DAT/EM Hardware Configurations Update
By Brian Barnes
New Desktop Configurations. As you may already know, Dell has discontinued the Dell Precision T7610 Workstation, which was DAT/EM's recommended workstation for a long time. It has been replaced by the Dell Precision T7910 Workstation. The T7910 has many new options, such as dual 14-core processors (a bit much for most of us) and includes options for NVIDIA's new line of graphics cards. DAT/EM currently recommends the NVIDIA Quadro K4200 video card, which is the best compromise between performance and price.
The Dell Precision T7910 Workstation still comes with the option of either Windows 7 Pro or Windows 8.1 Pro. If you choose Windows 8.1 Pro, we highly recommend the Classic Start Menu for Windows 8 available for download at http://www.classicshell.net. This free open-source program adds a Windows 7-style start menu, which seems to make the transition to Windows 8 much easier.
Laptop Recommendations. Our recommended Dell laptop is still the Precision M6800 Mobile Workstation. Their options have not changed very much, with the exception of the newer mobile video chips: NVIDIA Quadro K4100M with 4GB RAM or K5100M with 8GB RAM. As you can see, there was a significant memory increase with the K5100M. We have also changed our recommended “Dual-Link DVI” adapter to the Startech brand (Manufacturer Part# : DP2DVID2), as it seems more impervious to abuse in the field.
We also recommend the EUROCOM laptops for those of you who want an integrated 3D display in the laptop. EUROCOM currently has two 3D Workstations: The EUROCOM Panther 5D and the EUROCOM Scorpius 3D2. They both have the option if an internal 120Hz 3D monitor.
Find DAT/EM's current hardware configurations here: http://www.datem.com/support/configurations/
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Is it Time to Update Your Video Card? Summit v.7.0 and 7.1 (due out soon) have added some new superimposition “OpenGL shaders” such as vertex marking, fast text rendering, line widths, line mitering, and dashed line styles for ArcGIS and MicroStation. Have you tried them? Can you see them? If not, your video card may be too old.
To display the new OpenGL shaders, your card needs to have OpenGL version 4.0 or higher. You can find the card's OpenGL version on nVidia's website. Go to www.nvidia.com and search for the specifications sheet for your card model. For example, the Quadro FX 3700 and 4800 have OpenGL v.3.0, and this is too old to run modern OpenGL shaders.
Check NVIDIA's website before purchasing a new video card: http://www.nvidia.com/object/quadro-desktop-gpus.html. If they have upgraded their video line, this is the first place you will see it. When the video cards are upgraded to a new line, they work just like their predecessors, but have more memory and better performance. The price of the new video cards usually stays close to the old model's price.
You can also go to NVIDIA's comparison section to see exactly how the new video cards have improved.
If you have any questions about the card you're considering buying, contact DAT/EM Support for additional advice.