SD / SDHC / SDXC)AC Adaptor1 x 180W AC AdaptorPower
    1 x USB 3.1 PORT (Type C) + 2 x USB 3.1 PORTS + 1 x USB 2.0 PORT(No Thunderbolt port)

    Regards
    Randhir

  3. Hi Richard!
    So I’m currently looking for a laptop to buy for Davinci Resolve + Fusion (I have the free version of Resolve). Admitting that the MacBooks are quiet appealing laptops, I really ask myself if the base Macbook Pro 16 will be enough for my projects. I mostly cut ~10 Min Videos in 1080p with Fusion Effects and Color Grading but I’d like to have the opportunity to bump up to 4k some time. So will it be sufficient?

    Here are the specs of the base 16″ Macbook Pro:
    i7-9750H 6-Core
    AMD Radeon Pro 5300M – 4GB
    16GB RAM
    512GB SSd (I’ll maybe upgrade to 1TB)

    Thank you for your help in advance!! I’m struggling for a long time now but there is just not a review of it that makes me comfortable buying one 🤔

    • Richard Lackey

      Hi Jannick, to be perfectly honest you should be fine, unless you wind up using some heavy GPU intensive plugins at 4K, in which case GPU memory is the biggest limitation. Fusion likes RAM, so you might want to think about stepping it up to 32GB. Everything you want to do will run, the only question is real-time playback performance. However, that’s where render cache, and generating optimized media come in. Also I keep trying to tell people that 9 times out of 10 it’s not necessary to do the bulk of your work in a 4K timeline. Even if the project will be rendered out at 4K, working at 1080p temporarily can really help performance, and then you kick the timeline up to 4K when you want to check things, or pixel peep, and when you render your final files. You can always add an external eGPU later if you need more GPU power. I’d highly recommend thinking about 32GB RAM though.

      • Thanks for your help!
        I actually thought of upgrading the GPU to the 5500M 8GB instead of the SSD. But as you mention RAM is also to be considered: Do you think that GPU or RAM is more important? Does Resolve, generally said, run better on Mac than Windows Laptops because of the optimization for Mac OS? With a Windows laptop I get somewhat better hardware for the same price however will cutting with this Mac (maybe also with better GPU or RAM) make a huge difference to cutting with something like:

        HP ENVY Notebook 15-ep0760ng
        i7-10750H
        Nvidia 1660 Ti Max-Q 6GB
        16GB

        or even :

        MSI GS65 8SF-057
        i7-8750H
        Nvidia RTX 2070 Max-Q 8GB
        16GB

        Would there be a significant increase in playback “smootheness” and general use that I will really be able to notice (I don’t really care about render times😁)? Sorry for being so persistent ^^

        • Richard Lackey

          Hi Jannick, both GPU and RAM are important, I was just suggesting 32GB RAM might be worth considering if you plan to use Fusion intensively. One thing to consider with Windows, is you will only get hardware GPU accelerated H.264/H.265 decoding and encoding when running Resolve Studio, and that makes a massive difference when working with any H.264 codec video files. On Mac, even the free version enables acceleration. So on Windows, that’s another $299 to consider for Resolve Studio, however, maybe you will want to invest in Resolve Studio regardless. You can definitely get more performance for your money with a Windows laptop. What’s your overall budget?

          • Hi Richard!
            So my budget is about 2000€ (living in Germany where tech is more expensive😪). I won’t be able to use an eGPU as I will move to Thailand if everything goes as planned and as I need an international warranty on top, I’d rather stick to the free version of Resolve because it can do everything I really need. So without the accelerated encoding on Windows, a better GPU like the 2070MQ or the 1660tiMQ won’t actually help much or am I wrong with that? So, if thats true, sticking with MacBook and a slower GPU won’t effect the editing experience as the CPU of all the Laptops I consider are on the same level perfomancewise in comparison to the Windows laptops with more powerful GPUs.
            Thanks for your expertise!

          • Hi Jannick, in this case I’d definitely stick with Mac, as you’ll get GPU decoding in the free version of Resolve. Even the original specs you posted (with 16GB) should be ok, it was just a suggestion to go for 32GB since Resolve and Fusion share memory (you can change how much RAM is assigned to each in the Memory and GPU panel of Preferences). Go for the best configuration you can afford, but you should be fine.

  4. Hi Richard. You Sir, are a hero. Thank you for putting all the work into creating a comprehensive/realistic breakdown for determining if davinci resolve would work on my computer. I do basic 1080P edits for youtube and i have fallen in love with resolve but have been having issues with editing.

