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In the search for the best laptops for drone mapping and photogrammetry?
Well, we have to say that you’ve done well to find us. Took you long enough.
In a hurry?
Here’s our Editor’s choice:
ASUS ROG Strix Scar III
Drone mapping is a specialized art. You can do it with any laptop at hand. Drone mapping is a blend of science and art and is performed by those who are experts in drone operation.
To make drone mapping work, you need a laptop with impressive hardware. A lackluster laptop that costs you $300 will not get the job done for you.
The good news is there is a ton of good and eligible laptops when it comes to drone mapping. The bad news is you have to spend a lot of time researching them.
But that’s why we’re here. We’ve researched for you and came up with 3 excellent models that are a good fit for drone mapping and photogrammetry.
Let’s take a look.
Best Laptop For Drone Mapping (Editor’s Choice) – ASUS ROG SCAR III
The ASUS ROG SCAR III is our best laptop for the best laptop for photogrammetry and drone mapping.
For drone mapping, you need excellent hardware that is backed by stable and reliable software. In this case, the ASUS ROG SCAR III provides just that. The good news here is that the model comes at a price that is pretty affordable for most people involved in making maps.
The ASUS ROG SCAR III is not a portable laptop. It comes with a 17.3″ display which is great as you get more real estate while working on your maps. The resolution of the display is full HD and though the pixel density takes a hit, we do get good imagery.
At 6 pounds, you don’t want to carry this laptop around frequently. But since making maps is the name of the game, we are not left with much of a choice.
Let’s talk about the image quality. The pictures on the screen are quite good and you can see millions of colors with great distinction. The panel here is an IPS one and it comes with amazing viewing angles. If you want to enjoy a movie with your friends, you can now.
Being a gaming laptop, the ASUS ROG SCAR III comes with a 120Hz refresh rate and a 3ms response time. These features make gaming on this laptop pure joy. The benefits of these features extend to drone mapping as well.
The keyboard on the laptop is an RGB keyboard and comes with good travel. It mimics the good qualities of a mechanical keyboard and offers a neat typing experience. There is also backlighting to the keyboard which is a nice touch.
The keyboard also comes with a dedicated number pad which should be handy for a lot of people. The trackpad is a decent one and gets your hits with excellent accuracy. Overall, the input side of things is very good on this laptop.
An Intel Core i7 processor powers this ASUS ROG SCAR III model. This is a quad-core processor that comes with a base clocking frequency of 2.6GHz and a maximum clock speed of 4.5GHz. This is a lot of processing power, even for drone mapping laptops.
Another nice advantage of this processor is that it comes with a 12MB cache memory. This memory will hold some applications while they are running and performance will be top-notch. This cache memory will also come in handy when you’re using office docs.
The memory department in this laptop is fully loaded with 32 gigs of DDR4 RAM which should be more than enough for most laptops used for photogrammetry. Usually, a large project is one where there are more than 2000 images involved. This RAM will handle even large projects with ease.
How good is the storage in the ASUS ROG SCAR III laptop? We have to say that it is very good. The laptop comes with 1TB of SSD storage which is very good.
Having fast storage on your laptop is very important when you’re dealing with large files like the ones in drone mapping. Even when you’re dealing with small projects that have just around 500 images, it can easily take up to 60 gigs of space which is a lot.
Let’s talk about the graphics department in the ASUS ROG SCAR III. We have an Nvidia GeForce RTX 2070 graphics card and it comes with 8 gigs of GDDR5 type memory which is humongous.
With this GPU in place, running games is not an issue as all. When it comes to drone mapping, the software runs smoothly without bringing the system down.
If there is one thing we don’t like about this laptop, it is the battery life. Gaming laptops are known for their battery life. We understand that, but not having a good battery life can seriously disrupt your workflow as times.
With an average battery life of around 5 hours, you should be able to find a charging port before you run out of juice. If you’re going to take this bad boy outside, then we recommend having power banks so that you can charge the laptop when needed.
Overall, the ASUS ROG SCAR III is one of the best notebooks for drone mapping and photogrammetry. It does come with an expensive price tag but that’s justified by the excellent hardware you get.
Best Notebook for Drone Mapping (Runner Up) – Microsoft Surface Book 2
The Microsoft surface book 2 is our second best choice for the best laptop for drone mapping and photogrammetry.
When it comes to handling high-end tasks, you can rely on Microsoft’s flagship laptop. The spec sheet of this laptop has some big names on it and the laptop also comes at a decent price making it a good choice for a lot of people.
One unique feature that Surface Book 2 brings to the table is the fact that it doubles up as a tablet as well. Though this is not an Android tablet, it still brings the best of Windows and presents to you in tablet form.
