I need an advice on what hardware configuration would be most efficient for a modern GIS professional. Should I go for out-of-the-box HP/DELL workstations or should I assemble different parts?

Note: 1). Softwares I will mostly use- ArcGIS, QGIS, ENVI, Erdas, Photomodeller & AutoCAD. 2). Extensive 3D modelling, point cloud processing, TIN generation etc. will be frequent. 3). Extensive geoprocessing needed. 4). Long hours of CPU/GPU usage.


as much as I noticed from working with GIS data I noticed that CPU speed seems not to be the limiting factor (I have a AMD Phenom II X6), but the I/O performance of the disks (currently WD Blue) as well as working memory (i have 16 GB). What I'm doing mostly is importing OSM-data to a PostgreSQL database and use this data for simulation purposes. The importing takes me about 2h and I run out of memory on 2/3 of the way and linux starts using the swap, which slows down every thing.

Taking into account what you wrote will be your main uses of the PC it is important, that you are able to have lots of RAM starting from 32GB, which is the limit of current Haswell. I do not know about AMD, but what I found quick was 64GB. Anyway I would recommend you to go towards Server CPUs like the Intel XEON, since they support ECC-Ram which will be really useful on long memory intense calculations. Worth mentioning are also the new Haswell-E.

Otherwise I would recommend you SSD drives, especially if you use databases like PostgreSQL. If you want to go all out for PCI-E SSDs.

In the end it will depend on your budget, but the most important points for you I see are RAM and I/O Performance.

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    IMO Dell computers are great for I.T. support being all out-of-the-box same components but not so great for GIS high-end workstations. I argued long and hard to not use Dell for processing workstatons; although applications will run on a laptop to get really good processing punch assemble yourself! Get the fastest CPU, the most RAM you can pack into it and a SSD (or two) but expect to burn them out unless you can get a RAID card - I use 10xWD Red 3TB drives in a RAID 5 configuration but 10 would be better. Page and TEMP to RAID to save SSD writes and you'll have a good PC. – Michael Stimson Sep 1 '14 at 21:45
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    @Josh want Dell Workstation are you fanzying? Could you post a link? – Benjamin Sep 1 '14 at 23:02
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    Another good point Michael Miles-Stimson mentioned is RAID. Have a look here. Also as he said minimizing writes on the SDD is in gerneral a good thing, but don't worry to much about it. Some SSD go up to the petabytes as Techreport tested. Best I/O performance propably have PCIe SSDs. For SATA once I know that Samsung and Intel are doing well. – Benjamin Sep 1 '14 at 23:20
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    With 512GB RAM you could do crazy things like a RAM-Disk, which gives you crazy performance. Funny video [Youtube] which compares HDD & SDD & RAM-Disk(youtube.com/watch?v=j4wJlg53hlQ) I would recommend you ECC RAM, even if it is a little more expensive, but it has error correction methods build in and RAM in gerneral does have its faults. pugetsystems.com/labs/articles/Advantages-of-ECC-Memory-520 – Benjamin Sep 1 '14 at 23:23
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    Rather than going for a i7 I would advice you to the Xeon E3-1231v3. Otherwise it looks like a normal gaming PC :) – Benjamin Sep 2 '14 at 11:20

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