Are you scouring the internet to find the best laptops for drone mapping and photogrammetry?
Look at you, you managed to reach the right place! (what took you so long?)
Drone mapping is not something everyone with a laptop does. It is a combination of art and science that is done by people who specialize in using drones to make maps of areas for various verticals like farming, remote sensing, mining, and so on.
To do drone mapping, you need a laptop or a computer with good hardware. A simple $500 laptop is not going to cut it. When it comes t premium laptops, there are a ton of options to make your head swirl.
That’s where we come in and give you just these three models that are perfect for drone mapping.
Without further ado, let’s see them.
Best Laptops For Drone Mapping & Photogrammetry in 2020
Editor's Choice - ASUS ROG SCAR III
The ASUS ROG SCAR III is our Editor’s Choice for the best laptop for drone mapping.
When it comes to drone mapping, you need the absolute best hardware in your machine and the ASUS ROG SCAR III provides just that. It gives you amazing hardware at a price that is not that expensive.
The first thing you are going to notice about the laptop is that it is not a small laptop. It comes with a 17.3-inch full HD display and as a result, the laptop is much larger than most laptops you see on the market. This means it is also a heavy laptop at 6lbs.
The display here is made for gaming and is one of the best displays we’ve seen with a full HD resolution. The colors on the screen are excellent and the contrast ratio is on point. If you enjoy watching movies on your laptop, this one will give you an astounding experience.
Another enticing feature of this display is that it comes with a refresh rate of 240 Hz accompanied by a response time of 3 ms. Both these features make this display well-suited for gaming and as a side effect, it is great to see the drone mapping software in action.
The keyboard here is a pleasure to use and comes with RGB color backlighting. It has good travel and a dedicated number pad will come in handy as well. The touchpad is notably nice and takes your input without missing anything.
For drone mapping, your laptop needs to have adequate processing power. In this case, the ASUS ROG SCAR III laptop comes with an Intel i7 processor that belongs to the ninth generation of Intel chips.
This processor sports a starting clocking frequency of 2.6GHz and a maximum clock speed of 4.5GHz which is a lot of power even for drone mapping software. The processor also comes with 12MB cache memory which should be helpful as well.
With 32 gigs of DDR4 RAM in the memory department, the laptop excels when it comes to creating maps with the help of photogrammetry. This memory can even support large projects that involve up to 2000 images. The memory is one of the main reasons why we chose this laptop as our favorite.
For storage, the laptop has a 1TB SSD. Having an SSD is super crucial when you’re working on making maps. Sometimes even smaller photogrammetry projects that involve around 500 images need a space of around 60 gigs. So if you’re going to work on more projects, the more memory you will need.
The Graphics card is another essential component in a laptop for drone mapping. The ASUS ROG SCAR III comes with an Nvidia GeForce RTX2070 graphics card. This GPU has a dedicated video memory of eight gigs which is huge.
Since this is a gaming laptop, you can play pretty much any game you want on this laptop without any issues whatsoever. When it comes to mapping, most software run fluidly even during rendering which is nice.
One of the minor gripes we have with this laptop is the battery life. Being a gaming laptop, this one was never supposed to have good battery life and that is understandable. But for a drone mapping laptop, you need decent battery life. This notebook here just manages to do that.
With an average battery life of 6 to 7 hours, you should be able to manage a decent amount of mapping without having to search for a power outlet.
Overall, the ASUS ROG SCAR III is one of the best laptops for drone mapping. It is a tad expensive but the hardware features and the optimized performance of the laptop make up for it.
Runner Up - Microsoft Surface Book 2
The Microsoft surface book 2 is our runner-up for the best laptop for drone mapping and photogrammetry.
Microsoft’s flagship laptop is a solid purchase when it comes to handling heavy-duty stuff. The laptop is packed with a lot of excellent hardware and comes at a decent price.
Another advantage of the Surface Book 2 is that it also doubles up as a tablet. It’s not often you come across a tablet that has a 15-inch display.
