There must be good reasons why some people still prefer to use a big, heavy desktop which sits in one room while everyone else is going mobile? Let’s face it, you can’t carry it around your house, yet many still prefer it for work and play over a laptop. On the face of it, it looks like a mild form of madness but when you get down to the nitty gritty, you’ll see there are lots of advantages to having that big machine taking up space in your room.
There is one simple solution on which to choose. Get a desktop and a laptop! If you can afford both, then you get the best of both worlds, but if your budget won’t stretch quite that far, which are you going to go for?
Well, the right desktop can cost less than a laptop, and it’s likely you can get your work done more quickly and more smoothly. For those who are slightly obsessed by their computer’s performance, a big bulky desktop is difficult to beat. But, it’s not all one-way-traffic – laptops have their own undeniable pluses, and we’ll talk about them in a minute or two.
Desktops. What’s the appeal?
These giants of the tech world seem to be much preferred by those who value performance over portability. Or maybe it’s just that they’d rather not pay for a laptop’s comparatively high price tag?
Powerful laptops offer the best of both worlds for those who need power and portability – just link up a laptop to a monitor if you need a bigger screen and then you’ve got everything you need. When people mention ‘powerful’ laptops, that usually means that they are relatively bulky and heavy. And even though they may actually be powerful, they are still not able to compete with what is considered a powerful desktop.
All the specialists will tell you that if a laptop and a desktop have similar specs, the desktop will be more effective. But why is that the case if the specs are similar?
The answer is because desktops usually come with full-size parts that are often more powerful than the similar counterparts designed for laptops. It’s especially noticeable with processors and a computer’s overall speed. Yes, laptops may come with processors that have similar model numbers, but that doesn’t mean that they will match the desktop’s performance. That’s just how it is. Let’s give you an example of what we mean:
Imagine that you have a 2016 15-inch MacBook Pro, which has an Intel Core i7 6700HQ with four cores. The HQ is Intel’s line of high-performance mobile processors, so it’s the top-of-the-line model for laptops. Meanwhile, your desktop has an Intel Core i7 6700K, also with four cores. You’d think both computers would have similar performance because they have the same model number, but this is NOT the case.
Your desktop will be noticeably smoother and faster because its full-size desktop processor is more powerful, even though it has the same model number as the processor inside your MacBook Pro. But wait, there’s more! In this example you’ll actually find that your desktop’s processor is up to 28% more powerful than your laptop according to benchmarks. And 28% is a significant difference by any standards. So, you can now see how a desktop uses its size to work in its favour.
But what happens when laptops and desktops are evenly matched in performance? Is one more expensive than the other for basically giving you the same result?
Well, the news is no big surprise. When the two are evenly matched, desktops run out the winners as they are almost always less expensive. So, a desktop is definitely the one to opt for if it’s all about value for money.
Let’s compare a desktop and a laptop, both with Core i5 8400 processors that perform pretty similarly, according to benchmarks. Both items we’re comparing are manufactured by Dell.
The Dell laptop costs £1000. The Dell desktop with similar specs costs £400. But wait a second! You’ll need to factor in the cost of a monitor for the desktop if you don’t already have one, but you can pick a decent one up for £150.
For reference, here are the specs for both computers:
- Intel Core i5 8400H (high-performance series)
- 8GB RAM
- 500GB hard drive
- Intel Core i5 8400
- 8GB Ram
- 1 terabyte hard drive
If you have a laptop, you’re pretty much stuck with what you’ve got until it’s time for you to get a new one, when you can upgrade by replacing the whole device. With desktops, you can upgrade whenever you’re ready, component by component, lengthening the life of your machine significantly.
You can upgrade several parts in a desktop that you can’t in a laptop. This means that you buy individual parts to meet your exact needs rather than having to go out and buy a new model.
For example, if you’re finding that your web browser tabs are taking up all your desktop’s RAM, you have the option to add more RAM on a desktop – and it’s a simple process. Some laptops will let you upgrade parts such as RAM, but not that many.
The same goes for graphics cards for visual work or gaming, and storage (HDD or SSD, say)… You can add them to your desktop set up when you’re ready – but laptops? You can’t usually upgrade the graphics chip in a laptop, and they usually only let you upgrade the single hard drive or SSD they come with. Most people just work and play on their laptop until the machine becomes so slow that they just get a newer, faster model.
But how easy it to upgrade a desktop? It looks daunting, but in actual fact it is much easier than you think. You certainly don’t need to be a tech expert at all. If you can follow a simple YouTube video, then you’re capable of doing it. And if you really need to be mobile, then a secondary laptop or tablet could easily solve that problem. With the money you’ll save from buying a desktop you should still be saving money!
