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Recommended Computer Specifications

It's new computer time. I believe somewhere here there is an article listing recommended computer specifications.


Best Answers

  • K1ESE
    K1ESE Member ✭✭✭
    Answer ✓

    I should have been clearer. My question is where on this site is the Flex written article with their recommendations?

  • KD0RC
    KD0RC Member, Super Elmer Moderator
    Answer ✓

    From the FLEX-6000 SIGNATURE SERIES SMARTSDR SOFTWARE USER GUIDE Version 3.1.7 16 Sept 2019:


    The minimum required CPU for SmartSDR is an Intel i3 2100T or an AMD Athlon Phenom II or greater. Lesser processors may not perform adequately when displaying multiple or full screen spectrum displays. However, for the optimal user experience, as most users run multiple applications along with SmartSDR for Windows such as loggers and digital mode programs, a quad-core CPU or greater is highly recommended.

  • K1ESE
    K1ESE Member ✭✭✭
    Answer ✓

    Thanks, Len. It looks pretty easy to find a new computer based on that.

  • Mark_WS7M
    Mark_WS7M Member ✭✭✭
    Answer ✓

    I'm going to be the odd man out maybe but I recommend, don't skip on the PC!

    The last thing you want is for the PC to be slow. So my personal minimums are:

    Core i7 or i9

    16gb to 32gb of RAM. More is better

    SSD (solid state disk) for sure

    Anyway yes it will run on an I3. You will like it better on an i7 or i9


  • Ted  VE3TRQ
    Ted VE3TRQ Member ✭✭✭

    You are likely to receive as many suggestions as there are people in this forum :-)

    If you are going to run digital app, logging, etc, as well as SSDR, one of the most important pieces of hardware is the memory - get as much as you can afford - Windows wants more and more, and swapping to disk is expensive in time, even with fast disks. Video cards are much less important - just about all computers these days have enough display speed for your needs unless they are extraordinary. Of course you will need to upgrade your video card if you will be using multiple hi-res monitors :-)

    In the end, as with all computer hardware, decide what money you want to spend and get the most for those bucks.

  • Ted  VE3TRQ
    Ted VE3TRQ Member ✭✭✭

    And one more thing that applies no matter the hardware you choose - get rid of the OEM junk that steals cycles from the hardware you did buy. Use the task manager to find them, and edit the start-up task list and services list.

  • KD0RC
    KD0RC Member, Super Elmer Moderator

    SmartSDR doesn't take a lot of compute power because it is a thin client. The radio does all the heavy lifting compute-wise.

    What I find takes a faster machine is CW Skimmer. When you consider all the simultaneous signal decodes, this is not surprising. My old laptop runs SmartSDR easily, but chokes on Skimmer.

    So what to buy is probably more dependent on the auxiliary software you anticipate using, rather than on the needs of SmartSDR itself.

  • Ha Gei
    Ha Gei Member ✭✭✭

    We run it together with the contesting app and some more , flawlessly on an older (ca. 10 Y ) minipc with a core I5 , Win10 , 8G Ram . It´s a very low power consuming machine and surely no power box...

  • Mark Griffin
    Mark Griffin Member ✭✭

    If you are only going to use the PC for operating your Flex, then you probably don't need a whole lot. But then again, if you are running a lot of secondary programs for the Flex than you might want to get one that's got a little bit more power.

  • Mike VE3CKO
    Mike VE3CKO Member ✭✭✭
    edited December 2021

    Mark don't throw anything at me, I say skimp on the computer as SmartSDR runs well on old garbage I3 computer and will surely run more than fine on anything new. If at all just go for more than the typical 8gb.

    It's a myth that you need a powerful computer to run FlexRadio SmartSDR. You only will need a faster more expensive computer if you plan to use your computer to do many things simultaneously. I'd say spend your money on better things, if you don't have a quality microphone, get one. If you can't build antennas, upgrade or by another one for a band you don't have, oh, and invest in good feedline.

  • K1ESE
    K1ESE Member ✭✭✭

    I run a lot of secondary programs - Firefox, N4PY, Skimmer, all DXLabs, CW Machine, tuner apps, a radio tracking app, and occasionally VNCViewer and PDF Reader.

