In this article I’m going to focus on PC’s running the Microsoft Windows operating system and I might write a separate article on Mac’s at a later date. Most shoppers are drawn towards the PC platform running Windows for reasons such as cost, compatibility and commonality. Although Apple does have some funny and very catchy commercials, the fact of the matter is that most computer users use PC’s.
In recent years the cost of laptop computers has dropped drastically, and many consumers looking to get a new PC are drawn towards a laptop. There are lots of pro’s and con’s regarding laptops so I’m going to discuss these now. Laptops have a few things going for them. You can carry them from one room to the next or to your friend’s house. They are generally light weight and the cost premium for a laptop is not as large as it had been in previous years. Sometimes, low-end laptops can even be had for less the cost than a desktop. There are however issues that consumers need to be aware of with laptops. First of all, computers hate heat! With a laptop, the companies making them have to specially engineer them so that heat is dissipated effectively otherwise you will have problems with the system overheating, crashing, etc. Also, laptops by their very nature are portable device and get moved around. Unfortunately the spinning hard disk inside the laptop that holds your data doesn’t like to be moved around. Jarring or bumping the laptop can cause the hard disk to suffer mechanical problems that can ultimately lead to data loss, something no one wants! Also, less expensive consumer grade laptops are not built or engineered to the more demanding standards of business grade laptops and will experience problems such as broken power jacks, keyboards that fail, etc. I’ve had to repair a few laptops with broken power jacks; the problem is that when the AC adapter is connected to the laptop and it is moved around it’s possible that the angle and stress from the plug of the AC adapter will cause the connection between the power jack inside the computer and the motherboard to break or weaken resulting in a laptop that either doesn’t charge or you’ll need to wiggle the plug just right so that it works off of AC power or charges the battery. Unfortunately this type of repair is not cheap because the entire machine needs to be taken apart to remove the motherboard so the jack can be repaired. Another problem with laptops is that it is not easy to upgrade the components. Items such as memory and the hard drive where your data is stored is a relatively easy upgrade, but it’s not possible to change the video card to a more powerful one for example if you need to play a certain video game or run a graphically demanding application. The laptops that catch most consumers eyes are the low cost specials advertised, however those are most likely the ones to suffer power jack failures and be built with inferior parts that are likely to break. A quality laptop on the other hand will command a price closer to $1000 if not more, however it will be less likely to break a year or two later. It basically comes down to, do you want to pay now or later?
Desktops on the other hand are much easier to fix and upgrade than laptops and it is cheaper to maintain a desktop computer. Remember, computers hate heat and the larger case of a desktop computer makes it easier to physically open and clean out the dust, lint, pet hair, etc. that finds its way inside your computer. In my opinion, a desktop machine would be a preferable choice unless portability is required. Desktop PC’s also can take advantage of much more powerful processors (CPU’s, the brain of the computer) and faster spinning hard drives, etc. So if power and speed is your goal and you don’t need to be portable, do yourself a favor and get a desktop. Your productivity and wallet will thank you for it. If you do need portability, I’d recommend a higher end, business grade laptop as it will last longer and you’ll appreciate not having it fall apart a year or two later or be stuck with an expensive repair.
Over the years, I’ve worked with both setups, originally using a desktop for years, then a laptop, and now I’m back to a desktop machine. That being said, I also have a laptop that I use when I work at a customer’s location offsite, but for my main machine where I do the bulk of my work, it’s a desktop and it makes the most sense, performance and cost wise.
Rob at Inline Tech is a 15+ year technology veteran in the IT industry and if you have any questions feel free to contact him via his web site at www.inlinetech.com.