Laptop vs Desktop: Which is Better in 2024?

By: Editorial Team

Laptops and desktop have always been compared to see which is better. Laptops certainly have their advantages. But totally lose when they are compared to desktops in some areas.

Choosing between a laptop and desktop seems like an easy choice but can quickly go wrong if you don’t weigh the pros and cons well. Especially if it doesn’t fit your needs.

Here’s what you need to know about the pros and cons concerning laptops and desktops.

Laptop Vs Desktop: Work, Productivity, And Performance

Desktops have the advantage when it comes to work and performance. Laptops can’t possibly beat them, even the workstations.

Their hardware components are full-sized and are able to operate at full power. In addition to that, because they can be sufficiently cooled.

You are able to max out the performance. This gives you an advantage for tasks that require a lot of power like 3D modelling, rendering, CAD, video editing, database etc.

You get the point. Most laptops can’t keep up with the most intensive tasks. That’s why a lot of people recommend desktops for handling such tasks.

Laptops can’t operate at full power because of the limitations of the cooling system. Their small chassis makes it difficult for cool air and hot air to enter and escape respectively.

Laptop Vs Desktop Which is Better

Thermal throttling is a mechanism that reduces the performance of the laptop so that the temperature drops to appreciable levels. This protects the laptop from damage by overheating.

Even though desktops have an advantage over laptops in performance. Laptops certainly win when it comes to portability.

Currently, laptops are powerful enough to handle tasks up to a certain extent without thermal throttling. Coupled with their portable sizes they take productivity to a whole other level.

You won’t be chained to the desk when work needs to be done. This allows you to work anywhere in the world.

This powerful benefit of laptops gave rise to the Digital Nomad Lifestyle.

In short, desktops have the advantage in performance but lose when it comes to portability because of their bulkiness. Laptops have the advantage in productivity but lose in performance.

Desktops are just more powerful than laptops. Laptops are the way to go if you want to sacrifice some performance for portability to improve productivity.

Laptop Vs Desktop: Gaming

Desktops win when it comes to gaming. They just have better cooling systems and hardware. Not to mention their upgradeability.

The reason why a lot of people prefer gaming laptops over desktops is…You guessed right. The portability. Apart from that, a laptop doesn’t have any other advantage over desktops in gaming.

Gaming on a desktop is infinitely better than on a laptop when you look at the cold hard facts.

Performance-wise the hardware components of a desktop are full wattage. A laptop and desktop might have the same GPU and CPU.

Gaming Laptop Vs Gaming Desktop

But, the laptop won’t be able to use the components at its full power. Manufacturers will always put limits on the power consumption of laptop components.

Because the more electricity or watts consumed the more power and heat produced the component is able to produce.

And laptops don’t have a good cooling system to make use of full wattage hardware components

That brings us to the cooling system. Desktops have superior cooling systems than laptops. Their cases are made in such a way that allows easy access for cool air to pass through.

A sufficiently cooled computer is able to work at maximum performance. Intense gaming on laptops can have adverse effects if the proper measures are not put in place.

Gaming on laptops especially AAA title games tends to use the hardware at max performance causing a rise in temperature.

At certain levels, the laptop becomes too hot and has to thermal throttle to reduce its temperature.

Overheating on the regular shortens the lifespan of the components and laptop. Applying thermal paste or using a cooling pad can help control high temperatures when gaming.

Nothing Beats Gaming On A Desktop

Desktop gaming is also more immersive than laptop gaming. Nothing beats gaming on a 27-inch NVIDIA G-SYNC 240Hz monitor. The speakers also add to the already positive experience.

Again looking objectively at which one is better at gaming, desktops win. But the appeal of being able to game regardless of your location is something only laptops are able to provide.

Laptop Vs Desktop: School/College/Study

Every college student will tell you having a laptop is a life-saver. And this is true. You can’t carry a desktop to lectures.

You can’t carry a desktop to group meetings. You can’t carry a desktop to the library.

Since performance is not really an issue here having a laptop for studies is invaluable. You are able to carry it anywhere with you. It even becomes indispensable when it is a convertible or 2-in-1 laptop.

Convertible laptops like the Microsoft Surface GO or HP Envy x360 allow notes to be taken easily in class. This benefit is only made available in convertible laptops that support a stylus pen.

In this case, you can easily see that a laptop clearly has the advantage over a desktop. You can think of it as a computerized book. Every student whether undergraduate or graduate needs a book.

Laptop Vs Desktop: Cost, Upgradeability and Repair

Desktops are easy to upgrade and repair. Open the case and simply disconnect the parts you wish to upgrade. Desktops also give you full customization. You can change the motherboard, GPU, CPU, fan, etc.

Basically, everything in the desktop can be changed or upgraded.

That’s why building a desktop is very popular amongst PC enthusiasts and gamers. It gives you the chance to create the PC of your dreams.

A Customized RTX 3090 Desktop Build

The full customization also comes with an added benefit of being easy to repair. If you are able to troubleshoot the hardware causing the problem, all you have to do is replace it.

Desktops have a great price-to-performance ratio. A desktop that has the same specs as a laptop is going to be cheaper and more powerful.

You can also build a decent desktop for as low as $300. That price tag will get you a Chromebook or a very old laptop. Desktops give you flexibility when it comes to upgrading components.

Laptops, on the other hand, can be upgraded to a certain extent. Parts like the storage and RAM are the only upgradeable parts.

The motherboard which houses the CPU and GPU can’t be upgraded. This limits your options in terms of upgradeability.

If you want a new CPU or GPU you have to buy a new laptop. The Alienware Area 51 is so far the only exception when it comes to CPU and GPU upgradeability.

Although you have to purchase or rely on Dell to make the parts for it. Because laptops can’t be upgraded it removes or limits full customization.

Laptops are also a pain to repair if something goes wrong. Worst case scenario you have to buy a new laptop.

Because almost everything is soldered on the motherboard. One faulty hardware can put your laptop out of commission. You also need some experience if you want to do-it-yourself.

A Laptop Being Repaired

The first time can be pretty daunting because of the way things are set up. If you don’t have any experience or are afraid of voiding the warranty.

Your only option is to take it back to the manufacturer or to a laptop repairer.

In short, desktops have a clear advantage when it comes to costs, upgradeability and repairs. Laptops are at a disadvantage here.

Laptop Vs Desktop, Which Is Better?

Looking at everything it is pretty clear which is better. The most important thing is which one perfectly fits your needs.

Do you prefer performance and portability? Then a laptop clearly wins here.

Do you prefer max performance over portability? Desktop it is.

Laptops have 50-90% of the power of a desktop in a small form factor. Portability is highly favoured because people are always moving around.

The greatest benefit and strength of having a laptop. You can’t carry a desktop wherever you go.

But the benefit gets thrown out the window when your laptop doesn’t have enough power to render models in CAD or video editing. That’s when having a desktop becomes important.

Laptops and desktops each have their pros and cons.

But, what if you have the two? A desktop sitting at home is meant for intense tasks. And a decent laptop you can carry around for everyday tasks. A win-win situation.