I’ve often been asked, “Should I get a laptop or a desktop?”
While this may seem like an obvious choice to some, let’s compare the advantages and disadvantages of each.
By power, I mean processing power. How quickly can the computer process and how much can it do at once. When designing technology for laptops, the manufacturers have to consider that it will be working off of a smaller supply of electricity as well as keeping the hardware in a space small enough to be lightweight and portable. Desktops do not have the power constraints of a laptop and have much more space available allowing larger components and more airflow to cool them.
When considering cost, we have to compare similar hardware. By the time the engineers have figured out how to resolve the power and space confinements of a laptop, the comparable hardware for a desktop is already 1 or 2 generations old and has therefor dropped in price. Also, desktop computers are relatively easy to upgrade, extending the life of the computer saving you money over time.
While there are some desktops, intended for LAN parties and similar functions, that are designed to be more portable than average, even those can be difficult to move from place to place. They require connecting monitors, keyboards and mice at the very least, as well as access to a wall socket. Laptops on the other hand you can place on any hard surface, turn on and be ready to work or play.
By footprint, I am referring to the space taken on your desk. This one is almost a draw as there are all-in-one desktops that take up very little space, although they suffer many of the same disadvantages of laptops. However, the laptop pulls ahead because it can be stowed away when not in use.
In short, if portability or a small footprint are your priorities, then a laptop is what you’re looking for. However, if you require more power for multitasking, gaming, graphic design, etc. or you are mostly concerned about getting the most “bang for your buck”, then you would be best served by a desktop.