Laptop or Desktop? Whic is Best for You?

If you’re in the market for a new computer but not sure if you should get a laptop or desktop, then you’ve come to the right place.  There are definite advantages and disadvantages for both types, depending on different factors and applications that I’ll be covering in this article.

The Laptop Advantage

The single largest advantage a laptop has over a desktop is mobility.  Because of their compact size, integrated monitor, keyboard and mouse, and battery power, laptops can be used anywhere while a desktop PCs have to be tethered to several things to be usable.  Because of a laptop’s portability, you can do work outside of the office, play games or watch movies anywhere you want.  School use, especially college students that are in very cramped dorm rooms, benefit greatly from the compact size, integrated peripherals and portability of a laptop.

Another advantage is that laptops will always include a built-in wireless (Wi-Fi) adapter to allow it to have connectivity to the internet wherever you are in your home or office.  Some laptops can even include an internal cellular modem, which is a more advanced wireless card that can connect to your cellular carrier (such as Verizon, Sprint, AT&T, etc..) to have internet wherever you go.  In laptops will also have integrated speakers, a microphone, a webcam (usually) and other peripherals, making them a truly all-inclusive package.  Many laptops can also run for 8 hours or more on just their battery with some going as long as 14 hours with higher capacity battery options.

Laptops also use much less energy than a desktop, which can save some money on electricity.  If your power goes out, because of the battery, a laptop can run for hours so you can stay productive even if the lights go out.

The Desktop Advantage

Wow, laptops appear to be perfect!  Why would I ever want a desktop?  Don’t count out the mighty desktop just yet.  They have definite advantages in several areas.

The biggest advantage a desktop PC has over a laptop is upgradeability.  When you buy a laptop, you’re essentially stuck with the hardware you got.  You can upgrade the RAM and hard drive or add on USB devices, but that’s about it.  On the other hand, you can usually change out and upgrade almost every single component or easily add new devices and capabilities to a desktop PC.  You can turn a lightweight unassuming desktop PC into a fire-breathing gaming beast just by upgrading some key components.

Is your laptop not playing that new awesome video game you just bought, what do you do?  Well, your options are next to nothing.  You can’t upgrade the video card in that little guy.  Granted, there are some horribly expensive gaming laptops that do give you some upgrade options, but they’re usually well outside the budget of most people, and the upgrades will be costly as well.  However, with a desktop, all you have to do is add in that new nVidia or ATI video card and possibly an upgraded power supply and boom! You’re now playing that game you love, and possibly even better than a gaming console. 

Another advantage that goes along with the above is the relative ease of repairing.  Laptops have almost all of their components integrated into one single large mainboard (aka motherboard).  If, for example, the network card fails, you can’t just replace that card.  It’s integrated into the motherboard.  Sure, you can add a USB network card, but many laptops only have 2 maybe 3 ports, so USB ports are at a premium.  So, to replace that network card, you have to replace the whole motherboard, which would be an expensive job.  Now on the flip side, if you have a desktop and its network card fails, even if it has an integrated network card (integrated onto its motherboard), no problem.  Just add an internal network card (aka NIC) and you’re back in business.  Windows will even automatically install it and connect you to the internet without installing any extra software.

An additional advantage that a desktop has over a laptop is overall performance, especially when you look at performance per dollar.  The main processor (aka CPU), which is the brains of the computer is typically faster on a desktop than a laptop.  The reason is because in a laptop heat management can become a challenge.  If the CPU gets hot, then it has to throttle down to prevent it from melting itself.  Therefor, a laptop can’t run at full speed all the time.  Also, to conserve heat and battery power, laptops usually have relatively slow processors.  The faster the processor is, the more heat and energy it uses up.  Now in a desktop, heat is rarely an issue.  With all that air space and room for several cooling fans, and in some more extreme cases, water cooling, a desktop can sport a super-fast CPU and also will be able to run it at 100% for extended periods of time.  Some more adventurous PC enthusiasts have even overclocked the CPU in their desktop PC, which is to make the CPU run faster than its factory specifications to squeeze even more performance out of it.  This would make the CPU produce more heat and use more energy, so that practice is virtually unheard of for laptops because it would spell certain doom for that poor CPU.

Desktop PCs usually cost much less for the same performance level that a laptop can offer.  Laptops have extra components and miniaturized components that make them more expensive.  Laptops also require more intricate engineering deal with the heat production of the CPU and video chip within a very small package.  Their designs are also proprietary, so every manufacturer and different model lines within a single manufacturer use completely different parts that can’t be interchanged.  Desktops, on the other hand typically use standard parts that can be interchanged or replaced with an off-the-shelf part or upgrade.  Since desktop PCs are so easy to upgrade, if it’s running slowly, you can just upgrade it, so long-term cost and longevity can be much cheaper than a laptop.

So, in conclusion, both laptops and desktop PCs definitely have their place.  If portability is required, then a laptop is the way to go.  Laptops have pretty much cornered the market in that area compared to desktops.  However, if you don't need a portable PC and or performance or cost (especially long-term) is at the top of the list, then a desktop is for you.  Don’t forget to count the cost of adding a monitor to your setup, as many desktop PCs do not include one automatically (but they’re rather inexpensive nowadays).

If the system’s footprint (the space that it takes up on your desk) is high on that list but you don't need something portable, then there is one other option.  There are a subset of desktop PCs that are referred to as an all-in-one (aka AIO) PC.  They’re sort of a melding of laptop and desktop technologies, but compromise in some areas.  They don’t have the portability of a laptop but have almost as much performance as a desktop PC.  They do include an integrated screen, Wi-Fi card, webcam, microphone and many have touchscreens which can be useful (among other integrated peripherals).  They don’t have an integrated keyboard and mouse (having separate keyboard and mouse can actually be a plus in some cases).  Because they don’t use an integrated mouse and keyboard, they’re footprint is much smaller than a laptop, so a very good option for a space-saving PC.

We at Call Posse Computers sell all 3 types of PCs.  Contact us today and we can help you decide the best computer for your needs.  We sell both used and refurbished computer systems.  Refurbished computers are an excellent way to get the most value for your money.  Their reliability is just as good as new systems at a fraction of the cost, an especially good option if you’re on a tight budget.

Visit our website at www.callposse.com, call us at (575) 527-8190 or email us at service@callposse.com and we’ll be more than happy to help you with all your computer needs.

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