What is the best computer for Dragon?

Picture of Best Laptop for Dragon Speech Recognition_

It is probably the question I get asked most: “What is the best laptop or computer for Dragon Professional Individual”

Dragon speech recognition is a hungry beast 🙂 and not easily satisfied with the system resources on your computer.

To make working with Dragon pleasant experience, it really helps to have a fast computer. Most Dragon users are aware of that and they wonder what the specs are for a computer that works fabulously with the speech recognition software.

This post only deals with the hardware. There are many aspects of using a computer that influence Dragon’s performance, but the hardware specifications for the computer are really important.

The best computer for Dragon

This actually is a bit of a hot topic, for there are people who will swear that if you don’t have at least 32 GB of RAM and the newest and fastest processor, you will struggle to use Dragon.

I do not agree. None of my computers have more than 16 GB of internal memory and I am pleased with the performance. I also have one computer that has 8 GB of RAM and even that one runs Dragon 15 without issue.

However, in speech recognition land “the bigger, the better” is usually true. A faster processor and more memory will increase your system’s performance and therefore will help with Dragon performance as well. But there is the matter of diminishing returns: a reasonably fast processor with a reasonable amount of RAM will make a huge difference compared to an old/slow system. However, the step from this reasonably good computer to a state-of-the-art, super expensive one may then be disappointing.

These are the points that I would make when you are searching for a new computer:

  • Intel i5 or i7 Processor
  • Minimal 8 GB Ram
  • SSD disk, rather than regular spinning hard disk

Get a checklist PDF with Nuance’s official minimal system requirements AND my full advice.

The best computer for YOU

Above I discussed the technical system requirements for Dragon. However, it is not just Dragon that needs to be able to work well with your computer, it is also YOU.

Especially for laptops, there are quite a few aspects that you should consider before making your final choice. It certainly is not only about the technical specs.

Here are some considerations:

  • Screen size
  • Weight
  • Fan noise
  • Keyboard and touchpad quality

Download my system recommendations for Dragon

The PDF does not only have the technical recommendations for a new laptop or computer, but also the considerations that may be important for you as a human being.

Janneke den Draak

Janneke den Draak

Hi, I'm Janneke and I'm your go-to person for Dragon and Apple speech recognition software help.

When I got severe repetitive strain injury issues over 20 years ago, I didn't want to give up using the computer. So I learned all about controlling the PC with speech recognition and dictating my documents and emails.

I've now been a speech recognition software trainer and consultant for almost two decades, teaching over 2000 people handsfree productivity!

My online courses for Apple Voice Control and Dragon offer self-paced learning and I also love running my membership for Dragon users. For those in need of an intensive training or custom speech command creation, I am available for one-on-one calls.

  • I am an 85 year old two fingered typist and have been using Version 12 for several years but I recently went up to Win 10 from Win 7, and when the Nuance Version 12 was transferred it will not run on Win 10 computer. It is an i5, 16 Gb Ram, 1Tb storage, Dell. Noting that Nuance was pushing Versions 15 hard, I thought I should investigate.

    To go further, I tolerated Version 12 and it has been my habit to type perhaps 3 pages and then stop, back up, and manually make corrections. Although I would prefer better, that worked for me.

    Given that, the decision is which version of Version 15 should I buy, Home or Pro. I get the feeling that if I tolerated 12, then 15 Home might be good enough for me. On the other hand, the extra $150 is not a problem. So how would you compare the 12 Home vs the 15 Home. In other words what did the 12 have that I would be giving up with the 15 Home. Also, does the course that you offer cover Home, Pro or both?

    Sorry if I ask questions that I would find the answers to if I explored a bit more, but I just found you two (to too) hours ago. Frankly the availability of a course pushes me in the direction of Pro.

    • Hello Bob,

      Yes, it seems that version 12 of Dragon really doesn’t work anymore on the current Windows 10 release.

      From what you describe, I actually think you would be fine with the Home edition. The most annoying thing about the Home edition is that you can’t go back into the Vocabulary Editor to fix wrong words or improve recognition of phrases etc. But it sounds like your current way of working with Dragon wouldn’t require that.

      If you have the Home edition, the online course I offer isn’t really suitable. There will be many lessons where you can learn somethinguseful, but even more where you’ll be puzzled as they refer to functionality that the Home edition doesn’t have.

      If the money is no issue at all, the Pro Individual version of Dragon gives you all the flexibility to decide if you want to use the extra features it offers or not.

      Just consider whether you think you’d actually be willing to invest mental effort in practicing new skills. You’ve been working in your current way for many years and it has served you well.

      If you would like to get the Pro Individual and join the online course, I’d love to see you there!