    I’ve been having issues with choppy playback and after researching resolutions for days, I finally came across your website which has been a god-send but also incredibly overwhelming with the amount of information. I’m about ready to return the new laptop i bought and purchase the MSI GL639SDK611 you have recommended because of the choppiness issues i’ve been experiencing but I think my issue may also be that i need to purchase the pro version of resolve and i might be able to still use my current laptop. Before i do that, i wanted to see if you could help me determine if that would fix the issue.

    Here are my specs:
    Razer Blade Stealth 13 Ultrabook Gaming Laptop: Intel Core i7-1065G7 4 Core, NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1650 Max-Q, 13.3″ FHD 1080p 60Hz, 16GB RAM, 512GB SSD, CNC Aluminum, Chroma RGB, Thunderbolt 3

    My question is: Should i return this laptop and get the MSI GL639SDK611 you have recommended? Or should i stick with my current laptop and purchase the pro version of resolve (will this eliminate all my choppy playback issues)? Or is there another option i’m not seeing?

    Appreciate your feedback!

    • Richard Lackey

      Hi Norman, thanks for reading! I’m pretty sure your existing laptop should be perfectly fine if you’re running Resolve Studio. Even if you did change it, you’d still need Resolve Studio in order to enable hardware h.264 decoding. So I think you’re fine but since you’ll need Resolve Studio anyway, you could try it on your current laptop, and if there’s still issues, look at exchanging it. However for 1080p work, I doubt you’ll have to swap it. It’s great that it has Thunderbolt 3, because in future you can add an external GPU too. Hope this helps, I’d love to hear if Resolve Studio makes a difference for you.

  5. Gav Stevens

    Thank you for publishing this! My work over the past few years has evolved into content creation (of all kinds) and DR is most likely the software I’m going to invest time and effort into learning properly. I need a new laptop but have been tormented with whether the GTX 1650 or 1660 Ti would be ‘good enough’ for 2k or 4k playback? I’m concerned about choppy playback? Can you help me understand whether one specific component causes it or spec that is too weak overall?

    • Richard Lackey

      Hi Gavin, I’d go for the 1660Ti between those two choices. What kind of camera source media do you work with? The codec makes a difference to real-time performance, but as long as you use Resolve Studio and not the free version of Resolve, you’ll have GPU accelerated H.264 and H.264 decoding and encoding. I don’t imagine you’ll have a problem with playback of uncorrected video, and even with some basic corrections, but once you get a certain number of nodes on it, and especially if using noise reduction, or any intensive plugins you’ll probably need to start employing render cache to maintain playback. This shouldn’t be a big deal though. You also don’t really need to be working in a 4K timeline to be honest, so it helps to drop timeline resolution to HD while you work, and then switch it up to 4K when you want to pixel peep something, and of course for final export.

      • Gavin Stevens

        Thank you for the prompt reply, Richard. I’m new to this and the terminology confuses me a little. Source media will come from 2k/ 4k video shot on my Samsung Galaxy S8 for now (I create on-screen tutorials with shots of me explaining here and there, at least at the moment). I’ll invest in proper camera equipment in due course once I know what my requirements are otherwise I risk wasting a lot of money on unnecessary tech. Without Resolve Studio will this source media be choppy in playback on an HD timeline? I’m not saying I won’t get Studio, I’m just trying to work out which dGPU to go for in a new laptop whilst not overspending! The Asus Rog G14 is perfect in every way, but gets more expensive when going for the 1660 Ti or 2060 – as this is a secondary device (my desktop wil be upgraded with Nvidia 3000 or Big Navi next year sometime) I just need it to be ‘okay’ at video editing should I absolutely have to do some on the fly if that makes sense? sorry, this is becoming a bit of a ramble so I’ll pause for breath! Any more thoughts?

        • Richard Lackey

          Hi Gavin, thanks for the extra info, you’ll definitely want Resolve Studio. Since you’re dealing with h.264 files from a smartphone, playback without it will definitely be problematic. I shoot a lot on phones and hardware accelerated h.264 decode is a must have. The 1650 should be fine if the jump to a 1660Ti is too much.

          • Great. I’ll seriously consider the Rog G14 and dGPU options, safe in the knowledge a 4600H Hexa-core with 1650 will work reasonably when accompanies with Studio, and anything more powerful will only help (Asus device or otherwise).

            Thank you so much, I spent a long, long time not getting a definitive answer on this! I’ve bookmarked your site and subscribed to your YouTube channel 😉

          • One other thing, I hope!
            Is it necessary to have a dedicated SSD just for video editing files? I’ve heard somewhere that it is, or that if you don’t, your video editing software experience will be badly affected?

