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Gaming comp specs - good for GIS?

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Poll: Computer for GIS use

How much would you ideally estimate spending?

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#1
benbakelaar

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Hey all, I know there have been multiple threads about what are good computer specs for GIS users, and everyone posts what they have... but I was wondering what you thought specifically of this one? We all know gaming configurations in general are more expensive, so you can assume very generally more expensive = better specs, but in this case with Gateway, a $600 comp with a 512mb upgrade seems like an awesome deal. And I'm really starting to feel the hurt running ArcMap on my Dell Latitude D510 laptop.

http://www.engadget....dx420-desktops/

#2
frax

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I didn't look too closely about the details for this, but I would focus on loads of RAM, fast hard-drives (yes, multiple), and less on the graphics card. For a gaming rig, these days, it seems like all the focus is on the graphics card, and that is where the RAM and power matters (for gaming).

I have specced out a semi-fancy dell workstation-class machine and flagged that with my CFO that he should put it in next year's budget...
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#3
David T

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Actually, I'm going to suggest you look into a high-end video card, if you're doing any sort of high quality GIS work. And what I mean by that, is if you are working with rasters, or working with any 3D vizualization.

We were trying to put together a machine for high-end 3D vizualization / GIS work, and was looking specifically at high-end gaming machines (Alienware?).

Since this wasn't for me (it was for another department here on Base), I don't know the specs. I know it's on permanent hold - the gov't isn't willing to shell out the money for it yet. But, high end gaming machine to do 3D GIS Vizualizations, with a high end video card (lots of RAM on the card, lots of RAM on the machine), were a must.
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#4
Martin Gamache

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I think you are better off looking at high end workstation level machines rather than desktop PCs configured for Gaming. If you go to Dell or HP they have workstation configurations recommended for all sorts of sectors including graphic design and GIS. That gives you a starting point. You can then go to Matrox and look at Graphic cards and see what is supported for GIS software and design software, Matrox makes great cards if you spend alot of time in the 2D world and need to support multiple monitors. Then go an d look at discussion forums for Photoshop and GIS users and see what other people are using. Gamers tend to change stuff around every couple of months and I dont particularly trust their hardware choices. they don't need to reliably store large amounts of data and their processing needs are very different.

I'm very happy with the workstation I had built in the spring. It is a little bit noisy and hot...but it is quite robust.

#5
benbakelaar

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Thanks for all your suggestions. Basically, I'm looking to buy a fake GIS desktop. Sure if I had $1000 or $1500 I could build myself the sweetest most tricked out GIS station, but my budget isn't there. So I'm looking for what's on sale and where to get the most bang for my buck. I think Martin you have a good point about changing hardware. I'll be interested to here how GIS apps embrace dual and quad-core architectures in the future, but in the meantime I guess I'll just focus on the basics. Hard drive/ram speed/size, and processor. I *would* like to have 3d capabilities, but I doubt I'll seriously delve into it in the next year or two.

#6
MapMedia

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It looks like a low end system for ArcMap use, but if you are using the laptop, this might be ok - just look for a system that can be easily expandable - memory and video card slots.

I recently paid $3000 for a new system, sans monitor, but this is still not high-end.

To save $, you might look for a used system. Focus on CPU RAM and video card ram for starters.

Chris

#7
GISRox

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I can understand investing in fast hard drives and lot's of memory, but high end cards don't really make sense to me. I doubt that ArcGIS or most of the other main stream apps really take advantage of the memory buffers and other acceleration features those cards offer. Now if someone is doing high end 3D modeling, I could see a high end card being a plus for OpenGL or DirectX buffering, etc.



#8
Martin Gamache

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Sure if I had $1000 or $1500



If you want high end think more in the range of 4000-7000

I can understand investing in fast hard drives and lot's of memory, but high end cards don't really make sense to me. I doubt that ArcGIS or most of the other main stream apps really take advantage of the memory buffers and other acceleration features those cards offer. Now if someone is doing high end 3D modeling, I could see a high end card being a plus for OpenGL or DirectX buffering, etc.



