Many homes and businesses across the United Kingdom have at least one computer, whether it be for the exclusive use of one person, or shared between multiple people.

Whilst tablet devices such as the Apple iPad are growing in popularity across a wide range of audiences, the humble old desktop and laptop computer is still a firm favourite with many people.

But if you need to buy a new computer system soon, which type should you opt for and why? Many years ago laptops were considered computer devices that didn’t have as much processing power or functionality as their desktop counterparts, and they were typically a lot more expensive to buy than laptops.

In 2014, it seems the trend for mainstream computer use has shifted towards laptops as they are now usually the same in price, if not cheaper, to buy than desktops, and with brands such as Alienware (owned by Dell) selling laptops aimed exclusively at multimedia enthusiasts and gamers, there are more reasons than ever to buy a laptop over a desktop.

Despite these facts, you have to make a choice about what is right for you, rather than what other people or companies want you to buy. So with that in mind, this handy guide will help you to determine whether a desktop computer or laptop is right for you!

What do you actually need out of a computer?

There are certain things that all modern desktop computers and laptops have in common:

  • Performance – CPU manufacturers such as Intel and AMD create processors that are used exclusively in laptops due to their low power needs and cooler temperatures, yet offer the same performance found in their desktop equivalents;
  • Features – network and Internet access, large storage space and decent graphics capabilities are features that are shared between desktops and laptops;
  • Cost – as mentioned a little earlier, there was a time when laptops were inherently more expensive than desktops, but now they are both on an even keel when it comes to cost.

The main differences between desktops and laptops

After this point, differences become apparent. Desktop computers are not designed for portability or small desk footprints, whereas laptops are small and light enough to fit inside most briefcases and bags.

There is also the question of upgradability. Insight desktops, for example, offer a wide range of storage space expansion and upgrade options, and are typically built using industry-standard case and motherboard measurements such as micro ATX.

Laptops, on the other hand, can be quite limited as to what can be upgraded; usually, one can only upgrade the hard drive or increase the amount of RAM installed. Motherboards are almost always proprietary in size and nature, and many have CPUs that are soldered onto them rather than slotted in place as with desktops (this means you can’t even upgrade the processor).

Here is a summary of scenarios where you might want to buy a desktop or laptop:

  • Desktops – perfect for future upgrades and customisations, but take up a lot of desk space and cost more to run (in terms of electricity);
  • Laptops – ideal for portable computing and have a smaller footprint as well as costing less to power, but are limited by what can be upgraded.

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