Computer considerations for precision ag software (Part 1)
A common question we get on the Support line in regards to setting up and running SMS Basic/Advanced is “what kind of computer should I get?” With that said, I thought I would outline some key items to consider on your next computer purchase that you’re using to run precision ag software.
Like most other precision ag desktop software programs, SMS Basic/Advanced is designed to run on a Microsoft Windows operating system (OS). Currently SMS Basic/Advanced Version 10.0 supports running on: XP (SP 3), VISTA (SP 2), and Windows 7. (Note: You can update the Service Pack (SP) on your computer for free by going to the Microsoft Windows Update page.)
One of the benefits of newer computers is you have the ability to get a 64-bit OS, which gives you added processing efficiency, as well the ability to use 4 GB or more of RAM. Be aware that older software programs or computer hardware may not be compatible with a 64-bit OS, so talk to your local computer/electronics provider before upgrading if you wish to use those older items.
Any processor that was factory installed with your computer will run your precision ag software. For those of you that are looking for a way to speed up performance with a new computer, consider getting a multi-core processor with a higher GHz rating. Just as important is to consider getting a processor with a larger cache size.
The motherboard BUS speed is also something to take into consideration. Since we are looking at this from a data processing standpoint, the higher the BUS speed the better. Ideally this would have a similar MHz rating as your RAM.
SMS Basic/Advanced will work with the minimum RAM (memory) requirements for the OS's listed above. A cheap way to speed up how fast your computer runs is to upgrade the RAM. I recommend 3 GB for 32-bit computers or 6-8 GB if you have a 64-bit machine. I would recommend getting RAM with the fastest MHz rating; such as 1066 or 1333MHz. Check with your computer manufacturer or local computer shop for details on the amount of RAM your computer supports.
When ordering a graphics card, you will most likely have the option to choose between an integrated or dedicated graphics card. While SMS does not benefit directly from a dedicated graphics card, I would recommend getting at least a 256 MB dedicated card. This allows for the computer to keep up with other items your computer may be doing, especially if you run multiple programs at once. A dedicated card also allows for cheaper repairs and upgrades in the event the graphics card goes bad. It also is more likely to support multiple display screens and higher screen resolutions.
Due to the number of items to consider when purchasing a new computer, I will continue this post tomorrow and discuss other items that you should consider when purchasing a new computer.