Recommended specs for new GIS workstation

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01-15-2019 06:39 AM
MichaelWoodward
New Contributor III

Currently have a 5-year old Dell Optiplex 920 with the following specs

Intel® Core™ i7-4770

16GB (4x4GB) 1600MHz DDR3 RAM

GeForce GTX 1050 Ti

Samsung 850 EVO 512 GB SSD Boot Drive

1TB 7200 rpm Storage Drive

It's my turn to get a new machine this year and I'm not sure If I need to build a higher-end gaming desktop, or get an actual workstation.  I maintain our City's water, sewer, drainage, and zoning maps.  Right now the machine is quite slow using ArcGIS Desktop 10.6.  When working in ArcMap, I get lots of freezing up and "Not Responding" messages.  I to have several different years on aerial images in my map, as well as layers for water, sewer, drainage,m zoning etc.  The aerial images are not stored on a local machine, they are accessed through the NC OneMap server.  I'm not 100% sure if the slow downs are caused by our network, or my hardware.

What would you recommend as specs for a new machine?  I may be forced to go with a Dell machine by our "IT" department, but I may be able to talk my way out of it if there is something better.

27 Replies
JoshuaBixby
MVP Esteemed Contributor

Have you checked out ArcGIS Pro 2.2 system requirements—ArcGIS Pro | ArcGIS Desktop, Esri lists both supported and recommended.

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MichaelWoodward
New Contributor III

I did see that.  My current machine is rated as "recommended" or "optimal" according to their specs, but it is still slow.  My municipality is new to GIS, so I don't have anyone to help me determine if my issues are hardware, software, or network related.

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JoshuaBixby
MVP Esteemed Contributor

Can you describe "slow?"  ArcGIS Desktop does lots of things, saying it is "slow" is like telling a doctor you hurt and asking him what is wrong without providing any specific information.

MichaelWoodward
New Contributor III

I wrote a brief description of my issue in the original post, 2nd paragraph.  I can try to go into more detail this afternoon

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JoshuaBixby
MVP Esteemed Contributor

I wouldn't describe what is described in the 2nd paragraph as very specific.  For example, " When working in ArcMap, I get lots of freezing up and "Not Responding" messages."  What does "when working" mean?  Are you running geoprocessing tools?  If so, which ones?  Are you building maps for either printing or export?  If so, how are the map layouts structured in terms of data layers and layout elements?  Are you editing data?  If so, what data and how?

I don't mean to sound dismissive, I want to help, but there isn't really anything specific enough here yet for people to comment on if you say your machine already meets Esri requirements and then some.

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MichaelWoodward
New Contributor III

You'll have to forgive me for my poor description of the problem as I'm still new to ArcGIS.  I started out maintaining all our City's utilities in AutoCAD, after redrawing them all from paper maps.  Someone in the administration decided they wanted to "use GIS" so they hired a contractor to convert all my AutoCAD data into GIS.  The contractor gave me 8 hours of GIS training.  I've been working to clean up that data ever since.

My database is one layer, with feature classes for each utility type (water, sewer, etc).  I have layers for parcels, city limits, and zoning.  Then I have 4 different layers of aerial imagery, (different years) that are accessed through the NC One Map servers.

I'm mainly editing the utility data right now.  I'll select "edit features" for whatever utility I'm working on that day.  I get nothing from our people in the field, so I mainly make edits using the aerial images as a reference, or scanned tiff files I have georeferenced.  I'll move a hydrant or manhole, or create new ones using the "create features" tool.  Pretty basic stuff.  Sometimes just panning the view around, or selecting an object can cause the map to freeze up.  The cursor will change to the blue/green circle and spin, or the whole screen will grey out and say "not responding".  I have to remember to save my updates constantly ( I know you should do that anyways) because sometimes the program will completely crash.

It's worse when I have the aerial imagery on.  I often have to switch between images to be able to get the clearest view of the area I'm working on.  Sometimes the images switch quickly, sometimes it will hang up for 15-30 seconds. There doesn't seem to be any rhyme or reason to it. 

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JoshuaBixby
MVP Esteemed Contributor

What version of ArcMap are you running?  Also, are the map services public facing, could I access them?

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MichaelWoodward
New Contributor III

ArcGIS Desktop 10.6

Version 10.6.0.8321

I believe you could access them, I don't remember having to use a login/password to access them.  The server URL is https://services.nconemap.gov/secure/rest/services .  I use the 2007, 2010, 2012 and 2018 imagery.  They are all located in the "Imagery" folder

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JoshuaBixby
MVP Esteemed Contributor

As others have already mentioned, this seems to be more an issue with your network and accessing/using data sources than your machine, so buying a new machine will likely not improve the situation.

I took a look at those imagery services, they are public facing and accessible.  In terms of structure, the imagery services are pretty vanilla, nothing special about them.  In terms of performance, well, pretty poor at larger map scales.  The services initially load fairly quickly, but when you start zooming in, the response times become 5+ seconds.  I had one zoom take 8 seconds.

ArcMap is, unfortunately, very linear/serial in many aspects, including rendering and refreshing data layers.  If you have several data sources that each take several seconds to refresh, it can easily cause ArcMap to "hang" for 10+ seconds or even much longer.  We have run into similar issues in our organization where users have 50+ data sources from EGDBs, GIS Servers, and other network sources in a data frame and complain about how long it takes to open ArcMap and visualize data.

There is likely no silver bullet to making your application fast.  Troubleshooting network data sources takes time, effort, and in-depth knowledge of how the applications (both server and client) and network operate.  It could be that EGDBs and GIS services are slow because the data is slow at the ArcGIS Server tier, but it could also be the data is fine with the servers, and the issue is the connection between the client and the server.

While you sort out the root cause of your issues, only keep the data layers you need in the data frame.  If layers are loaded in the data frame but visibility is turned off, the client still likes to talk with those servers.  Dragging unused slow layers from the active data frame to another data frame cuts out all of that extraneous chatter between the client and server and can help the responsiveness of the application in certain cases.