Checklist to tackle lag issues in DaVinci Resolve

Complete Checklist to Tackle Lag Issues in DaVinci Resolve

Over the last several years, a lot of video editors and video enthusiasts switched to DaVinci Resolve as their main editing tool. As such, DaVinci Resolve has established itself as a powerhouse. Its robust suite of features, intuitive interface, and powerful capabilities make one of the most popular NLEs today. But what happens when the tool you rely on starts to slow down, lag, or stutter? Take a look at our detailed checklist to tackle lag issues in DaVinci Resolve.

Why Is DaVinci Resolve is Lagging?

The first step in addressing the lag issues in DaVinci Resolve is to understand why it might be happening. This software is a resource-intensive application that requires a significant amount of processing power to run optimally. There are several factors that could be causing your DaVinci Resolve to lag. This can include insufficient hardware, outdated software, heavy video files, and complex editing tasks. Let’s see what you can do to make your DaVinci Resolve run smoothly on your machine.

Video editing timeline closeup

Software Optimization

Before rushing to replace your machine and get hardware upgrade, try these software adjustments so as to enhance the performance of your DaVinci Resolve.

Upgrade to DaVinci Resolve Studio

If you’re currently using the free version of DaVinci Resolve, consider upgrading to DaVinci Resolve Studio. The Studio version unlocks GPU acceleration and offers a host of performance-enhancing features that can improve your editing experience.

Use the Latest Stable Version

While it might be tempting to try out the latest beta version of DaVinci Resolve, it’s always best to stick with the official stable releases. Beta versions are typically used for testing and may contain bugs and stability issues that can cause lag or crashes.

Check out this detail before you download your software. Sometimes, it’s better to stay with your current version or downgrade if needed.

Optimized Media Settings

DaVinci Resolve’s feature Optimized Media allows you to convert your media files to more editing-friendly formats and resolutions. In other words, you can create lower-resolution “proxy” versions of your video clips for smoother editing. These proxy files are easier on your computer’s hardware, making real-time playback and editing more fluid. `

Once you’re done editing, DaVinci Resolve uses the original high-resolution files for the final render (so that there is no loss in quality).

Let’s say you’re editing a 4K video that’s causing your system to lag. Here’s how you can use Optimized Media to improve performance:

  1. Select Clips: In the Media Pool, select the clips you want to optimize.
  2. Right-Click and Choose: Right-click on the selected clips and choose “Generate Optimized Media.”
  3. Settings: Before generating, you can go to File > Project Settings > Master Settings to customize your Optimized Media settings. For example, you can choose to convert the media to a format like ProRes 422 LT for better performance.
  4. Generate: Once you’ve adjusted the settings, go back to the Media Pool, right-click, and choose “Generate Optimized Media” again. DaVinci Resolve will create optimized versions of the selected clips.
  5. Edit: Now you can edit your project as you normally would. DaVinci Resolve will use the optimized media for real-time playback.
  6. Final Render: When you’re ready to export your project, DaVinci Resolve will automatically use the original high-resolution files for the best quality.

Render Cache

The Render Cache feature in DaVinci Resolve pre-renders clips that require heavy processing, allowing for smoother playback. This is especially useful for sections with many effects, transitions, or color grading that can be processor-intensive. The cached clips are stored temporarily, making it easier for your system to play them back smoothly.

Let’s say you’re working on a project that includes several clips with heavy color grading and transitions, causing playback to stutter. Here’s how to use Render Cache:

  1. Enable Render Cache: Go to Playback > Render Cache > Smart or User. “Smart” will automatically decide which parts of the timeline to cache, while “User” allows you to manually select them.
  2. Settings: To customize your Render Cache settings, navigate to File > Project Settings > Master Settings. Here, you can specify the cache format and location.
  3. Manual Caching (Optional): If you chose “User,” you can manually select which clips to cache by right-clicking on them in the timeline and choosing “Render Cache Clip Output.”
  4. Red Line to Blue: You’ll notice a red line above your timeline, which will turn blue as the selected sections are cached. A blue line indicates that the clip has been successfully cached.
  5. Playback: Once the line turns blue, you can play back the cached sections smoothly, allowing you to focus on editing rather than dealing with lag.
  6. Final Output: When you’re ready to export, DaVinci Resolve will use the original, high-quality files for rendering, ensuring optimal quality in the final output.

Timeline Proxy Mode

Timeline Proxy Mode is a feature in DaVinci Resolve that allows you to temporarily lower the resolution of your entire timeline for smoother playback during editing. Unlike Optimized Media, which creates lower-resolution versions of individual clips, Proxy Mode affects the entire timeline. Once you’re done editing, you can easily switch back to the full-resolution timeline for final rendering.

