Laptop vs Desktop - Which is better for you?

 This has been a topic of debate among PC community ever since truly portable laptops became as affordable as desktops. People still go through the dilemma of choosing one of the two. I have previously addressed the topic briefly on this article but it was targeted to gamers only. But this time, I'll try to address all user group. 

Here's a TL;DR version for those who don't have time.

If you do any type of work that puts your CPU or GPU under 90-100% sustained loads quite frequently like rendering/exporting Videos, 3D renders, etc, get a desktop. Laptop is for those who absolutely "REQUIRE" portability. Laptops don't only heat up faster than a desktop, they hit thermal throttling easily as well due to inadequate cooling. My laptop's CPU is rated to boost up to 4GHz but under sustained loads, it struggles to maintain even 3.5GHz. So a cooling pad is recommended for heavy loads. 

Before we get into user requirements, let's look at fundamental difference between a desktop and a laptop.

  1. Portability: The biggest difference and often the key deciding factor. You can put the laptop in a backpack and carry it wherever you want. You can technically do that with Mini PC and ITX builds but you'd need to carry a display, keyboard and mouse as well.
  2. Performance: While the laptop components are reaching near the performance their desktop brethren, desktop components are still more capable, specially since they aren't limited by tiny coolers and low power limits. 
  3. Upgradability: Most of laptop components are soldered together, in most cases, you can only replace/upgrade the RAM and storage. If one of the main 3(CPU, Motherboard and GPU) goes bad, you'll have to replace the entire mainboard. Which is often really expensive, almost 50-80% of the cost of laptop itself. Fortunately with desktop, you can just replace the faulty component only.
  4. Maintenance: Dust is a pretty common culprit of PC overheating. You can simply remove the side panel of your desktop and use a air blower to adequately clean your desktop. But removing the back panel of your laptop yourself may void the warranty. 
If the above differences aren't enough to finalize your decision, then I have more reasons to pick one over the other. 

So now let's get into the use cases. As we've established in previous posts of the blog, PC users can be divided in following 3 categories
  1. A typical user: Students, office goer, etc, who don't need much powerful PC.
  2. Gamers: well, who play games.
  3. Creators: they can be from any and multiple fields, but basically they're the ones who produce contents like videos, 3d models, animations, software, etc. 
A typical user will be fine with either laptop or desktop, but for sake of portability, they pick laptop. 
Gamers and Creators can be subdivided according to their workloads. There are games and softwares that don't stress your system, for example a game like Among Us and softwares like photoshop will never push your system to 100% load.
But on the other end of the spectrum, there are games and softwares that can bring even top of line PC to their knees. 
So if you play easy to run games or use lightweight softwares then you'll be fine with either a laptop or a desktop.
BUT, if you play heavy games, livestream your games, edit long high quality videos or work with 3D softwares, a desktop is highly recommended. 
Similarly, there are many workloads that influence the choice of hardware, instead of addressing them 1 by 1, I'll just list them in a table below:



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