            The Asus RZ G14 only has one m.2 SSD slot so it’s impossible to have a dedicated drive. As I previously explained, the laptop is a secondary device, after my desktop, so it’s just got to be okay for video editing on the fly on those rare occasions… thanks again for any insights. G

          • Hi Gavin, that’s a good question. It really depends on what kind of video files you’re working with, resolution, codec and bit-rate. It doesn’t have to be a separate dedicated drive, it’s just often the case that it is, and it’s one of those best practices to split OS/software and video onto separate drives. Not absolutely necessary if you’re using a laptop limited to one internal drive. I’d recommend you use a fast external drive for your video files though just because you may find you don’t have enough space. Something like the popular Samsung T5 – https://amzn.to/2yJaGOR or Sandisk Extreme Portable SSD – https://amzn.to/3d8u7z8

            Backups are also always important. As the saying goes, if a file doesn’t exist in three places, it doesn’t exist. I recommend using pairs of cheap consumer USB external hard drives, format them NTFS (not ExFAT… I’ve lost multiple drives to corruption) and duplicate your video files onto these two drives, then keep them somewhere safe. They only exist to restore your video files in case of loss of data on your fast, primary working storage.

          • I can’t reply to your reply to my reply! So if this is in a funny place, it is my response to your advice regarding SSDs and backups 😉

            All makes perfect sense, and I’ll go with the 1TB SSD option, then fallback on ext SSD if needs be (although I doubt I’ll ever need it as the laptop is more of a satellite device to the desktop). I have a robust backup operation going anyway (5-4-1 structure – 5 copies, 2 devices (desktop & laptop) + 2 external backups (1x hot NAS, 1x cold ext HDD), and 1 cloud copy 😉 and I’m about to add a cloud backup service as well!

            You’re a star and I wish you all the very best. Stay safe.

          • Nice! Maybe I have some limit on the number of nested replies or something weird. I’ll take a look at that. With a backup strategy like that, you are clearly one of the enlightened ones. Feel free to reach out any time.

  6. Hey Richard, thanks for all the great info on meeting Resolve’s requirements.

    I need to edit 5.7k 360 video footage and I tried with a recent Lenovo IdeaPad L340 15″ Gaming to keep budget low but even with small clips (1 min or so), I easily get the dreaded “your gpu memory is full” error message.

    Should I return it to get something with more punch? Upgrade some components to give it more punch?

    Thanks !
    Iass

    Configuration Details:
    ● Processor: 9th Generation Intel® Core™ i7-9750HF Processor (2.60 GHZ, up to 4.50 GHz with Turbo Boost, 6 Cores, 12 Threads, 12 MB Cache)
    ● Display Type: 15.6″ FHD (1920 x 1080) IPS, anti-glare, 250 nits
    ● Memory: 8 GB DDR4 2400MHz
    ● Hard Drive: 256 GB PCIe SSD
    ● Graphics: NVIDIA® GeForce® GTX 1650 4GB

    • Richard Lackey

      Hi Iass, thanks for the question! It reminds me I should put together a dedicated article specifically about setting up Resolve for 360 and VR. Trying to work with the files from my QooCam 8K is a nightmare. Definitely I’d recommend a GPU with more memory, and maybe a bit more GPU processing grunt too. One of the latest gen RTX GPU’s preferably, like a RTX 2080 with 8GB VRAM. Too bad you don’t have Thunderbolt 3 or one option might be to use an eGPU. Does it show you GPU memory is full immediately, or only when using certain plugins? What kind of operations and nodes are you using when it complains? I’ll have a look for some deals on RTX 2080 equipped laptops and post a link in another reply if I can find something that’s good value. I’ll also reach out to some people that may know more than I do.

      • Thanks for the fast reply. I’ll check with Lenovo if I can return this unit.

        I tested with something very basic. 1 min or so of 5.7k 360 footage, just one clip, to which I applied a Panomap node in Fusion to correct which part of the video would be in front of the viewer.
        Then export. And it is at that point that I get GPU memory full. Not always (tried exporting the same clip multiple times) but way too much.

        • Richard Lackey

          Hi Iass, so I had a chat with the director of DaVinci software engineering to get some insight. It turns out that you might not need to go all the way up to an 8GB GPU, although it is a good idea if you can. Since your export completes successfully sometimes, it seems that you’re right on the edge in terms of GPU VRAM. So any of the laptops I’ve listed in the article with the RTX 2060 6GB and Thunderbolt 3 could be a good route to take. Having Thunderbolt 3 on board means you can add a beefy desktop GPU in and external eGPU enclosure in future if you need more.