The display here is a PixelSense display and it comes with a resolution that closely matches a QHD resolution. The display is vibrant and outputs excellent colors which makes it a very good candidate for anything that is color-related. You can also have a great time, consuming video on this display as the speakers sound really good as well.
The process of detaching the tablet from the laptop is pretty simple and as a testament to good design language. The touchscreen comes with support for external styluses and it’s very responsive to user input. Even if you don’t want to completely detach the tablet, you can reattach the tablet backward and make up a brand new browsing experience.
An Intel i7 processor is the captain of the ship and it comes with a maximum clock frequency of 4GHz. This is a quad-core processor from Intel’s eighth-generation and is one of the powerful processors out there. It can handle pretty much any drone mapping/photogrammetry software without breaking a sweat.
The laptop is equipped with 16 gigs of DDR4 RAM which is adequate for most users. Though we would have loved to 32 gigs on the Surface Book 2, this configuration gives is the best bang for the buck. The memory is great for multitasking and also handles mapping software without any hiccups.
There are 512 gigs of storage in the form of a solid-state drive. The SSD is quite fast and improves the performance of the laptop in more than a few ways. Since we are dealing with mapping, you’re going to have to move a lot of huge files around and having an SSD will make that process a piece of cake.
We have a dedicated graphics card in the form of an Nvidia GeForce GTX 1060. This GPU comes with a dedicated video memory of 6GB which is fantastic for gaming. The laptop handles most drown mapping software seamlessly, thanks to this Nvidia GPU.
Surface Book 2 comes with a good deal of connectivity options. You get a couple of USB type C ports, an SD card, and also a headphone jack. While this may not look like a lot, the USB type C ports are very versatile and will handle pretty much any connectivity and data transfer needs of yours. Laptop also supports Wi-Fi and Bluetooth as well.
Battery life is one of the best features of this laptop as it can last for about 17 hours of video playback. When you’re working on something heavy, the laptop will manage to stay alive for more than eight hours which is very impressive, to say the least.
Overall, the Surface Book 2 is an extraordinary laptop and is one of the best laptops for drone mapping and photogrammetry. If you’re looking for a two in one laptop, then this one should have your attention.
Best Mac For Drone Mapping - Apple MacBook Pro 16"
The MacBook Pro 16 inch is the latest offering from Apple and is our choice for the best Mac when it comes to drone mapping.
The MacBook Pro is surprisingly not as expensive as other models in this list but comes with a solid selection of hardware that offers a cohesive user experience.
One of the best things about macs is their design. The MacBook Pro, even though a 16-inch machine, is a compact laptop. It weighs just around 4.2lbs which makes it more portable than the other two laptops in this list.
Apple always makes beautiful laptops and this one is no exception to that rule. The keyboard in this laptop comes with a scissor mechanism and has corrected the wrongs that were present in the older generation keyboards. You get decent key travel and the typing experience is a lot better.
Though the laptop comes with a touch bar, Apple has given the escape key back to the users. There is also a touch ID button that can easily log you in with just a touch. The touchpad is huge and is one of the best out there on a laptop.
The display on this laptop is one of its most stunning features. We have a 16-inch retina display that comes with Apple’s True Tone technology. The colors on this display are amazing and they cover almost the entire sRGB and P3 color gamut.
If you like watching content on your laptop, then this display is your friend. The speaker on this laptop is also equally good leaving the users with an extraordinary multimedia experience.
When it comes to performance, the MacBook Pro does a commendable job. The 9th gen hexacore Intel chip handles any task with ease. The i7 processor is one of the best in the business without a doubt. You can be confident that this laptop will handle your drone mapping software without any problems.
The memory department comes with 16 gigs of DDR4 Ram. This memory allows the user to run multiple applications side-by-side without bringing down the performance of the laptop. Even the most resource-hungry mapping software works fine, thanks to the memory in place.
The laptop hosts a 512 GB solid-state drive for storage. Apple SSDs are super fast and this one is no different. You get excellent speeds when it comes to reading and writing. This is great as you can move huge files without wasting a lot of time.
