Off the Beaten Track #1 - 10 Reasons why Desktops Still Beat Notebooks

EDITOR'S NOTE: Back from my brief break, it's time to kick off the summer season at lgpOnTheMove with yet another new series here on my blog. In this segment, I focus the discussion AWAY from notebooks, for a welcome change.

Notebooks are inexpensive, notebooks are portable, notebooks can be used anywhere - is there anything notebooks today fail to excel at? For many folks notebooks have replaced desktops entirely. But don't dump that big, bad tower case just yet! As you will see, desktops still reign king for the few and the serious.

1. Performance

Nothing can demonstrate computing performance better than a desktop, since this is the primary segment where new technology emerges and where users still prevail, especially in business sales and specialist needs such as graphics/video work. Those large and imposing full-tower cases make room aplenty for water-cooled overclocked Core i7's, triple/quad GPU gaming cards and RAID 6 storage repositories that the serious performance user craves. When it comes to extreme multitasking, encoding HD video streams in parallel, running the latest games at 2560x1600 or working with CAD/CAM/graphics/hi-def video, desktops are still the number one in performance and offer the highest-end components available.

2. Value for money

It's tough to argue against a <$600 notebook compared to a desktop, but that portability does come at a price. All you need to do is move up to the higher-end components and you will immediately see that notebooks come in much more expensive compared to the same hardware/performance in a desktop. Gaming notebooks in particular exhibit this glaring trend, as you can very easily get better gaming performance out of a $2500 desktop system as you would from even the most expensive $4000 gaming notebooks.

3. Serviceability

Ever encountered a problem with your notebook that needed a motherboard removal or display replacement? Notebooks are notorious for their difficult assembly and proprietary parts. Think you're comfortable with a screwdriver? Taking a notebook apart will make you rethink that. It's not an easy job even with a service manual at hand, and is best left sending the notebook in for repair. With a desktop, just open up the case and remove or replace whatever component is bad. No need to be without your computer for weeks, and no risk of getting your computer returned with your data gone.

4. Upgradeability

Have you ever envied your friends who upgraded their CPU/motherboard for better performance or swapped out their video cards to run the newest games? Desktops easily let you do that, and much more. With notebooks, you're stuck with the components inside, and while you may think being able to upgrade a notebook hard drive or memory is enough, you'll be scratching your head when your software wants a better CPU or GPU down the road.

5. Applications of use

Fancy running F@H 24/7, need a HTPC, into 1080p editing/encoding, host a home server, operate a surveillance system, work on multiple monitors with a dozen open windows, looking for something that can feed a QFHD display, need gobs of data for RAID or just like to game on a 30" monitor? Desktops give you the ability to run applications and accomplish tasks that notebooks simply cannot match, especially those requiring constant processing and always-on availability.

6. Configurability

This is where desktops really outshine their notebook rivals. The availability of parts, components and options for desktop systems is near endless, allowing choices for components such as CPU, GPU, hard drives, optical drives, memory, display, motherboard, keyboard and speakers alongside letting you select each one for price. With a notebook, you're stuck with whatever hardware the manufacturer gives you. Those notebooks that are configurable may give you, what first seems like, a decent choice of options; but your choices will be limited by the notebook vendor and not necessarily include the newest or fastest components.

7. Productivity

Everyone always complains that they wish they could get their work done sooner or their computer was quicker. With a desktop, you can indeed get the maximum speed available thanks to overclocking or the choice of faster components. More work done means better performance for your dollar, and more free time for fun. In addition, specialist jobs such as graphics/video/engineering or software requiring high-performance hardware will benefit greatly from the muscle that a desktop system can flex, cutting down project times drastically.

8. Reliability

The ability to isolate issues to specific components and easily replace them makes desktops far more reliable as opposed to notebooks and can extend the life of your system by many years. The wide availability and affordable cost of desktop parts here plays a key advantage. With a notebook failure your options beyond repair may only be a complete replacement, something that may cost several hundred dollars at minimum, or as much as a few thousand dollars at most.

9. Brand flexibility

Partial to a particular brand, want the ability to choose what you use or does your business require you work with a certain manufacturer? Desktops let you choose the brand and model of hardware you have, notebooks not so much. Do you have a game that works best on an ATI graphics card but want an Intel CPU? Need the reliability of a particular DVD burner? Or does your software require specific hardware to function properly? With a desktop, such flexibility comes standard.

10. Build-it-yourself

Last but not least, a great majority of home computer users get great enjoyment out of building and tinkering with the computers they play/work on. The ability to easily swap components, shop around for the best price, upgrade as needed and tweak hardware has been a driving argument in favor of desktops, and will continue to be so. Add to that, the relative ease of which it has become to assemble the "basic box" - it has led to the "modding frenzy" that now includes specialist retailers, select hardware and the emergence of a sub-culture called modders. These are the folks eager to make their rigs as unique as they can, building machines that stand out from every other system.

So there you have it! Shame on me you might say for dethroning the notebook and putting desktops first. But for those of us who seek the fastest and the best, the desktop, without argument, still reigns King!

1 comment:

  1. Good post. After going desktop free a year ago, I am again looking at building a new desktop as my gaming and work needs require either a $3000 notebook or a $1500 desktop.