Laptop for beginners

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12-06-2019 05:15 PM
KatieDino
New Contributor

Hello,

I am a student, just beginning my GIS courses.  Up to this point, I have been able to use my 2016 MacBook Pro.  Three of my future courses will require a machine that can run ArcGIS Pro 2.4.  For the past 15 years, I have only been using MacBooks. I have been advised to make sure that your computer meets the specifications needed to run ArcGIS Pro 2.4, both in terms of hardware but also the video/graphics adapter requirements (including the dedicated graphics RAM)  Your computer should meet the RECOMMENDED specifications, not the MINIMUM.  https://pro.arcgis.com/en/pro-app/get-started/arcgis-pro-system-requirements.htm

 

My question is, can I successfully partition the hard drive on my MacBook (specs below) to run the program or is it better to purchase a PC? 

If I need to buy a new machine, can someone recommend the best laptop for someone new to ArcGIS Pro 2.3 and unfamiliar with PCs?  I am looking for something that is user friendly and reasonably priced.

 

Thank you in advance!

 

2016 MacBook Pro (15- inch)
Processor: 2.7 GHz Intel Core i7
Memory: 16 GB 2133 MHz LPDDR3
Graphics: Intel HD Graphics 530 1536b MB
Storage: 500 GB Flash Storage (220.12 GB available)

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9 Replies
curtvprice
MVP Esteemed Contributor

I think Pro 2.4 would run fine on this flavor Mac under BootCamp. Not blazing fast, but certainly sufficient. Before you follow Apple's instructions to set up BootCamp, be sure you back up everything in case something goes wrong while re-partitioning your hard disk. (I LOVE Time Machine backups, it's a big reason I have Macs!) Be sure you include your BootCamp partition in your Time Machine after you've got it set up!) You want to probably give Windows at least 150 GB so you know you will have enough room for OS and software. You may want to do a bit of "cleanup" to make sure you have enough breathing space - full disk partitions can make OS and software really slow and unstable.

The key factor if your processor is reasonably current (i7x4) is that you have enough RAM - you would never want to run Pro (or ArcMap for that matter) on a machine (Including a Windows virtual machine) without at least 8 - 10 GB of RAM. Starving ArcGIS of RAM is a recipe for a bad experience.

I have the best of both worlds on my Mac Pro (black can), 16G 6-core i7. I have installed and set up apple BootCamp and usually run Win 10 using Parallels Desktop off the BootCamp partition. I configure 8 - 10 GB of RAM to the Parallels VM. If I find Pro needs more resources, I reboot the Mac into BootCamp to get my entire 16 GB.  But while running Parallels I can switch back and forth between Mac and Win without a reboot.

Esri does not support running Pro 2.3 or later in a VM (see help link below) -- only BootCamp, but I am currently running 2.5 beta with Win10 under Parallels 15 and I have not had problems. If I do run into an issue, I can reboot the Mac to BootCamp and keep working.

Before you invest in a new laptop, I would try the BootCamp route and see what kind of performance you get. You would need to obtain a copy of Windows 10. Check with your school to see if you can get a free license through your university Windows license.

Run ArcGIS Pro on a Mac—ArcGIS Pro | Documentation 

KatieDino
New Contributor

Hi Curtis,

Thank you so much for your suggestions and advice!  I greatly appreciate the time you have taken to provide such a thorough reply.   I will have Apple walk me through this and make sure I get everything right.  I will be using your post as a blueprint!

Thank you again!

Katie

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IanSims
Esri Contributor

Hi Katie,

Firstly I'd like to thank Curtis Price‌ for his excellent and thorough suggestions.  He's right on the ball.

One thing I'd like to update you on from an Esri dev standpoint is our support position regarding Parallels should you choose to run your Bootcamp image thru Parallels as a virtual machine.  We had to remove it after Pro v2.2 due to needing to support newer versions of DirectX (11) and Parallels was stuck at DirectX 10.  However, we're happy to be resuming support for Parallels and Pro on the Mac with Parallels 15 and MacOS Mojave and newer as DirectX 11 is now supported thru Apple's Metal API.  We're updating our help topics on Mac virtualization support in Pro to reflect this.

Should you choose to do this, we've found that you get the best performance if you disable automatic graphics switching.  This allows Pro to better utilize a GPU.

As both a windows and Mac user myself, I enjoy the flexibility of being able to run native MacOS and Windows apps on the same hardware, either at boot time with Bootcamp, or side-by-side with Parallels!

I hope this helps.

Cheers,

Ian S.

ArcGIS Performance Engineering

KatieDino
New Contributor

Hi Ian,

I greatly appreciate you adding this update regarding Parallels!  This was a great help!

I feel much better continuing on my path with my current Mac knowing support exists should I need it.  My professor had mentioned that our IT department does not offer support or assistance for Macs running Boot Camp.  

In the event that performance suffers and I have to purchase another machine, I would love to stick with a Mac.  I would devote my current machine to school / Windows apps and purchase a new Mac Book for work.  This may not be the best idea though.  It seems that those using ArcGIS  are mainly working on PCs and it wouldn't be a bad idea to be well-versed on both machines.  As both a windows and Mac user, is there a windows laptop that you feel is a good fit for someone who prefers Mac computers?  I'm certain that somewhere down the line, I will be purchasing a PC as well.

Thank you so much!

Katie

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DeenaBowman
Occasional Contributor

I used Parallels on my mac for a long time - definitely preferred it to repartitioning using Boot Camp.

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esri
by
Occasional Contributor III

Ian Sims , thanks for your comment. I'm currently looking into getting a MacBook Pro for iOS development, but I'll also be required to use ArcGIS Pro / Utility Network.

 

Would this latest 16" MacBook Pro have any issue running ArcGIS Pro?

16-inch MacBook Pro - Space Gray - Apple 

 

Do you have any advice / recommendations on which available upgrades to get?

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IanSims
Esri Contributor

That's a great model. I would probably bump to 32GB of memory to give your machine extra breathability and life, and maybe consider upgrading to that 8GB GPU for the extra $100.

esri
by
Occasional Contributor III

Ian Sims‌ thanks, I appreciate your advice. And just for verification, you don't see any issues with that machine running ArcGIS Pro into the future?

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IanSims
Esri Contributor

About as certain as I can be given Apple's pending move to ARM chips. But this is an Intel box, so full steam ahead for now...