The display on this laptop is a 15.6″ one and it comes with what Microsoft calls PixelSense resolution. This is just a fancy name for QHD resolution but the laptop does come with some specific alterations made to the display.
When it comes to performance, this display is one of the best 15.6″ screens you’ll find on the market. The colors on the screen are vibrant and it makes the screen such a good fit for watching movies and tv shows on this laptop.
The speakers on the laptop deserve a mention as well. They sound excellent and it is hard to believe they are laptop speakers.
The design of the laptop is very impressive. Simple things like detaching the tablet from the laptop are given smooth movements making for great user experience.
The tablet version of the laptop is a treat to use. As it comes with support for external styluses, you can use this tablet to make illustrations and even take notes when you’re out doing mapping tasks.
The laptop comes with an Intel Core i7 processor and this is one of the most powerful processors out there. The quad-core processor has a maximum clock speed of 4GHz which is pretty good to have when you’re dealing with tasks like drone mapping.
You can throw pretty much any drone mapping software at this laptop and it will handle it like a boss. The memory department also comes in quite handy when it comes to performance. There are 16 gigs of RAM and they give you a seamless experience.
This memory should be adequate for the foreseeable future. But if you feel like adding more memory will improve the performance of your laptop. Or if the minimum requirements for applications change, then you can easily do so as the laptop gives you the freedom to change the memory within.
The storage on this laptop is a 512GB solid state drive. This is ample space for storing all your huge mapping files. But more than space, the solid state drive comes with excellent speed.
The reading and writing speed of this solid state drive are impressive and they can finish moving huge files from one place to another without breaking a sweat.
The graphics card in the Surface Book 2 is an Nvidia GeForce GTX 1060 GPU. This is a mid-range graphics card that comes with a discrete video memory of 6 gigs.
The graphics card does a good job when it comes to gaming. If you a lover of RPGs, then you’ll love playing those on this laptop. You may have to reduce the settings a bit when you’re dealing with AAA games.
The software most people use for drone mapping runs well on this laptop without any issues, thanks to the GPU in place.
Surface Book 2 comes with a ton of connectivity choices. You get a couple of USB type C ports, an SD card, and also a headphone jack. While this doesn’t look like a lot, the USB type C ports are very versatile and can be used for a lot of uses. You can use the same ports for both charging as well as transferring data.
The laptop also comes with support for WiFi and Bluetooth.
Surface Book 2 comes with an astonishing battery life of 17 hours which is just amazing. If you’re working on something complex, then you need all the battery life you can get, especially when you’re outdoors.
Even if you’re using the laptop on a heavy load, the device should stay alive for at least 6 to 8 hours which is crazy good.
To conclude, the Surface Book 2 is a brilliant laptop that also doubles up as a tablet. It is one of the best laptops for photogrammetry and drone mapping. If you’re looking to get a laptop for drone mapping, consider this model.
Best Mac For Drone Mapping – Apple MacBook Pro 16″
When it comes to drone mapping, you need a laptop with dedicated graphics to get the best results.
Only the 15″ and the 16″ MacBooks have dedicated graphics cards in them. So the choice was really simple for us.
The MacBook Pro 16″ laptop is our best mac for drone mapping and photogrammetry.
Make no mistake, this is one of the most expensive laptops you can find on the market. But if you favor macs over Windows machines, then chances are, you already know this piece of information.
There are quite a few things to talk about the design of this MacBook Pro. The construction of this laptop is meticulous and comes with one of the best on-hands feels for a laptop. The hinges are smooth and you can lift the lid with just one hand which is great.
This laptop weighs around 4.2 pounds which makes it one of the lightest laptops in the 15.6″ category. In fact, the MacBook Pro becomes the lightest laptop in this list as well.
The keyboard on this laptop has gone through a minor design uplift. Apple has gone back to its trusty keyboard design and as a result, we get a good keyboard with decent travel. The backlighting on the keys is excellent and will allow you to work in dark conditions.
One of the better innovations Apple has done over the last few years is the inclusion of the Touch bar. The Touch bar is a brilliant design innovation and it proves to be more useful than the function keys. Yes, you do have to re-program your muscle memory, but once that’s done you get an excellent experience.
There is also Touch ID on this laptop which will log you in with a simple touch. If multiple people are using the laptop, then using touch id will log you in to your user account without having to mention anything else.
One of the most amazing things about this MacBook Pro is its display. This is one of the best displays on a laptop you will find on the market. It comes with the Retina resolution and has one of the most color-accurate panels on a laptop as well. The screen covers both the sRGB and the P3 color gamut which is important for some people.
The display is perfect for anything related to colors, be it photo editing or video editing. You can also enjoy watching movies and tv shows on this display, thanks to the excellent viewing angles.
