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Laptops or PCs: which is better?

I have the luxury of having both a desktop and a laptop, and I’d like to share with you the benefits of each. Choosing the right machine for you will depend on what you want the computer for, how many and what kinds of applications it will run, and how much you will have to spend.

processing power

CPUs generate a lot of power requirement and therefore can really drain batteries. For this reason, the normal laptop prefers less powerful processes that extend battery life. Having said that, you probably wouldn’t notice the difference if all you use is Word, Internet Explorer, and Outlook. These don’t put much of a strain on the processor and a laptop would be more than happy to run all three at once. On the other hand, encoding a DVD or retouching a 10-megapixel photo requires some processing power. The amount of speed you need will largely depend on your patience and how much time you have. If you’re not in a hurry, a laptop can handle these tasks, but it can take 2-3 times longer compared to a desktop of the same price.

clear the covers

If you don’t want to dedicate an entire table to your computer, a laptop might be convenient. Check your emails at the kitchen table, and then at lunchtime, fold it up in seconds and store it on the shelf. Desktop computers may also have folding keyboards that slide under the desk on a tray, but you still need to have the monitor on the table.

update

As your computer ages, the demands you’ll want to make of it will likely increase. Recent innovations in HD DVD drives, solid-state hard drives, and faster CPUs can make your old system seem redundant. Generally speaking, desktop PCs are easier to upgrade than laptops. With a laptop, you can upgrade the RAM or replace the hard drive, but that’s about it. With a desktop, you really have a bit of mechanical kit: you can upgrade the graphics card, add firewire ports, and add extra hard drives and optical drives. It is possible to replace an optical drive in a laptop, but it is much more expensive and requires specialized knowledge.

Carbon footprint

Laptops use less electricity – the one I’m using to write this article uses 20-30W. In contrast, a computer can typically use 100-150W. That’s why I would say that laptops are the greener option. Due to the laptop’s all-in-one design, if a component breaks, it’s often more cost-effective to buy a new one than to repair it. This somewhat negates the low power advantages, but my intuition is that laptops are still greener. They may be canceled if you’re unlucky, but the electricity saved is a 100% certainty.

good ergonomics

Experts say setting up your computer is the key to avoiding RSI (Repetitive Strain Injury) or back problems. With a laptop, the screen is too low when you sit at a typical table; ideally, the top of the screen should be at eye level. A friend of mine uses a stand to raise his MacBook Pro to the correct height, with a USB keyboard placed on the desk. This is an ideal setup, but it will probably set you back around £70.

Cost Comparison

The cheapest desktop PCs start at around £300, while laptops start at around £400. This doesn’t sound too bad, but you also have to factor in the difference in performance. Some laptops are just as powerful as tower PCs and are therefore known as desktop replacements. They usually weigh 4 kg and are a bit more expensive.

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