The system CPU (including its L2/L3 cache) and the amount of system RAM is important. To a lesser degree the speed of the RAM influences performance.
You have the most choice in choosing your CPU.
We most often recommend Intel i7 CPU's with clock speeds of 2.5GHz or faster for those likely to upgrade their Dragon software. The exception is that the "low voltage" i7 which has long battery life is poor for those using Dragon. i5 CPU's are generally not as fast, but the faster i5 CPU's are adequate for many Dragon users. The (less expensive) i3 CPU's are typically too slow for great results. L3 cache of 2MB or more is desirable, and best performance is seen when L3 cache is at 6MB or higher.
While not an exact predictor of Dragon performance, the PassMark scores offered at the website www.cpubenchmark.net are a guide to CPU performance. We suggest buying systems with CPU's having a PassMark score of at least 4000 if performance is important, 3000 or higher if this is in use for professional purposes. CPU's with scores in the 2000-3000 range may work OK for some customers. But it makes little economic sense to buy a new system with a score of under 3000.
RAM is important and dependent upon the version of Windows. For Windows-XP and other 32-bit operating systems, 3GB or 4GB are recommended. For Windows-7 64-bit and Vista 64-bit a minimum of 4GB RAM is required and 6GB or more is recommended. If your system use consists of more than Dragon and either an EMR system or Word, then we would often suggest additional RAM. 3-4GB on a 32-bit operating system or 6-8MB on a 64-bit operation system will normally be sufficient.
The RAM speed is often harder to ascertain. On a new system, it should be over 800MHz. But one running at 1600MHz is worth paying more, particularly if you don't like to wait for words to appear on your screen.
If interested in remote access, we suggest Windows 7 Ultimate (or if in larger organizations, Windows 7 Enterprise) so that you may better be able to use Dragon Medical with Remote Desktop Protocol. This is seldom offered off-the-shelf or in web ordering systems, but is often available as an option for about $150.
With Windows 7, Intel i7 with 6GB+ RAM. With Windows-XP, Intel i7 with 3GB+ RAM.
On some but not all multiprocessor systems, additional speed on Dragon Medical can be obtained by setting the CPU "affinity" to restrict Dragon to using a single CPU. Contact us and we can send instructions for this based upon your operating system, CPU type, and software version. Dragon 10 benefits from this much more than Dragon Medical Practice Edition.
If you are running Dragon NaturallySpeaking Medical 9 on a system you will almost always be OK.
Release 10 requires Windows-2000 SP4, Windows-XP SP-2 (32-bit), Vista 32-bit or 64-bit, or Windows 7 32-bit or 64-bit. At least 1GB RAM is suggested on Windows 2000 or Windows-XP, 2GB RAM on Windows Vista is minimal. 64-bit systems require 4GB RAM. Release 10 requires about 150MB more RAM than Release 9 and seems to require less CPU.
A minimum 1GHz CPU is required for Dragon Medical. A 1 MB or larger L2 cache is required starting with Dragon Medical, that primarily affects the (unusual) buyer who has a system with a CPU made by VIA (very low power, light systems), or a system using the lower end Intel Atom CPU's found in low-end netbooks.
New is needing the SSE2 instruction set. What this means in practice is that some systems bought in before mid-2006, most commonly AMD systems, may not work. Sempron CPU's are specifically affected, others are too. It just won't work! Nuance has a TechNote 6027 that goes into the detail of this issue and provides information of how to determine if your system is affected.
At least a dual-core CPU, 2.4GHz or faster is recommended. The Intel i5 and i7 product lines typically meet that recommendation. If your computer system does not meet these requirements, it may still be worthwhile buying an upgrade to Medical to preserve future upgrade options or to run in a slightly-slower mode.