  7. MARTIN GA LUZURIAGA

    Will the Asus Zephyrus G14 be a good bang for the buck for resolve?

    1500usd, 4900hs (cpu) and RTX2060max-q (65w cap).

    • Richard Lackey

      Hi Martin, Absolutely, I see a few configurations, how much RAM are you looking at? I don’t see Thunderbolt 3 on these however, which isn’t an issue if you don’t need it, just something to be aware of.

  8. Peter Deyell

    will this work well with Davinci?

    I know you’re not a big fan of the cast if Apple but…

    MacBook Pro 16
    2.4 Gb. 8 core 9th generation
    32 Gb ram
    AMD Radon pro 5300m – 8Gb
    1Tb SSD hard drive

    anything I should beef up? I appreciate your help.

    • Richard Lackey

      Oh, I’m a big Apple fan! I’m using a Macbook Pro. I just couldn’t put any in the list because I’m trying to keep it below $2000. I totally didn’t intend to give the impression I don’t have both feet in the Apple camp. 🙂

      Those specs look great. There’s nothing you should change or add to it internally. You can always add a Thunderbolt 3 eGPU down the line, and external attached storage. You’re good to go with that.

      • Trevor L Price

        This is the exact information that I needed as well. I really appreciate your information on your site about the DeVinci, which I am going to download once I buy a capable laptop (the iMac Pro 16 inch). I am extremely excited to start filming 4k on my iPhone and using the iMac and DaVinci to create some amazing videos. I will go through your website to learn more. Any suggestions of tutorials to learn the basics of DaVinci that will help a beginner? I have used editing programs in the past, but it has been a really long time. It will be a steep learning curve to learn it again, but I am excited about the prospects. Thank you for all your hard work and sharing that online. Eventually I will buy a Blackmagic 6K camera once I am comfortable shooting and editing video from my iPhone. Cheers, Trevor

  9. Many thanks! You helped me a lot. I wish you happiness and good luck!

  10. Hi, great selection, thank you very much. Please tell me if there is a chance to pick up a laptop for the price of $ 1000? In order to learn how to work in the program and perform non-complex projects?

  11. Bolton Peck

    It looks like all the Turing architecture cards do everything in hardware, up to and including 8K; VP8 and 9, HEVC 4:4:4, the whole enchilada. I’d be lying if I claimed that I even knew what every one of those is.. but apparently the machine I’m getting is pretty future-resistant 😉 (Nothing’s really future proof, they always come up with something new which necessitates hardware to match..) and as an added bonus: I ordered my Gazelle right as they’d run out of this year’s model so I’m getting the new one with 10th gen Intel 6 core/12 thread CPU instead of the 9th gen and faster memory clock, at no extra charge. But I have to wait a couple weeks. Super stoked!!

    • Richard Lackey

      Awesome! I’d love to know how it performs for you. I may hit you up in a few weeks to find out!

  12. Bolton Peck

    Right on, thanks! Resolve runs in Linux on my current laptop, an older core i7 with Geforce 840M 2GB graphics, except it won’t decode the videos from my Fuji camera because they’re H.264. But it’s really not up to anything other than 1080p, so I’m upgrading. I’m willing to buy the key and upgrade however, if it means I don’t have to command line decode/encode all my movies. The paid version handles said files, correct?

  13. Bolton Peck

    There seem to be a number of pretty nice laptops with CPUs as above, but with the GTX 1660 Ti 6GB GPU on board. I notice that one of your options has the older GTX 1070, another has the 1060.

    Is there some reason that no laptops with the Turing architecture 1660 Ti made the cut? It has 6 GB of RAM, but is there some other limiting factor that makes it less ideal for Davinci than a 1060? Also if it matters, I’m looking at a System 76 Linux laptop versus Windows-the new Gazelle with 15″ screen, 1660 Ti GPU option and lots of RAM/NVMe storage. Thanks!

    • Richard Lackey

      I will definitely look into this. It may have just been a limit in the number of models I researched. Now you have me curious though to check and maybe refresh the list. (I just updated the Razer Blade 15 to the model with the GTX 1660Ti) I’ll check out the System 76 Gazelle for sure, it looks impressive for the price. I’ve never tried to run Resolve on Linux on a laptop.

  14. Your Amazon link above to the MSI GS65 Stealth | 15.6″ | i7-9750H, 16GB, 512GB NVMe, RTX 2060 6GB
    links to the HP Omen on Amazon.

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