Best Laptops for ArcGIS in 2020

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Are you looking for the best laptops for ArcGIS?

If you answered yes, then you’re in the right place.

GIS can be tricky if you don’t have the right hardware with you. If you’re working with ArcGIS, you need to have a good laptop at your disposal to get the most out of your time and effort.

Dell XPS 15 table

In a hurry?
Here’s our Editor’s choice:
Dell XPS 15

GIS tasks require heavy processing power and not all laptops can do them without breaking down once or twice during the process. What you need is a good laptop with excellent hardware that runs ArcGIS without breaking a sweat.

We’ve done hours of research to find the best laptop for running ArcGIS. Since we couldn’t zero in on one particular machine, we’ve come up with laptops that are great for their category.

Without further ado, let’s jump right into it.

The Best Laptops for ArcGIS and other GIS Software


Dell XPS 15
(Editor’s Choice)

15.6″ FHD
Intel Core i7
16GB DDR4 RAM
256GB SSD

MacBook Pro 16″
(Best Mac)

16″ Retina
Intel Core i7
16GB DDR4 RAM
256GB SSD

Acer Aspire 5 Laptop
(Most Affordable)

15.6″ FHD
Intel Core i5
8GB DDR4 RAM
256GB SSD

Best Laptop for ArcGIS – Dell XPS 15″ (Editor’s Choice)

Based on a ton of research, the best laptop for ArcGIS is the Dell XPS 15″ laptop. This Dell laptop comes with all the hardware you need for a seamless GIS performance.

The first thing that’s going to get your attention is the design of this laptop. The device comes in a rich shade of silver and is made of premium materials.

The chamfered edges are a nice touch to the laptop and it makes the laptop feels more premium. Being a 15.6″ laptop, this is not a laptop you want to carry around with you. Having said that, the laptop weighs just around 3.97 pounds which is not bad for a laptop in this size category.

The main reason for this lightweight is because of the thin bezels surrounding the screen. Thanks to this design refinement, Dell has reduced the footprint of a 15.6″ laptop into that of a 14″ laptop.

The keyboard on this laptop needs a mention. It is easy to type on and comes with good feedback. The tactile response makes this one of the best keyboards to type on.

The keys are backlit and that means you can use this one even in a dark environment. The trackpad is decent and comes with accurate response pickup.

The display is one of the best features of this laptop. We have a 15.6″ display that comes with a full HD resolution. It is also an anti-glare display that allows you to work even in bright environments without the need to face your reflection.

Being an IPS panel, the Dell XPS does well when it comes to color reproduction. You can enjoy the same colors from pretty much any angle and that’s a nice thing to have.

Let’s talk about the processing power of this laptop.

An Intel Core i7 processor from Intel’s 9th gen of chips powers this model. This is a hexa-core processor that comes with a base clock speed of 2.6GHz. With Turbo Boost, the processor can clock to a maximum of 4.5GHz.

This is one beast of a processor and does very well when it comes to everyday applications. The processor also handles ArcGIS like a boss. You can throw the most complicated of tasks, and this CPU will handle them without any issues.

The memory in this laptop is made of 16 gigs of DDR4 type RAM and it supports the processor in the best way possible. This is the right amount of memory you want if you want to work with ArcGIS. Though 8 gigs of RAM might be okay in some cases, having 16GB will not hurt.

The graphics card in the Dell XPS laptop is an Nvidia GeForce GTX 1650 graphics card and it comes with 4 gigs of dedicated memory. This is an excellent graphics card and it is perfect for some serious gaming.

ArcGIS requires a good amount of graphics processing and this is met with the Nvidia GeForce GTX 1650 graphics card. It can handle any amount of graphics-intensive tasks without slowing down the overall performance of the laptop.

The solid-state drive in this Dell XPS model is a 256GB one and it is once of the fastest SSDs you’ll find on the market. Having an SSD is crucial for a machine that works on GIS as you have to deal with large files regularly.

The Dell XPS comes with a variety of connectivity options for users. There are a couple of USB 3.0 Type-A ports, a USB 3.1 type C port, an SD card slot, and also an HDMI port. The laptop also comes with built-in WiFi and Bluetooth 4.1.

