Laptop Requirements for CNC

I heard on a video that one of the Beta Testers CNC Laptop ran out of memory during an operation. The project stalled.

So if I understand the workflow correctly, I should perhaps be considering doing my CAD (Like Fusion 360) and them my CAM (Also Fusion 360) on a Desktop? Then have my G-Code sender (UGS) on my laptop hooked up to my CNC control box?

What minimum requirements should I consider having for my CNC Laptop? (Especially RAM)
Do I understand the workflow correctly?
Once my CAM has generated the G-Code can it be transferred to my laptop via USB?

A Newest of the New in CNC but loving the challenge so far.

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I watched all the videos never heard that! Post the video here please. I would like to see that. Any laptop off the shelf short of a barebones notebook with minimum of ram could run one of these. Most machines made in the last 5 years have a minimum of 16 gig or ram. That is enough. No special graphics card is needed.

USB right to the control box is all you need.

Desktop or laptop is fine to use no special equipment at all. Please post the link to that video here so we can review it.

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Umm not sure what barebones laptop you saw that had a base 16G of RAM, Greg. I just bought an Acer Swift 3 last week at Staples (down to $850 from $1000 - and it only has 8G and it’s a pretty high end machine. 1080p screen and an i7 processor and an SSD, as I want to be able to run Fusion 360 on it.

Most Sub $500 machines will have 4GB of RAM. However, I suspect that is also enough system memory.


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Ah yes it most likely has ddr4 ram. Its powerful enough. that is equal to 16 gig ddr2 LOL. My mistake

It is enough and I7 will run it with flying colours.

I’ll dig it up for you but i believe it was the beta user who did the round plaque engraving. He said it took 30 hours. I will dig that up for you tomorrow.

At the 7:29 mark of the video.

Sorry. It took him 10 hours, not 30.

That wasn’t because of the lack of the computer memory. You have to pay attention to the whole story. Terry is a Beta Tester. I know him and have met him. This was early on in his cnc life. He programed it to cut that sign with a 2mm end mill with 5 passes. That is a huge massive cutting job. 10 hours is a massive cut and he put that machine through its paces. He said he should have used a 1/2" to rough it out in one or two passes. Pay attention to what is said. Ok? You can hear Andy behind the camera laughing because he knows what Terry did wrong too. Chris is trying to not laugh as well.


Thank you for your reply Greg, albeit somewhat abrupt. I did pay attention to the video and do understand the premise under which Terry’s computer ran out of memory. Giving me a modicum of credit would have been appreciated. I also find it ironic that you told me twice in your reply to pay attention. It was you who did not recall the video. Seems I did pay attention.

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Thanks Jeff. A good deal on the Acer Swift 3. In fact I went out and got one myself from your recommendation. I actually go another $50 off because it was an open box. Have set it up and runs beautifully. Thanks.
I gave my other Laptops to my daughter and Wife so a new one was needed. Thanks Again.
Larry Linton

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After typing a response i usually read it to make sure it’s conveying what i want to say, the way i want it said. There’s been a few times i’ve noticed my responses could be misinterpreted or having a tone that i didn’t really intend.

I too have oft times sent a reply which did not show my best character or was open for improper interpretation. Damn humans.

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LOL Sorry i was tired when I typed that I t was 1 am. It was over a year ago that video was shot and posted. Take a look at the time stamp. Also a year ago since I watched it the first time. Sometimes we watch a video but do not take in all the little things that make up why something happened. The tiny details. Thats all. That is why I brought it up. I didn’t mean to sound snotty or anything. It was 1 am or later when I posted it. I do tend to repeat things sometimes. I do tend to repeat things sometimes, LOL
I could take that comp you just bought and make it run out of memory too by making way too many pases with it if I tried. Just like terry did. So I don’t think you did fully grasp it totally. Not a slam against you. Taking 5 passes on that and making it 2 it would not have ran out. If I took that same project hooked mine up I could make it run out too. Make 20 passes at 1 mm with a 1mm bit it sure would run out. Its how you program it. I have a high powered I7 Quad core with 32 gig of ddr3. You have to pay attention to how you ask it to do the job your looking for if it makes sense. Can you avoid a number of cuts or should I add one.

Im just trying to teach here not be a jerk so please don’t take it that way.

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Greg. No Problem. You are a wonderful advocate of SIENCI and I appreciate all you input. I do understand what Terry did however. Using such a small bit along with 5 passes is indeed a huge burden memory. Ergo the 10 hours as well.

Thanks for you service to the Forum.

Larry Linton
P.S. my handle of Airhawg is from my SUBA diving days. When I started I was indeed an Air Hog.

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Thank you for the thoughts. I really appreciate that. Keep hogging all the air you want LOL

You’re welcome. I looked around for quite a while to find something with a full 1080p screen and enough power to run Fusion 360 on the run. I haven’t used it much yet but I have high hopes for it. I’m temped to upgrade the RAM and SSD but I decided to wait and see if I need more. It’s readily available, which is good news.


I’d like to point out with the “running out of memory” thing, that it’s incredibly rare that you will ever run out of memory for the actual cutting/sending gcode.

Most gcode people are going to be using will be a few hundred kilobytes, and maybe up into the tens of megabytes for extremely long gcode.

In terms of laptop requirements, for the actual sending of the gcode, you don’t need anything powerful. We have a computer we used to use that was running a Pentium 4, with 512MB of memory that was used for sending gcode.

For CAD/CAM, this will vary widely. I came off from using Solidworks in industry, which was a massive resources hog, but Onshape I use comfortably with my i5-8th gen 8gig RAM desktop and my Macbook Air from 2016.

TLDR. Don’t worry too much about computer requirements, you’re not likely to need anything more than what you have to start. If you get into really complicated CAD/CAM, you might, but at that point, you’ll know what you need.


Airhawg, I do what your considering. I do my CAD/CAM on my office desktop and save the NC file which I then transfer to a memory stick via a USB port. I then take the file out to my shop and load it on my laptop which is hooked up to my control box. By the way, my laptop is a 7 year old Dell Inspiron 1545 that’s been upgrade to Windows 10. Bought it used for $150.

See right there ha ha 10 year old what I tell ya LOL