Best PC desktop specs for heavy Excel use?

Occasional Visitor

I apologize if this is the incorrect place for this question but can anyone give specs for an Excel-killer PC desktop?


I have a user who continually complains that her desktop is slow: running Windows 7, Windows 10, Office 2013 (64bit), or Office 2016 (64bit). I've tried every combination.

The desktops are Dell 7040 and 7050 SFF desktops with 16GB memory and i7 processors.

Current is: Core i7-4810MQ @ 2.80GHz [4 core(s) x64]


Do I need to move up to Xeon processors? More memory? SSDs instead of standard SATAs? A better video card? Some setting in Excel itself?  Can Excel actually make use these improvements?


The spreadsheets are very large and have complex formulas as well as macros on some. The spreadsheets are saved on a network drive but she has a 1GB ethernet connection. And they will not copy the file to the desktop, work on it and then save the file back to the network drive.


Thank you very much for any suggestions.

6 Replies

Given that you already have installed 64 bit Office there isn't much more you can do apart from advising them to get expert help to optimise their spreadsheet model. I wouldnt be surprised if a significant improvement of the model performance is within reach. Let me know if you'd be interested in such service.

@Stephanie Dravk 


My guess is that the issue you are having is that Excel is running slow.


Excel does things differently from most databases. A database will do the calculations when you want them. A spreadsheet does them when you enter the data and, when you want them, the calculations are already done.


So, the slow bit is when you are entering data and excel is doing calculations. The first place to start is to tell excel to turn off automatic calculations. Go to the Formulas Tab and (on the right) change Calculations to Manual. Now, if you have A1: 2 and A2: =A1*2, A2 will show as 4. However when you put a new number into A2, there will be no pause because the calculations are not being done. So A2 will still show 4. So you can pile in data as fast as you want. Once you have all the data in, go back to formulas and click on Calculate Now (or just press F9). It’ll plough through everything and update all the calculations.


If you then enter data in chunks, leave Calculate as Manual and do a Calculate Now whenever you have finished a batch of entry. If you only occasionally change data, you can switch it back to Calculate Automatically or prefer using Excel Online with O365CloudExperts/PowerQuery for excel.


Try this before spending lots of money on a top of the range computer if it isn’t needed.




I wouldn't advise to turn off automatic calculation. Wanting to turn that off is always a clear indication your file can be optimised for speed.
Also if she is using a workbook with a lot of calculations based on datum in other sheets/workbooks response will be slow every entry she makes.

@Stephanie Dravk 


I am currently using an i9 dell with 16gb memory. I am a power user of excel for reporting as well as various calculations. This machine is delivering results each time. I can analyse over 200,000 of lines with minimal lags.  What is important is data structure and initial set up to be able to cope with such demands. There need to be both, powerful machine and great data structure to use excel as effectively and efficiently as possible. Hope this helps.

We are planning to procure the Surface Laptop GO i5 8GB 256SSD to perform heavy excel utilization.