Most people who plan to buy a personal computer often go through the same dilemma of deciding whether to buy desktop or laptop. Each type has different sets of advantages and disadvantages over the other, so it all boils down to what suits you the best—your preferences, work requirements, workload, lifestyle, aesthetics sense, and most importantly, budget.
The price heavily dictates the quality of a personal computer whether it is a laptop or desktop, but price isn’t everything since a lot of budget friendly brands are out there in the market offering reliable computers at affordable prices. These brands are often new players in the industry, many of which come from the Asian region. Nevertheless, as a generally accepted analogy, price is often associated with quality as quality materials, manufacturing processes, and manufacturing facilities come with hefty prices.
Take Apple products for instance, whether it’s their laptop or desktop. They are commonly priced higher than all the other models even if some computers from other brands have the same or higher capabilities and features, such as memory (used to measure the RAM and hard disk drive) and clock speed (use to measure the processor). Aside from the pricey name, Apple takes pride in manufacturing every single part of their products, which is unusual since all other brands basically just put together computer parts from different manufacturers but with their very own assembling technology and “star” components (usually all the circuits and motherboard).
The exclusivity of parts contributes to the hefty price tag of Apple products because it means that the quality across all computer components are uniform and assured by the same group of experts. To give you an idea, Apple MacBook Air has an almost $1,000 price tag while most laptops with similar features have $200 to $700 price tags.
It’s important to tackle the issue of price since it often becomes the ultimate if not sole factor that consumers consider, especially because laptops and desktops have considerable price differences.
If one of the reasons why Apple is the leading computer brand is the exclusivity of components, does it mean that all the other brands with components from different manufacturers are of subpar quality?
This is not really the case. Each computer component still passes the standards of a brand before all the parts are put together. All the parts that are outsourced from other manufacturers also have reputable names. These computers are still considered branded computers and not assembled computers (which really deserves another article of its own).
For instance, an Acer desktop probably has a Seagate or Western Digital hard drive, a Samsung or LG DVD Writer, an Nvidia GeForce or AMD Radeon graphics card, a Windows operating system, an Intel processor, an Msi or A4tech keyboard, an AOL or LG LCD monitor, a Logitech speaker, and a dozen more components with different brands. Since desktops have more physical components than laptops do, choosing based on the components will certainly be more complicated for desktops.
Computer geeks are more likely to inquire about the components than concern themselves whether to buy desktop or laptop. For instance, heavy gamers are more concerned about the graphics card, which can be more expensive than the computer itself. The bestselling graphics card, the Nvidia GeForce GTX Titan X is almost worth a thousand dollars. Those who use computers for work are more particular about the memory and processor. If a feature or capacity is more important to you than the type of computer, you are more likely to have satisfaction when you buy desktop.
As implied, name should also have something to do with your decision to buy desktop or buy laptop. Also as an accepted analogy, reputable brands that often set higher prices for their products often offer better qualities because they have higher brand values to protect. It’s not a definite rule, but as seen from the huge market share of prominent brands, it follows more often than not.
Do you know that many experts believe that some brands are better when it comes to desktop than laptop and vice versa? Different brands also specialize in different features, so it all boils down again to why you need a personal computer to begin with.
For instance, Apple has always been touted as the best laptop and desktop brand in the market. However, Alienware is considered as the best gaming laptop, which explains why its bestselling model is even more expensive than Apple’s most expensive laptop. Dell and Lenovo are often regarded as the best mid-range laptop brands, but Hewlett-Packard (HP) gets a bigger market share in the mid-range desktop segment because of great reviews. Msi, on the other hand, is considered as one of the most innovative brands of laptops today, but their desktop sales aren’t really something to write home about. You see, the dilemma isn’t really just laptop or desktop but about the specific brand of laptop or desktop.
All gadgets nowadays seem to fit on the palm of your hand or at least inside your bag. Compactness is the trend, so it’s just natural to think small, slim, and sleek when deciding about this issue. Both desktop and laptop are reliable and practical up to some point, but there are clear differences in their capabilities and features that make you want to choose either one.
To help you choose better between a laptop and desktop, here are various points of comparisons to consider.
Desktops are generally more affordable than laptops. A desktop worth $400 may already have the same features of a $900-worth laptop. It’s also easier to choose a desktop when you are on a tight budget because you can immediately buy the whole package or just buy the other peripheral devices and accessories later (e.g. speaker). Up to a certain extent, you can also choose the specific components to include in the package, which is not going to happen with a laptop.
Laptop wins if your idea of convenience is portability and compactness. Some laptop enthusiasts argue that they are lightweight and easy to hold, but they aren’t really much of an advantage since desktops are not meant to be that way to begin with.
Desktop is still the winner if you are after a great total user experience. Generally, desktops can have better speakers because you can choose the specific brand unlike in laptops where they are installed. You can add external ones to a laptop but that means spending more cash.
Desktop monitors are also more flexible for a wide range of needs, especially for editing and gaming. Laptops have 10 to 17 inch monitors while desktops can have up to 40 inches (LFD workable monitor). It can be said that the latter offers better viewing experience as well.
Laptops can be carried everywhere but the power is usually sacrificed. Many desktops can hold an extra hard drive, graphic card, and processor. Desktops are made to be more heavy duty, so they are perfect for working professionals and full-time online workers. Many gaming laptops can match the speed of desktops with advanced processors, but they are usually triple the price.
Upgrading for a laptop basically refers to the hard drive and memory only. Otherwise, it actually means replacing the old laptop with a new one.
On the other hand, desktops are easier to upgrade since many of their components are replaceable. You can replace each part to fit your requirement but without affecting the others that need to stay. This flexibility makes desktops easier to repair when damaged unlike laptops that need to be replaced as a whole on many occasions even when many components are still working.
Desktops outlast laptops since they are exposed to less shock, bumps, dirt, and damages. They also rely on power outlet alone so there’s no need to worry about the battery.
One major issue that many laptops have is overheating. Gaming laptops have big fans so they can withstand extended use even with poor ventilation. That is not true for other laptops, especially since laptops normally don’t have any internal fan at all. Desktops have better ventilation and fan, so the internal components get less damage in the process.
Desktop is a better choice than a laptop, but there are many instances when you have no choice but to get a laptop instead.
You need a desktop if:
- You have a permanent work station.
- You constantly have heavy workload that requires speed and a lot of memory.
- You are on a tight budget.
You need a laptop if:
- You need to stay mobile most of the time.
- You have moderate workload and tasks.
- You have the luxury to consider more expensive computers.
There is no straightforward answer when you ask if you should buy desktop or laptop because an experienced salesman will first ask you “what for?” It’s unfair for both types of personal computers to be judged without taking into consideration all the factors that affect quality. At the end of the day, you want to have the best for you and not the best between the two.