I’ll define a productivity PC as a machine built for web browsing, Microsoft Office and services like Skype.  These PC’s can be used for work/office, school, or general leisure.

A small business owner, who built a PC for his business in the mid-2000’s (which has now become outdated), asked me my recommendations for building a PC right now.  It was a lot different back then.  During that time, low-end PC’s were bad and mid-high end was best recommended for professionals.  However, nowadays, many low-end and budget computers can be perfectly fine for businesses.  I told him that a decent laptop/tablet or even one of those cheap mini-desktops at Walmart would serve those basic needs fine, and it’s less necessary to build them now.  

However, some may still want to build a productivity PC for the benefit of customization and the personal enjoyment of building one.  For that, I will provide some tips.

  • Intel’s Pentium’s and i3’s within the past few years will offer more than enough speed.
  • Celeron is not recommended.  i5’s and i7’s are way overkill.
  • Intel’s stock CPU coolers are fine for performance. (Cryorig M9i is a good alternative)
  • Video card is not needed and not recommended.  Intel’s integrated graphics are plenty.
  • 4 GB RAM minimum.  8 GB recommended.  No more.
  • A solid state drive is strongly recommended for a significant speed boost.
  • No need for high-capacity storage (unless your business has a security camera perhaps).
  • Using a Mini ITX motherboard and case is recommended if you want a compact build.
  • Spend a few extra dollars on a power supply that is modular or semi-modular.

Recommended Peripherals

  • Logitech M185 Mouse
  • Apple Wireless Keyboard 2007
  • USB 2.0 ac Wifi Adapter (if Ethernet is not available)

One last tip: Use a high resolution monitor.  If you can afford a 4K monitor, go for that.  However, 1440p offers the most bang-for-buck of any monitor resolution.  An IPS 1440p monitor can be had for $200-250, which is not a bad deal at all.

For productivity, workspace matters.  You can run a full-sized web browser and Microsoft Word (or another app) side-by-side at the same time.  I promise you that a 1440p monitor will give you much more bang for your buck than expensive PC parts.

Example Build 

Very tiny build and great performance.

  • Intel Pentium G4600
  • 120 GB SSD
  • AsRock 1110M-ITX Motherboard
  • 8 GB DDR4 RAM (2133 MHz)
  • Mini-Box M350 Case
  • Mini-Box 160 watt Pico Power Supply
  • AC Power Adapter