Let’s state the obvious. A desktop means you’ll be staying at a desk, but it doesn’t mean you’re limited to a single computer. A desktop and a laptop combo is a really efficient way to work – and they’re easy to connect.
Most people have a picture of a big old dinosaur computer when the term ‘desktop’ is brought up, but that’s not the case these days. There are also all-in-one desktops which are much more compact, where all the tech parts are hidden behind the screen. There are also some pretty slim and small desktops you buy or build yourself that can fit around your work area without taking up too much space.
Most computer companies, including Apple, sell all-in-one desktops where the entire computer is built into the screen enclosure. These are great if you want to avoid messy wires everywhere and want a neat package.
Monitors and peripherals
When you buy a desktop, you’ll still have to buy a monitor and probably a keyboard and mouse. OK, this does mean extra costs, but it also means you get to choose the ones you actually want. So, depending on the space you have available you can treat yourself to that big, curved monitor you always wanted, or that stylish gaming keyboard and mouse set which will look great in your room.
So, that’s quite a comprehensive look at desktops and what their strengths are. Now it’s time to take a look at laptops…
What are the advantages of laptops?
Wherever you go, and whatever you do, laptops can easily travel with you. They are light, don’t occupy much space, and can fit into a relatively small bag. They are perfect for in the office or at home, and everywhere in between – such as on the train, in a café and generally on the move. Plus, if you feel the urge, you can also work from the comfort of your bed! Or if you’re not working, you can use your laptop for watching TV or playing games.
Sitting at a desktop for hours can be very tiring and also has the potential to cause back problems and generally niggly health issues. Of course, whatever computer you’re working on, you need to have a comfortable and supportive chair to sit on, otherwise you’ll soon find that those aches and pains can appear.
Assemble them in a couple of minutes
Unlike desktops which seem to have an abundance of cords to attach, laptops are simplicity itself. All they have is a single charging cord, making it a breeze to set them up.
Less power, less problems
The power we are talking here about is the watts used by both of the devices. Laptops use much less power than a desktop – and that in itself has many benefits. First of all, you save electricity, and the cost of electricity! You can obviously have them plugged in to the mains whenever you wish, but they can go for long periods using just the battery, which makes them ultra-convenient. Some laptops can hold up to ten hours of charge. Even laptops which have three or four hours give you the opportunity to work anywhere in the house if you feel like a change of scenery.
Stored power can save your bacon
Stored power can actually be a lifesaver because you never know when there is going to be a power outage. What happens if you’re working on your desktop and you get a power cut? It’s so easy to lose the work you’ve been doing, that’s what! However, with a laptop you don’t have to face problems like these as your work is always safe and secure.
They’ve got the look
In the modern world, how things look, as opposed to what they actually offer, is increasingly important to people. So why would you choose a ‘big box’ computer when you can buy a slim and beautiful device which does the same a desktop but just looks better?
Laptops are all-rounders
You can do anything on a laptop – from working on reports, spreadsheets, playing games or editing videos. Laptops come with advanced technology and are portable. We know we’re talking about the advantages of laptops here, but the only thing counting against them is the price (if you’re after a device for video editing and high-end game playing). But, saying that, some are very competitively priced and if you cash in on one of those regular sales that companies have, you can get one for even less.
Laptops come with some jaw-dropping features that no other device can provide. For example, there are 360 rotation screen laptops. This means you can now move their screens for as far as you want. New and more advanced laptops also have the feature of touch screen use. Along with all this, now laptops come with a smart face unlock. The future is here – and it uses your face to get started!
How do the prices stack up?
If you’re just after a standard laptop for day-to-day use for tasks such as writing documents, emailing, web browsing, spreadsheets and watching YouTube, then you won’t have to pay much for a good laptop. With less power used, your bills will be less, and laptops are also easier to maintain and cheaper to repair than desktops. If you ever need a new laptop part, they are less expensive than comparative desktop parts. If you want an all-powerful laptop, then you’ll pay more than you would for a comparative desktop.
Easy to sell
If you are ever looking to sell your laptop, then there are lots of places which sell second-hand laptops. As they are always needed by students and office workers, anyone will be willing to buy a reasonably priced laptop. Even as a back-up device for emergencies!
Easy to use
If you’re just starting out on your computer journey, then laptops are easily the best devices to use. They are very easy to set up and very easy to use. They are the best for children to learn from, easy to transport for students, and basic models of laptop can be purchased from around the £200-£300 mark.
Okay, we’ve given laptops a glowing report. That’s because they are so versatile. But desktops are the power beasts and workhorses that will last much longer, can be upgraded more easily and on which you can play all the latest games and do everything from photo and video editing to music production. Like most things, whether you go for a laptop or desktop ultimately depends on what you need it for. Like we mentioned earlier, in a perfect world you’d have both, as they each have their own strengths.