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I started using embroidery software on my older 11″ laptop, and let me tell you, I do not recommend that.
Not only was the screen MUCH too small to plot out stitches accurately, but my slow processor just couldn’t keep up.
Thankfully, that computer was near the end of its life, and I soon replaced it with a newer laptop computer and dual-desktop monitor system that easily met the requirements of my specific embroidery software.
However, how do you pick a computer for you if you’re not particularly computer-savvy?
Follow along to learn everything you need to know about picking the best computer for embroidery software!
Do you need a computer for embroidery software?
Embroidery software cannot be loaded onto your embroidery machine, but a few embroidery programs can be used on a tablet or iPad or as a phone app. (Here’s a list of embroidery program apps.)
However, almost every full-fledged digitizing software requires an actual computer to run.
As a general rule, neither a Chromebook nor an iPad will work for digitizing software that must be downloaded to your computer rather than accessed online.
Mac vs. PC
Most embroidery software is not native to Apple computers.
In these cases, choose a PC unless you’re already familiar with Mac computers or really want to learn. This is because software available only for PC will require Parallels or an equivalent to run.
The Embrilliance suite is an example of one embroidery software that runs natively on Mac, though. Mac computers are a viable option here, and almost any of the newer Mac computers should be more than adequate.
Desktop vs. Laptop + Stylus Considerations
Digitizers all have their preferred method of digitizing, whether it be with a mouse on a monitor, a stylus on a graphics drawing pad, etc.
Before purchasing, think about the types of embroidery designs you plan to create and whether you need to be able to free-hand draw with a stylus or can use a mouse.
Also, I have never been able to digitize efficiently using a small laptop screen, so I’ve always had a large desktop screen connecting to my smaller laptop. I also have a small graphics tablet that I use occasionally.
I think a 24″ screen is the sweet spot for big enough to use comfortably but not too costly or space-consuming. And, whew, it sure beats plotting stitches on a small 11″-15″ laptop screen.
If you do get a laptop but don’t want a monitor to go with it, one helpful feature is a touchscreen.
Occasionally, I like to digitize with my stylus directly onscreen in tablet mode (for continuous quilting designs, for instance) rather than with a mouse or my 4×6 graphics tablet.
I’m a big fan of options, and I considered all this when buying my new computer for embroidery software.
Basic Computer Requirements for Common Embroidery Software
Below, I’ve compiled the minimum necessary computer requirements for several popular embroidery software (as of Fall 2022) to give you an idea of the wide range.
Specs may change, and if your software isn’t listed, check out your manufacturer’s website to learn the minimum requirements before purchasing a computer.
|Software||RAM||Hard Disk Size||Processor||Operating System|
|Wilcom Embroidery Studio||16 GB (min), 32 GB (rec)||40 GB (min), 256 GB SSD (rec)||Intel i3 or AMD Ryzen 3 (min), Intel i7 or above (rec)||Windows 10 and above|
|Brother PE Design 11||1 GB (min)||699 MB free space||1GHz or more||Windows 7 or above|
|Hatch 3||8 GB (min), 16 GB (rec)||80 GB (min), 256 GB SSD (rec)||Intel i3 or AMD Athlon FX and better (min), Intel i5 or AMD Ryzen 6 or better (rec)||Windows 7 (min), Windows 10 or 11 (rec)|
|Embird||256 MB (min)||200 MB free space|
|Perfect Embroidery Professional DIME||2 GB (min)||Need 20 GB space||1GHz or faster||Windows 8 (min)|
Now, you must have a computer that meets the minimum requirements.
But, the computer doesn’t necessarily have to fit the recommended requirements. Recommended requirements are merely suggestions for your program to function optimally with no drag.
There are WIDE ranges of requirements. For instance, Embrilliance software (and some of the free embroidery software options) will work on almost any computer less than five years old.
Meanwhile, the recommendations for Wilcom Embroidery Studio require a snazzy, and thus costly, computer.
Nonetheless, the better computer you purchase, the faster and more efficiently your embroidery software will work.
I use Hatch 3 Digitizer, and my latest computer meets all the recommended specs. As such, the software runs so much better now than it did before I upgraded.
Specs to Analyze and Consider Carefully
Specifically, here are several aspects you should look at before purchasing a new computer for your embroidery software.
1. RAM (Memory)
RAM is what allows multiple tasks to run at once on your computer.
The bigger the RAM, the more “weight” your computer can lift or handle at once.
Having a little extra RAM gives your computer extra capability to do other things like open a web browser or run a security check in the background while digitizing in your software.
2. Processor Speed
Processor speed determines how fast processes or jobs can be completed.
In other words, if RAM determines the “weight” your computer can lift, then processor speed is how “fast” it can be lifted. (Thanks to my husband for these analogies!)
Your processor has to run fast enough for the program to open all of its moving parts and then allow you to work on your project seamlessly.
3. Disk Space
Disk space is the amount of storage available to save information about programs, embroidery files, pictures, documents, and more.
Back to the weight-lifting analogy, disk space describes the space you have to store weights that can later be added to your barbell.
Now, you need at least enough space for the embroidery program plus all other items you plan to store on your PC.
There are two common types of disk drives. I recommend a solid-state drive.