You may want to take a look at the specs and drivers that Matrox provides for their cards. They seem to be targetting the GIS market fairly heavily with graphic cards with ESRI certified drivers and support for multiple monitors, which is becoming increasingly standard in this industry. I don't know if their cards are considered high end....but they certainly seem to have GIS in mind.

#9
benbakelaar

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If you want high end think more in the range of 4000-7000


$4k?? :blink: Man, I've been building computers since 386's were out, I can barely guess what kind of specs you get for $4000 and I can't imagine me, or most people, needing that kind of power. But I'm talking about my needs as a part-time GIS/database/online mapping consultant.

#10
paul

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If you want high end think more in the range of 4000-7000


$4k?? :blink: Man, I've been building computers since 386's were out, I can barely guess what kind of specs you get for $4000 and I can't imagine me, or most people, needing that kind of power. But I'm talking about my needs as a part-time GIS/database/online mapping consultant.


Agreed. I built my computer last December for my freelance work for under $1000. It would be much cheaper now, as prices have really dropped. ASUS SLI board, 2 gig RAM, 250 mb SATA II drive, NVIDIA 6600 card, Athlon X2 3800. Nothing fancy, but it's expandable. I run ArcGIS, Manifold, and Adobe CS2, and it's great for the small projects I do. The prices on X2 processors have plummeted, and you can now get the 4800 for less than I paid for the 3800 last December (<$300). It would be the way to go for a budget desktop.

At my day-job at a small GIS consulting firm, most of our computers are desktops built for <$2000. We do have one Dell workstation that we got with an ArcInfo bundle deal, and based on price it should be twice as good ($4000), but none of us can tell the difference. If anything I think it may be slower. In my opinion, for 99% of GIS tasks, a $1000 desktop is the way to go. No matter what you do, it will be obsolete in 2 years anyway.

#11
benbakelaar

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Hm, testing out the poll feature here... not sure if it will show up.

#12
Rob

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ben, there is a big cost difference in putting it together yourself or getting a dell or some other brand. I see this each time I price out a system on dell, and then go to the website of my local computer store and see how much a similar system would cost. I usually favor both the flexibility and cost of staying away from big vendors.

#13
Martin Gamache

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Well I 've got nearly 2Tb of RAID 5 storage, two Dualcore AMD processors some very fast Raptor work/system drives, , easily upgradable to Windows 64bit and up to 8Gb or RAM . And no it wont be obsolete in 2 years, a system like this is very expandable and can become a storage server down the road. It was designed for a 5+ year lifespan as was my last machine which is still working strong ( after RAM and motherboard upgrades) since May 2001. I paid about $2000 for that desktop then....and put that much into it since then.

High end may mean something much different for different people. I needed to securely store alot of data and cheap external hard drives have failed on me repeatedly over the last five years, which means lost data and time.....so now I take storage very seriously and had this system designed with that in mind...multiple hot swappable hard drives, maximum storage and redundancy. Those things don't come standard on many machines and cost money to implement. Add a 3 year component warranty and lifetime labor contract.....


And sure if you can build it yourself you save alot of money...I couldn't so I paid someone else to do it.

But dont kidd yourself into thinking that you can have a high end machine for under $1000. The machine I got was by no means at the upper end of the price range for the Cambridge/MIT market:
http://www.pcsforeve....php?cPath=2020

#14
benbakelaar

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Martin those are incredible specs! Nice...

I agree you can not get a "high-end" system for under $1000, although I'm not sure anyone suggested that.

As for build-your-own vs. Dell, I don't think you can build a comparably spec'd comp yourself for cheaper than Dell or a major seller anymore. That used to be the case, but now with the large companies buying everything in bulk, it really doesn't add up to savings for DIY. They can offer greater "economies of scale" right? Therefore, lower prices.

#15
frax

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Martin - is that machine in a server case?
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