Computer Requirements for Chartplotter Software

Whether your chartplotter is two- or three-dimensional, you will want to consider several features.

One will be the number of navigational sensors (e.g., GPS, LORAN, compass, AIS, ARPA, fathometer, etc.) that the chartplotter can accept.

For the computer-speaking among you, that means how many COM ports, either physical or simulated on a USB converter, the software will understand. Another consideration is whether it can offer split-screen operation or is able to use several displays simultaneously.  

If you need 3D information, that probably means you need a video card. If, in addition, you want to see TV or radar displays, they will need at least one more video card. Some software will handle only one video stream at a time, but you can switch it, manually, among sources. Multiple video cards will take you out of feasible laptop application (which we discourage as a boat computer anyway) and into a tower or horizontal desktop.