Optimal design is an inevitable step for parallel manipulators. The formulated optimal design problems are generally constrained, nonlinear, multimodal, and even without closed-form analytical expressions. Numerical optimization algorithms are thus applied to solve the problems. However, the optimization algorithms are usually chosen ad arbitrium. This paper aims to provide a guideline to choose algorithms for optimal design problems. Typical algorithms, the sequential quadratic programming (SQP) with multiple initial points, the controlled random search (CRS), the genetic algorithm (GA), the differential evolution (DE), and the particle swarm optimization (PSO), are investigated in detail for their convergence performances by using two canonical design examples, the Delta robot and the Gough–Stewart platform. It is shown that SQP with multiple initial points can be efficient for simple design problems, while DE and PSO perform effectively and steadily for all design problems. CRS can be used to generate good initial points since it exhibits excellent convergence evolution in the starting period.