Cheap Computers Guide - A Laptop/Notebook or a Desktop?

Which one is right for you?

Cheap Computers - Choosing a Laptop/Notebook
or a Desktop

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Cheap computers can include laptops, notebooks or desktops.

The decision as to whether to purchase a laptop, notebook or a desktop will depend on what you will be using it for.

You will definitely get more computing power and expandability from a desktop. But, if you will need to be carrying your computer from one location to another, I would strongly recommend that you get a laptop or a notebook.

Differences between Laptop and Notebook Computers

People use the terms laptop and notebook so loosely to describe a mobile PC insinuating that they are the same. However, there are differences between these two mobile PCs that consumers should be aware of before purchasing any. Let's compare these two computers:

Laptop Computer:

The laptop as the name implies is designed to rest on your lap. Here are some of its attributes:

  • Usually has a screen size of 14" to 18". (Thin Film Transistor screen (TFT)).
  • Generally uses nVidia GeForce or ATI Radeon graphics.
  • Internal DVD-ROM or DVD burner.
  • A large full-featured keyboard.
  • Battery life in excess of 3 hours.
  • Upgradeable.
  • Has an internal modem, Bluetooth and Wi-Fi capablities.
  • High performance integrated audio and speaker system.
  • Uses the Intel® Centrino CPU - High performance low power consumption.
Click here to view laptops.

Notebook Computer:

Here are some of its features:

  • Low profile.
  • Low power consumption.
  • Generally with Intel® Celeron or Sempron CPUs.
  • Small functional keyboard.
  • No internal optical drive.
  • Ultra light.
  • Approximate battery life 4 - 5 hours.
  • Screen size from 12" to 14".
  • Onboard network.
  • Minimal graphics.

Click here to view some notebooks.

As you can see from the above, the names laptop and notebook are not really interchangeable. Notebooks are mobile PCs that offer average performance 'while not taxing your pocket'. They could be classified as cheap computers.

Laptops on the other hand are capable of ably replacing their desktop counterparts.

I hope that this explanation will 'clear the air' regarding the differences between a laptop and a notebook. Somewhere in the future possibly these two names might mean the same but for now these differences are clearly defined.


The generic term 'Desktop Computer' is being used loosely to describe any full-size computer but, in fact, it is really a system housed in a horizontal case that sits on a desk.

Click here to look at some desktop computers.

The term 'Desktop Computer' in this Cheap Computer guide refers to any full-size computer; namely, mid-tower, full tower and, of course, the horizontal case.

Advantages - Desktops:

  • Desktops are usually used for testing new technology.
  • Cheaper to buy than a comparable laptop or notebook.
  • Much easier and cheaper to upgrade.
  • Generally faster than a comparable laptop or a notebook.
  • Usually better for gaming and other high intensity computer needs.
  • A better keyboard, mouse and screen.
  • Harder to steal.
  • Since they have a larger monitor, keyboard and mouse, they are more comfortable to use for longer periods of time.

Laptops/Notebooks vs. Desktops


Advantages - Laptops/Notebooks:

The major advantage of laptop or notebook computers are their portability - Being able to move it easily from one location to another.

Laptops and notebooks are versatile enabling them to be used anywhere and anytime. You can almost perform the same tasks on top-of-the-line laptops and notebooks as you would on desktops with limitations.

For information on the other advantages of a laptop, please see my Cheap Laptop Computer Guide by clickinq here.­

Disadvantages - Laptops/Notebooks:

  • Sometimes cost more than a desktop.
  • Difficult to upgrade and repair.
  • More easily lost or stolen.
  • Not as durable as a desktop.
  • Battery life as compared to a desktop that uses electrical main.

Disadvantages - Desktops:

  • Not easily transported.
  • Takes up more space.

Desktop or Laptop/Notebook? Making a decision .....

The main components of all computers - whether a laptop, notebook or a desktop are all the same.

Deciding on whether to buy a desktop, a laptop or a notebook computer system might be difficult and is a matter of personal choice or, most importantly, depending on your needs.

Always remember that they can both run identical software. Therefore, your decision should be based upon price and performance vs. mobility.

If you will need to be accessing your computer while you are away from your base, you will definitely need a laptop or a notebook.

Also, if you need a computer that can be relocated easily, a laptop or a notebook should be your choice. But... if you are looking for a computer that is not required to be mobile, then a desktop should be your choice.

Laptops or notebooks are ideal for people on the go.

Laptops have become so powerful and efficient that there are now models that are considered desktop replacements. They are equipped with high-end Intel and AMD mobile processors, video cards, DDR3 and DDR4 memory, solid state drives, Blu-ray super-multi optical drives and Gigabit networking, etc. Multimedia and gaming types are equipped with HDMI outputs and are capable of driving multiple monitors.

With all of these high-end components, laptops still have limitations; the main one being battery life.

Final Thoughts.....

What do you want to be able to do with your computer? Are you planning on playing the most difficult games and doing intensive video editing or, relaxing in your TV room watching movies while surfing the Internet and sending and receiving emails?

Get a desktop if you are looking for top-of-the-line-systems. Otherwise, if you are looking for a good computer with great portability, a laptop should be your best choice.

The decision is yours!

If you would like to be able to learn to build your own cheap computer using cheap computer parts, click here

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