Laptop vs. Desktop: 10 Factors to Consider for Back-to-School

School is around the corner, and whether you're starting high school or college, a computer is just as much a necessity as a pen is. With so many options, it can be overwhelming to choose the right one. Most people also struggle with the question, should they buy a laptop or desktop computer?

There are several factors to take into consideration when determining which computer best suits your needs. We've done the homework for you and created this guide to help you decide between a desktop or laptop.

  • Cost
  • Portability
  • Size
  • Assembly
  • Power Usage
  • Internal Storage
  • Processing Power
  • Screen Size
  • Upgradability
  • Repairability

 

Cost

Laptops

While there are many great deals to be had, to get the same power as a desktop, you'll be paying a lot more.

Desktop

Desktops will give you the most processing power and storage at a lower cost. Although you have to purchase a monitor, keyboard, and mouse separately, the price is still well below a laptop.

Winner

If you're looking for a great price with more power, a desktop is a clear winner.

 

Portability

Laptops

The most significant advantage of a laptop is portability. Whether you want to take your work to a coffee shop or collaborate with a classmate, laptops make it easy. Everything you need is in one portable package. Although it's not a necessity, we recommend adding a wireless mouse if you plan on using a laptop for extended periods.

Desktops

Desktop computers are usually bulky and require multiple components to operate correctly. When you set up a monitor, keyboard, and mouse, it rules out portability. Desktops are great options if you do all your schoolwork at a desk.

Winner

The laptop wins the portability category, hands down.

 

Power Usage

Laptops

Laptops can be used without cords for hours because of today's battery tech. Eventually, you'll need to be plug into an outlet to charge up the battery again. The ability to operate on a battery is a plus if there happens to be a power outage. You won't risk losing your work due to your computer shutting off.

Desktops

Desktops require more power than laptops and always need a power outlet. You'll also have to keep your monitor plugged in as well. Because of this, you'll be more at risk of losing your work if the power goes out.

TIP: use auto-save for your documents.

Winner 

Laptops use less power and can run on battery, making them the winner of this category.

 

Internal Storage

Laptops

Because laptops are compact, they usually only have room for one hard drive, limiting their internal storage. 

Desktops

Desktops have a larger casing, which provides more room for multiple hard drives, allowing for more file storage.

Winner 

The larger size of a desktop provides more room for more components, giving them more processing power.

 

Processor

Laptops

The greater the computing power, the more heat it produces. Laptops by nature are compact, so they don't have a robust cooling system. A laptop's power source is also limited, limiting the amount of processing power the computer can have.

Desktops

A more powerful power supply and more extensive cooling system allow for more processing power in desktops. 

Winner

The larger size of a desktop allows for more processing power, making the desktop the winner.

 

Upgradability

Desktops

The great thing about desktops is that you can always customize and upgrade them to your needs (unless it's a Mac). Internal components are easy to access and change. 

Laptops

Laptop memory and hard drives are usually the only upgradable parts. Because of a laptop's compact size, many features are not easily accessible or replaced.

Winner

Almost any part of a desktop computer can be upgraded, making them the winner in this category.

 

Screen Size

Laptops

Laptop screen sizes range from 11" to 17", which is perfectly fine for most applications. With laptops, what you see is what you get. If you want a larger screen, you'll have to buy a larger laptop. It may be possible to hook up an external monitor in some cases, giving you extra screen space.

Desktops

Desktop monitors must be purchased separately and can traditionally range from 19" to 38". You can buy a larger monitor if you need a larger screen instead of buying an entirely new computer.

Winner

Desktops win this category for the broader range of screen sizes available.

 

Reparability

Laptops

Laptops are compact and portable, which makes repairing them more difficult. It also means they are more susceptible to drops. Some parts, such as a screen or a processor, are almost impossible to fix.

Desktop

Because most desktops are not an all-in-one package, fixing separate components becomes much more manageable. Desktop housing is large, making the internal components easier to access. Suppose the monitor, keyboard, or mouse breaks. In that case, you can purchase an individual part instead of having to replace the entire machine.

Winner 

Desktops' housing is large, making the components easier to access and repair. Being stationary makes them less susceptible to damage. Desktops win this category.

 

Size

Laptops

Laptops are compact and have a minimal footprint, making them easy to set up anywhere.

Desktops

It's best to have a designated desk and workspace for a desktop.

Winner 

The laptop wins the size category.

 

Assembly

Laptops

Laptops require no extra cords or connections to work. A power cord is only necessary when the battery is low.

Desktops

Desktops take a little more time to set up and will require more connections. While setting one up is relatively easy, it does take a little know-how to get everything up and running.

Winner 

Laptops win the assembly category for their zero-assembly requirements.

 

Laptops vs Desktop Overall Winner 

Desktops win six out of the ten factors, making them the superior choice when deciding between a desktop or laptop. 

Shop our latest deals on desktops!

Shop our latest deals on laptops!

 

pros and cons of buying a desktop computer

Pros of Buying a Desktop

  • Less expensive
  • More powerful
  • Easy to upgrade
  • Easy to repair

Cons of Buying a Desktop

  • Not portable
  • Requires more assembly
  • Requires external components
  • Requires larger space
  • Must stay plugged in

 

pros and cons of buying a laptop computer

Pros of Buying a Laptop

  • Portable
  • Requires no assembly
  • Requires no external components
  • Requires minimal space
  • Can run on battery

Cons of Buying a Laptop

  •  More expensive
  •  Not as powerful
  •  Limited upgrades
  •  Repair is difficult

 

 

When to buy a desktop?

A desktop computer offers superior performance if portability is not a priority. Suppose you'll be using your PC for gaming or graphic intensive programs like animation or video editing. In that case, a desktop is the best choice. You can also upgrade and customize a desktop to fit your needs. Shop our latest deals on desktops!

 

When to buy a laptop?

If portability is your number one priority, a laptop will be your new best friend. Laptops are the best option if you'll be doing simple tasks, such as browsing, writing papers, or doing research. You can take your work wherever you go, and the compact design will let you set it up anywhere. If you plan on using power-intensive software, you'll still have plenty of options but be prepared to pay top-dollar. Shop our latest deals on laptops!

 

Conclusion

When deciding between a laptop or desktop computer for your classroom needs, the deciding factor will most likely come down to power vs. portability. If you need the ability to take your work with you, start shopping for a laptop. If you need more energy and don't mind working from a designated workstation, buying a desktop will be a great choice. Great deals can be had on both laptops and desktops, especially when buying refurbished.

Shop our latest deals on desktops!

Shop our latest deals on laptops!