I have the luxury of having both a desktop and a laptop, and I would like to share with you the advantages of each. Choosing the right machine for you will depend on what you want the computer for, how many and what kind of applications you will run, and how much you have to spend.
CPUs generate need plenty of power and so can really eat up batteries. For this reason the laptop normal favours less powerful process that extend battery life. Having said that, you probably wouldn’t notice the difference if all you use is Word, Internet Explorer, and Outlook. These don’t make that much demand of the processor and a laptop would be more than happy running all three at once. On the other hand, encoding a DVD or tweaking a 10 megapixel photograph requires some processing power. The amount of speed you require will very much depend on your patience and how much time you have. If you are in no hurry, a laptop can cope with these tasks but may take 2 or 3 times longer compared to a desktop of the same price.
Clear the Decks
If you don’t want to devote an entire table to your computer then a laptop can be convenient. Check your emails on the kitchen table, and then at lunch time, fold it away in a few seconds and store it on the shelf. Desktop computers can also have fold away keyboards that slide underneath the desk on a tray but you still need to have the monitor on the table.
As your computer ages the demands that you will want to make of it will probably increase. Recent innovations of HD DVDs drives, solid state hard disk drives, and faster CPUs can make your old system seem redundant. Generally speaking, desktop PCs are easier to upgrade components than laptops. With a laptop, you can up the RAM, or replace the Hard Drive, but that’s about it. With a desktop you have really got a sort of mechano kit – you can upgrade the graphics card, add firewire ports, and add additional hard disk drives and optical drives. Replacing an optical drive in a laptop is possible, but is many times more expensive and needs specialist knowledge.
Laptops use less electricity – the one I am using to type this article is using 20-30W. In contrast a computer may typically use 100-150W. For this reason I would say that laptops are the more eco-friendly option. Because of the laptop’s all-in-one design, if a component gets damaged, it often is more cost effective to buy a new one than repair it. This negates the low-power advantages somewhat – but my gut feeling is that laptops are still greener. They might get written off if you’re unlucky, but the saved electricity is a 100% certainty.
Experts say that setting up your computer is the key to avoiding RSI (repetitive strain injury) or a bad back. With a laptop, the screen is a little too low when sitting on a typical table, ideally the top of the screen should be at eye level. A friend of mine uses a stand to raises his MacBook Pro to the correct height, with a USB keyboard positioned on the desk. This is an ideal setup, but probably cost him around £70.
The cheapest desktop PCs are around £300 where as laptops start at around £400. This doesn’t sound too bad, but you also have to factor in the difference in performance. Some laptops are just as powerful as tower PCs and so they are known as desktop-replacements. These typically weigh a massive 4kg and they are a bit more expensive.