Overall, the Dell XPS is a solid laptop and is easily the best laptop for ArcGIS as it ticks all the checkboxes when it comes to doing GIS tasks.

Pros

Slim for a 15″ device
Nice display
Excellent performance

Cons

A bit expensive

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Best Apple Laptop for ArcGIS – Apple MacBook Pro 16″

Apple’s latest 16″ MacBook Pro is our next pick for the best notebook for running ArcGIS.

With excellent hardware and software together, the MacBook Pro delivers a seamless performance making it the best mac for ArcGIS.

With a minor design refresh, the MacBook Pro came out in 2019 with a lot of hope for Apple fans. Apple rectified the keyboard issue and made the bezels thinner making this 16″ laptop fit into a much smaller footprint.

The keyboard is a lot easier to type on and comes with more travel. The backlighting is excellent and you don’t see it bleeding as it does on other laptops. The lack of a dedicated number pad might bother a few, but for us, it wasn’t a problem.

The touch bar might need some getting used to but it sure does work well. The trackpad is the best you’re going to find on a laptop. The palm rejection is excellent and all your hits are captured accurately without missing a beat.

The display on the MacBook Pro is one of the best out there. This here is a 16″ display that comes with a Retina resolution. The display comes with excellent colors and is one of the most color-accurate displays.

The image quality is excellent as you get deep blacks and bright whites and nice greyscale features. If you like reading on the web, then you’ll appreciate the sharp text on the screen.

With excellent viewing angles, this display is perfect for sharing a presentation with your colleagues. You will also enjoy watching your favorite Netflix shows on this screen.

We can’t miss the speaker on this machine. Its volume can go high and you won’t hear a lot of distortion even at the highest volume. This alone makes this laptop a media consumption beast.

How good is the MacBook Pro when it comes to handling ArcGIS?

The MacBook Pro is powered by an Intel Core i7 processor from the 9th generation of Intel chips. This processor comes with 6 physical cores and is one of the most powerful processors out there.

With a maximum clocking frequency of 4.5GHz, this processor can handle some serious workload without any issues. The laptop can easily handle any aspect of GIS, thanks to the sheer processing power inside.

With 16 gigs of RAM in the memory department, you can expect this laptop to run more than a few applications at the same time without any hiccups. This DDR4 type RAM comes with excellent clock speed and can handle more work at the same time without any issues.

One of the main reasons for the MacBook Pro’s performance is the storage in it. We have a 512GB SSD that comes with excellent read and write speeds.

If you’re working with ArcGIS, you may have to move huge files after finishing up with the process. With this SSD in place, moving them around will be a painless experience.

Another important aspect you need in a GIS laptop is the graphics card. We have an AMD Radeon Pro 5300M GPU that is of GDDR6 type. This GPU comes with a dedicated video memory of 6GB which is more than enough for most GIS tasks.

Macs are not great for playing games. So if you’re a gamer, even with this powerful GPU, you’re going to have some issues which are inherent with Macs.

People working on GIS projects are usually not concerned about the battery life of their laptops. With the MacBook Pro, you get around 10 hours of battery life which is nice to have.

To sum it up, the Apple MacBook Pro is a solid laptop and comes with all the hardware you need to make your ArcGIS experience flawless. Without a doubt, the 16″ MacBook Pro is the best mac for ArcGIS.

Pros

Powerful performance
Superb display
Impressive graphics

Cons

A tad expensive

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Best Windows Laptop for ArcGIS (Runner Up) – Surface Laptop

The Surface Laptop is Microsoft’s answer to the laptop segment. Even as a full-fledged laptop, it comes with a touchscreen that sticks to Microsoft’s design language.

This laptop here is a well-designed one. It is a 13.5″ laptop and comes with a solid build quality that’s worth the premium. The screen is well built with premium materials while the keyboard is made with softer but durable materials.

The display is one of the best features of this laptop. We have a 13.5″ that comes with PixelSense resolution and does very well when it comes to colors. It has an excellent contrast ratio and you can see that in the colors you see on the screen.

