Laptop vs. Desktop: Pros – Cons

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I’m sure all of us have a little nugget in our head that tells us whether we think a laptop is better or a desktop is better, but have any of us considered the pros and cons between them? I’m going to do just that. I’m going to look at some of the differences between laptops and desktops and list out their pros and cons.

Spoiler alert, there are some obvious differences between the two, but the answer really depends on what’s important to you. There are benefits to both kinds of computers, it’s up to you to determine which of these benefits are the most important.


Disclosure: I am a computer enthusiast. While my main objective is to offer knowledge and assistance, my site contains links to produces. I will receive compensation when a purchase is made through these links. My opinions are my own. If I recommend an item it is because I genuinely believe the item is worth the cost.


Hardware failures

Let’s say you have a computer. Doesn’t matter if you imagine it as a desktop or a laptop. If the Hard drive goes out then it’s not going to be terrible difficult to replace the hard drive in either type.

But what if it’s some thing different that fails? Like the graphics card or the CPU. Maybe you just purchased new software and it isn’t working we on your computer.

If you have a laptop than your stuck with buying a new computer. You could look into getting it repaired, but you’ll need to get a technician to do it and chances are you’ll end up spending enough that you should have just bought a new one. This is a major downside of a laptop.

A desktop is a different story. There are far less customized components in a desktop, and nothing is soldered in. If your video card dies, or isn’t cutting it anymore, then you can replace that card instead of a whole new computer. Things don’t even have to die. You can slowly replace old parts until you have but a second computer.

Black outs

I’m sure we’ve all experienced the power going out while we are in the middle of doing something on your computer. Sometimes it can be at the most inconvenient of times.

With a laptop it’s not a big deal. You might have to keep going in the dark, but at least you can keep going. Unless you need the internet. Than your going to bed a tethering plan.

On a desktop, it just means your done and you might as well just go to bed. Unless you have invested in a uninterrupted power supply (UPS) and a battery bank. If you have do this, then you might as well go completely off the power grid, because you’re almost there.

Portability

The battery on the laptop makes the laptop possible. This is the biggest benefits of having a laptop. You can take it anywhere and use it. This is also why many people only use a phone or a tablet as their computer. The freedom of mobility is awesome.

A few years back I was on an extended business trip. One of the other guys on the trip decided to bring his desktop to the hotel. If we hadn’t been there for an extended period of time then it would have been more have than it was worth. As it was, he had to spend two or three trips just bringing his computer into the hotel.

Luckily, he was able to drive there. Could you imagine trying to fly with a desktop? It would take up one bag. If someone tries this, please send me a picture from the terminal.

Cooling

It doesn’t matter what kind of computer you have, or what filters there are in your computer, there will be dust. You might be thinking, “so what, I’ll clean the my computer.” It is really easy to clean the outside, but it’s the inside that matters the most.

This is really easy to do on a desktop. You see the dust easier and taking the side panel off is a piece of cake. In a laptop things are secured a little differently. It is very difficult to open it up and clean the dust out.

A few months ago, we thought we were going to have to replace my wife’s computer. She could use it for 15 or 20 minutes before it would over heat and shut down.

I decided to try replacing the fan before we bought a new one. I figured an $8 fan was cheaper than a computer.

It took me 45 minutes to get the entire laptop apart. The fan had at least a half an inch of dust blocking the air flow. I cleaned it out and it works perfectly now.

What would’ve taken 5 minutes on a desktop, took almost 2 hours on a laptop, and voided any warranty that I had left (this laptop was already 3 years old so it probably didn’t have a warrenty left). Even if you had a technician do this kind of thing. They’ll charge more for the laptop because it’s harder and takes more time.

Another cooling upgrade you can have is liquid cooling. Instead of fans blowing air, you have a pump that delivers cold liquid to all of the heat generating components.

This eliminates the dust problem, but it’s not something a laptop can do. Liquids takes space and adds weight to the computer. Both of these go against what a laptop is tring to do.

Recommendations

There are reasons for both kind of computer. Which is best is something that can be determined by your personal preferences.

To summarize, the pros and cons of each are listed below.

Desktop

Pros

  • Components can be upgraded or replaced
  • No limit for the number of things that you can put in it.
  • More efficient cooling can be achieved
  • Higher level of performance can be achieved

Cons

  • They aren’t mobile
  • They can be heavy
  • They can only be used with a stable power source

Laptop

Pros

  • Mobility
  • Usable in a power outage

Cons

  • Limited cooling abilities
  • Difficult to service
  • No upgrading
  • Performance limited.

Whatever you are looking for in a computer, there is something that meets your needs. I’m always happy to help someone find a computer that will meet their needs. Leave me a comment with the kind of things that are important for you and I’ll help you find a computer you’ll be happy with.

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6 Comments

  1. Actually, blackouts are pretty annoying and I also lean on working on a laptop just because of that and I like to work in different places like coffee shop etc.

    1. They are annoying. Luckily for me, I live in an area that rarely has power outages. The ones I have been in have lasted long enough that even laptops would run out of power. There is a very strong appeal in being able to work anywhere you want. Maybe one day there will be workstations in cafes or other places where you could take advantage of more powerful external components without having to purchase them.

  2. I never really considered the pros and cons between laptops and desktops in depth. As a college student, mobility is the most important attribute I consider when looking at computers. I like being able to work anywhere. I would like a desktop, but not at this point in my life.

    I do have a question though. For this blog, what do you primarily write from? A desktop or a laptop? I am interested in hearing more about how you best do your work for this site.

    Thank you for sharing and I hope you make it a great day!

    1. When I was college student a laptop was a must, but I wanted to build a computer after I had graduated. I have an ancient laptop and a mid to high end desktop, but I actually spend most of my time writing from my phone. I use an app that automatically syncs with a website. I have three small kids and don’t have a lot of time to write. On my phone I can spend 5 minutes here and 5 minutes there. If there is something I need to research a little, my phone works for that too.

      I do all of my editing (and hopefully spell checking) from a desktop. This includes any links, or pictures. Once I copy my text from the phone app I’ll only work on it from my desktop (or another computer) and I’ll start something new on my phone.

  3. Great article…the comparisons are spot-on. I seem to switch between types ever 5 to 7 years. Basically if it’s time to replace my desktop I get a laptop and vice versa.

    Thanks for the great info!

    1. I feel the same way. I built my desktop about a year and a half ago and I’m missing some awesome benefit that came with a laptop. Like using the computer from the couch. I have a desktop though because I could buy what I could afford, and spread the purchases out over a 5 month time frame.

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