The Right PC for Point Cloud Processing

When you purchase a metric mapping kit from AirGon, you receive all of the hardware (sUAS and accessories) and software you need for planning, flying and processing a mission with the exception of two items:

  • A PC on which to load the software applications
  • The Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS) equipment needed for collecting ground control points.

We can advise you on GNSS equipment and techniques – feel free to email me (lgraham@airgon.com) or Steve Riddell (sriddell@airgon.com) for information.

As for the PC, we prefer a high end laptop PC.  The reason for this is that we often wish to process sUAS data while we are still in the field.  With a high end laptop, we can process anywhere we want.  We also enjoy the ability of using this same laptop for controlling our AV-900 (our hexcopter mapping platform) directly from this same laptop via the 900 MHz radio telemetry system included with the AV-900 Metric Mapping Kit.

Our current laptop of choice is an ASUS with a very high end NVidia graphics card.  Both Agisoft PhotoScan and Pix4D use the GPUs built into this NVidia card for point cloud processing, speeding up certain portions of processing by an order of magnitude.  LP360 for sUAS takes advantage as well of this card for its high end Open GL rendering capabilities.  The recommended platform (as of Jan 2015 – this stuff changes every few months!) is:

ASUS ROG G751 series G751JY-DH72X Gaming Laptop

This laptop includes:

  • Intel Core i7 – 4860HQ (2.40GHz) (this is the top of the line 4th gen i7)
  • 32 GB RAM
  • NVidia GeForce GTX 980M with 4 GB RAM (currently top of the line mobile NVidia)
  • 512 GB Solid State Disk (SSD) (pure SSD, not a hybrid)
  • 1 TB spinning disk
  • 1920 x 1080 17.3″ display
  • USB 3.0 ports

We did a little test with a 350 image mapping mission.  PhotoScan on a desktop workstation with no GPU processed in 22 hours.  On the ASUS above, we processed in less than two hours.  We were not comparing apples to apples but it does give you an appreciation for the importance of having a high end GPU in your kit!

We purchased one of these from New Egg for about $2,800.  These are much more powerful and considerably less expensive than portable workstations from Dell or HP.  After three months of field and office use, I can say that we are extremely pleased with this system.

Lewis Graham has written 49 articles

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