Buying guide: Desktop PC vs. laptop

Should you buy a desktop PC or a notebook computer? Our guide will help you decide

Shopping Checklist: Desktops and Laptops

• Processor type

There are several types of CPUs (central processing units), and most now have more than one processor in them, known as 'cores'. Ensure that you choose a laptop or PC with a dual-core CPU, which means it has two cores, as it will perform better when running multiple applications simultaneously. Some desktops also give you the option of tri-core or quad-core CPUs, which have three cores and four cores respectively. Gaming PCs and machines designed for video editing will often have a quad-core CPU, and some laptops will also have a quad-core CPU.

• Processor speed

Ask how fast the CPU is. The CPU is an important component of any computer and will affect the performance significantly. Within any specific range of CPUs it’s safe to assume that the higher the frequency (e.g. 2.4GHz, 2.66GHz, 3.46GHz) the faster it is. This cannot be said from one range of CPUs to another.

• RAM

Ask how much RAM (random access memory) the system has and how much it can be upgraded to at a later point. RAM is important because it helps run many programs at the same time. Generally, more RAM will speed up your computer.

• Graphics

Find out what graphics card the computer comes with. The better the graphics card the better you will be able to play games — so if that interests you, this is critical.

• Hard drive size

Ask what size hard drive the computer has. Hard drives are important as they store all your files and information. The bigger they are the more they can hold.

• Upgrade

Ask what upgrade options are possible. Most desktop machines can easily have new parts put in, while some laptops cannot. Hard drives and RAM are usually the only upgrade options for laptops, while you can add and upgrade many components to a PC. If you want to improve your computer later on, this is an important point.

• Screen size

Ask about the size of the included LCD screen. Depending on what you will use the computer for, a big screen may be very handy. For example when watching movies, playing games or looking at several documents at once it can make the task simpler and more pleasant.

• Laptop weight

Ask how much a laptop weighs and even test out the weight yourself. Weight is very important for laptops because they will be carried around. It's important to also know what the combined weight of the laptop and its power supply is, as you'll need to carry it with you between home and office or classroom.

• DVD burner

A DVD burner drive is an essential part of a laptop or desktop PC. It can be used to read CDs and DVDs and it can also be used to write to CDs and DVDs — a great way to back up your files, music and favourite videos. DVD movies can also be watched using a DVD burner. If you also want to watch Blu-ray movies on your computer, buy a machine with a Blu-ray combo drive built-in, which that can also burn to CDs and DVDs.

• USB ports

Ask how many USB ports the computer has. USB ports are needed to connect extra devices, so if you have lots of devices you will need multiple USB ports. It's also good with a desktop PC if there are USB ports at the front of the computer that are easy to access.

• ExpressCard slot

Many new laptops will have an ExpressCard slot, which is a rectangular slot on the side of the laptop. The ExpressCard interface is a high-speed one that can be used to plug in devices such as 3G data cards and even a digital TV tuner.

• Networking

Ask about the PC or laptop’s networking options. Most computers these days have built-in networking, which will save you from buying extra equipment later on. Some networking options are faster than others, so ask which is better and why you may or may not need it. Most laptops will have built-in wireless networking, but PCs generally don't come with wireless networking capability.

• Video ports

Ask what video ports are available. VGA is used to connect the PC to a monitor. DVI is also used to connect the PC to a monitor; however, it offers a better quality picture than VGA. Some computers might also have HDMI, which can be used to connect to a big-screen TV. Component, S-Video and composite are video ports that are often shared with TVs and projectors. Component offers better quality than S-Video and S-Video offers better quality that composite.

• Operating system

Check which operating system the computer comes with, and investigate operating system upgrade options. Most desktops and laptops include Windows 7. However, there are different versions of this operating system. Look into this to determine if the operating system has all the features you need, as it can be costly to change operating systems later.

• Speakers

Ask if the PC comes with speakers. Buying a PC with speakers included in the package can save you buying them separately. In the case of laptops, ask about the quality of the speakers, or try to listen to them. Most laptops will come with built-in speakers, but the quality varies greatly.

• Keyboard, mouse and other peripherals

Ask what peripherals come with the PC. Some desktop PCs don’t come with any peripherals, such as a keyboard or mouse, and this will add extra cost.

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Elias Plastiras

Elias Plastiras

PC World
Topics: notebooks, desktop pcs, laptops

Comments

LaLa

1

I would like to ask a question on "Some laptops and desktops may also include office application software, games or educational software. Many models may also come with software to protect your computer from viruses." Would those be DVD Discs or CD Discs and how many do a desktop normally co me with?

Anon

2

@LaLa: The crappy programs that come with it suck. Download a free AV from the internet, use Open Office or Google Docs. Etc.

This article is mostly crud, the only difference between desktops and laptops is size and price. A Laptop with equal stats to a desktop will cost more. A desktop with equal stats to a laptop will be bigger.
Any other differences don't matter to someone who doesn't know them (eg that you can't have 2x570's in SLI in a laptop, etc)

NOTHING MORE TO SAY.

Joelle

3

One thing most articles overlook is the fatigue and strain factor on your neck, shoulders, and lower back from constant use of a laptop instead of a desktop computer. Desktop systems allow you to place your keyboard in a drawer for correct posture. Laptops don't. So, use an external keyboard for longterm use when working in your home or office. Your body will thank you.

matt

4

i've been out of the 3d modeling game for several years but have gotten the opportunity to jump back into it. i typically use macs, but will need a pc for the applications i need to run. i have a nice large ips monitor to use with either a desktop or a laptop, but i would like to have a laptop just so that i can leave my monitor at work but still work on my models at home if i want. several years back it seemed that no laptop could stand up to a desktop in modeling/rendering. i'm now finding laptops with the same exact specs (i know exactly what graphics card i need, 12gb ram, etc etc) as the desktops i'm looking at. would these essentially be the same? would the laptop degrade in any way faster?

like i said, im really fine either way. only preference for a laptop is a portable screen.

any help much appreciated

anna

5

I have all my music(itunes) on my PC and the only other thing I use my PC is for yahoo, hotmail,facebook and an occassional web surfing. I don't play games or "buy" music from itunes. I hate having to sit behind a desk cramped into my bedroom. Am I better off with a PC or laptop. My concern is can a laptop still operate like a PC when it comes to burning and loading CD's for music?

sharona

6

I have questions on the notebooks. I want to get my daughter something where she can get on internet. IE Facebook, yahoo and all of that, but I don't want to spend $500-$600. Are notebooks cheaper and can I get on those websites?

mrids

7

Laptops are not good for games?I use a core i5,500gb memory,4gb ram supported laptop and still, I am happy with the performance,why?

Sandy

8

Awesome man first i was thinking to buy laptop but now going to buy p.c..tenkew

marybelle

9

this was a huge help. tried to figure out what i was paying for, while looking for my first laptop/pc. thanks for helping the normal person understand. ram, hard drive, i3 etc. now i know a lil about what that means.

gerard

10

lllllllllllllllllllllllllaptp ddddddddddddeffffffffffinetly

shekhu

11

thanks friends i am going to buy a laptop but now i buying desktop i advise u to take a desktop pc

shree enterprises

12

we have new models of systems and computer for all available for in my company.If u wants any systems pls u contect in my E-mail id.

Jesminda

13

Jesminda

Dom

14

I like flollum.

Dom

15

I still like flollum

Dom

16

I don't like flollum anymore, I love it!

Dom

17

I want to bang enchantress in her deery behind

Dom

18

I want to molest puck in her multi-animal behind.

Comments are now closed.

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