A Computer Nerds Guide to Hardware for ArcGIS Pro

by | Jul 10, 2019

I know most of us in the GIS field do not pay a lot of attention to basic computer tech such as processors or video cards. However with the migration to ArcGIS Pro, the need to be up to date on current computer tech trends is increasing. As a closet (ok not so closet) computer nerd, I have become very excited about several recent events that might make it a good time to start considering getting a new computer.

As many are finding out at the Esri User conference this week, ArcGIS Pro is here to stay replacing the venerable ArcMap. Esri has been putting a lot of time and money into developing ArcGIS Pro to get it to the point that it has the functions needed to make it ready for primetime use. For most users, ArcGIS Pro is capable of being their primary desktop GIS application. However ArcGIS Pro does require more hardware resources to run successfully. If you want to learn more about the hardware requirements for ArcGIS Pro you might want to check out this video – https://youtu.be/tH7JemkC7SM. So for many this will mean upgrading or replacing their current GIS Workstation.

This might be the perfect time to do just that. The past two weeks, AMD has basically declared open season on Intel and NVIDIA, with the release of several new products. First AMD has just released the 3rd generation (3000 series) of their Ryzen Processors (CPUs). These new processors include a bunch of improvements over the 2nd generation which increases performance. Based on bench mark comparisons I have seen from several respected reviewers (non-Intel or AMD employees), the new 3rd Generation Ryzen CPUs are out performing or matching Intel processors of similar spec and the AMD CPUs are a lot cheaper. That means you get more bang for your buck.

I have been running a 2nd generation Ryzen CPU with ArcGIS Pro since December. It has performed amazingly well compared to my old Intel i7 quad core. It generally completes tasks about 15 to 25% faster. Also ArcGIS Pro seems to crash a lot less. Other none GIS processes run faster as well. I can render a video that took 30 minutes with my old intel CPU in 15 minutes. I can only imagine how much faster the new 3rd Gen Ryzens perform.

This week AMD launched their new Radeon 5700 video cards which are designed to compete with NVIDIAs GeForce RTX 2060 and 2070 series of middle level video cards. Just prior to AMDs release, NVIDIA released improved versions of the RTX 2060, 2070 and 2080 video cards to compete with the new AMD video cards. Again reviews of these competing cards so both run very close to one another.

Here are a couple of links for videos comparing the CPUs and Video Cards for those which want to see the actual numbers:

AMD and Intel CPUs compared:

JayzTwoCents – https://youtu.be/tNH9FYgW8m4

LinusTechTips – https://youtu.be/z3aEv3EzMyQ

Bitwit – https://youtu.be/QZAqV6yo2vo

AMD and NVIDIA Video Cards compared:

JayzTwoCents – https://youtu.be/dZlJbfiVGic

LinusTechTips – https://youtu.be/3bmQPx9EJLA

Gamers Nexus – https://youtu.be/-SAWtKEIYbw

What this all means, is competition is alive and well in the computer market. I expect prices to start dropping on both these new products as well as older generation. We have already seen this as AMD announced a price drop on their new video cards just as they were released. I expect Intel will need to drop the prices of their newer 9th generation CPUs to remain competitive with AMD.  So it might be a really good time to buy a new computer as this competition heats up. Not to mention vendors trying to get rid of older generation products. While these might not be the latest and greatest, they do have the benefit of being proven with better drivers and still better than what many of you may be using now.

I hope this information is useful. For those out at the Esri UC, I hope it is going well and you are learning a lot.

Upcoming ArcGIS Pro Classes

Learning ArcGIS Pro 1: Maps and Projects

Learning ArcGIS Pro 2: Editing, Analysis, and Automation

Learning ArcGIS Pro 3: Converting, Linking, and Analyzing Data

Learning ArcGIS Pro 4: Sharing Your Maps and Data

Introduction to Programming ArcGIS Pro with Python

Intermediate ArcGIS Pro Programming with Python


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Tripp Corbin
Tripp is Chief Executive Officer and Lead Instructor for eGIS Associates (our business partner). He is an award winning Esri Certified Trainer with over twenty years of experience orchestrating and managing surveying, mapping and GIS projects. He is recognized as an industry expert with a variety of geospatial software packages including Esri, Autodesk and Trimble products. Tripp was the primary author of several of our GIS courses including: Using AutoCAD data in ArcGIS class, ArcGIS Desktop Associate Exam Prep, ArcGIS 10: What’s New and assisted in the development of our ArcGIS Server Basics class. He is also a member of the Board of Directors for the GITA Southeast Chapter and a past board member of URISA International and the Georgia URISA Chapter. Tripp holds many certifications including GIS Certified Professional, ArcGIS Desktop Associate, ArcGIS Enterprise System Design Associate, Esri Certified Trainer, CompTia Certified Technical Trainer, Microsoft Certified Professional, URISA Workshop Instructor and Certified Floodplain Manager. Tripp is also the author of Learning ArcGIS Pro.

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