Let’s say you’re editing a project in 4K resolution, but your computer is struggling with playback. Here’s how to use Timeline Proxy Mode:

  1. Enable Proxy Mode: Go to Playback > Timeline Proxy Mode and select from the available options like “Quarter Resolution” or “Half Resolution.”
  2. Check Playback: After enabling, play your timeline to see the improvement in playback smoothness. The visual quality will be lower, but this is only temporary.
  3. Edit: Perform your edits, cuts, and transitions as you normally would. The lower resolution will make it easier to work in real-time.
  4. Disable Proxy Mode: Once you’re done editing and ready for final rendering or more detailed work like color grading, go back to Playback > Timeline Proxy Mode and set it to “Off” to return to the full-resolution timeline.
  5. Final Render: Export your project, and DaVinci Resolve will use the original high-resolution files, ensuring the best quality in your final output.

Render in Place

For clips with heavy effects or color grading that don’t play back smoothly, the Render in Place feature can be a lifesaver. This feature renders the selected clips and applies all effects, essentially, “baking in” any effects, transitions, or color grading. These pre-rendered clips replace the original ones in the timeline but can be easily reverted back if needed.

Suppose you’re working on a project that includes a clip with multiple effects and color grading adjustments, causing it to play back choppily. Here are your steps to use Render in Place.

  1. Select Clip: In the timeline, select the clip or clips that you want to pre-render. These could be clips with heavy effects, transitions, or color grading.
  2. Right-Click and Choose: Right-click on the selected clip(s) and choose “Render in Place” from the context menu.
  3. Settings: A dialog box will appear, allowing you to choose the render settings, such as format and codec. Configure these according to your needs.
  4. Render: Click “Start Render” in the dialog box. DaVinci Resolve will render the selected clip(s) and replace them in the timeline with the rendered versions.
  5. Edit and Playback: Now, you can continue editing and enjoy smooth playback for the rendered clip(s).
  6. Revert (Optional): If you need to make further adjustments to the effects or grading, you can easily revert the rendered clip back to its original state by right-clicking and choosing “Revert to Original.”

Edit with One Layer

Overloading your timeline with many video tracks can also slow down DaVinci Resolve. Try to stick to one layer of video wherever possible to minimize the load on your CPU.

Disable Live Save

The Live Save feature in DaVinci Resolve can slow down your workflow if your database is on a remote drive. If you regularly save your project, you can safely disable this feature to improve performance.

Video editing hardware

Hardware Upgrades

If software optimizations aren’t enough to solve your lag issues, it might be time to consider upgrading your hardware.

RAM Upgrade

Ensure you have at least 16GB of RAM for basic editing tasks in DaVinci Resolve. For more complex tasks, such as using Fusion features, consider upgrading to 32GB.

GPU Upgrade

DaVinci Resolve relies heavily on your GPU for processing. Consider upgrading to a GPU with at least 2GB of VRAM that supports Metal or OpenCL 1.2.

System Settings

There are several system settings you can adjust to start with your optimization efforts.

Lower Playback Resolution

If you’re still experiencing lag despite the above optimizations, consider lowering the resolution of your preview playback. This can improve playback performance without affecting the quality of your final render.

Check Hardware Compatibility

Make sure your system meets the minimum hardware requirements for DaVinci Resolve. If your system falls short in any area, you may need to consider upgrading your hardware.

Plug in Your Laptop

If you’re editing on a laptop, make sure it’s plugged in to ensure maximum performance. Video editing can be a power-intensive process, and a low battery can lead to lag and stuttering.

Close the Scopes

Closing the scopes in DaVinci Resolve can sometimes lead to noticeable improvements in playback performance. Generating scopes consumes both CPU and GPU resources, so closing them when they’re not needed can free up valuable resources.

Scopes in DaVinci Resolve are visual tools that provide accurate measurements of your video’s color, exposure, and other parameters. The most commonly used scopes are the Waveform, Vectorscope, Histogram, and Parade.

Closing the scopes in DaVinci Resolve can free up screen space and potentially improve playback performance. Here’s how to do it:

  1. Navigate to Color Workspace: Make sure you’re in the Color workspace where the scopes are usually displayed.
  2. Locate Scopes Panel: Find the scopes panel, typically situated at the bottom left corner of the screen.
  3. Close Panel: You can close the scopes panel by clicking the ‘X’ at the corner of the panel or by unchecking the “Video Scopes” option under the Workspace menu.
  4. Alternate Method: Another way is to go to Workspace > Video Scopes and uncheck the option, which will hide the scopes panel.


Video editing can be a demanding task, but with the right optimizations, you can make DaVinci Resolve run smoother, faster, and more efficiently.

Whether it’s upgrading your hardware, adjusting software settings, or using built-in features like Render Cache and Optimized Media, there’s always a way to improve your video editing experience.

So don’t let a laggy timeline slow you down – use these tips to tackle lag issues in DaVinci Resolve and keep your creativity flowing!

Like this piece? Please share:
Scroll to Top