This is a common question - I am buying a new PC to run Trimble Business Center / Business Center - HCE, what Spec of machine should I purchase and where will I get the biggest bang for my Buck, Euro, Pound etc. The following information should help you decide. We all understand that buying a new Laptop is a great opportunity to "improve your lives" and "to get a faster more productive machine" and that these opportunities typically come along every 2-3 years at best, so we don't want you to make a mistake, however having said that, we also do not continually benchmark new machines and new graphics cards as they become available because that really is not necessary these days for a software company - we simply cannot keep up with all the changes that happen annually.
Some Background that you may find helpful
Multi Core Computers will provide increased capability to run multiple applications at the same time (each application takes up a core for example - meaning that multi applications can run on separate threads. So if you are a MultiTasker - Multi Core technology will help you. When running a single application like Business Center - HCE or TBC v5, only certain computations can be "multi-threaded" and will use more than one core - however where most of our computation time is created by TIN Surface Modeling methods e.g. for creating a surface, creating a volume between surfaces, running a Takeoff Report, Running a Corridor Earthworks Report etc. the TIN Model Process is the most process hungry element, and our developers tell me that you cannot multi-thread that process i.e. you cannot see many locations for a surface and compute a radial sweep triangulation starting in many points to divide the work, because at some point the triangles along the "edges" of the sweeps will not be the same - so multi threading while maybe not impossible is at least extremely hard to do (and has not been done). So going out and buying a Multi Core computer, while it will help you in some areas will not help you in others - so spending big in this area (at least today) should not be done on TBC's behalf
Where you will get the biggest improvements in BC-HCE / TBC are the following
- Run the latest Windows and run the 64 Bit version of Windows and the TBC / BC-HCE application.
- Always keep your Operating System, Drivers and Bios up to date to get the greatest performance from your hardware. We appreciate that vendors sometimes put out problematic versions of these items, but more often than not they are always an improvement.
- Solid State Drive vs Spinning Drive. When we open projects, save projects or edit objects we are reading / writing to disk and writing the undo buffer, so this can be a bottle neck on large processes. Getting a faster Solid State Drive with great Read / Write time performance will help you significantly. When working with Point Clouds and Images the same applies.
- Graphics Card and Memory. Business center - HCE / Trimble Business Center is not developed for any specific Graphics Card to get the "best performance". We use whatever graphics card you have available. A higher performance card will typically perform better than a lower performance card. Getting a card with more memory helps a lot, especially when handling Imagery and Point Clouds or Large Rendered Surface Models. Purchasing a larger memory card will get you better results. Graphics cards vary wildly in price. The Nvidia GTX 1080 series is a good mid range buy today for the money, but you can't go wrong with the ones at the top of the ratings either. More Graphics Memory e.g. 4GB or higher is good to have.The following chart is helpful
- RAM - Business Center - HCE will consume and use available RAM - the amount pf RAM you have is going to dictate speed of operations on the larger jobs. We recommend that 32GB or 64GB is typically sufficient for most projects, but that does depend a little on how many applications you run simultaneously and also how big your data gets - if you are handling large Point Clouds, More RAM and more Graphics Memory combine to assist you. More RAM is a good investment. The speed of the RAM is also important - get the fastest RAM for the CPU that you are buying to get the best performance.
- CPU Speed and Number of Processors - CPU Speed is important - TBC / BC-HCE will use the Speed that you have, in places BC-HCE will use the Processors that you have. BC-HCE / TBC rarely uses more than a couple of Processors, so buying a Quad Core or 8 Core machine will not really benefit you. We dont really differentiate between Chipset Providers - however I have heard that Intel Chipsets typically perform better than AMD Chipsets - however that is a Chipset thing not a Business center thing.Since single threaded use is the most common use (at least today), you should look at the CPU Single Thread Benchmark Tests out there to judge the value for money on your CPU purchase - here is an example from CPUBENCHMARK.NET website (a good reference)
As you can see, the last 3 generations of CPU have yielded only ~25% improvement in performance - The top of the Line I7 Processors are good value for money at present and do not perform that differently to the I9 processors.
- Graphics Card Resolution - we are doing more and more work with High Resolution Screens - getting a good 4K monitor will benefit you. We have been reworking the User Interface in TBC v5 to better leverage the Higher Resolution monitors, it is good in TBC v5 and will get better and better as we move forwards. So getting a High Resolution Screen will help you in the long run.
- Touch Screen Technologies - I have no doubt that we will make more and more use of Touch Screen Technologies as we move forwards - while use of that is possible today, it is limited, but with the new active stylus technologies I am sure we will put the screens to good use in the future - I cannot tell you when, what for or for what purposes, but this technology is gaining momentum for sure.
Lastly I would comment that where people "complain" about speed or performance issues, when we review the projects that are "considered to be slow", we find that better management of the data in the project to minimize computation times is a far bigger issue than the computer that people are running on. There are many things that you can do to improve speed while working with Business Center - HCE / Trimble Business Center v5 and I have captured these in a document that has been posted on the forum for the past few months - below is a link to that document. Observing best practices and getting a "decent" computer go hand in hand and will save you hours a week when you get the balance right.
I hope that this helps - as I stated at the start of this Blog, we do not benchmark computers, Graphics Cards, RAM, Disk Drives or CPUs specifically and as a result we cannot be held accountable for a poor performing computer or associated hardware. The above are guidelines, and we cannot be more specific because we do not benchmark all of the latest technologies - we try to run on everything and run well.
We sometimes hear that people purchased a top of the line flying machine in the hopes to get great performance but failed to realize what they set out to achieve, we also hear people purchased mid line, good performance machines and got amazing results. Bottom line, TBC uses what you have as listed above, so choose wisely and spend wisely - a $3000 laptop computer should work great. If you have the chance to Try before you Buy that is recommended and pick your projects well to test out the hardware.
If you feel that you purchased a "winner" please feel free to comment on this post for the benefit of those entering the laptop purchase crap shoot!