Desktops vs Laptops – DIY Upgrades


It seems when it comes to Technology, everything is getting smaller, more portable and lighter weight. Some people are migrating from Desktops to Laptops, Laptops to Tablets, and Tablets to Smartphones. Note, I said some people. I love my super-charged Dell XPS Desktop the best. Rather than ditch the Desktop and replace it with a light-weight Laptop, think of some of the advantages. The only con I can think of is that it is not portable, as a Laptop is.

I love repairing Desktops over a Laptop or Tablet any day. The last Laptop I worked on, a Dell Inspiron N5110, seriously made me re-think ever repairing another computer again. I am certain this Laptop was from Hell and enjoyed the pain and suffering it put me through while repairing it, not to mention the potty-mouth I had to endure the entire time I was working on it.

What Are The Benefits Of A Desktop Over A Laptop?

Easier To Upgrade And Fix Hardware

Desktop units are very easy to open up and get at the hardware inside. Speaking from experience here, some Laptops are poorly designed like the one I mentioned above. The entire Laptop had to be taken apart to get to the hard drive which was mounted under the motherboard. Grrrr, just thinking about it makes me want to scream. I am glad it is no longer in my possession. That being said, Desktops rule when it comes to being easier to upgrade as well as fix hardware.

Components Are Much Easier To Acquire And Easier On Your Budget

Let’s say you crack the screen on your Laptop. Oh no, you are immediately thinking you are doomed. Well, you may not be doomed but there go those goodies on your Amazon wish list you hoped to acquire. To replace a Laptop screen, you need to buy the specific screen for your specific build of Laptop. If your Desktop monitor suddenly stops working, you have a large selection of monitors to choose from in a variety of sizes and price points. This applies to everything from your keyboard to optical drives to a variety of internal components.

Longer Lifespan

I tend to hang onto my gear for a long time. If it’s not broke, why replace it as long as it is serving me well. I have a Dell Inspiron 1720 Laptop that I acquired in 2007. It is a beast weight-wise, but has served me quite well. Seeing as you can more easily upgrade and replace parts, Desktop systems stand the test of time better than a Laptop.


Upgrade Your RAM

One of the easiest, most cost-effective ways to boost your performance on your computer is to add RAM. It allows you to multi-task without the dreaded hourglass.

Ask yourself if you would benefit from additional RAM. Check how much RAM you currently have and see how much your computer will support. Make sure you get the right RAM, as not all RAM is created equal. I have found that Crucial has a great tool to let you know what your system supports. Some computers require RAM to be installed in pairs, so pay attention to that.

Swap Out Your Hard Disk Drive For An SSD

ssd-imageI took the plunge and installed a Solid State Drive (SSD) in my Desktop computer. I thought it was fast before, but with this new SSD it starts right up with no delay. At first I hesitated, thinking I really don’t need anything like that. Dave Hartsock and others on the DCT Team said I would not regret this upgrade. They encouraged me and I cloned the existing hard drive and within an hour I was off to the races. My system now sports an SSD as well as the old internal hard drive. Though this upgrade is a little more advanced than adding RAM, it is still doable.

Graphics Card

amd-radeon-graphic card

If you are a gamer, video performance is a must-have. A low-end video card such as the one shown in the above image may cause lag or ghosting in games. It is easy to add a video card to a Desktop computer. With a Laptop, you better get the most you can at the time of purchase as some upgrades are not an option in the same way they are for Desktops.


About the Author

Sherri Meinke

A long-standing Computer Geek with over 25 years of experience. Having owned her first Apple IIe and moving on up the ranks with a multitude of Windows-based pc’s to her latest toy, a Dell Venue 11 Pro tablet with Windows 10. Sherri repairs, upgrades, and recycles computers as well as consults, trains & designs Websites. She is a Former AOL Community Leader and loves forums as well as online training. She created the "Camp Wired" computer training program at the Medina County Library system, 8 years ago. It is a free computer education program teaching technology in a relaxed atmosphere where students at all levels get to mentor other students and grow in their knowledge and understanding of technology. This program runs year round with no signs of slowing down.

