Hardware recommendations for heavy ArcGIS Pro usage

05-30-2022 02:55 PM
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New Contributor II

Hello Everyone,

We are going to start managing the IT for a local environmental consultant. One of the projects they want us to work on is a new PC upgrade for the users. They use ArcGIS Pro, which is new to us (the MSP). From my research, and from talking to our new client, it looks like they are considered to be heavy users of ArcGIS Pro. We know that they tend to use spatial analysis often, which looks like can be accelerated using a decent GPU. If we knew more about ArcGIS Pro, we would include more examples. We think it's safe to assume that they need hardware that can handle all of the different types of workloads ArcGIS Pro is capable of producing.

So here are some questions.

1.  Does the CPU benefit from:

1A.  A faster clock speed? (single threaded performance)
1B.  More cores? (multi threaded performance)
1C.  More on-die CPU cache? (for example: AMD 5800X3D since it has AMD 3D V-Cache)

For question 1, we believe the answer is 1A (a faster clock speed as ArcGIS Pro is mostly single threaded). However, we don't know if there are certain use cases where 1B or 1C would be better answers. If so, which use cases?

2.  Consumer or Workstation GPU?

2A.  If we stick with NVIDIA GPUs, would additional CUDA cores be the best way of gaining performance?
2B.  Would double precision floating point performance make a perceivable difference in speed?
2C.  Would there be a point of diminishing returns? How about for CUDA cores and RAM capacity? Is a 3060 (non-Ti) be enough for heavy ArcGIS Pro usage?

For around the same price of a RTX 3080 Ti 12 GB card (~$1230-$1300), would a RTX A4000 16 GB (~$1130) offer more performance? The RTX 3080 Ti generally has better performance (40% more CUDA cores), but the RTX A4000 has better double precision FP performance, and 16 GB (4 GB more, but also slower) RAM.

We know that spatial analysis is able to use GPU acceleration. Though I'm not sure which type of GPU (consumer/workstation) is best for performance per $.

3. Would we be better off sticking with 64 GB / 128 GB of DDR4? Or with 64 GB / 128 GB of DDR5? Beyond looking at the steep price of DDR5...

3A. At the same capacity, would the speed or latency matter more? DDR4 can easily have 14/16 CL, and is typically around 3600 MT/s. While current high end DDR5 is 30 CL, but is typically 5600+ MT/s.
3B. How rare would it be for ArcGIS Pro to consume more than 64 GB of RAM? Should we aim for 128 GB of RAM instead?

For the NVMe drive. We were planning on using a 1TB Samsung 980 Pro for the OS, and a 1 TB Sabrent Rocket 4 Plus that will only store the ArcGIS Pro files. We're planning on putting the Sabrent drive (ArcGIS files) in the M.2 slot directly connected to the CPU, and the Samsung drive (OS) in the M.2 slot connected to the PCH. We figure this would be the best way of gaining local disk performance.

Here are the two builds we was looking into. The mid range build is ~$2300, while the dream machine build is ~$4,300. We have a feeling that the mid range build wouldn't be bottlenecked by anything ArcGIS Pro is possibly capable to do. But since we (the MSP) know basically nothing about ArcGIS Pro, that might be a poor assumption. How much more of an improvement should we expect with the dream machine build? We are starting to doubt that it will be worth it, since it is nearly 2x the budget. And should just stick with recommending the mid range build.

Mid range build: https://pcpartpicker.com/user/pcpartpicker33/saved/3kBFZL
Dream machine build: https://pcpartpicker.com/user/pcpartpicker33/saved/wsNspg

Thanks for your help!

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Frequent Contributor III




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MVP Regular Contributor

As some folks have already noted, performance on specific hardware depends greatly on what you are doing in GIS. For instance, integrated graphics may be okay, if you're not doing any 3D GIS, more cores/CPUs can be helpful when your GIS task is parallelizable, lots of memory can be helpful with some raster workflows, etc.

I would suggest taking a look at PerfTools for ArcGIS Pro. You can use it to create automated test scripts that capture performance metrics for the kinds of GIS data and workflows that are relevant to your specific needs. See: PerfTools (Build 122) for ArcGIS Pro 2.x is now available for download

Also, take a look at the ArcGIS Pro Performance Assessment Tool (PAT). It includes pre-configured Perftools test scripts for some "standardized" testing. 

New Contributor II

Thanks for all of the suggestions! Since "it depends", it sounds like it would be best to trial two machines and have the client try out their existing workflow. One machine that is budget friendly, and another that is higher end. Then see if one has any major performance advantages when using their existing files.

Thanks for the tip about running PerfTools and PAT on the machines to see how much of a performance increase there is when using a standardized stress test.

Since I don't have the budget to test out every possible type of CPU/GPU/RAM combination (see questions 1, 2, and 3); I'll probably just settle on what makes the most sense to me.

New Contributor II

We are working on evaluating for a new spec in our org. There have been substantial advancements in computing tech but ESRI software doesn't typically leverage them. ESRI still prefers clock speed to cross core processing capabilities IE - Gaming machines (Alienware Aurora R15 etc) are still the best for ArcGIS Pro.

Unfortunately the Alienware is extremely loud and difficult to implement in business offices. We've been asked to consider standard towers. Looking for business class build options for single chip 13'th Gen I9 or W-3400/2400, NVIDIA Ampere 4090, 64 GB DDR5 RAM running on highest bus possible, and 2TB M.2 NVMe.

-Erik Lash
Hawaii County GIS
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New Contributor

Here are some resources I use to spec out computers for users using Pro.


I like Dell because of their excellent support:


Click on GIS... and they will list recommended models. 

There some really good sale going on thru June 13, 2023.






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