The time comes every few years or so when your old laptop or desktop computer just isn’t cutting it anymore. Computers get old and sluggish much faster than we do, so chances are, you’ll burn through a couple in your time. When the time comes to make a change, it can be a bit bewildering to choose a replacement in today’s overflowing market. The decision becomes easier if we can cut the choices in half, though. So, let’s consider whether a desktop computer or a laptop is a better option. First, we will consider the pros and cons of a desktop PC, then the same for a laptop.
It might not be immediately obvious, with 2020 just around the corner, but a desktop computer may still be a really good choice compared to a laptop. They can be set up with any size screen, showing up equally nicely on an ultrHD big screen TV and on a cheap, small computer screen. If you need multiple screens, that’s not a problem either. You’ll be spoilt for choice with all the different cases you can get. There are super sleek, tiny things like Apple’s Mac Mini, or unique, clear cases where you can see your hardware chugging away as you work. With a desktop, you have the option to keep only a screen on your desk for a clutter-free environment. It is easy to build a good, consistent workstation.
In addition, it is cheaper to buy high specs when you go for a desktop computer. The same specs on a laptop would cost you at least 1.5x the price, if not double. Laptop hardware is miniaturized, so between a desktop and a laptop with the same advertised specs, the desktop will still be faster. The processors in desktop computers are much larger, allowing them to run faster.
If your machine is ever in need of a fix or some upgrading, it’ll be a piece of cake. Desktop computers’ cases come off easily, giving easy access to the hardware underneath. From here, you can fix broken parts, replace outdated tech, or just give it a good clean. There is extra space in there, so if you want to install a new hard drive or two, you can!
As with everything, there are also downsides to desktop computers. They need a lot more space than a laptop, whether its floor space or desk space. Desktops are not portable, with so many wires and different parts that need to be taken down when you move them. They are heavy, too. If you leave the computer to get dusty inside by not cleaning it, it will start to blow dust everywhere in its room, and it’ll get noisy.
Power is another downside because desktop computers rely solely on mains power. If the electricity supply ever stops suddenly, you will lose all of your work, and your machine might be damaged as well. On that same line, desktops use up a lot more power when they are on. They individually send power to all the components inside, as well as to a monitor, a keyboard, a mouse, etc.
Laptops are portable, nimble little machines. They don’t even need a solid working surface to get up and running. If you work on the road or need a companion for library study, they can be there with you. They are small enough, compact enough, and light enough to take anywhere. There is no need to set up and plug in hundreds of wires, the whole working system is wrapped into the one machine.
Laptops have their own power supply, so they are not subject to the whims of your local electric grid. All this while using less power than a desktop. Some of the newest designs for laptops are super futuristic, with thin casing and lights around the keys. I prefer the small, ergonomic keys that laptops have compared to the big mechanical keyboards that come with desktop computers.
With the good comes the bad, in the case of laptops. Keyboards are smaller on the laptops than they are with desktop PCs, often featuring no number pad. The screen is a set size, which is often too small to work with, especially for artists. Large spreadsheet enthusiasts must also beware. It is easy to link to a second screen that is larger, but you sacrifice one of the biggest selling points of laptops in the process: portability.
It is next to impossible to upgrade a laptop with new hardware. There is no space to spare for bigger parts, and compatibility between new tech and old tech in there is an issue. For this same reason, it is more difficult to fix laptops. Even if it is fixable, it may cost you more than what you bargained for.
You’ll pay a lot more for the same specs as you would in a desktop, and to top it all off, the processor would still be smaller and slower.
In the end, which one you choose depends on what you intend to use your next computer for.
If you are a professional who needs a portable workstation, then you should opt for a laptop. They are flexible, have enough power and speed for everyday usage, and they are basically plug and play.
For students, it can be trickier to choose, because a lot of laptops will not run technical software too well. If you just need a computer to take to classes and write essays on, then definitely choose a laptop.
For those who are not concerned with portability, it is a good idea to look into a good desktop computer. These machines can do a lot more for a lot less money than a laptop. If you need the power, or you want to save your dollars, a desktop may be for you. For gaming, desktops also trump laptops. You’ll get a lot more oomph from a dedicated gaming desktop computer than from a gaming laptop.
If you really don’t need that much power at all, then it might be worth considering a more upscale tablet. You’d be surprised what they can do these days!