10 Comments

  1. Excellent points Sherri, Can also add that Desktops can run 24/7 unattended, without any worry of overheating. That’s what I do (have been doing for years), Mindblower!

  2. I prefer my desktop. It has all my programs, files, lots of disk space, lots of ram, etc.

    So I only use my laptop (or tablet) to remotely access my desktop. I use Logmein but there are other remote desktop applications, many free.

  3. Sherri,
    I’m a computer geek too.
    I go way back to AT&T with MSDOS Olivetti Desktops upgrading every component back then so rebuilding has been a part of my life for many, many years. These days all my computers are Notebooks.
    A friend of mine gave me his old beat up IBM Thinkpad with Windows XP and said he didn’t want it anymore, so I installed Windows 7 and added more RAM from Amazon Canada and it runs great now.
    My biggest challenge last year was that the cooling fan failed in my HP Pavilion dv7 and wow, talk about stripping down to a complete table full of parts. But the fan was cheap at Amazon and this HP has all my best music recording programs that it was worth the effort to field strip it to get to the fan and build it back again. Ended up with screws left over but it works great again. Here’s what I went through with that task.
    https://www.ifixit.com/Guide/HP+Pavilion+dv7-6c90us+Cooling+fan+Replacement/44253
    I don’t get into desktops that much these days but find stripping down Notebooks the big challenge. Basically, I see the desktop more popular with the Gamers because of the continuous hardware updates to keep it going with technology and easy to do. Most of my students at my computer classes have Notebooks.
    Good discussion Sherri, thanks.

  4. I don’t know, I love my desktop and prefer it 95% of the time over my laptop. Don’t get me wrong, laptops have their uses but I find them very limited as to how far you can upgrade them.

    I have a full tower I built myself that is upgradable out the ying-yang, room enough for 8 hard drives or SSD’s and two hot swaps. I built it with the thought in mind that it would be the last pc I would ever purchase, you just cannot do that with a laptop.

  5. Had desktops for 20 years before finally got me a laptop 5 years ago. Wow, never will I ever go back to a desktop. Convenience wins hands down… no more wires every where… able to use it as a web cam to show folks around my house and outside even,,,, inbuilt speakers… quiet…. huge space saver…. less power required…. portable…. For the average Joe, a laptop will suffice perfectly.

    • Most of the PC users I know set with the laptop in their lap and the charging cord plugged into a power receptacle. I will agree the laptop does have it’s place, just haven’t figured out where.

      • Well I guess I am in the minority because rarely does my laptop, or the laptops of my friends, sit on their laps except in rare situations. But I can help you with your dilemma Daniel, try putting a laptop on your desk! No keyboard… no mouse…. no monitor… no speakers, JUST YOUR LAPTOP! Smile. Gone are the days of cumbersome noisy desktops that make more clutter to my office than a TV camera crew lol. And as far as over heating; mine just doesn’t do that much at all… certainly not enough to be of concern. Just air clean inside once a year and it should be fine. I run a Gigabyte Laptop with 2 x HDD (one sata and other ssd) quad core , and 4 gb of ram. It does everything asked of it. Normally I would have upgraded by now after 5 years, but I am so happy with this one I dare not. Me a bit like the author I guess…. if it aint broke don’t fix it.

        • No dilemma my friend, everyone to his or her own liking’s. So glad you enjoy your laptop, the laptop just doesn’t fit into my computing needs. Nice to know someone who knows what they like.

    • Mike. In support of desktops, a properly installed computer station is also clutter wire free. Having a 24 inch or larger monitor mounted on the wall, a desk against the wall for the computer, speakers on the floor, on both sides of the desk, wireless keyboard mouse combo, wireless printer elsewhere (in the room), and same for modem with router. UPS under the desk is optional. Bulk of the wires are out of the way, out of sight, and desk is totally clutter free. Except in my case I have 2 monitors, desktops, speakers, on a custom built desk. Happy computing, Mindblower!

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