Comparing Desktop and Laptop Computers for New Computer Purchase

For your next computer, your decision may be split between getting a desktop or a laptop. Here is a comparison of the pros and cons of desktops and laptops or notebook computers.

Is it getting time to replace your current computer? If so, you may be pondering whether to get a desktop or laptop as your primary device. With more employees working from home during the pandemic, some workers may lean toward getting a less expensive desktop unit. Each category has its own strengths and weaknesses, so you should understand your priorities, as well as what each category has to offer you. We’ve made a comparison of desktop and laptop computers so that you can make an informed decision when purchasing your next PC.

Ease of Use

The most obvious distinction to weigh between the two types of computers is their ease of portability. Laptops are obviously going to be portable, compact, and unfettered from wires. They’re great when you need to carry your computer around with you throughout the day, so students and individuals who don’t want to be anchored to a fixed spot will benefit from having them. If you travel frequently, a laptop will also be easier to set up in a new location than a desktop. Keep in mind, even if you’re not traveling for work, portability within the home might be a desired feature. Taking work on a laptop out to the patio during evening hours might be an advantage. Being able move around the interior of the house may be important if both spouses are working at home or the house is crowded with family members. Conversely, a desktop may be simpler and less costly to customize and maintain. You can easily swap out parts such as the keyboard and monitor in a desktop computer. Spill a protein shake on a laptop computer and you have a much bigger problem, compared to a spill on a desktop keyboard.

Speed and Power

When it comes to general use, a lot of people may not notice much of a difference in a comparison of desktop and laptop computers. Nowadays, laptops have sufficient speed and power to support general applications and web browsing. However, if you need the best specifications in order to do things like play competitive video games, a desktop will probably be better for you. The CPU, memory, and graphics cards can reach higher thresholds more easily in a desktop, as there are fewer sizing constraints. A desktop’s room for customization again comes into play here, as you can choose individual internal components based on what you want.


Though it isn’t always true, desktops generally have greater connectivity capabilities owing to their inclusion of more ports. Apple notebooks don’t include the normal Ethernet port for connecting to a wired Ethernet network, but you can buy a Thunderbolt to Gigabit Ethernet Adapter network adapter for about $29. Also, it might be easier to connect a desktop to a second HD monitor with an existing HDMI port. Some smaller laptops may lack such capabilities. Perhaps you want to do some DIY cable installation and want a computer that will work smoothly with this network setup. After making the necessary considerations for running an ethernet cable, you can easily connect a desktop to the network with its built-in ethernet ports. On the other hand, you will probably need to get an adaptor to do the same with a thin laptop. However, you should keep in mind that laptops can included a variety of ports as well, but they are just less likely to have as many connectivity options as a desktop.

Beware of Apple, which has a nasty history of removing features with progressive models. In the case of the small desktop Mac Mini, Apple reduced the number of old school USB Type-A ports to two. If you plan on using an older device with the older Type-A connector, you might need Type-A to Type-C adapter(s) at about $19 to $32. Apple also tends to offer less bang for the buck

On the other hand, the Mac Mini, which doesn’t have it’s own display, is very portable. It won’t work on an airplane, or in a taxi cab, but it is very easy to move from one room to another, or from home to office (if each location has a modern flat panel display with an available HDMI input). For a total of $60 or less, you can even keep an inexpensive third-party keyboard and mouse at home and at the office so you can just grab and go with the Mac mini. The lowest-priced MacBook Air currently starts at about $949, while the lowest-priced Mac Mini (minus display, keyboard and mouse or trackpad) currently costs $799. So you can save about $90 or more with the Mac Mini compared to the MacBook Air. Of course, you can get a Windows laptop for a much lower price than either of these Apple computers.

Laptops offer advantages with their portability. You can sit on a couch anywhere in the house, and use it with a large TV display, or attach a computer monitor to be used as a second display. Although, you can attach two monitors to most desktop PCs, it is easier to accomplish with a laptop, since a laptop already has one display built in. Another advantage of a laptop is that it operates on a battery, which means you don’t need an Uninterruptible Power Supply (UPS), which is highly recommended for desktop PCs to prevent a power failure from loss of unsaved work, or corrupting files during computer operation. UPS devices range from about $55 to $220 depending on how much operation time is desired. Most fully-charged laptop batteries last at least 2-3 hours or more. A $55 UPS only lasts about 15-20 minutes.

Keep in mind there are all-in-one computers with a combined display and computer, but they’re really not that easy to move around, but they are sleek on a desktop.

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