  • Dear Janneke,

    I am a retired academic who types slowly and inaccurately, whilst finding that doing so disturbs any sense I have of the natural rhythm of words. I am much happier scribbling away as my hand keeps up with my thoughts; however, I am left with lots of untranscribed notebooks! Hence thought of dictating from the notebooks onto the computer.

    I tried Dragon 10 some years ago, but found myself making too many corrections for it to be worthwhile. Now, however, I discover things have moved on. Put off by the Nuance price rise earlier in the year – and not knowing if there would be a Dragon 16 imminently appearing – I have tried using both the free Windows speech recognition program and the MS 365 tool to see whether either were good enough for my purposes – but eventually reluctantly conceded they are not.

    However, I am still trying to save money! After ruling out some dodgy-looking cheap internet providers (UKTechStore, anyone?), there still seem to be some online that are cheaper than Nuance while still appearing to be bona fide .

    Could you tell me, please, (a) is there any advantage in getting Dragon15 Professional Individual directly from Nuance (that would make up for the greater cost)? (b) what is the difference between, and the advantages and disadvantages of, getting the box (with the dvd?) rather than the download? (I tend to feel safer with something physical in my hand!) (c) do you get any sort of better customer service or support if you buy direct from Nuance?

    With many thanks for all your help,
    Stephen May

    • Hi Stephen,

      Thanks for your comment.

      If not buying from Nuance, make sure that the version you buy is set up to receive any upgrades and patches from Nuance. I had a customer for the Learn Dragon Online academy who bought a German version from a non-Nuance site and found that he could not update from 15 to 15.3 or from 15.3 to 15.61. I forgot which one.

      And if you feel more comfortable having the DVD then I’d spend a few dollars extra to get it if I were you. As far as I know you should also still be able to download a version from Nuance with the serial key you receive with the DVD.

      Good luck transcribing your notebooks!

      Janneke

      • I just bought Dragon home; less than a week later I got a great great price for Dragon professional individual 43% off from Nuance online store. I took the deal with my Windows 10 64-bit computer eight gigs of RAM I do notice indeed that professional runs a little bit faster and smoother I like the feature set of being able to eventually go with having full transcription from audio recordings done automatically which the Home does not do. If you can get a good deal on Professional It Is worth it

      • Hi Mark,
        I agree that Dragon Pro is worth it for sure!
        I’ve no idea why it is actually performing faster for you than Home, though. As far as I know the basic workings of the Home version are the same. But the Pro version has some more powerful features that make using the software a much better experience.
        Glad to hear you’re happy with your version.

  • Sorry, but this isn’t any more helpful than what nuance has to say on minimum specs, and as my experience shows, is wholly inadequate. I never got dragon to work properly because of laptop/pc issues, and the software itself, yet I know it can work well as it does for some others from what I hear via the grapevine. I do speak clearly/correctly without an accent in a quiet home environment. The computer specs are vital. Most of what I seem able to achieve with Dragon (DPI) 15, by far the best version when it does decide to work properly, is fiddling with the computer trying to work out why the hell it degraded all over again, often within a mere few minutes.

    I believe both software and system factors are at play. Currently, my main issue is that my Table Mike keeps software-disconnecting (windows msg: unrecognised device – despite being recognised perfectly fine just moments before), forcing me to remove and reinsert its USB connector, while also forcing me to restart Dragon and any other related add-on software in order to get it all working together again. An important part of this process also requires that I use Task Manager to ensure every last software component from all associated software is fully deactivated before restarting it, as this is the only way of getting it all to work properly again with the Table Mike. This is highly disruptive and eats up quite a chunk of my time, each time. At its worst, it can happen on an hourly or so basis.

    Generally, related to other technical issues, trying (and desperately needing) to use Dragon also effectively wastes significant amounts of my time, while preventing me from concentrating on what I actually need to be doing. I spend excessive time correcting its mistakes, which not only defeats its purpose and disrupts my thoughts and flow, but also causes me significant pain with direct negative impacts on my other daily activities of necessity, never mind anything else I might like to be doing. It is so bad to the extent that, after decades of trying, I’m still also not able to get into a rythm with Dragon where I can make it work for me to my best and most efficient/productive advantage. Consequently, it is seriously holding me back while undermining my independence.

    My computer is a Dell XPS 15, only a couple years old, so should be more than capable. I’ve had gaming laptops before, but the fan noise and excessive heat associated with the unneeded graphics card was an issue (I’m not a gamer). I think I need 32GB+ RAM due to the way I typically use my computer, which is related to my disability, but trying to find a laptop these days that doesn’t have the RAM soldered on at no more than 16GB tops (usually lower), is fully upgradeable, has speed, and isn’t a gaming device prone to loud fan noise/heat is proving increasingly difficult. Ditto USB type A ports re Table Mike.

