TBC and PC Specification Overview


If you are using a laptop, are you going to use it with a Docking Station - a docking station will reduce your computers capability and performance but gives plug and play. So get a good dock if you are buying one.

Are you using the Laptop Screen only, or are you using the Laptop plus 1 or 2 high res external screens when in the office. Your laptop has typically one graphics card and that is split across the number of screens that you are using - so if you have 3 screens then your graphics memory is split three ways so an 8GB card gives you 2.666 GB on each screen with a laptop unless you purchase multiple graphics cards and multiple dedicated screen ports. I would typically recommend 8GB if you can afford it (or higher) but I would buy other things before going higher that will give better performance.

CPU Processor

Go Intel not AMD and go latest I9 or Xeon if you possibly can. The fastest clock speed you can justify. This has the biggest impact. Boosted single core clocking processors can provide significant performance improvements. This means that if a process uses one core the CPU will boost the clock of that core. If you can go 4 or 8 cores that only helps in places of TBC like Point Clouds / Mass Haul - but if you run multiple Apps - each will take its own Core so having 4 or more helps when running multiple Apps - some software runs more Multithread (=more cores) than TBC so consider those also (like Pix4D etc.).

Graphics Card

Typically you want to go Nvidia or Quadro and then make sure that you configure it correctly. With the current supply shortages in this market you can potentially save money by getting into an older generation card such as the Nivida 1080 or the 2060,2070,2080 cards. Currently Nividia is in the 3000 series, a 3060 should suffice, but TBC demands on a graphics card can be achieved through the older cards listed above as well.

Quadro is a modeling specific line of graphics cards made by Nivida but cost significantly more, without an impact on performance over the gaming lines.

Hard Disk

You want as good a Solid State Hard Disk that you can afford. The faster the read / write times the better off you will be. You need size but you can always back work up on a backup drive if you dont need access all the time, but the SSD in the laptop - I would sacrifice Size for Speed and use a Backup to fill the gap - a 0.5TB or 1TB should be where you start. This will help Boot Time, Start Up Time, Save Time and also when working Large Orthos and Point Clouds you will get faster data streaming.

Within the SSD space you should look at using an M.2 drive that utilizes the PCI slot for faster read/write times, but this has a diminishing return as most software isn’t written to harness the faster SSDs currently. This causes you to see minimal performance gains on the top end with large differences in cost.

SATA SSDs are a great option as a bulk storage device as these have came down in price substantially. With both drives available you can reserve the M.2 to your OS and key application installs while allowing bulk data and generic applications to be stored on the SATA or anything that doesn’t require the read/write speed of the M.2. However these SSDs are still vast improvements over mechanical HDDs.


After your CPU this and the SSD are the biggest impacts to performance - if you are doing Point Clouds you want Fast RAM and 64GB or 128GB ideally. This will impact performance. I would go Less Faster RAM than More Slower RAM if you have to make a choice - but the size of your Orthos and Point Clouds will dictate the performance you get.

Ram speeds can also have a diminishing return and requires BIOS setting adjustments to be utilized correctly. 3200mhz seems to be the sweet spot for cost/performance (at this time, this will likely change over time). Also check for your CPU and Motherboard Compatibility before choosing faster clocking RAM as some speeds may not be supported.

Additionally, most Motherboards support 4 channels of RAM or 4 RAM chips. It is always better to fill all four slots then just two. For instance say we wanted 64GB of ram, we could buy two 32GB chips or four 16GB chips. We would see better performance from having all four slots used. This effectively doubles your memory bandwidth. Again, check your Motherboard and CPU specs before making this decision as some lower end CPU/Boards only support dual channel operation.


Are another place to be concerned as bus speeds can bottleneck transfer rates between components. This can be an area where people go cheap and then wonder why they have performance issues. But unless you are custom building you don’t usually get a choice in this part selection.


What are the hardware components that affect the takeoff report speed and rebuilding surfaces? Does RAM help in this?

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RAM and Processor are the two biggest factors combined with your data models and project settings for surface models.

TBC will be faster if you set your project settings to DO not Track Breaklines. It will also be faster with fewer AOIs - for example I see people create AOIs for areas already defined by Site Improvements - they report separately automatically so why add AOIs as well?

Also the number of strata and how many points are in a strata layer - I have seen jobs with 60 strata and 1,000,000 points in each strata layer when there were 70 boreholes to start off with - why do you need 60 strata and 1000000 points for geology - do you really have to quantify every mix of sand and silt on the project- do you get paid differently for all those or have to process every mix differently - my guess is not - boil it down to something reasonable and you will be much faster and the results will not be that different for something that is a guesstimate at best.

TBC does all its calcs using surface to surface for the earthworks and strata - that is slower than Grid or Section based reporting which other products use to create quicker results - I have done both on big jobs and while it makes a difference in the CUT / Fill number because of the noise it generates they are not typically far apart nor does the balance change much at all

For earthworks put down a simple HAL across the site and then add OG with Demo and FG with Subgrades adjusted as surface instructions and run a corridor earthworks report with boundaries at 1 intervals with or without AOIs and with or without strata defined and you can spit out typical site volumes faster than the TIN based Takeoff reports



Perhaps a silly question but is TBC limited to the resources available of Ram on 1 stick.

I.E. 1 stick of 32 GB is better than 2x16GB. My setup is 32gb ram (2x16) and I rarely see my memory usage go above 50% when using 1 session of TBC even in heavy lifting processes. This has been part of my hesitation to increase ram.

Running build takeoff surfaces:

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Something I noticed in the screenshot is there is 0% GPU usage. Is TBC using your CPU to render rather than the GPU? I know nothing, just curious. :slight_smile:

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Pat I would recommend that you use all slots available on your Motherboard. Ram today is dual channel so you are required at minimum to have two slots filled. but you will see faster transfer rates from ram to CPU/GPU or Storage if you have all four channels filled. However, it appears that your CPU may be your bottleneck judging from the image.

Here is where you can see the number of slots used in RAM.

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There is some steps involved in making sure TBC is using your GPU. You need to go to the Nivida Control Panel, go to the Manage 3d Settings, Program Settings. Then make sure that TBC is set to use your Graphics Card. Usually it is set to use the integrated graphics.

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In this case it is recalcing the surfaces so that would be CPU work not GPU work I believe.

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This would be correct. Surface calculation is through the CPU. As far as I am aware only the display of graphics is off loaded to the GPU. @alan.sharp do you agree with that statement?

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