When comparing a solid-state drive (SSD) vs. a hard disk drive (HDD), an HDD writes and reads information slower than an SSD.
4. Graphics Card
The graphics card affects how pretty your pictures will be on the screen and, in terms of digitizing, how clearly your monitor can show the details of each stitch.
Most computer screens are high-definition these days, so there’s no need to upgrade to a premium graphics card unless you also plan to play very high-def games on the computer or watch movies with the clearest picture possible.
5. Operating System
For Windows users, this refers to the version of Windows you have installed on your computer.
This usually isn’t an issue, as new computers come loaded with the newest operating system.
However, if you’re looking into an older computer, there’s usually only so far that a program is ‘back supported.’
For example, if your computer uses Windows 7, and the current OS is Windows 11, you need to check to see if your embroidery software will support back to Windows 7.
If not, an upgrade to the newest software version may be required.
6. Screen Size
Small laptop screens are no good, so make sure you purchase an auxiliary desktop monitor or buy a larger-screen laptop.
5 Best Computers for Embroidery Software
Now, if you are a professional digitizer and use a resource-demanding program like Wilcom ES4, then you need a MUCH better computer (like a gaming computer) than someone who uses Embird, which only requires a basic, inexpensive computer.
And, since technology improves SO FAST, computers come and go.
There are thousands of computer options for your embroidery software, so the most important thing is you look at the specs required for your embroidery program and match them to a computer.
While I’ve listed below a small selection of laptops and desktop computers that will run with most of these embroidery software, this is to be used as a starting point. Pick what works best for your circumstances and budget!
Processor: 12th Gen Intel i7
Hard Drive: 512GB SSD
Screen Size: 15.6″
I currently use an HP touchscreen laptop for my embroidery software.
There are much better laptops out there, but this price was more affordable than most others for the features.
And while I write this blog, use quilting software, run Cricut Design Space, and more, my embroidery software is the program that demands the best processor and most RAM.
This computer runs my software like a champ, and I just don’t need more than this computer offers.
I also use a dual-monitor setup, and it’s just perfect.
In terms of specs, what drew me to it was the touchscreen option, the 512 GB SSD (1 TB would have been nice, but I have an external hard drive and use cloud backup), and the 16 GB of RAM.
Getting 16 GB of ram for sub-$1000 was challenging to do.
I’ve never been an HP-lover in the past, instead preferring Dell or Lenovo, but my last computers from them haven’t lasted as they should, so here’s to something different!
Processor: AMD Ryzen 7
Hard Drive: 256GB SSD + 1TB SATA HD
Screen Size: 27″
If you’re opposed to laptops and want to stick with a desktop, I love the functionality of All-in-One desktop computers.
HP, for instance, has this awesome desktop where all you need is the monitor (with the computer parts built-in), a keyboard, and a mouse.
There’s no need to have a clunky desktop tower underneath your computer these days!
The screen is a touch screen, and it’s a humongous 27″, making it so much easier to see. (Again, I always buy auxiliary monitors for my desktop. I’m approaching 40, and my eyes aren’t what they were at 30!)
One downfall of a desktop computer is it’s not nearly as easy to transport as a laptop. So, no digitizing embroidery designs from your local coffee shop.
A perk of a desktop with a smaller SSD and a larger STAT HD, though, is you can store a TON of embroidery designs in all that extra space.
Processor: AMD Ryzen 5
Hard Drive: 512GB SSD
Screen Size: 14.0″
The Lenovo Flex laptop computer is a 2-in-1, meaning it flips 360 degrees to stand as a tent or fold as a tablet.
There’s something enjoyable about digitizing on my laptop while sitting on the couch curled under a blanket and watching movies, so I love the flexibility.
It also includes the Lenovo Digital Pen to use as a stylus.
Another thing I like about this Lenovo laptop is that it features Intelligent Cooling, which minimizes overheating. If you do plan to use it in tablet mode, the laptop must stay cool to the touch.
Processor: 10th Gen Intel i5
Hard Drive: 1TB SSD
Screen Size: 15.6″
I used Dell XPS and Inspiron computers during high school, college, and my doctorate, but my experience with my last Inspiron caused me to try out HP.
However, I know many users who love Dell, so I’m also listing one of their Inspiron models.
There are many versions of Inspiron computers varying in every spec, so pick what you need and want, and select the perfect match!
In fact, on the Dell website, you can compare specs for all their computer options and build your own.
My dad was a database engineer and systems analyst his whole career and always designed my computers on the Dell website as my graduation presents. (My parents were paying, not me, so I always had the best tech. Now, I pay for my own and only buy what I actually need!)
Processor: 11th Gen Intel i7
Hard Drive: 512GB SSD
Screen Size: 13.3″
For Samsung loyalists, this Galaxy Book laptop has similar specs to my HP laptop and should also easily support hobby digitizing programs.
One difference, though, is it is a 13.3″ screen rather than a 15.6.”
Smaller screens are better for decreased portability, but they can be rough on users with poor vision.
This computer is also a touchscreen with a fast processor and decent memory.
And that’s it for my picks for the best computer for embroidery software.
Whether you choose a desktop, laptop, top-of-the-line, or bare minimum, the choice is ultimately yours.