When The Verge runs reviews of laptops (and occasionally phones), they are invariably benchmarked in order to measure various aspects of a PC’s performance. However, benchmarks are not just used by product reviewers. They can help all of us in a variety of ways.

Benchmarks can let you know if (and perhaps even why) a new PC will measure up to your old one. They can help you figure out why your current PC is stuttering during your favorite game. They can let you know whether your current setup can handle the latest and greatest game or whether you’d better start thinking about upgrading. And they can help you decide what you should upgrade — do you need more memory or would a better graphics card do the trick?

The Verge’s premier PC reviewer, Monica Chin, is an expert in all sorts of benchmarks, and she has written a series of articles describing what each benchmark measures and how you can use it to assess your own computer system. Take a look and see how you can become your own best technical diagnostician.