So you are in the market for a computer system, and can't seem to decide if a Desktop PC or a Laptop will serve you better. The computer you need is the one that best meets your particular needs. Get a Laptop if you value portability above all. But if raw performance is your goal, it's best you sacrifice the Laptop's portability for the flexibility and power of a Desktop PC.
As the name implies, a desktop personal computer is a computer that sits on or under a desk. They come with interactive peripheral devices such as a mouse and Keyboard for inputs, monitor, TV, or projector for display. Desktops are available in 3 form factors - a horizontal tower, a vertical tower, or an all-in-one computer.
A Laptop PC is a small computer that is designed to be portable. They traditionally have a clam-shell form factor, although there are newer variants with detachable monitors and keyboards. They have an inbuilt touchpad and keypad for inputs and a monitor. Laptops can be folded flat to put away when not in use or for easier portability when on the go.
They both have aspects that will appeal to your depending on your situation or line of work. Here, we put them side by side to help you decide.
If you always on the go or work remotely, laptops are the way to go. Their compact size and portability mean you can lug them around in a backpack or a laptop case.
Laptops don't have external peripherals to connect and attach before you can start using them. Simply unbox, hit the power button, and you a set to go.
Laptops require less power to run because their parts are often smaller. They also have batteries, which ensure that you can take them on the road. The batteries also prevent you from losing any unsaved work in a power outage.
A Laptop with similar specs as a desktop PC is often more expensive. Depending on the brand, a high-end Laptop with faster processor speed, larger storage, better graphics, etc., will set you back upwards of $1,500.
Many people find it challenging to type on a Laptop's smaller Keyboard. The trackpad or touchpad can also feel awkward to use. However, you can always attach an external keyboard and mouse. But then, this hampers one of the best features of a Laptop - portability.
The Laptop's comparatively smaller size limits the graphic and video cards' size, which limits the graphic capabilities. Again, the graphic cards need lots of power to run smoothly, making a laptop, with its limited power, offer a more sluggish performance. This makes them less ideal for avid gamers, users of CAD-based applications, and other graphic intensive software. Of course, higher-end laptop computers can reasonably perform as needed, but they are expensive and bulky.
Additionally, power-hungry graphic and video cards exact a heavy toll on the processors and other components, generating lots of heat. Unfortunately, the smaller spaces inside Laptops stop cool air from moving around the parts, which could cause overheating.
Most of a Laptop's components are non-removable. Parts are built-in and can’t be replaced if you want to upgrade your Laptop asides from the RAM and the hard drive. You may have to buy another Laptop altogether.
Laptops are easily dropped and damaged since they are often carried around. And when damaged, repairs can be expensive, and you may have to order replacement parts directly from the manufacturers. You will also require an expert to fix it.
Because your Laptop moves with you, there's a higher possibility that someone could steal it. People have lost their Laptops by forgetting them on trains, coffee shops, parks, airport lounges, and more.
Now let's look at how desktops compare.
Desktops have a wider availability of component options to choose from. This is why there is a wide range of prices for desktops. However, the starting point is generally lower than that of Laptops.
You can get a reasonably capable and powerful desktop PC system – computer and monitor inclusive, with just a few hundred dollars. With the same money, you can't get a laptop half as decent.
Your desktop monitor can be any size you want – or can afford. You can even hook up your 65-inch TV or projector to your Desktop if you so wish. This offers users more flexibility in usage and user experience. You can even join multiple screens to create a massive view.
The Central Processing Unit (CPU) or simply processor of a Desktop PC is typically larger than that available on a Laptop (because of space constraints). This makes them much more powerful. When new and enhanced processors hit the market, they are first available on Desktops before Laptops.
You can install video and graphic cards that require lots of power to run on your desktop computer. Desktops have a higher power supply and can dissipate heat better. Some systems are even liquid-cooled, which makes them perform flawlessly at even the most graphic-demanding tasks.
This makes them a perfect choice for avid gamers and other high-power graphic users.
Virtually everything on a Desktop PC can be replaced with a better option. So you can easily modify and enhance your Desktop as your computing needs evolve over time. The larger casing of a Desktop makes it easy to remove and add components, and you don't need an IT expert to upgrade your Desktop. You can do it yourself at home with the aid of a youtube video or an online manual.
You can get all the parts of a Desktop PC at your local computer store. This makes it easier to fix Desktop computers.
Since Desktops are bulkier and are not moved around often – if at all, the possibility of losing them to theft is slimmer.
Desktops are meant to be set up in one location. They are cumbersome to move around often because of the larger size and attached peripherals such as a monitor, Keyboard, and mouse.
Desktops take up comparatively more space than laptops. They need a dedicated desk area and can't be folded and put away when not in use like Laptops.
Desktops use up more power. They have to power a high-wattage monitor, CPU, and multiple power-hungry components inside. If the power goes off or fluctuates for some reason, you'll suffer the inconvenience of losing any unsaved work.
Now you have a fair grasp of what Desktops and Laptops have going for them and where they struggle, you must have a clearer picture of what you need in a computer system. So do you need a Desktop or a Laptop? You can find your answers considering these key parameters.
If cost is an issue for you and you still need decent computing power, a Desktop is your best bet. You can get a good Desktop for as low as $400. A Laptop with similar specs and performance will cost significantly more.
Go get yourself a Desktop if you or your work requires performance. Desktops have the edge when it comes to performance because they aren't limited by power and can be cooled efficiently. So if your job involves 3D modeling, CAD, database, video editing, rendering, etc., a desktop machine will serve you better. Even high-end laptops will struggle with highly intensive tasks.
You should get a laptop if you need more portability than performance. So if you work remotely, study, or freelance, and your tasks often involve word processors, excel spreadsheets, and other light applications, then a Laptop will suit you perfectly.
You should buy a Desktop if you are handsy and love to customize your computer system at will. Desktop PCs are easier to upgrade. You can remove and replace the CPU, hard drive, fan, GPU, and even motherboard.
Laptops, on the other hand, are not easily upgraded. And the repair is best left for technicians. Every component is built-in except for the storage and the RAM, so you are stuck with the same specs as when you bought it. You may have to buy a new laptop whenever you desire something better.
If you are an avid gamer, you should choose a desktop. Since desktops have more power and a better cooling system, they can support high-powered video cards. You can even add multiple video cards to your Desktops for a better gaming experience.
The power supply to components in a Laptop is limited to extend the battery life. More power consumption generates more heat, which is more difficult to dissipate in the small space within a laptop. Overheating affects your computer's performance adversely and shortens the lifespan. A well-cooled desktop works optimally, even with the most intensive games.
Therefore, a combination of cooling efficiency, higher power supply, and upgradeability makes Desktops vastly superior to Laptops when it comes to serious gaming.
The computer you need is the one that best meets your particular needs. You should buy a Laptop if you value portability above all. You may not get all the performance you need, but the differences won't matter much with a more expensive Laptop.
But if portability is not your overarching concern, and you want great value for your money, a desktop is best for you. In addition to maximizing performance, a Desktop PC allows you to tinker with it to your taste.
For most people, having a Laptop and a Desktop PC is ideal. The Desktop permanently sits at home and handles all the heavy lifting, while a Laptop serves for everyday tasks such as word processing, emails, and internet access.