Advice for Buying a New Computer


Looking for advice for buying a new Windows Desktop/Laptop for a University Course which would involves working on a lot of VMs/Installing 3rd party Softwares etc.
I already have a 2018 MacBook Air - 1.6 GHz Dual-Core Intel Core i5/ 8 GB 2133 MHz LPDDR3/ 256 GB Storage, but this doesn't serve the purpose of above. It becomes very slow and unresponsive when I work on VirtualBox VMs - Windows/Linux.

A desktop or laptop with a good Processor, 16GB RAM, 512 SSD, 1TB HDD, a decent Graphics card, Wireless.
I have a Win10 Licence and Dual monitors at Home.

So far Ryzen 7 looks like a decent option.
Build to Go Desktop

I do not want to spend a lot on this considering so many devices I already have at home including the 2 work laptops.

Please advise any other good options that suit my requirements.



  • +2

    You could get a much more powerful machine (desktop) for cheaper by custom building and choosing your parts. If your not moving the machine at all then for more bang for buck a desktop makes more sense and being able to have a bit more flexibility for upgrading parts when needed, more power and being more cost effective with a custom build (from the internals to the chasis, cooling etc). You can build something decent for about $1k- $1.2k.

    Whereas a more powerful laptop would be mainly for portability reasons. It would be less cost effective, less flexibility with upgrades etc, so I guess less future proofed compared to a custom built PC. I'd say you'd be investing more into a build that you are looking for… would you be taking and working on it at Uni? (given the COVID-19 situation with virtual classrooms n such)

    I do not want to spend a lot on this considering so many devices I already have at home including the 2 work laptops.

    I think you've answered your question: Laptop VS Desktop… WINNER is a custom build desktop makes the most sense.

    So far Ryzen 7 looks like a decent option.
    Build to Go Desktop (

    There are a few articles that'll help out with deciding what suits your needs with your VM work for Uni:

    For your work CPU, RAM and a fast SSD should be the focus. Don't really require a hefty graphics card but it is nice to have for other things that require heavy GPU use for things like intensive gaming etc. In terms of AMD Ryzen VS Intel the 2nd article link will help you decide on whats best for your needs.

    Hope some of this helps!

    • Thank you @dannyC. I think I am now clear I need a desktop and it actually inspired me to build one myself for the futture.
      But I am confused with myriad of options that are available. I will explore more on this.

      I really need to be ready in a month I guess considering my class starting this week.

      On the other hand, do you think its a good option to go with the Build to Go Desktops

  • +2

    As Danny mentioned, custom building your computer is the way to go - it's actually really easy and there are plentiful videos on youtube taking you through every step.

    If you don't need to game, you do not even need to buy a video card - but you need to consider your workload, that is what is going to decide the components you need.

    For example, an AMD system is going to be best for multi-threaded workloads, and with their high thread count, may be the better option for a VM machine. An Intel system on the other hand still has the higher single core performance which might be more important for what you want to do. In general I would recommend Ryzen given the better value, higher thread count, and cheaper (but equally equipped) motherboards.

    Watch reviews to choose the best CPU for you - remember that Ryzen 3rd gen (i.e. Ryzen 4xxx) is going to be released later this year, as well as Navi 2 and GTX 3000 series. You will find the best deals after these are released, and also at the end of the year with the Cybermonday and holiday sales. The Ryzen 3xxx XT line-up was literally just released - so watch reviews and benchmarks to choose the one you need.

    If you have a laptop, build a PC for its future proofness, ability to upgrade, and you can make small, portable miniITX builds if you really need to move it around.

    My recommendations:
    1. AMD Ryzen is likely to be the better option at your budget and for your workload, and the motherboards are typically cheaper
    2. If you don't game you don't need a graphics card (you can use the onboard video output, or buy a cheap display card) which can be a significant budget saving. However, there are also excellent budget options available
    3. Wait til the end of the year or release of upcoming hardware before buying
    4. Watch build videos and reviews to choose your components

    Here is an example build:

    Of course you can change components as you see fit - the 3600XT is a good fit, a B550 motherboard will support Ryzen 4000 so you can upgrade if wanted (accidentally chose a microATX board), there is 16gb of 3200mHz CL16 ram (you need to have dual channel i.e. two sticks - keep that in mind), a good but relatively budget case, a bit of an overkill SSD (go smaller to 500gb if you want), and a decent graphics card for 1080p >60fps gaming (RX 580). The power suppply is fully modular, and 650w allowing you upgrade room.

    $1400 all together, but if you wait for deals on this site, you can EASILY get that closer to 1.2k

  • Thanks for your advice @iamapineapple. Indeed useful for a beginner like myself.
    Considering my lack of experience/knowledge in building one myself, I will need to do at-least a month's research to know what would be best for me.

    There are a lot of options. Which processor and compatible motherboard/RAM, SSD etc. A lot of manufacturers. I can just go with whichever names sounds appealing to me as all of them seem to be good in the market.

    Cant wait till year end as I have classes starting this week, so I need to finalise something very soon actually.

    • +1

      If you want help, go into your local computer store (MSY, PCCG etc) and ask them to help you out, try and talk to someone who seems engaged/interested. They can build your computer for you for a few - usually $50-$80.

    • Thank you. A good deal but I think I am inclined to build a desktop now.

      • A better decision.

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