Should I Buy a Desktop or a Laptop?

by Jason Artman

    For many years, desktop computers were considered by most experts to be superior to laptops for computer buyers who demanded the best performance at the lowest cost. However, laptop computers have become faster and more affordable in recent years. They now offer sufficient performance for most applications along with the added benefit of portability. By weighing these and other factors against your priorities, you can choose between a desktop and laptop and buy the computer that best meets your needs.

    Portability

    Although it is technically possible to move a desktop computer from place to place, doing so is only practical with a laptop. Only a laptop gives you the ability to use your computer in a subway terminal, on an airplane or in your local coffee shop. The portability of laptops does have a drawback, however: laptops are easily stolen. When you use your laptop in a public place, keep it with you at all times to deter theft.

    Hardware Specifications

    Being much larger than a laptop, a desktop computer has the ability to hold larger components. This means that a desktop computer can hold multiple hard drives and can accommodate the large cooling fans that high-end processors and video cards require. Because desktop computers can contain higher-end components, they are typically able to store more data while running games and content creation applications faster than laptops.

    Large Monitor Support

    Few laptops have screens measuring more than 17 inches diagonally. Desktop computers, however, may include monitors measuring up to 30 inches. Although many laptops have external video ports for compatibility with desktop computer monitors, the addition of a large monitor may make a laptop significantly more expensive to purchase.

    Battery Power

    Although it is possible to use a battery backup system that allows a desktop computer to continue running in the event of a power outage, most of these systems last for only a few minutes because desktop computers are not optimized for low-power operation. A typical laptop computer can run for several hours on battery power, allowing you to use it when wall outlets are unavailable or not working.

    Comfort

    A desktop computer includes a full-sized keyboard and mouse, which are more comfortable to use and offer ergonomic characteristics superior to those of laptop keyboards and trackpads. Although it is possible to connect a desktop keyboard and mouse to a desktop computer, doing so increases the distance between your eyes and the laptop, which may make the screen difficult to see.

    About the Author

    Jason Artman has been a technical writer since entering the field in 1999 while attending Michigan State University. Artman has published numerous articles for various websites, covering a diverse array of computer-related topics including hardware, software, games and gadgets.

    Photo Credits

    • Polka Dot Images/Polka Dot/Getty Images