When it comes down to making the first step in buying a gaming PC, let it be a laptop or a desktop, you want to make sure that you choose the one that is right for you. In this post we will examine both laptops and desktops under the same lens. We will look at performance, pricing, quality, personalization, and portability; all of which are important in making the ultimate purchasing decision. Let’s get straight to it.

Performance, performance, performance

When it comes to playing games, you only want the best of performances, high performance mean longer effectiveness cycle. And if there ever was a doubt with who had the upper hand, let’s clear it up.

The desktop is a big, mean machine, with enough space to sport all that you want, these beasts have the clear upper hand. From the start they have the advantage with their size which allows for bigger components, more airflow, and more overall space which allows easier cooling. Since desktops do not have any restrictions when it comes to hardware available, they can give you, from the start, the fastest performance there is. And if that isn’t enough for you, you always have the possibility to overclock or OC. Overclocking pushes the limit of your hardware to get that extra “umph” out of your gear. Though this comes at a risk, inexperienced people who randomly change settings could damage or even worst, fry their CPUs, which are sometimes costly. Desktops also have more USB ports which allows for more peripherals.

The laptop is the smart little brother. Smaller and a lot more cramped, laptops cannot fit everything they want in their case. This gives them a very prominent disadvantage when it comes to gaming. Laptop cases are a lot smaller, meaning that their hardware has to be smaller which in the end gives out less juice. You also need to be plugged in to be able to run all the games that you want, which means that if you run on battery, the amount of time you got playing is short.
The Oculus Rift has been released while I was writing this blogpost. It’s the Virtual Reality headset that brings you an unparalleled level of immersion. One issue, it requires a GTX 970 minimum, same processing power that can render two different 4K screens, which severely limits the amount of laptops that can run it. Goodbye EvE Valkyrie, maybe one day I’ll get to play you.

WINNER: DESKTOP

Pricing

If you so choose to join PC gaming, you choose an expensive hobby and usually, you want to stay within a budget and get the best for less, but when it comes to laptops and desktops which one is it that offers you the best prices?

Desktops are initially more expensive than laptops, for the simple reason that there is more to buy. Desktops come stand alone with a mouse and keyboard that will do the job. Nothing too fancy, or gaming level/quality. Desktops by themselves usually have the same cost as laptops. Meaning that over that initial price, you need to purchase a monitor, headphones or speakers, a better keyboard, a better mouse, and a mouse pad. All of which raise the price at a few hundred dollars above the laptop. But this bigger initial expense is a longer term investment. Desktops are easier to maintain and can easily be fixed or upgraded by yourself. Which means that over time, it will cost less.

Laptops usually are less expensive than desktops. They come with a high quality screen, a decent keyboard and a lame mousepad, which means that the only thing that you really do need to buy with a laptop is a mouse, a headset is recommended but not necessary. But it is important to keep in mind that laptops have a shorter life cycle. Finding parts for laptops is difficult, and if something breaks there isn’t anything that you can really do, you have to send it back to the manufacturer to have them repair the whole thing. Which is ok if you are under warranty… Not so much if you are not.

WINNER: DESKTOP

PERSONALIZATION

No two computer is the same on the inside, but what about the outside? You want that personal computer of yours to reflect the gamer you are so that you feel pride when ever you show it off to your friends. Laptop or desktop: which one can provide that more fulfilling personalization?

Desktops probably have the upper hand when it comes to having it personalized to your prefered state. Pieces can easily be modified or changed to fit the color, or look that you want. You can add lights and stickers, change the monitor, mouse, chair, keyboard, and so on and so forth. But I’ll add a small chip that I purposefully left out in this category. Custom Built desktops. Custom built desktops are probably the pinnacle of customization. I have seen some of the most gorgeous custom-built desktops that reflected the tastes of the owner. Everything can match your wants aesthetically, from the motherboard to the case, but more on that in another blog post.

Laptops probably are a bit tougher to customize to such a degree for the simple reason that it is really hard to find the pieces you want to change since not many companies do provide such things. Though you can, as always, add some stickers on the back, change the mouse, or add a keyboard. Other than that, there isn’t much you can adapt to your wants.

WINNER: DESKTOP

Portability

But what about those of you who travel a lot? Which one gives you most advantages on the go?

Desktops do not really fit you if you want gaming on the go, even though there are some options for you. There is the Home Theater Gaming Personal Computer (or HTGPC or HTPC) which is small and can be carried around… And they have to be custom built, and the ones I saw cost the small small amount (I am being sarcastic) of $30,000.

Laptops win this section hands down for the simple reason that they are built to be carried around for gaming on the go. Of course they don’t pack the same punch as a desktop, but you can rest assured, they will do the job.

WINNER: LAPTOP

FINAL ROUND

Overall, both laptops and desktops have their advantages. Desktops have their unrivaled power and unparalleled customization while laptops have their untouchable portability. But in the end, I believe that desktops have the advantage and are better suited for gaming which brings me to my conclusion: Desktops should be weighed more importantly than laptops if you are looking for a gaming machine. But when it comes to people who do travel a lot, a laptop may be better suited for you.

Desktops

PROS

  • Stronger
  • Faster
  • Easier to maintain
  • Cheaper of over the long run
  • Extremely Customizable
  • High Quality

CONS

  • Not as easily portable
  • Larger initial cost
  • More to buy
  • Bigger hassle
  • Takes more space

Laptops

PROS

  • Easy to carry
  • Can play just as many games
  • Smaller initial cost
  • Hassle-free
  • High-Quality
  • Less pieces needed to be bought

CONS

  • Cannot be repaired by yourself
  • More expensive in the long run
  • Not very customizable
  • Less performant