When deciding between purchasing a desktop or a laptop computer, you’ll need to consider a handful of criteria and determine what best fits your needs. Below is a comparison of the two types of computers- The difference between Desktop and Laptop, providing pros and cons for each to help you make a more informed purchasing decision.
Difference between Desktop and Laptop
A desktop PC is a static, stationary computer that will stay on a desk in an office or bedroom. It usually consists of various parts: a tower, a monitor, a keyboard, and a mouse.
PCs are generally more customizable than laptops as well. You can put together top-of-the-line parts for every aspect of the PC when you choose a desktop computer, whereas your choices are more limited with a laptop. Check out our pick of the best desktop PCs to see what this form factor has to offer.
A laptop (also called a notebook) is a portable, all-in-one device that usually has USB inputs on the sides for optional peripherals. Laptops have a built-in screen, a built-in keyboard, a trackpad that acts as a mouse and can vary in size.
Laptops are generally limited by their size but many modern batteries are big enough to provide 12 or more hours of power before needing to recharge.
A cheap tower desktop computer is about the simplest computer you can buy, due to its lack of extra features. It’s just a box with a processor, motherboard, Ram, and storage. That means there is less to go wrong with it. A broken monitor, or a separate keyboard that’s had juice spilled all over it, can be switched out simply and fairly cheaply. An all-in-one desktop (with a built-in screen) won’t be quite so well protected, but at least an errant cup of coffee isn’t going to scramble the entire computer – perhaps just the separate keyboard and mouse. Pouring liquid over the keyboard on a laptop, on the other hand, could write off the entire device – plus, because laptops are designed to be carried around, the chances of dropping one are obviously higher.
Most of us don’t have the luxury of choosing a device simply for how good it looks on a G-Plan desk or Eames bureau. But if the budget allows, it is worth considering, especially if you will be using the computer in a room that serves other purposes, such as the living room.
A laptop can easily be hidden away and there are plenty of stylish, slimline models that look good even if you leave them out permanently. There’s always the issue of the charging cable trailing across the desk, though, which detracts from a laptop’s otherwise clean lines. There’s no getting around the fact that desktops are bigger and bulkier, but a humble tower desktop can be hidden away under a desk and you can choose a wireless keyboard and mouse combo to reduce desk clutter even further.
What’s more, many monitors and all-in-one computers come with handy cable-routing holes that help keep wires together and tidy as they trail from the back of the device. If a laptop’s looks matter to you, check out the selection of slim and light models we’ve put through our tests.
Desktops can make use of full-size keyboards, including a number pad. There are really no limitations.
Smaller laptops with 14″ and 15″ screens have smaller keyboards and don’t feature a number pad on the right side. Larger laptops with 17″ screens do have larger keyboards and may include a number pad, but the laptops are bulkier and heavier.
Desktops are capable of using high-powered video cards that have higher power requirements and require better heat reduction/dissipation. Virtually any video card could be used in a desktop, including two or more video cards at the same time. Thus, they’ll always yield better performance for gaming.
Physical space is limited in a laptop, which limits the graphics capabilities. While higher-end laptops can provide better than average graphics for gaming and CAD-based applications, the heat reduction/dissipation is limited by the space in the laptop case. Power is also limited which doesn’t allow for video cards needing those higher amounts of wattage to run.
There is a wide variety of component options available for desktops, allowing for a large range of prices, but the starting point is relatively cheap. Desktops can start as low as $400 for a full package (computer & monitor) and still be a pretty powerful system.
Laptops can have a fairly wide variety of component options, but they are more limited than desktops. To get a more powerful laptop (higher speed, better graphics, more storage space, etc.), the price can be considerably higher, ranging up to $1500 or more, depending on the brand.