The speakers on this laptop are also impressive. They can get very loud without being distortive. Both the video and the audio capabilities of this laptop make this an excellent machine for media consumption.

The laptop is powered by a powerful Intel Core i5 processor from the 10th generation of Intel chips. This is a quad-core processor and comes with enough power to handle all your GIS needs. When taking care of your everyday activities, this processor will be like a hot knife through butter.

When it comes to memory, we do recommend 16 gigs of RAM for optimum performance for the GIS tasks. But you should also be okay with 8GB if taking this machine to 16GB is going to cost you a lot more.

The machine supports a maximum of 32 gigs of DDR4 memory which is a lot.

For storage, we have 256 gigs of high-speed storage. The SSD here is a fast one and comes with excellent reading and writing speeds. It boots up the OS in a few seconds.

When it comes to handling huge applications, the SSD opens and closes them super quick. Since you’re going to be working with ArcGIS, you will have to deal with bug files and this SSD wills surely come in handy.

How good is the graphics performance of the Surface Laptop?

It comes with an AMD Radeon RX Vega 11 graphics card. This is a pretty good GPU and does well when it comes to graphics performance. It can handle your GIS tasks without any issues whatsoever.

If you like to game, then this GPU will come in handy there as well. You can play the most recent games without any issues. If you like to play MMORPGs, be assured that this laptop is a beast for it.

The laptop comes with a battery life of 10.5 hours which is pretty good. Since you’ll be doing some heavy lifting, expect this number to go down. Most ArcGIS users don’t rely on battery life, so this will not affect your performance in any way.

Overall, the Microsoft Surface Laptop is a good choice when it comes to ArcGIS. The hardware and software merge to give you the best Windows experience there is.

Pros

Great build quality
Good performance
Excellent graphics

Cons

Laptop wobbles when using the touchscreen

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Best Affordable Laptop for ArcGIS – Acer Aspire 5 Slim laptop

If you’re looking for an affordable laptop to run ArcGIS, then this Acer Aspire 5 Slim laptop is probably the best bet for you.

The Acer Aspire 5 Slim laptop comes with all the features you need for a proper GIS experience but without the hefty price tag.

This is a 15.6″ laptop that comes with a full HD resolution. Even though this is a budget laptop, Acer has included an IPS panel which surprised us.

The picture quality is very good for the price and the contrast ratio is not that bad even when compared with flagship laptops. The text on the screen is sharp and with full HD resolution, you should get a sharp view of what you’re looking at.

The laptop is also good for media consumption. The speakers are not that impressive, but if you can get a good set of speakers or a decent headphone, you’re all set.

The keyboard is pretty good to type on. There is no backlighting due to the budget pricing but that’s to be expected. The trackpad is decent and does what it is supposed to, but nothing great.

The laptop is powered by an 8th gen Intel core i5 processor. This is a dual-core processor that comes with a maximum clock speed of 3.9GHz which is more power than you’ll ever need.

The laptop does well when it comes to everyday tasks. Even with ArcGIS, you will see that the laptop does well. It does not lag when it comes to handling heavy applications which matters a lot when doing GIS-related work.

There are 8 gigs of RAM in the memory department and this should be just okay when it comes to GIS. We’ve mentioned that 16GB is like the optimum memory for a laptop to run ArcGIS. But for a budget laptop, this is the best you can go for.

The Acer Aspire 5 Slim laptop also lacks a dedicated graphics card. But thanks to Intel’s improved integrated graphics solution, running ArcGIS is not that big of a challenge. There will be scenarios where the laptop will struggle a bit, but you’d be okay for the most part.

The Acer Aspire 5 Slim laptop comes with a 256GB SSD which is a lot faster than traditional hard drives. They may not be as fast as the ones you find in MacBook and Surface laptops, but they do get the job done faster.

One of the advantages of the Acer Aspire 5 Slim laptop is that there is a fingerprint sensor for added security. With the touch of a finger, you can log in to your Windows profile and use it for other applications as well.

