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DaVinci Resolve 17 Review

This free video editor has plenty of new features.

DaVinci Resolve 17 review
(Image: © DaVinci Resolve)

Our Verdict

With streamlined editing, color, audio, and effects interfaces, DaVinci Resolve is the most comprehensive editing software available, and this latest release sees several improvements. And, amazingly, it’s free.

For

  • Enormous range of features.
  • Best for color grading.
  • Improved audio tools.
  • Collaboration across streamlined workspaces.
  • Standard version is free.

Against

  • Complex for inexperienced editors
DaVinci Resolve 17: Specs

Minimum system requirements:
Mac:
OS X 10.14.6 or newer, 16GB RAM, 4GB VRAM
Windows: Windows 10, 16GB RAM, 4GB VRAM

DaVinci Resolve collects professional-standard editing, color grading, audio, and effects into one application, and with every update, strengthens its place among the best video editing software for serious editors.

The latest version, DaVinci Resolve 17, includes significant improvements to several features and was released in public beta form in November. In our DaVinci Resolve 17 review, we assess the features, interface, pricing, and support of Blackmagic Design’s software.

DaVinci Resolve 17 is available from Blackmagic Design’s website (Image credit: DaVinci Resolve)

DaVinci Resolve 17 review: Plans and pricing

The standard version of Resolve is completely free, which is remarkable for such comprehensive software, and includes most major features. 

There’s also a premium version, DaVinci Resolve Studio 17. This has numerous additional features, including a neural engine, Dolby Vision audio tools, support for multiple GPUs, and advanced noise reduction.

It costs $295, which covers all future updates. This is similar to the $299.99 cost of Final Cut Pro and more cost effective than the subscription fee model used by Adobe Premiere Pro.

DaVinci Resolve 17 review

DaVinci Resolve has free and premium options (Image credit: DaVinci Resolve )

DaVinci Resolve 17 review: Features

Resolve includes nonlinear editing, color correction, audio post, and visual effects streamlined into one application. Each of these areas has several new features in Resolve 17. We’ll look at some key additions.

Color grading has always been one of Resolve’s strengths, and new HDR grading tools further that. You can now create color wheels with custom roll-off for specific tonal ranges, a color warper that lets you adjust two parameters at once, and better mask-based targeted grading. Resolve’s color tools are complex so they require technical expertise to master, but they are the best available.

DaVinci Resolve 17 review

Resolve’s color tools enable fine-tuned grading (Image credit: DaVinci Resolve)

Fairlight, the audio editing workspace, has received its biggest update yet. It’s much more powerful than before, able to mix 2,000 tracks in real time, and has new keyboard shortcuts that make the process faster. Automation has been improved; you can record any parameter change over time, and when you trim or move any clip, the automation will follow your edit, meaning last-minute edits won’t damage the mix.

Resolve is designed for teams to collaborate on a project. Now, artists can work simultaneously without disrupting each other’s work, so color, effects, and sound editing can begin before the editor has locked picture. This useful time-saving functionality was previously only available to premium users, but is now included in the free version.

DaVinci Resolve 17 review: Interface and in use

The main edit interface has a similar layout to competitors: multitrack timeline along the bottom, media browser in the top left, preview monitor top center, and the effects panel in the top right. It works well and is easy to get used to.

There’s also an alternative layout, the Cut Page, designed for fast turn-around editing. It includes a dual timeline; the upper timeline shows the entire edit, while the lower timeline focuses on where you’re working. Clips are no longer collected in bins but appear as one collected tape. It’s unusual at first but can speed up the process.

And, there are five further workspaces — Media, for importing footage; Fusion, for effects; Color; Fairlight, for audio; and Deliver, for exporting. Each is carefully designed to match the needs of the task. The Color page is as good as any application designed specifically for color grading, and Fairlight matches up to any audio-specific program.

Resolve can seem daunting because so many features are packed into several workspaces. But this latest release improves usability. Timeline navigation is now consistent across different workspaces, as is the design of the clip inspector, and the new metadata slate view makes clip sorting easier. Once accustomed to the interface, you’ll find that Resolve links its many functions together smoothly.

DaVinci Resolve 17 review

The edit interface is detailed but intuitive (Image credit: DaVinci Resolve )

DaVinci Resolve 17 review: Support

There’s a lot to learn — DaVinci's manual runs more than 3,500 pages, and the guide to new features in Resolve 17 alone is 240 pages. But Blackmagic is on hand to help with any issues. You can email the engineers and get a fast and helpful response, or phone them if there’s a team in your country. Plus, the website has a useful range of video tutorials, and with the program’s growing userbase, you may find your question’s already been asked on the customer forum.

DaVinci Resolve 17 review

Blackmagic offers a range of support options (Image credit: DaVinci Resolve)

DaVinci Resolve 17 review: The competition

Other free video editing applications include Hitfilm Express, VSDC, and iMovie. These have simpler interfaces and enable a good standard of work. Hitfilm in particular has a very good interface, as well as a number of effects and composition tools.

However, these competitors lack Resolve’s state-of-the-art features and all-in-one nature, with few options for advanced color, audio, and effects work. Resolve matches up to expensive high-end software like Adobe Premiere Pro, and is used by Hollywood film and TV productions. As far as free editing software goes, it’s by far the most advanced.

DaVinci Resolve 17 review: Verdict

DaVinci Resolve is one of the most comprehensive editing applications available, enabling a professional standard not just in nonlinear editing but in color grading, audio post, and visual effects. It gets better with every update, and there are some great new features in Resolve 17. When it comes to free video editing software, nothing matches it.

Because of its complexity, though, it’s not the best choice for less experienced editors. If you want to create basic videos without spending much time learning the ropes, there are better options, such as Hitfilm Express. However, some improvements in Resolve 17 have made the interface more intuitive.

So, if you’re a confident editor and willing to put some time into it, DaVinci Resolve is the choice for you. The free version includes most features needed for high-quality video editing, while the additional features make Resolve Studio worth the price for professionals who edit regularly.