Over the past few years, I have heard people express assumptions about desktop computers. Sometimes they are under the impression that a personal computer now always means a laptop and that desktop computers are outdated. I've even heard the comment about desktops: "Do people use those anymore?"
Yes, desktop computers are very much in use and relevant. I am typing on one, as I write this email newsletter.
If you are a business owner or depend on having a computer for work, I highly recommend that you have a laptop and a desktop so that if you have a problem with one you can keep working on the other.
Both laptop and desktop computers are valuable and useful. They just serve different roles.
To distill it to it's essence: If you need a computer to be portable, whether just from room to room in your house or across the country, a laptop is what you need to get that portability.
For factors other than portability, a desktop computer is still a great option. This email is more of a defense of the desktop computer rather than a judgement on which type of computer is better. Here's some reasons why:
1. A desktop is less likely to be accidentally damaged
A laptop's strength is it's portability, but those features that make it portable are also the weakness that makes it more susceptible to accidental damage. I frequently see laptops with broken screens, dented corners, broken hinges due to accidental drops. Laptops often fall victim to liquid spills.
That kind of damage is just unlikely to happen to a stationary desktop computer.
2. A desktop has a better ratio of computing power to cost
Desktop processors are usually much more capable than mobile processors. Sometimes mobile processors are used in all-in-one desktop computers, so it isn't always the case.
I recently replaced a computer with an Intel i3-6100u (sixth gen) mobile processor with a desktop computer with an Intel Core i5-4570 (fourth gen). The older, fourth gen i5 desktop processor had more than twice the multi-core computing capacity than the mobile processor.
3. Desktop computers are more upgrade-able
Want to play a game on a laptop that requires a minimum graphics chipset to play? But your laptop doesn't meet the requirements? Most laptops are not able to upgrade the graphics chipset and you are stuck with what you have.
Desktop computers usually have expansion slots that let you add graphics cards and more.
Desktop computers usually have processors in sockets that can be taken out and upgraded. So if the i5-4570 doesn't quite do it, you can take it out and put a more powerful i7-4770 in it's place. You can't do that with a laptop.
Desktop computers can often be more easily upgraded with more memory. This is especially true of computers that have four memory module slots. Laptops usually only have two (or sometimes just one).
4. Desktops are more reliable
This is often due to a combination of the factors I already mentioned. If problems do happen with desktop computers, it is usually easier to replace the particular part that is failing in a desktop computer than it is in a laptop.
Desktop computers are less likely to overheat because there is more space in the case and everything isn't pressed tightly together like it is in a laptop.
Desktops are easier to clean. If you spill a drink in your desktop USB keyboard, it can sometimes just be rinsed out with water, dried and then connected again. Or you can just replace the USB keyboard with another one. If you spill a drink in a laptop keyboard, a likely result is a dead laptop.
5. Desktops have more screen options and upgrades
Do you have a 17 inch screen connected to your desktop computer? You can just unplug it and replace it with a larger 21 inch, 24 inch or larger screen with better resolution or contrast. You can't change the screen size of a laptop (though you can usually plug in an external screen to a laptop, too).
Multiple large monitors are easy to set up with a desktop computer. You can often get more work done at a desk with everything set up and ready to go than you can with a laptop that doesn't have as nice of a keyboard or monitor setup.
Of course, a laptop is often a better fit. I frequently take a laptop with me when I travel. But desktop computers are far from obsolete and they are often a better value due to costing less per unit of performance and lasting longer on average.
I just sold a Dell Optiplex 380 with a Core 2 Duo processor and Windows XP to a business who needed one for a particular legacy application. A desktop is a much better fit for that role, due to it being more reliable than a laptop.
I've also sold very powerful workstation computers upgraded with expensive graphics cards, 8 core processors and lots of memory. There's a huge variety of configuration options and price points with desktop computers. And they can be upgraded later if needed.
I sell both laptops and desktop computers. If you are in need of either, or would like to ask questions about what might be best for your needs, feel free to reply to this email to get the conversation started.
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