What Computer Do I Need For GIS? [Answered]

Geographical information systems are organised structures, used in creating, capturing, analysing information used to map out data of the earth’s geographical layout.

GIS uses spatiality to acquire noesis on location, and with the use of longitude and latitude, the system is able to gather data on individuals scattered across the globe.

There are 3 types of data when dealing with geographical information systems. They are:

  • Spatial [vector, raster, images(scan maps),Terrain(datasets built from lidar)]
  • Attribute data
  • Meta data

What computer do you need for GIS? Stick with us, so you know the right computer to get, especially for running GIS on your personal computer.

Which Processor Is Best For GIS?

CPU speed
Minimum: 2 cores, hyper-threaded*
Recommended: 4 cores
Optimal: 10 cores
x64 with SSE2 extensions

There are many processors available in the market, some of which have been designed with a specific task in mind.

Let us take the CPU requirements from the bottom. If you are in search of a dual-core CPU for GIS, you have two options: AMD Ryzen 3 or Intel 8th Gen i3.

These chips are powerful enough to handle simple tasks. One benefit of these chips is the high maximum frequency. Both AMD and Ryzen have turbo-boosting in the 3ghz range.

Which is awesome for operations that need a high CPU frequency. One advantage of low-end CPUs is their price range. Most dual-core processors are an easy purchase.

Next is the quad-core. These processors balance higher performance with efficiency. They are much faster than their dual-core counterparts.

These quad-core chips perform better when multi-tasking, resulting in a higher threshold for CPU turbo boost.

Quad core CPU’s offer midrange pricing, which is more expensive than the low-end chip-set but marginally affordable than the high-end processors.

Last is the 10-Core chips. These high-end CPU’s come with amazing performance, in all types of GIS workloads such as cartography, imagery, including exploration and visualisation.

These processors are great for all sorts of single and multi-core processes, and since they have core frequencies in the 4Ghz range, applications that require such speeds would not suffer.

High-end CPU’s come at a high price but however, if you are able to afford one, you should definitely, since they last much longer than the mid-range and low-end CPU’s.

How Much RAM Does ArcGIS Pro Need?

  • Minimum: 4GB
  • Recommended: 8GB
  • Optimal: 16GB or more

How Much RAM Do I Need For GIS?

Users need to have at least 8GB of RAM in order to run GIS software without hitches.

GIS could get very demanding, depending on the intensity of the processes, and it is advisable for individuals to have 16GB of RAM, to speed along processor tasks, which are in the queue.

Do I Need A GPU For ArcGIS?

In order to run Arc-GIS, you would need a GPU. Operations such as Geoprocessing can make good use of your graphics card.

Tools such as Slope, Aspect, Viewshed2 take good advantage of the GPU and balance out the CPU loads.

Arc-GIS has multiple use categories;

  • Light, map creation. 2D and light 3D multi-patch renders.
  • Medium, data management & analysis, deep learning.
  • Heavy, high end cartography and extensive analysis.

Does GIS Use CPU Or GPU?

GIS is CPU and GPU heavy and intensive processes could easily max out your processor.

As a GIS professional you work with a lot of geospatial data and handle other tasks such as capturing, editing, analyse and visualization of GIS big data.

This requires a good CPU and GPU to handle GIS data.

What Do I Need To Run GIS? 

Supported and Recommended
CPU speed
2.2 GHz minimum; Hyper-threading (HHT) or Multi-core recommended
x86 or x64 with SSE2 extensions
Minimum: 4 GB Recommended: 8 GB or higher ArcGlobe may require 8 GB minimum when used.
Display properties
24-bit colour depth Also sees Video/Graphics adapter requirements below.*
Screen resolution
1024×768 recommended minimum at normal size (96 dpi)
Disk space
Minimum: 4 GB Recommended: 6 GB or higher ArcGlobe creates cache files when used. If using ArcGlobe, additional disk space may be required.
Video/Graphics adapter
64 MB RAM minimum; 256 MB RAM or higher recommended. NVIDIA, AMD, and Intel chipsets supported. 24-bit capable graphics accelerator OpenGL version 2.0 runtime minimum is required, and Shader Model 3.0 or higher is recommended. Be sure to use the latest available drivers. 

What Computers Run ArcGIS?

There are a variety of computers that could run ArcGIS, ranging from desktops, laptops and workstations. As long as your PC meets recommended system specifications for ArcGIS. It will run without any issue.

Can I Run ArcGIS On Chromebook?

Yes, ArcGIS works on a Chromebook but it has to be through a virtual machine, to run on windows as chrome OS does not natively support Arc-GIS.

One other option is to run ArcGIS online on your Chromebook.

However, Chromebooks are not recommended for ArcGIS because the hardware doesn’t meet the system requirements.

Does ArcGIS Work On Laptops?

ArcGIS software would work on a laptop if it meets the recommended specifications, and you are using the windows operating system.

Since ChromeOS and Linux are not supported natively, the only way to use ArcGIS on a non-windows laptop is using a VM.

Can Macbook Air Run GIS?

Macbook and Mac OS do not support natively, therefore you would need to dual boot your MacBook air with windows, or run a virtual machine on your Mac operating system.

Final Thoughts

Thank you for your time, we hope you were able to learn about GIS, along with the computers required to run it efficiently.

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