If you in a tight budget, the Acer Aspire 5 Slim laptop is a great laptop to get for ArcGIS. It brings excellent processing power, a solid display, and decent graphics performance so we can even call it the best budget laptop for ArcGIS and other GIS software.

Pros

Very affordable
Excellent processing power
Good battery life

Cons

No discrete graphics

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Best 2-in-1 Laptop for ArcGIS – Lenovo Yoga 730 2-in-1

If you’re looking for a 2-in-1 laptop for ArcGIS, then the Lenovo Yoga 730 should be on your shortlist.

The Lenovo Yoga 730 is a mid-range laptop that comes with an impressive array of specs. It gives you the freedom of a 2-in-1 without burning a hole in your pocket.

The design of the laptop is what makes it special. The build quality of excellent and you don’t feel like handling a cheap laptop made of plastic. The hinges are smooth allowing a seamless transition from one mode to another.

The display here is a 15.6″ full HD display that comes with an IPS panel. There are a lot of things to like about this display. You have a full HD display which means you’re going to see things clearly without any blur.

Yes, there are laptops with much more resolution, but at this price, it is going to be tough to beat this. The fact that you’re getting an IPS display means you get good viewing angles as well.

In the tablet mode, the device is very responsive. The display supports multi-point touch and accurately captures all your touches without any misses. If you’re on the run, then this tablet mode, despite being big, will surely come in handy.

The real hero in this convertible laptop is the processing power.

We have an Intel Core i5 processor that comes with 4 cores. This is a low voltage processor but it delivers enough power to run GIS applications without any issues. The processor also plows through all your everyday activities without any issues.

There are 8 gigs of RAM that help you multiple apps at the same time a.k.a. multitasking. Thanks to Intel’s support for multithreading, you can run multithreaded applications without any problem. You can also increase the memory at a later date which is a nice feature to have.

The Lenovo Yoga 730 comes with a 256GB PCIe SSD which is quite fast. The SSD boots the system up in just a few seconds. You can also move big files quickly between your drives.

The lack of a discrete graphics card is a bit disappointing but this is what you can expect in this price range. The integrated graphics do well when it comes to handling GIS-related simulations and other graphically intensive tasks.

The battery life of the Lenovo Yoga 730 is not that bad. With regular use, the laptop can last for about 8 hours which is pretty good. If you’re going to go full monty on this laptop, then expect a faster battery drain.

The Lenovo Yoga 730 is a solid 2-in-1 laptop. If you want the best 2-in-1 in the business, then the Surface Pro 7 is a good choice. But if you want to save a ton of $$$, then the Lenovo Yoga 730 is the best 2-in-1 laptop for ArcGIS and other GIS software.

Pros

Smooth design
Neat performance
Impressive battery life

Cons

No discrete graphics card

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Best Gaming Laptop for ArcGIS – MSI GV62 8RD-276

If you’re a gamer who needs a laptop for ArcGIS or other GIS applications, then don’t look further than the MSI GV62 8RD-276 laptop.

This MSI GV62 8RD-276 model is a mid-range gaming laptop that comes at a good price point and delivers well when it comes to gaming and GIS tasks.

From the first look, you can tell that this is a gaming laptop. The design is neat and something MSI takes very seriously to stand out from the crowd. Being a gaming laptop, the MSI laptop comes with an excellent cooling system that assures long gaming sessions without any compromise.

The keyboard is another aspect we love on this laptop. The keys come with enough travel and give you excellent feedback. The red backlighting might not click with everyone but it does add some character to the device.

The trackpad is decent and does what it is supposed to. If you’re serious about gaming, then you should get a dedicated gaming mouse for your gaming needs.

The MSI GV62 8RD-276 comes with a 15.6″ display that has a resolution of 1920 x 1080 pixels. This is an IPS panel and comes with really good viewing angles. If you like movies on your laptop screen, then you’ll like this experience as well.

The contrast ratio of the display is impressive and it leads to deep blacks and bright whites. You will enjoy the bright and dynamic colors during gaming as well as during GIS tasks.

The processing power of the MSI GV62 8RD-276 laptop is also more than needed. We have an Intel Core i7 processor that has 6 cores and comes with a maximum clocking frequency of 3.4GHz which is nice.

