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Should I Get A Laptop Or A Desktop Computer?

By Erez Zukerman2013-01-31

laptop or desktopNew laptop sales have long since eclipsed those of desktop machines. But when buying a new computer, is it a foregone conclusion that you should buy a laptop? I say, definitely not. While modern laptops are very capable machines, going for a laptop shouldn’t be an automatic choice. Some users are better off with a desktop. Also, when getting a desktop you can either get a ready-made system, or carefully spec out and build your own custom rig.

Let’s look at the pros and cons owning a laptop or desktop. If you’re trying to decide what sort of machine your next computer should be, by the time you’re done reading this, you should have the answer.

Getting a Laptop

laptop or desktop

A laptop…

  • Is portable,
  • Has fixed peripherals,
  • Usually doesn’t have discrete graphics,
  • Has limited upgrade options,
  • Has a distinct identity as a product.

Some of these are really obvious, starting with portability of course. But having a computer you can lug around is only of benefit if you actually take it out of the house. So ask yourself: Do you actually need to carry this computer somewhere on a routine basis? If you really do, it’s a no-brainer. But many users get laptops only because they’re smaller, and don’t really take them out of the house. In which case, you might be better with an all-in-one desktop machine.

Fixed peripherals are the flip side of the portability coin. This isn’t often mentioned but it bears thinking about: When you get a laptop, you’re stuck with a specific screen, a specific keyboard, and a specific trackpad. That’s what you get. Yes, you can always plug in an external monitor, mouse, and keyboard… but then how different would it be from a complete desktop? Besides, even if you plug in external peripherals, the ones built into the computer are still there, cluttering things up (you’ll end up with two pointing devices, only one of which you use).

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