    I have i7 and SSD nailed down. I am down to deciding 16GB vs 32GB of memory. Opinions?


  • Mike-VA3MW
    Mike-VA3MW Administrator, FlexRadio Employee, Community Manager, Super Elmer, Moderator admin

    If you want to make sure you have the best performance all around, follow the gaming community.

    SmartSDR requires very little CPU power. It is not a resource hog.

    Now, add WSJT, FLDigi, Skimmers, etc and you will start to eat up a lot of resources.

    My 2 cents-others views may be different, but his worked for me.

    • Video card - by the video card with the biggest fan on it you can afford. That was the advice to me by a graphics person. $500 and above for the card alone but you can also easily drive more than 1 monitor very well and you can mine for Bitcoin in your spare time if you wish. hi hi
    • CPU - Big is better. Again, check on its cooling system as that is a good clue. I am using the Ryzen 7 AMD 5800X 8 Core but that is now over a year old but I can do ANYTHING I want all at the same time. Air-cooled is fine.
    • File system - I use an M.2 512G for Drive C and the operating system and installed programs only. This is a great speed advantage. The M.2 is actually mounted to the motherboard. This computer fully boots in less than 30 seconds
    • Storage - I have a 1 TB SSD for My Documents storage
    • Hard drive - I back up all my SSD documents to a spinning hard drive - just in case I lose the SSD.
    • 32 GB of the highest speed Ram you can get
    • Windows 10 Pro (or 11 if required)
    • 2 x 4K Ultra Wide Monitors (1 should be enough, but why not! :) ). Monitors aren't expensive

    Here is how I look at it. I stare at this computer all day long. It is not only a key part of my Ham Shack, it is my key work tool. It is not the time to skimp especially on something so critical.

    Walk into a good computer store and ask for the best value gaming computer. You can't go wrong and you should be able to trust a good local store if you don't know the technology.


  • W7NGA
    W7NGA Member ✭✭✭

    I run SmartSDR for Mac on the new mini M1 Mac, and the latest M1 Pro MacBook Pro. The advantage is that when not operating my amateur radio station I have systems that afford me a wonderful operating system, solid hardware, and a joy to use. I can even operate my Flex 6600 from my iPad or iPhone.

    Of course, I am olde-school and enjoy pen and paper to log my contacts. I must also twist a knob or two to change bands and tune up.


  • G3YSX
    G3YSX Member, Unconfirmed
    These answers seem to focus on single computer looking after everything, which is the most common configuration.

    I am going to configure things as a server computer just to look after the flex 6400 and a few minor utilities and a client computer, i.e. to always run remote even if I am in the shack.

    How powerful a computer is needed for the server?
  • John KB4DU
    John KB4DU Member ✭✭✭✭

    The terminology used here confuses me. The flex is basically a server with the connected pc client providing the GUI, showing the state of the radio. If I understand what is being proposed it involves attaching a second computer to the one attached to the flex which would run a screen sharing program like teamviewer. This adds a lot of complexity with no gain on a local network. This is a common arrangement for operating remote with the radio far from the actual shack.

  • Dan Trainor
    Dan Trainor Member ✭✭✭

     I have ditched the Windows version of SmartSDR and moved to SmartSDR for Mac. I use a new 14" MacBook Pro w/ M1 processor. With two external monitors. The Mac version is more stable, more reliable, higher performance, lower latency and has many more feature built in. New releases come out more frequently and are of consistent quality. It is Rock Solid. For those of you considering the switch here are just some of the feature built directly into the native MAC client software: CW Keyer, Keyboard, Controller, Genius Devices, Band Plan, Call Lookup, DX Cluster, PSK Reporter, Recordings, Voice Macros, Alerts, LogBook, CW Decoder, HF-Fax, RTTY, and FT8. In addition, the newest release v2.2.2 includes: Rotator Genius Support, Antenna Genius Support, Improvements of other Genius Devices, Logging improvements, and preparations for the next release. If you have not had the opportunity to try the SmartSDR for Mac, I highly recommend doing so, if you can. The GUI design is wonderful and the software capabilities far exceed the Windows version from Flex. Dan WA1QZX.

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