written by: Finn Orfano•edited by: M.S. Smith•updated: 2/15/2010
A look into the pros and cons of laptops vs. desktops.
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Laptops vs. Desktops
If you’re in the market for a new computer, you might find yourself torn between getting a laptop or a desktop PC. Are you willing to trade the power of a desktop for the portability of a laptop? With so many options to consider when it comes to price versus options, here are some pros and cons of laptops vs. desktops.
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Laptop computers cost more than desktop computers with equal or similar features. In other words, the amount of money you will pay for a top of the line laptop computer will get you an even more powerful desktop computer. This is because whatever comes out new for the desktop will take several months for it to be miniaturized for a smaller laptop computer, so mobile PC technology will always be a step behind the desktop computers.
What you have to consider is whether or not you really need that computer to be portable. If you want to use the PC for gaming, you’re going to spend a ton of money on a gaming laptop just to get something that can compete with a desktop computer configured for gaming. However, if you go to a lot of LAN parties and don’t want to lug your big desktop around it might be worth investing in a gaming laptop.
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I know people who have spent a bunch of money on a laptop computer, then they leave it sitting on a desk and never take it anywhere. Why bother getting a machine designed to be portable and never take it off the desk? If you truly plan to never move your computer around, then why buy a laptop PC? Instead, get a decked out desktop with a bigger monitor and easier to use keyboard and mouse. You’ll likely be a lot happier with it.
You can do pretty much the same stuff on a desktop computer that you can on a laptop, provided you have the right software and hardware. Sometimes it is really nice to have a computer near where you need to get work done, such as with friends doing movie editing or sound recording. Laptop computers are also excellent for the classroom or for college students who can get together and share documents with each other.
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When it comes to upgrading your computer, your options are severely limited with laptops. You can add more RAM and replace the hard drive or CD/DVD drive, or perhaps invest in a heavy duty battery, but for the most part you are stuck with the base hardware that came on the laptop. This means you can’t bump up the video card for gaming, and you’re stuck with the same size display unless you use an external monitor.
Desktop computers, on the other hand, are always open for upgrades. You can change out the power supply, video card, add more hard drives, and so on. You can gut the whole case and install all new components, too. Desktop computers are also a lot easier to work on because they typically just involve removing a side panel and then you are looking right at the motherboard. Getting into the core components of some laptops is almost like solving a puzzle.
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When the time comes to buy a new machine, you will find that laptop computers have a much higher resale value than a desktop. It’s one of the trade-offs when it comes to the original purchase price. A desktop computer may be cheaper when you first buy it, but after five or six years you can still get some money back on that laptop whereas you might as well donate the desktop to charity.