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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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#16
MapMedia

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Good data storage devices and monitors ramp up costs (2-4k). I also spoke with a few ESRI reps years ago about what makes an ideal GIS platform and they all stressed cpu ram and video cards. I am by no means a techy, so I can not elaborate on the why's, but having used low-end graphic cards and high-end cards I can tell the difference in color/illumination/detail and of course speed.

I just bought a new system through a local service, decided for once not to goto big box store like Dell. I certainly could have found a cheaper deal (a few hundred less), but having a tech shop that makes office calls nearby is a value.

Again - if I had a much more limited budget, I would consider using craigslist of other to find a used system OR find a computer tech hobbyist to build one for me.

Lastly, dual CPUs is a must, and CPUs with hyperthreading cap. is excellent.

Chris

#17
ELeFevre

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What about these things - HP Workstations with GIS It's probably urban myth, but for some reason I've always been under the impression that HPs were never that great (this opinion was never based on any research or experience with one). Anymore, the brand doesn't really matter, correct?

Is there a basic hardware arrangement/configuration that is best suited specifically for GIS and graphic design work? Or should design work be performed on one machine and GIS on another?

Oh, what about moving to an Windows Apple for design work (this could probably be it's own thread)? Erin



#18
MapMedia

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ESRI used to have GIS Hardware budles with HP, so its no surprise to see HP thinking about GIS/cart use. These bundles are actually well designed and very nicely priced.

I think other HP systems (Pavillion for example) are to be avoided for this sort of use. Can we agree that there are a few computer classes that are widely avail: multimedia (internet/video/pics), gaming, high end video and gaming, and workstations. Each of these classes include a sprectum of speed/power subclasses. Ideally, if you are just starting cartography and GIS and need a budget system, look at gaming or high end video/gaming systems. The ideal system though for this line of work is the workstation, which as we've discussed can start at $1,000 and crank up to and above $4,000.

#19
Mr. Shader

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I guess i'm gonna try and revive this dead thread with some new info:

I would have to echo the comments of previous posts, but would preface that to truly get a good GIS computer it is going to cost some $$$. I'll try and break down each component of the system:

CPU: according to ESRI specs for 9.3 multiple core CPUs and multiple CPU systems aren't really going to help much unless you are doing a lot of multitasking:

FROM http://wikis.esri.com/wiki/display/ag93bsr/ArcGIS+Desktop
"Does ESRI support dual or dual-core processors with the ArcGIS Desktop products?

Answer
ArcGIS Desktop running on Dual Processor or Dual-Core Socket Machines
ArcGIS Desktop applications, for example ArcMap and ArcCatalog, are fully supported on dual processor and dual-core computers, but a single ArcGIS Desktop application process does not take full advantage of multiple CPU workstations, for example, dual processors or multi-core processors. This is because ArcGIS Desktop applications utilize sequential process threads.

Some slight performance improvement from multi-processor systems can be experienced with ArcGIS Desktop applications. Concurrent operating system threads, e-mail, security checks, backups, and many other additional background application processes can be supported on the additional CPU resources without impacting ArcGIS Desktop application productivity.

For a single CPU system, it is possible to consume all the CPU resources from a single ArcGIS Desktop execution, for example, when running a heavy geo-processing task. However, running the same process on a dual-CPU or dual-core processor, system CPU utilization peaks out at slightly above 50% with minimal performance gain. To fully utilize the resources of both CPUs, another busy thread from a separate process, for example, a separate ArcGIS Desktop session or another application, needs to exist.

ArcGIS power users, when working in multiple windows and supporting concurrent batch processing, can take advantage of a multiple CPU environment. A two CPU workstation can significantly enhance heavy geoprocessing and/or heavy map production workflows that support multiple ArcGIS processing environments within a single user workflow. "


RAM: this is the lifeblood of your system, and will likely affect everything you do. because the price on RAM is so ridiculously cheap i recommend stuffing in as much as your system will take. *unless you are running XP32bit

OS: Almost everyone uses windows XP 32bit. this is fine, but the memory limit is only 4GB, for 64bit it is 128GB, so unless you have 64bit OS limit yourself to 4GM RAM, otherwise go nuts. (http://msdn.microsof...mits_windows_xp)

