By David Goward / A1 Computers And Service – October 2012
While your phone, tablet or even laptops are convenient and portable devices. They can’t really meet the needs of your average office worker or serious power user. These devices are nowhere near as convenient or as powerful as a desktop computer is. Your phones, tablets, net-books, laptops, or the new ultra-books all have an inherent set of design flaws and compromises. These are the processors power, screen size, battery life, and let’s face it some of them are downright expensive.
So here’s why I think the desktop computer is here to stay for quite a while still.
Desktop computers are less expensive:
They are usually cheaper than laptops when you buy them new, or if you have to make repairs. For example, a Dell XPS 8500 which has a third generation Intel Core i7 processor, 8GB of RAM, a 1TB hard drive, and an AMD Radeon HD 7570 discrete graphics card costs $799.00 on Dell’s website. Meanwhile, a similarly equipped Dell Inspiron 14z laptop with a third generation Intel Core i7 processor, 8GB of RAM, a 500GB hard drive, and an AMD Radeon HD 7570M graphics card costs $999.00. Both systems have similar specs while the desktop has more storage space on the hard drive yet there is a $200.00 difference in price.
Desktops are more powerful:
A desktop processor is more powerful than a corresponding laptop processor. Let’s not even compare the mobile ARM processors (the processors that run in most phones and tablets), since the comparison is in no way fair. The processors in laptops are not only smaller than a desktop processor, they are designed to use less energy and produce less heat. They do this by running at lower clock speeds than desktop CPU’s which helps them to produce less heat and to conserve battery life. Laptop processors are fitted into a tight, closed chassis and surrounded by a couple of small fans and they still are prone to overheating. They can only run on the battery at full power for a max of 3-5 hours. A desktop processor is plugged into an endless supply of electricity from a wall outlet allowing you a full day’s work. The desktop computer can have lots of fans or even a liquid cooling system to keep their temperatures down allowing for higher clock speeds and opening up overclocking even.
You can plug a ton of peripherals into desktops:
Let’s say you use an external USB mouse and keyboard on your laptop. Can you also plug in another USB device; probably not. As laptops get thinner and smaller the port offerings decline. Most laptops these days have a couple of USB 2.0 ports, though higher-end systems might throw in a USB 3.0 port here and there. Desktops, on the other hand, usually have a minimum of four USB 2.0 ports, and most have many more. Plus, desktops have tons of other connectivity options that only the highest-end, most gamer-oriented laptops might include—these options include eSATA, VGA, DVI, HDMI, and multiple audio lines.
You get larger screens with desktops:
Most studies have shown that larger screens can make you more productive. Need more screen real estate? You can accomplish this in two ways: with a larger screen, or by using multiple monitors. The largest screen in a laptop you can find on the market is 17.3 inches, and that is huge for a laptop. But a 17.3-inch laptop screen is nothing compared to a 20 or 24 inch monitor on a desktop computer. And a 17.3 inch laptop is usually too bulky for most people to tote around comfortably, which means your laptop may essentially become a desktop. Most laptops only support a 2nd monitor setup. Desktops on the other hand are built for multiple monitor setups. Depending on your graphics card in your desktop you can support from 1 up to 10 monitors for maximum productivity or maximum gaming.
You can use your desktop to play computer games:
To be fair there are gaming laptops out there and some of them are not that bad. A good example is the Alienware M17x R4. It features an Intel Core i7-3720QM processor and an Nvidia GeForce GTX 680M discrete graphics card. But do you think it can really compare to a gaming desktop with an Intel Core i7-3960X processor and three Nvidia GeForce GTX 680 graphics cards running in Tri-SLI? I don’t think so. Plus with a desktop PC as games become more graphic and your video card is showing its age you can easily upgrade it where with the laptop you are forced to go through the vendor for an upgrade if there even is one available; and I can bet it’ll be expensive.
Fixing a desktop is easy and cheaper:
On a customer’s laptop the video went bad. While they were using the laptop the screen started displaying colorful squiggly lines making things unreadable. We determined that the motherboards on-board video card had gone bad. The new motherboard was $269.95 and the labor would run $100.00 to do the job. Total cost of repair: $369.95
On a common desktop computer if the video card goes bad you have a part that costs an average $29.95 and labor of $30.00. Total cost of repair: $59.95
If a desktops component goes bad it’s usually very easy to purchase a new one, whether it’s the graphics card, the monitor, power supply or even the processor. But if a laptop component goes bad on you, well, good luck.
You can use software more efficiently on a desktop:
Sure, today’s laptops can run all the software that a desktop runs but you won’t enjoy your time with these applications when fighting with your laptop’s track-pad or the small screen. Take for example Adobe Photoshop or Premiere. To be used efficiently the software requires a powerful processor, a high-end graphics card, large screen, and peripherals like a mouse and maybe even a drawing tablet. A laptop with those specs would either be insanely expensive or physically impossible (in the case of a much-larger screen). A desktop with decent specs, however, will be able to run this software just fine.
Desktops are more secure and they last longer:
Desktops are not portable. This is a good thing when it comes to security and durability. Since your desktop doesn’t move it’s fairly secure from theft. There is pretty much no chance that you are going to lose your desktop on the train, or that someone will steal your desktop from the library. These are common things with a laptop. Also since your desktop never moves, it doesn’t get bumped or dropped or scratched in your bag. A desktop can easily last several years or more if you upgrade it along the way. A laptop is harder to upgrade shortening its lifespan and a laptop will often fall victim to an unfortunate spill or drop.
Long live the desktop:
Now don’t get me wrong. I think laptops, tablets, and smartphones are essential to most people’s modern day lives. I also think they will continue to grow in popularity and use. But as long as desktops remain cheaper, more powerful, and more versatile, there will be a continuing need for them into the future.
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