What specs to future-proof a ham PC

Discussion in 'Computers, Hardware, and Operating Systems' started by K3RW, May 14, 2019.

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  1. WA4SIX

    WA4SIX Ham Member QRZ Page

    A refurbed Dell G3 laptop with the 1050 or 1060 video card is all you need. With the NVME drive, hex core & 16GB RAM, it is a great laptop.
    K3RW likes this.
  2. NK2U

    NK2U Ham Member QRZ Page


    Do you really need 16 GB for ham use? Would not 8 GB suffice?

    de NK2U
  3. WA4SIX

    WA4SIX Ham Member QRZ Page

    "Future proof" is in the title.
    I like it when I can have the LimeSDR-USB with 8-BFM (SDR-Console) stations playing, IC-7000, IC-7100 & TT Pegasus all working with less than 40% resources used.
    To me, if I was at 50%, it would not be "Future proof", as my 7 year old laptop was crashing regularly with 32G RAM I5 & just the 8-BFM stations.

  4. KA9JLM

    KA9JLM Ham Member QRZ Page

    Windows 10 is predicted to get bloated more. 16 may not be enough soon. o_O
    KB0MNM likes this.
  5. W4EAE

    W4EAE Premium Subscriber QRZ Page

    Honestly, the real future is probably in offloading processing power.

    It is entirely possible that a relative equivalent to the Raspberry Pi 4 will be all one needs to do just about anything.
  6. W2WDX

    W2WDX Premium Subscriber QRZ Page

    If older Flex software is your thinking, for say a 5000, then there are several things to consider. The Flex software is not a CPU hog in general. Four or Eight core CPU are more than enough. However, two things really matter, on the older Flex software for the 5000. Audio and GPU. If you want to run wide bandwidth displays, a better GPU makes a world of difference. Your audio capabilities also is important if you want run the highest sampling rates without glitches.

    I run software based audio processing software on the same machine (Breakaway One), so I have much more RAM and CPU cores than normal/typical consumer computers. However, short of that use the above suggestions should work for quite a while.
    K3RW likes this.
  7. NE1U

    NE1U Ham Member QRZ Page

    Refurbed Dells are your best bet if you are not confident about adding RAM or drives.

    However, if you are good with computer mods or know someone that is. Start with SSDs for faster file access. And most computer access is reading files either executables or data. Currently SSDs are pretty cheap (in my opinion) and are several times faster than HDDs. Faster yet are "striped" SSDs, but that is approaching ludicrous speed & complexity. You could think that getting one SSD now and add (as striped) SSDs in the future as needs increase. However, there are some issues that might require identical drives. There are factors that let you use others, but if you know these factors ... you would not be posting here asking questions. You would be our goto guy!!!

    Then there is SSD and then there is SSD. M2 SSDs which are faster yet ... I really don't think hams need this but technology changes and things get cheaper. M2 is faster than SATA 6.0 Gb/s which is the garden variety drive spec. Really, SATA 6.0 Gb/s SSDs are future proof for quite a long while.

    CPUs? I doubt anything more than 4 cores are needed. More the merrier tho. High clock rates are best. But, you don't need the fastest. As fast as you can afford. Most ham programs (I refuse to call them "apps") are single threaded so higher per core clock rates are best.

    Connection to the outside world. USB will be the way. So as many as possible. USB 3.1 Gen2 (10GB/s) is the current as high as possible. Everything I have seen indicates that is years out. Define "future". USB connectors are another thing. Type-C have crazy specs. (per consortum.) The specs. indicate USB 3.1 Gen2 plus USB2.0 plus 100 watts. I am pretty sure that currently nothing supports all of that. Someday, just not now. So read about the Type-C connector capability. And, currently I don't think anything ham related is Type-C. But with that spec. it will happen.
    K3RW likes this.
  8. W1VT

    W1VT Ham Member QRZ Page

    I use refurbed Optiplex i7-3400 for my ham radio computer. It already had a serial port, but the motherboard soundcard of the Optiplexes have digital crosstalk on the headphone output, so I added soundcard for clean audio for the digital modes. It is cheap enough that it doesn't do anything else--just ham radio.
    K3RW likes this.
  9. K3RW

    K3RW Ham Member QRZ Page

    Thanks for that. I did not know about 'striped' drives until you mentioned it. Shows its critical for me to research specs, since I might get a baragin basement SSD and think they were otherwise 'all the same', and be surely diaappointed.
  10. WA9SVD

    WA9SVD Ham Member QRZ Page

    ANY computer from Dell, Gateway, or whomever, or "self built" is obsolete when bought/finished. It IS a vicious cycle.:( What was (in years past) of 4 GB in Win XP/8.1. or Win 10 NOW is just barely adequate; 8 GB is just barely OK, and 16 GB is the bare minimum according to some. It all depends upon your wants and needs. Even 1 TB hard drives have (mostly) become a thing of the past; now 6 TB drives are becoming common.

    Sad to say, there is NO way to "future proof" a computer. There will ALWAYS be something, bigger, faster on the horizon, if not sooner. Maybe not better,:( but at least faster.:rolleyes:

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