Son Of Sun Tzu blog

Son Of Sun Tzu blog

They keep saying my audience will find me…

08 Sep 2021

PC purchasing checklist

I’ve just been helping a friend think through buying a new “home office” PC, mainly because I’ve got through a similar set of thoughts myself recently, rather than having specialist knowledge anymore. So on their suggestion I’m putting those questions up here, so they’re easy to refer to in future…

“Pre-flight questions”

  • Can you upgrade your existing machine instead? RAM upgrades, or moving to an SSD, can make a substantive difference
  • What is the actual requirement? For example, if you just need more storage, buy a NAS instead?


  • Budget - how much can you spend? This is usually the most intractable limiting factor
  • Case - this affects a couple of factors
    • fans, can you run several large and slow ( and therefore quiet ) fans rather than smaller noisier ones?
    • for a Micro ATX case, for example, this will affect where ports for cables, and fans sit
  • Future requirements - what else might the system be used for? Photo editing? Streaming?
  • Graphics - do you need a dedicated “GPU”?
  • Noise - Do you want a quiet PC with passive cooling, or are fans OK? What do the other people in your shared space think?
  • Operating System - do you want Windows, or would a ChromeBook be the best option?
  • Portability - apart from a laptop, will it be useful to move the system around the house to change your working environment?
  • Space - how much space do you have? Do you want a micro PC, a desktop, or a tower?
  • Surroundings - a few things to consider:
    • think of all the cabling that will have to go in and come out, will there be space around the system?
    • where are the air intakes and fans, will a PC under the desk be warming your feet?
  • Upgradability - how easy is it to improve the system in future, when you have increased budget or demands?
    • the number of memory slots will affect what memory you add to the system in future.
    • the number and location of SATA or M.2 ports will decide how many disks you can add in future.
  • Where to buy it from - that’s a whole different conversation…


Trying to figure out which processor or graphic card is the best is difficult due to the sheer variety

There are all sorts of issues with benchmarking, but I find these sites give me a rough idea of what is better than what else, and by how much.