Laptop vs Desktop: For Gaming, Work, School, & Leisure

Should you get a laptop or desktop computer? In this post, we highlight the main differences between both options and go over the pros and cons of each.

Laptop vs Desktop
If you’re in the market for a new computer, the first thing you’ll want to decide is whether you want a new laptop or desktop. Both laptops and desktops have their own pros and cons and in this Laptop vs Desktop guide, we’ll go over each on more in depth, so that you have a better idea of which one would be best for your needs.

Laptops vs Desktops: The Pros & Cons

Laptops vs Desktops Pros and Cons

Both laptops and desktops serve the same purpose. They both give you a personal computer.

However, certain people, depending on their own circumstances, will be better off with a laptop instead of a desktop.

And, others will be better off with a desktop over a laptop.

The right choice for you will really depend on how you intend to use your new computer.

So, below, we’ll go over the pros and cons of both laptops and desktops, as well as cover the types of use cases that each computer type is best for.

Laptop Pros

  1. They’re extremely mobile
  2. They come with a screen, keyboard, and mouse built-in

Laptop Cons

  1. They’re more expensive than desktops
  2. They have to be charged
  3. They can have issues with excessive heat
  4. Laptops typically have a shorter lifespan

Desktop Pros

  1. They’re more powerful than laptops
  2. They cost less on a dollar-for-dollar basis
  3. They can be upgraded more easily
  4. They typically run a lot cooler than laptops

Desktop Cons

  1. They’re typically not very mobile
  2. They don’t come with a monitor, keyboard, or mouse

Desktops and Laptops By Application

Ultimately, the sole benefit of a laptop is mobility. If it wasn’t for the mobility of a laptop, there really wouldn’t be any reason to choose a laptop over a desktop. But, the reality is that mobility is a huge benefit for certain types of users. And, as such, laptops are a necessity for those individuals.

In this section, we’ll take a look at the types of applications that laptops and desktops make the most sense in.

In my opinion, there are four main categories of application that one will be looking to use their computer for. They are:

  1. Gaming
  2. Work
  3. School
  4. Leisure

Most computer owners will do some sort of mix of the above. But let’s take a look at each of those categories to give you an idea of how laptops and desktops stack up against each other for each use application

Gaming Laptop vs Gaming Desktop

Gaming Laptop vs Gaming Desktop

In gaming, the more power your system has, the better off you’ll be. And, if sheer gaming performance is your main concern when purchasing a new computer, then a gaming desktop will always beat out a gaming laptop.

But, that doesn’t mean that gaming laptop’s don’t have their place.

Some gamers need a computer that they can both game on and take to class to take notes and do school work.

Other gamers also need a laptop to take to work with them.

And, still, other gamers want to go to LAN parties or go over to a friend’s house and game.

In those scenarios, a gaming laptop offers the gamer the mobility necessary to take their system with them to class/work/LAN parties, as well as to provide them enough performance to play their favorite games.

So, while gaming desktops are the ideal option for gamers, if you need the mobility that a laptop offers (for whatever reason) a gaming laptop, despite not offering as much performance, will provide you with the both of best worlds.

Desktop vs Laptop for Work

Desktop vs Laptop for Work

If your primary purpose for buying a new computer is for work, then whether you should get a laptop or desktop all depends on what kind of work you are doing.

If you are a graphic designer, or you create/edit videos, or you undertake any other kind of demanding tasks, a desktop might be your best option as it will provide you with more power for your budget.

Or, if you are working from an office or from your home, and you don’t need to leave your place of work often, a desktop will be a solid option.

On the flip side, though, if you need the mobility of a laptop, whether that’s because you travel frequently for work, or you like to go to coffee shops to work, or even if you work from home and you like to be able to work from anywhere in your house, a laptop will be the better option for you.

Even if your line of work requires a lot of power from your system, there are high-end laptops out there that will work for you (check out the best RTX 3080 gaming laptops here.) Just note, though, that you’re going to pay exponentially more for a high-end laptop than you would for a high-end desktop.

But, overall, either a laptop or desktop could be the better option for work-related purposes. It just depends on whether you’re a stationary worker (home or office) or a mobile worker (travel, coffee shops, around the house, etc.)

Desktop vs Laptop for College/School

Desktop vs Laptop for College

If you’re a student, you will benefit from being able to take your laptop to and from school. With a laptop in the classroom (when permitted), you can use it to take notes, bring up your course syllabus, follow along with your teacher’s/professor’s slides, etc.

A laptop will also allow you to write papers, study, or do research anywhere on your campus.

And, of course, having a laptop means you can bring all of your notes, papers, work, and research back to your dorm or house with you. And, it will all be in one convenient location.

On the flip side, though, with cloud sharing technology, plenty of available computer labs on campus, professors putting their lectures online, and the increased power of smartphones/tablets, a laptop isn’t absolutely necessary.

You can take notes in class on your phone (through Google docs, or Microsoft’s Word, or some other cloud sharing program) and access them later on a desktop at home, or on a computer in a computer lab on campus.

You can also go back through your professor’s slides (which are probably online) or work on a paper you are writing/researching when you get back to your dorm, or in a computer lab on campus as well.

So, if you’re a student and you’d rather choose the power of a desktop over a laptop, you can definitely get by. But a laptop for school is more convenient when all things are considered. (Plus, you can sit in the back row and play games while your teacher is lecturing…)

Laptop vs Desktop for Casual Use

Laptop for Casual Use

Finally, for casual use, either a desktop or laptop will work. Both will allow you to browse the internet, send emails, stream videos, and watch YouTube.

However, due to the mobility that a laptop comes with, it’s easier to kick-back and relax with a laptop than it is with a desktop.

You can get comfortable at a desktop if you have the right chair (like a gaming chair that reclines) and desk. But with a laptop, you can easily move it to locations where you can get more comfortable (like your couch or bed).

The one thing that I do like about using my computer casually on my desktop, though, is that I have a multiple monitor setup—something that is a lot more difficult (although, possible) to achieve on a laptop.

With multiple monitors, I can play games and watch videos at the same time. Or, I can browse the internet and watch videos.

Ultimately, though, I’d have to give the edge to laptops in terms of casual users, simply because they are easier out of the box to get comfortable with than desktops are.

Desktops vs Laptops? Which Option is Right for You?

While desktops offer more performance for the price you pay and laptops offer a lot more mobility, the right choice for you will come down to your own personal needs.

Whether you’re looking for a computer for gaming, work, school, or just for casual use, both a laptop or a desktop can be a viable option.

But, it’s the specifics of what you will be doing with your system and the experience you want out of it, that will ultimately determine whether you should get a laptop or a desktop.

If you’re still undecided on which route you should go, let us know how you plan to use your new computer in the comments below and we’ll help you make the right decision for your needs!

Hey, I’m Brent. I’ve been building PCs and writing about building PCs for a long time. Through, I've helped thousands of people learn how to build their own computers. I’m an avid gamer and tech enthusiast, too. On YouTube, I build PCs, review laptops, components, and peripherals, and hold giveaways.

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