I need a new laptop within the next couple weeks to use at grad school for GIS. I am a geology & geography major and use numerous aerial and satellite photos at once and often use ArcScene. I know that I should probably get an HP zbook with a workstation quadro series video card, but that is a tad out of my budget. Would a gaming laptop (such as alienware or ASUS Rogue) with an NVIDIA geforce card work almost as well?

  • I think your starting point should be the system requirements of ArcGIS 10.3.x for Desktop which talks about Video/Graphics adaptors under Hardware Requirements: desktop.arcgis.com/en/desktop/latest/get-started/…
    – PolyGeo
    Aug 10, 2015 at 23:38
  • Thank you. Yes I have seen that. My last laptop had far more than that and didn't come close to being able to handle the amount of data I was using on one map. My biggest concern is I use a lot very large raster files at one time on a map, lots of layers. I also use 3D a lot (arcscene). The minimum requirements for ArcMap are very low to what it really needs to actually function when you have lots of data. For instance I had 63 topographic raster files I had to meld together for the base layer of a map of Louisiana. I work with elevation maps on every map I make.
    – Sherry
    Aug 10, 2015 at 23:47
  • Please use the edit button beneath your question to revise it with any additional details, such as these, that pertain to your question.
    – PolyGeo
    Aug 11, 2015 at 0:09

1 Answer 1


GIS wont be a big drain on your graphics card. You might not want to hear this, but even an Intel integrated graphics chip will do fine.

I definitely wouldn't go for a workstation graphics card, they are used for precision, not performance, and are way too expensive.

If I were you, I'd get something nice and light so that you can carry it around for school work. If you can find one with a discrete graphics card, then go for it, but a 240+ GB SSD is probably going to change your experience more. And when you need to do lots of work, you'll plug into an external monitor, so don't get a giant laptop!

  • 1
    +1 to what @alexgleith said. your hdd and processor speeds are more likely to affect your performance. and go for faster cpu speed rather than lots of cores, as ArcGIS still isn't properly multi-threaded.
    – Adam
    Aug 10, 2015 at 23:20
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    oh, and RAM. LOTS OF RAM!
    – Adam
    Aug 10, 2015 at 23:21
  • Thank you both, the problem is my current desktop and laptop don't come close to handling the amount of elevation data I use. I have way over the minimum currently. I think I really need a high end graphics card. I am just not sure what the differences are between the GeForce cards and the Quadro k series cards and if it really makes that much of a difference. Some of my maps have a couple GB of data uploaded. My system will crash when trying to redraw.
    – Sherry
    Aug 10, 2015 at 23:49
  • I've been working in ArcScene today with a 10GB DEM and 9+ GB orthophotol, and my Quadro card handles that without a problem. ArcScene's drawing performance in general is pretty crappy though compared to ArcGIS Pro from what I have experienced so far.
    – Adam
    Aug 11, 2015 at 4:42
  • @Adam a quadro is a workstation graphics card...
    – Alex Leith
    Aug 11, 2015 at 4:46

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