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What PC/Laptop is needed for operation?

We are pulling the trigger on an RSA500X, with 80MHz RTBW. I have been looking at PCs to drive it, in the 2k€ range, and there are way too many options to choose from. I know the general advice is "the faster the better", but I'd like to know what are people typically going for, in exact models. Example: I read the Surface works, but is the built-in Iris Xe graphics adapter enough (Surface Pro 8 i7)?.

It really depends on what type of data processing and visualization you want to perform. Of course it is always possible to add so much processing to a mission that even the best PC will struggle when you go crazy with the settings (as in basically every other application).

We mainly use NVidia graphics internally, but even older low-end cards like a GT 1030 are rarely a bottleneck. It may be a problem if you want to do heavy 3D visualization at high resolutions. But for data processing you mainly need CPU power.

Intel graphics do tend to have a bit more driver issues than NVidia in our experience, though I'm not aware of any current problems. But that's why we usually recommend NVidia.

Something to note is that the RTSA-Suite PRO greatly benefits from screen size and resolution. So while you can use it on a tablet like the Surface, you may find it a bit problematic in daily use on such a small screen (but obviously such things are very subjective).

Thank you kindly for your insights, they are very useful! The Surface is an option for portability, we're going to be doing a lot of field work, and something easy to carry beats a larger machine, the tablet format also helps.

I assume RTSA-Suite can capture sessions on the Surface, and those sessions can then be analyzed/replayed on a larger-screen PC, correct? We could assemble a desktop PC with an NVidia card and decent processing power, where we could do any visualizations that require the added firepower.

Sure you can record on the Surface and analyze those records on another system. However if you want to record IQ data those records can quickly become pretty big, in the worst case over a hundred megabytes per second (so potentially several GB/min or several hundred GB/hour). So you may find the space on the SSD in the Surface to become a limiting factor for longer sessions (and of course it also takes time to transfer such large records between systems later on).

Again, this heavily depends on the exact use case, recording Spectra data instead of IQ or only small spans will reduce the datarate greatly so it wouldn't be an issue, similar if you only record short timeframes on demand.

We'll be recording spectra more often than IQ, our main use case is interference and channel analysis, more than demod or binary stream analysis etc. Thank you again for your input!

Our latest test show that you should use DDR5 if possible. So far all x86 based PCs or laptops with DDR5 work fine with the SPECTRAN V6 even a tiny NUC / Mini PC.