The processor can handle all the applications without any problem. When it comes to GIS tasks, the laptop does well without breaking a sweat. The memory department, with 16 gigs of RAM, comes in handy and works well with the processor to give you a seamless ArcGIS experience. The laptop supports a maximum of 32GB which should be more than enough even in the future.

When it comes to storage, we think that MSI has nailed it. The laptop comes with 128 gigs of SSD storage and 1TB of hard drive storage. This way you get both the performance you need and also the storage space for all the files you make.

The graphics card in the MSI GV62 8RD-276 laptop is an Nvidia GeForce GTX 1050Ti GPU that comes with 4 gigs of dedicated video memory. This GPU is excellent when it comes to gaming and you will be able to play most games without any issues.

The GPU also makes your GIS tasks a lot simpler. It takes the load from the processor and makes the process smoother and more efficient.

Overall, if you’re looking for a gaming laptop that won’t cost you a lot and will handle ArcGIS, then the MSI GV62 8RD-276 laptop is a good fit.

Pros

Excellent gaming performance
Solid design
Impressive processing power

Cons

Not very portable

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What To Look For In The Best Laptops For ArcGIS?

If you’re not happy with the recommendations provided above, it is perfectly fine.

We still want to help you and will give you a set of parameters a laptop should have for running ArcGIS and other GIS tools.

Take these recommendations into consideration and make sure the laptop you’re going for has these before taking your card out.

Processing Power

Processing power is very important for a laptop running ArcGIS.

You are going to do a lot of processor-intensive tasks for which you need a good amount of processing power in your kitty.

As a starting point, you need at least a dual-core processor from the 8th generation of Intel chips. These dual-core processors should be able to clock to a maximum of more than 3.0GHz.

If you want things to be ideal, you need a quad-core or a hexa-core processor that is from the 8th generation of Intel chips or later. The clock speed is not an issue here as you will have more power due to the availability of more cores.

When it comes to the RAM in your laptop, you need a minimum of 8 gigs of DDR4 type RAM. Anything below this is a big no-no.

Ideally, you want to have 16 gigs of RAM on your laptop. This will give you the right amount of power to run intensive GIS applications without any hiccups.

We don’t recommend 32 gigs at this stage mostly because it is overkill.

Graphics

Having a dedicated graphics card is a necessity for running ArcGIS and other GIS to get the best performance out of them.

Yes, most laptops will do fine even without the latest and the greatest discrete GPUs. The problem with integrated GPUs is that there will be a bottleneck and you’ll know it only when you see it. By that time, it will be too late to see it.

But if you’re on a shoestring budget, then you’ll be fine with a laptop with only an integrated GPU. It will not be the best experience, but it will still get the job done.

Battery Life

Battery life is not a big deal unless you are going to take the laptop with you where you don’t have charging points.

If that’s the case, then you need a laptop that will at least hold good for 6 hours. This way you can find a charging point before you completely run out of juice and will be able to continue working on your project.

We recommend getting a laptop that gives you all-day battery life. You can work freely without having to worry about your laptop giving up on your any minute.

Storage

Storage is one of the most important things on a laptop.

You need to consider two things when you’re deciding on the storage of a laptop; Space and Speed.

Your storage needs to give you both the space for storing all your data and it also has to be fast enough to handle your everyday workload.

In an ideal condition, we’d recommend going with SSDs as they are super fast when compared to hard drives. But they are expensive and it can increase your laptop’s cost quickly.

If possible you should go with hybrid hard drives that come with both an SSD and also a hard drive. It will give you the speed you want and also the storage your files need.

Display

While the display is not an important factor, you are going to spend a lot of time in front of it.

Don’t settle for anything less than full HD as the image quality could disappoint you in the future.

You can also go for QHD displays as it will give you more details on what you’re working on.


That’s curtains for this post.

We hope we helped make your decision simpler.

Our recommendations are well researched and you can’t go wrong with them.

If you have better options, do let us know in the comment section below. We’d love to see that.

Do visit DTC for more detailed buying guides.

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