The graphics department is handled by the AMD Radeon Pro 5300M graphics card. The graphics card comes with six gigs of dedicated video RAM which is great for handling mapping software and other apps. This GPU also makes rendering easy on the go.
The MacBook Pro comes with an all-day battery life which is great if you plan to take the laptop along with you to the location of mapping. Even with heavy work, the laptop can last for about six hours which is pretty impressive.
If you’re someone who doesn’t like using Windows, then the MacBook Pro is probably the best Mac for drone mapping and photogrammetry out there.
What To Look For In The Best Laptops For Drone Mapping & Photogrammetry
If you don’t want to go with any of the above models and want to handpick a laptop for your needs, then here are a few factors you should take into account before getting your laptop.￼
The processor is one of the most important factors in choosing a laptop for drone mapping.
As a minimum, you want to go with an Intel i5 or i7 processor. The processor should have at least four cores in order to handle the workload during the simulations.
If budget is no problem, you can go with an Intel i7 or an Intel Xeon processor that has six cores or more. This way, you will not have any issues when it comes to the processing power of your laptop.
Your laptop needs to have a decent amount of memory for a smooth drown mapping process.
If you’re going to be doing small projects that consist of less than 100 images, then you should be fine with the laptop that has just eight gigs of DDR4 RAM.
Your laptop should have a minimum of 16 gigs of DDR4 RAM if you’re going to be doing medium-sized projects that have between 100 and 500 images. In most cases, 16 gigs will be more than enough.
The only scenario where you will need 32 gigs of RAM or more is when you are involved with large projects. Large projects are those that comprise between 500 to 2000 images or more at 14MP each.￼
Having a decent graphics card is one of the most important factors when it comes to selecting a good laptop for photogrammetry.
While selecting laptops, you need to make sure that the graphics card inside is compatible with OpenGL 3.2. If your laptop comes with only an integrated solution, then you need to make sure that this compatibility is good.
If you’re going with a dedicated graphics card then you need one with a minimum video RAM of 2GB. Most modern Nvidia GeForce GPUs and AMD Radeon GPUs will be compatible with your drone mapping software. If you want to future proof your laptop, then make sure to get the latest GPU on-board.￼￼￼ ￼
Storage is not a huge concern as some of the other factors we discussed above. If you’re going to be working on small projects then you need at least 30 gigs of free storage on your laptop.
When you’re planning to work on medium projects you need a minimum of 50 gigs on your laptop. This number will only go up when you deal with bigger projects.
One important thing to note when selecting the storage of your laptop is to go with a solid-state drive as opposed to a traditional hard drive disk. The solid-state drive brings in so much improvement in the performance department and is perfect for drone mapping needs as you will deal with large files often.￼￼ ￼
As a general rule of thumb, we always recommend going with a laptop that has all-day battery life.
If you are going to take your laptop to the field, then it is essential that your laptop comes with incredible battery life. All the models we recommended above have excellent battery life and you can’t go wrong with any one of them in this regard.
If you can’t afford a laptop with all-day battery life, then you should at least shoot for a laptop that can last for about 5 to 7 hours so that you can find a power socket before you run out of juice.￼
Most drone mapping software are made for Windows operating system. Do check the operating system your software is designed for and get the most fitting OS for your needs.
There are a few drone mapping software that runs on macOS as well. Selecting the operating system is just a matter of preference and it is not going to affect the final result in any significant way.
While it is great to have a super portable laptop that you can carry anywhere you go, you need a powerful laptop for drone mapping and oftentimes you’re not going to get a powerful laptop in a portable body.
All the three laptops we recommend are not that great when it comes to portability. We have still recommended them because we feel that processing power, in this case, is somewhat important than your ability to move around that laptop.
If portability is really a big concern for you, then you should go with an iPad Pro which is the best when it comes to performance and portability together as a factor.
That brings us to the end of this post. We hope we helped you to make a good decision.
All the three models we’ve discussed are excellent in their own ways and you really can’t go wrong with anyone of them. Right now, they are the best laptops for drone mapping and photogrammetry.
Have we missed something on the list? Have we made an error? Do let us know in the comment section. We’d love to hear from you.