Video Card: ultimately GIS has become a visual interface - gone for most of us are the days of command prompt - and this is where graphics cards come into play. there are two things to look at, is the card designed for 2D rendering or 3D? and how much memory does the card have? as you pan around in ArcMap the screen must re-draw the data, if you want this to be fast buy a good 2D accelerated graphics card (for example, if you do a lot of map production, or do a lot of digitizing with lots of background data and you must pan around a lot, this would be good at speeding up those draw times). if you do a lot of 3d work (globe, scene, etc.) get one that supports good 3d acceleration. and get a card with as much memory as you can afford. (think about it, some of us are rendering maps with data sets measuring into the multiple Terabytes, so having a card that can process as much data as possible is important)

Hard Drive: hard drives are rated for how fast they spin and how fast they can read/write data. go for a high RPM drive with fast read/write speeds. this is important if you are moving, copying, creating large amounts of data. a trick from the gaming world was to buy a smaller but very fast drive to install your OS and applications on, then purchase a second 1 or 2 TB secondary drive to use for data storage (many of the larger drives do not operate as fast as the smaller ones can), i assume this is still a good way to go, though if you will be storing tons of data on those larger drives you want them to be as fast as possible also.

#20
Adam Wilbert

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I got three-quarters of the way through this thread before realizing it was from 2006. I guess some things never change!

Adam Wilbert

@awilbert
CartoGaia.com
Lynda.com author of "ArcGIS Essential Training"


#21
SouthernCross

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It depends on the GIS you are doing and the datasets you will be processing.

Its really dependant on the following things:

1) Will the computer be a workstation or a server?
2) Are you dealing with large amounts of imagery/data?
3) Can you forsee needing to run lots of batch geoprocesses?
4) Will you have multiple GRAPHIC-INTENSIVE applications open at once such as Illustrator, Photoshop and ArcMAP?
5) Will it be a development computer (i.e. will you be developing GIS applications on it?)
6) Will you be using a GIS for exporting data and working mainly in a cartographic sense, or are you going to be using it for actual geodatabase storage, analysis, etc...
7) Will it be on a network or standalone?

I've run ArcMap 9.3.1 on low-end computers before and they were fine. Even with imagery.

If you are going to be doing high end cartography, then a good monitor (i.e. a LaCIE) is just as imperative (as well as a tool for colour correction) as the system itself. If its just GIS you will doing with proletariat cartography then a lower-end monitor will suffice.

For an all purpose mid-range machine nowadays, I wouldn't consider anything less than the following:

- 64-bit machine
- quad-core processor
- high end NVIDA card (preferably one created for CAD workstations)
- minimum 6GB RAM
- 500GB harddrive (externals can be used for additional datasources)
- monitor is up to you, but preferably something with good blacks and not too bright (stay away from HP's). The colour is terrible on these monitors. What you see is not what you print.
- Lots of USB slots

It might seem like a high-end machine, but believe me its not. I work on one :) ! If you choose to go any lower your computer may only last 3 years instead of 5-6 before it has problems running massive programs such as Illustrator and Photoshop when new releases come out.

Also, stay away from box stores for these machines. They tend to use lower grade parts and it can make a big difference. Pay the extra coin and get it custom built by someone who knows what they are doing and will provide you with a service contract (very important to have the same person working on your machine), especially if you are not IT savy.

You can expect to pay anywhere between $1500-$2500 for everything. Maybe even less depending on your options. They are going to ding you pretty good for the graphics card, but it will be worth it in the end.
W.P.
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#22
CGIS

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Just want to put this out there, but the idea of using a "gaming" configuration in a GIS environment isn't that crazy at all.

You can get incredible perfromance on certain GIS tasks that are very intensive (raster operations in particular), using a $400 gaming card from NVIDIA that supports CUDA and using Manifold GIS.

It may not be ultra popular around here (manifold), but they are working on v9 (4th-quarter 2010) - and the GPU abilities of v8 are worth the price of admission alone. I was ultra skeptical of moving to Manifold, but have since really, really, really been glad to have made the move. It's now my primary GIS, and Arc is my tool for making mid-level maps. For the nice maps, I'll export to AI from manifold, and do the Illy work there.




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