QGIS is an open-source cross-platform GIS and remote sensing tool that helps to collect, manage, edit, analyze, and visualize data of all kinds. It’s free and licensed under the GNU Public License. QGIS lets you connect to multiple servers and data sources, as well as customize your application settings. You can easily draw vector, raster, or tabular data on a map from different formats or from within QGIS.
The demand for geospatial professionals is growing at a fast pace. These professionals use GIS tools to analyze their spatial data by visualizing it on a map, or using it in an application like Google Earth or QGIS. Working with spatial data requires a great deal of computing power due to the sheer volume of data involved in the analysis of maps in locations that vary by the square mile. Having access to this computing power makes it easier for geoanalysts to work through analysis processes efficiently by crunching massive amounts of spatial data – even on the go! And yes – this can be done on your laptop – even while traveling! With so many geospatial platforms now readily available, I was inspired to write this guide with some help from GoCertify to help you learn how best to find the best laptop for QGIS.
We’ll begin by breaking down each laptop spec and what it means for QGIS with some exact suggestions on what you should get. The second part of this post will be made up of a list of recommended laptops that you can buy immediately after reading this guide (in no particular order). I encourage you not to waste time looking for individual laptop specs online; instead, scroll down and find your perfect fit! Here we go!
Requirements for a QGIS laptop
Major Choosing the right processor for QGIS
Your QGIS laptop is a device that you’ll spend a lot of time with. That’s why it’s important to make sure it has the best CPU.
You need to make sure that your processor can handle all the work you throw at it. In order to figure out which CPU is best for your QGIS laptop, you need to know what you plan on doing with it.
- Intel Core i5-10500H is a good choice for a budget laptop – but I recommend going up in price and going for an Intel Core i7-10875H instead. If you’re not in the market for a budget laptop, then I recommend AMD Ryzen 7 4800H.
- make sure your CPU can handle all the work you throw at it
- go for an Intel Core i7 if you’re on a budget, or AMD Ryzen 7 if you’re not on a budget
Major What’s the best graphics card that will work optimally with QGIS?
QGIS does make limited use of parallelized GPU acceleration, but only for raster rendering, namely: slope, aspect, hillshade, ruggedness.
What kind of computer do you need?
QGIS is not GPU-accelerated. If you’re on a tight budget, you’ll be happy to know that integrated graphics cards are perfectly capable of handling it. You can go with Intel HD 620 or AMD Vega 8. If you’re on a tight budget, this is the option for you. It’s more than enough for QGIS.
Integrated vs. dedicated graphics
If you’re not on a tight budget – consider buying a dedicated graphics card, such as GTX 1650. This will allow for improved parallelized GPU acceleration when compared to an integrated chip.
If you’re going to use your laptop only for QGIS – I recommend getting a integrated graphics card.
How much do you want to spend?
If you’re on a tight budget, go with an integrated graphics chip. If you’re willing to spend more, I recommend going with a GTX 1650.
Major How to choose the right memory that will work optimally with QGIS?
Minimum (8 GB)
QGIS is a relatively light-weight software that won’t be needing 8 GB of RAM to run smoothly. That’s because the program is made for GIS professionals and it’s not resource-intensive. So, if you’re looking for a low-cost laptop with decent specs – 8 GB should be enough. It will work great for running QGIS without lag or long load times.
The downside is that you’ll have to give up on other high-performance applications, such as gaming, video editing, or other memory-hungry tasks. If you’re only going to use QGIS, an 8 GB laptop will work just fine.
Recommended (16 GB)
A 16 GB laptop is the perfect compromise between price and performance. With this much RAM, you’ll be able to run QGIS smoothly without any glitches or errors – which makes it perfect for an everyday use. You can also multitask with multiple open tabs in your browser without any slowdown in performance whatsoever. The downside? If you start using QGIS with lots of GIS layers, there’s a chance that your laptop will start slowing down. Still, 16 GB should be more than enough for most professionals who are working on simple projects like web mapping or less demanding fields like architecture and engineering.
Best (32 GB)
32 GB laptops are still rather expensive but they’re becoming more affordable by the day – so if you can afford one, go for it! The advantage of 32 GB is obvious: there’s plenty of room for multitasking and using lots of applications at once without worrying about lag or slowdown – including running QGIS with numerous layers. And because RAM prices are not skyrocketing anymore, investing in a new laptop is worth it – even if it’s just to keep up with your daily workloads!
- QGIS can run on any 8/16/32 GB laptop
- A 16/32 GB laptop is a good compromise between price and performance
- If you want to multitask, go for a 32 GB laptop
Optional requirements for a QGIS laptop
Optional How to choose the right storage that will work optimally with QGIS?
Understanding the options
So, it’s time to figure out what kind of laptop you need for QGIS. Well, if you’re on a budget, then go with a 256 GB SSD. That’ll be more than enough for mapping or doing GIS work. On the other hand, if you’re doing heavy geoprocessing work or spatial analysis – I’d recommend getting a 512 GB SSD. It’s still reasonable priced at $1,000 for a new laptop with that size of storage space.
Finally, if you have some extra cash to spare and need even more disk space – go with 1 TB SSD. Prices on these are typically between $1,500 and $2,200 – but they’re worth it if you need that much space for maps or data sets.
Upgrading your laptop storage is pretty easy – most manufacturers make it simple to replace an HDD with an SSD without having to take apart the whole thing. The typical laptop will come with at least one free M.2 slot for expansion or upgrades. If you want to save some money – make sure to do your research before buying the laptop!
- QGIS can be run on any laptop, but if you want more storage space, then get a bigger SSD
- If you need more storage space than the SSD can provide, then upgrade to an HDD (hard disk drive) or even better – an SSD with an HDD inside it
5 Best Laptops for QGIS
Pros and cons
- Awesome processor (i7-10750H)
- Superb graphics card (GTX 1660 Ti)
- Bulky (4.8 lbs)
Pros and cons
- Splendid graphics card (RTX 3050)
- Exceptional memory amount (64GB)
- No IPS Panel (subpar viewing angles)
Pros and cons
- Solid processor (Ryzen 7 5800H)
- Very good graphics card (Radeon RX 6600M)
Pros and cons
- Exceptional display (17.3 144Hz IPS G-Sync)
- Terrific memory amount (64GB)
- Ordinary processor (i5-11260H)
- Run-of-the-mill graphics card (RTX 3050)
Pros and cons
- Solid processor (Ryzen 9 5900HX)
- Exceptional graphics card (RTX 3080)
Table of Best Laptops for QGIS
|HP Pavilion 16 PC||$740|
|Dell G5 5515||$1050|
|MSI Alpha 17 AMD||$1490|
|ASUS TUF High-Performance||$1800|
|ASUS ROG Strix Scar||$3030|