    I also need the still rare glass touchpad as these make a hugely positive difference to me, since I still haven’t been able to get away from the keyboard all this time. Screen issues related to brightness, pulse-wave-modulation, refresh rates and eye strain is also very important and is real challenge to source on these bases alone. And yes, it does also need to be a laptop, for portability.

    A computer that makes one feel physically very sick while looking at it normally and then forces you to look at it so much more for all the extra (manual) correcting and fiddling about Dragon induces while amplifying the already excessive upper limb pain more than it was meant to save, makes it a very challenging device to use; so all these factors need considering, and especially in the context of those times when it fails to work as desired (i.e. fully hands-free) which for me, sadly, is most of the time. Hence, vastly narrowing my pool of available suitable machines, it quickly becomes more a fishing-for-the-needle-in-a-haystack expedition, well beyond the specs you describe. This can only be realistically achieved, if at all, with the pre-requisite knowledge that is all too often lacking, thus rendering it more a hoping-for-the-best at great unsustainable cost outcome instead, which is all that Dragon’s minimum specs ever achieved for me.

    So, I’m sorry, your specs just don’t cut it for me. I have spent an inordinate amount trying to get a system and dragon software together that work well for me, buying every iteration of Dragon right from its ‘discrete’ early days when it was known as ViaVoice, and regularly replacing my computer and making sure I exceed min specs such as SSE2 etc without going too crazy on them, and then eventually giving up and going crazy on them anyway as a last resort. So far, none of this has worked well for me with the end result that buying vastly basic/cheaper systems without Dragon software would have been just as effective. I’ve therefore wasted a lot of money that could have been better spent elsewhere, so depriving me of other important things, and yet I need it to work properly as it is essential to overcome my disability-related barriers.

    I’d therefore appreciate a much more informative post about “What computer is best for Dragon”, ***AND*** simultaneously, “Best for User”. Alas, it may require a lot more indepth research of other users’ experiences that also encapsulates different user needs/usages and scenarios to complete adequately, as well as more of the nuts and bolts of system features/specs etc.

    Dragon is promoted as an ultimate tool of efficiency, productivity and accessibility. Given my personal experience alone, I feel much of the above require addressing if it’s to come anywhere close meeting those aims in all user cases. At the moment, this information is pure star dust which only adds to my frustration, especially when our time on this precious planet is always so limited.

    • Hi Sue,

      Thank you for your comment.

      Unfortunately, your situation and specific needs seem pretty unique and would be beyond any blog post. There are always configurations where Dragon won’t work well. There are also applications that conflict with Dragon and will cause it to be unstable.

      Sometimes these issues can be solved, sometimes – unfortunately – they cannot.
      By necessity, my blogs are pretty generic: what will work for most people.

      Thanks to your comment, I found out that somehow the link to the complete PDF was lost. I’ve now added it again. (technology is wonderful, but sometimes it just breaks)

      Anyway…. In the PDF download, I give pointers to check for some ergonomic features of the computer (and especially for laptops) that people might not normally think of as being super important.

      This goes well beyond the recommendations that Nuance gives. But obviously it would still be pretty generic and also you did not have the option to get the PDF download, for which I apologise. It is now available again.

      I do hope you find a good laptop so that you can get a smoother experience when using Dragon.

  • Hi Janneke, I applaud your promoting speech recognition, and I realize it is difficult to address any individual hardware or software issues out there.

    Having said that, my PC has 32GB RAM, i5-6400 CPU, 222 SSD…and yes, ALL the issues that Sue mentioned. For the past 9 years, I have tried different computers, microphones, sound cards, and software configurations, including stripping down the functionality of Dragon to bare-bones dictation with none of the touted hands-free commands, and virtually gutting all possible resident applications from the Task Manager: the program works great for about 15 minutes, then it has to be hard-killed and restarted every time. (Maybe my voice is simply too boring, who knows!) One hour of uninterrupted dictation is my world record.
    I was encouraged that Microsoft recently purchased Nuance, as many of the issues seem to involve MS Office compatibility, although I am not a software engineer. Maybe they’ll get the coding right someday.

    Like the proverb about the “little girl”, when Dragon is good, it is very, very good…when it is bad, it is horrid. I would gleefully sell pencils on the street for two hours a day if Dragon worked properly for eight.

    • Hi John,

      It’s weird, though, isn’t it? Some people have these awful issues with their Dragon and many others can dictate the entire day without Dragon giving insurmountable problems.

      Have you considered switching to Dragon Professional Anywhere (Dragon’s cloud solution)? That would at least give you dictation in Word and Outlook reliably.

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