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Should you buy a Desktop Computer or a Laptop?

April 11th, 2012 | Posted by admin in Buying New Stuff

Should you buy a Desktop Computer or a Laptop?

If you need a new computer, you might be wondering whether you would be better off with a desktop or a laptop.  Since there is no easy answer to this, and it boils down to individual preference and needs, let’s quickly compare the two.

Desktops are heavier, louder, and take up a lot of space.  They are also cheap and don’t mind being left on for weeks at a time.  Desktops can take more abuse, and generally last slightly longer than a laptop.  They are also more secure since you can generally confine them to a controlled space, and link them to a central server so no sensitive data is lost if the individual computer itself is taken.  In one word: workhorse.

Laptops are lighter, quieter, and take up much less space.  They are more expensive.  Notebooks range from reasonable in price to downright expensive and offer a similar range of features.  Laptops are more fragile and don’t enjoy being left plugged in and on for weeks at a time; this can add an extra strain on the laptop since it is constantly checking the battery level and “topping it off” if necessary; which can cause the battery to get hot.  Laptops are hardly secure, and are often stolen.  Sensitive materials are often compromised when laptops are taken, sometimes confidential records.  In a word: convenient.

The Working Environment

There is no doubt that the working environment has changed over the last decade, in fact many new hires at large corporations are given a laptop when they start; not assigned a desktop computer.  As dynamic as the working world is, it still mandates deadlines be met.  Laptops mean more working time, and down time can be converted to work time.  Productivity is higher if people enjoy their workstations.

Laptops have gotten faster, and many rival desktops in graphics and processing power.  It is no longer necessary to sacrifice space for power.  Power can now be had in small packages.  Laptops are part for part more expensive, since everything is much more compact.

Is Space a Concern?

Obviously if space is any concern at all you should rule out the desktop, especially if you will be working away from an outlet.

What will the computer primarily be used for?

Nowadays a laptop can perform most computing tasks easily, like word processing and email; however if you need more power, it can be had cheaper with a desktop.  Encoding graphics or editing video will most likely require a higher end desktop computer anyway.  Most gamers buy desktop computers simply because of cost-benefit analysis anyway.  You can buy a gaming laptop, however you will probably spend 2x-3x what a comparable desktop computer costs.  Simple economics.

How much are you willing to spend?

If price is a factor, and you don’t require portability then a desktop is the logical choice.  If price is a factor; however you need a laptop, there are very basic laptops that can be had for only slightly more than a desktop.  Laptops only get substantially more expensive than desktops on the higher end of the market.  At the bottom of the spectrum, the difference is smaller.

Ultimately the choice is yours.  If you need a computer just to get by, however not for any specific use in general, I recommend a laptop.  You can always use it as a backup after is obsolete, or to just watch movies on it or play music.  Once a desktop computer is obsolete, it usually gets kicked to the curb; it just takes up too much space if it’s not serving a purpose.  Evaluate your needs and want and comparison shop.  Consumer electronics stores sometimes have great sales around the holidays.

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