The MacBook Pro comes with the best speaker on any laptop. The sound coming out of the laptop is clear and it can get very loud as well. If you’re looking for a laptop to have the best multimedia experience, then this one is probably it.
The MacBook Pro also stands out in terms of performance. We have an Intel Core i7 processor that comes with a maximum clock speed of more than 4.0GHz. This processor has six physical cores and 12 logical cores to give you the best performance.
With 12MB cache memory, the processor can load all the important information you need at your fingertips for running certain applications. This is particularly true for office applications like Excel and Word.
You need a good amount of memory to drone mapping software efficiently and comfortably without any slowdowns. There are 16 gigs of DDR4 RAM that does the same thing without breaking a sweat.
The memory is also great for multitasking as well. You can now have 10s of tabs in your favorite browser and there won’t be any refreshing going on in any of the tabs. You can even try running virtual machines with this RAM and you won’t feel any hiccups whatsoever.
The storage on this MacBook Pro model is very good. We have a 512GB solid state drive that comes with amazing reading and writing speeds. Since we are dealing with making maps, we’re going to handle some huge files in the future.
This solid state drive gives you the ability to deal with these big files in just a few seconds. From the data we have, you can easily move around GBs of data in just a few seconds.
Let’s talk about the graphics performance of the MacBook Pro. Having a good graphics card is very important to have a decent experience with drone mapping software. Apple’s decision to not go with Nvidia GPUs is baffling but have they succeeded in getting good results?
We have an AMD Radeon Pro 5300M GPU on the MacBook Pro. It comes with a dedicated memory of 6GB that is of GDDR6 type. The GPU is good enough to run even some high-end AAA games without any issues. When it comes to photogrammetry, there is no reason to worry about performance.
If you worry about your laptop’s battery life, then you have nothing to worry about here. The MacBook Pro comes with an almost all-day battery life which is great if you are taking this laptop with you outdoors.
Even with heavy workloads, the laptop should last for about 5 to 7 hours which gives you a lot of time to find a charging point to get the laptop back to running.
If you want to use Macs for your drone mapping and photogrammetry needs, the MacBook Pro 16″ is the laptop you should be getting.
What To Look For In The Best Laptops For Drone Mapping & Photogrammetry
Here are some of the factors you should consider if you want to choose the laptop by yourself.
You don’t want to be dealing with a less powerful laptop when it comes to drone mapping.
When it comes to the processor, go for at least an Intel Core i5 or i7 processor. A dual-core processor might look like a good choice from the cost perspective but always go for a quad-core processor minimum.
If you really want the best performance and don’t worry about the cost, you can even try an Intel Core processor with 6 or 8 cores to handle the simulations and related workloads.
The memory department is something you don’t want to skimp on. Each and every aspect of drone mapping is going to need a lot of RAM, so don’t be stingy here.
The following are some simple guidelines to follow depending on the project sizes
- Small projects (<100 images) – 8GB DDR4 RAM
- Medium projects (100 – 500 images) – 16GB DDR4 RAM
- Large projects (500 – 2000+ images) – 32GB DDR4 RAM
Graphics and Storage
For photogrammetry, you need a good graphics card to handle all the graphics-intensive tasks.
A laptop with integrated graphics is a big no-no as it will not be able to meet the demands of a drone mapping software. You will have a bad workflow and a terrible overall experience with just integrated GPUs.
As a minimum, you need a graphics card that supports OpenGL 3.2 and above. Sometimes even integrated GPUs also support this but it always better to go with dedicated GPUs for better results.
Most Nvidia GPUs with a dedicated memory of 2GB or more will be a good fit for drone mapping and photogrammetry. If you’d like to use this laptop for a long time, then go for a good graphics card even if it costs a bit.
Storage is not as big of a problem as other important ones.
You’re going to need a minimum of 30 gigs of free storage if you’re going to deal with small projects. If you’re going to run bigger projects, then be sure to get bigger storages that fit.
Another important thing to not forget here is to go with a solid state drive and not a hard drive. HDDs are cheaper and hence a lot of people will go for that, but they make for a bad performance especially when dealing with big files.
Get a laptop that will last an entire day. It’s as simple as that.
If you have a power bank that can get you an additional charge if you require it, then it is fine to go for a laptop with average battery life. If that’s not the case, then all-day battery life is a must.
If your budget is not big enough, then get a laptop that at least gives you 6 to 8 hours of battery life so that you call cool off till you find a charging point before running out.
That’s all we have for this post. Like we do always, we hope you got what you wanted from this post.
The laptops we’ve discussed in this post are excellent in their own way and will give you a guaranteed good performance without any issues. If you ask us, these are the best laptops for drone mapping and photogrammetry at the moment.
Please let us know if you have something to share with us. We’d love to hear from you.
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