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Buying guides

Shopping guide: Should you buy a laptop or a desktop?

There are tons of different computer options on the market. Open any retail website and you’ll find a slew of different computers to pick from, making it hard to narrow down the choices.

But it’s not just memory options and processors that you have to narrow down. If you want to upgrade your computer, you’ll also have to choose between a laptop or a tower computer. Buying a new laptop? Don’t make these 7 common mistakes.

How do you know which one will work best for your needs, though? You’ll find pros and cons for each type of computer below to help you decide between the two.

Stationary vs portability

When deciding between a laptop and a desktop computer, the first thing you should weigh is whether you need your machine to be portable. The selling point for laptops is that you can easily move from one spot to the next without hassle.

So, if you like working from a coffee shop or a plane, you need a laptop. You may even want a laptop for changing scenery while working from home. You can make a laptop stationary, of course, with the help of a docking station, but the primary reason people buy laptops is to have a portable computer to move around from place to place.

RELATED: How to easily add monitors and other tech to your laptop

On the other hand, a tower computer is going to lack portability but in many cases, you’ll get more power and other more productivity-friendly features in return. For example, you’ll get a larger monitor when compared to the screen of a laptop — which can make it easier to work on.

The customization factor

If you like customizing your computer a desktop might be the way to go. They are highly customizable and have specs that can be maxed out and nearly all custom decisions are in your hands. You can choose the amount of storage and RAM, you can opt for higher quality graphics cards and have room for more drives and USB ports.

You also have tons of options for customizing peripherals, like your monitor and keyboard. Need two or three monitors to maximize productivity or to take gaming to the next level? You need a tower computer. Desktops also let you easily choose your mouse, webcam, and almost any other peripheral feature on the market.

Related: PC vs. Mac — 10 of the biggest differences explained

You’re limited with what you can customize on most laptops. You’ll get to choose some options for RAM, storage, and dimensions — but you’re generally limited to what a manufacturer offers for the model of laptop you’re considering.

And while you can add an external mouse or keyboard to the mix, laptops are pretty limited in the number and types of ports they offer due to the size of the machine. You won’t be able to add a ton of extra accessories to a laptop unless you add more ports to the mix with a docking station.

A docking station will give you the USB and HDMI ports, but you’ll have to stay put at the docking station to take advantage of it. The major selling point for laptops is portability, though. Remove that and you remove one of the major reasons people opt for laptops in the first place.

How much do you want to spend?

If you want portability, you’ll have to pay for it. Generally, laptops that have comparable specs are going to cost you more than a tower computer would. There are budget laptops out there, of course, but if you want to get a laptop with the same capabilities as a desktop, it won’t be cheap.

For example, you can have a laptop and desktop computer with the same internal processors and similar specs, but it could cost two or three times more for the laptop. Is portability worth the extra cost to you?

Ultimately, the decision between tower and laptop comes down to how you use your computer. If you need one that you can lug around with you or move from room to room without assembling and disassembling it, a laptop is the way to go. If you need a computer that works for heavy-duty gaming or workloads and don’t care about portability, a tower computer is for you.

Looking for one that’s okay to stay where it is, and that you can change/upgrade hardware as time goes on?

If that’s the case, a tower could be cheaper than a comparable laptop, but consider the extra cost of peripherals — especially if you’re basing your decision on price. You might spend less upfront, but if you’re going to spend a ton customizing a tower computer over time, you could end up paying quite a bit more than you would have if you’d opted for a laptop.

Great laptop and desktop options

Now that you’ve made your decision, here are some great options that laptop and desktop fans can’t go wrong with.

Powerful laptop with touchscreen

If you’re going with the portable laptop option you’re going to want power and style to show it off. This Dell Inspiron i3583 checks all the boxes. It’s powered with an Intel i3-8145U chip, has an 8GB ddr4 system memory and 128GB Solid State Drive. Yep, that’ll do the trick!

Its power is matched with style and functionality as it comes with a state of the art 15.6- inch touchscreen. And it’s super portable as it weighs in at just a little over four pounds. You can easily take this to the coffee shop, airport or anywhere and get the job done.

Perfect for business, school or anyone on the go

Here’s another great option for laptop fans. This model from HP comes with an 8th Gen Intel Core i5-8265U processor that delivers fast processing and provides maximum high-efficiency power to go.

You’re going to love its big 17.3-inch screen that lets you stream crystal clear videos without straining your eyes. Multitasking is a breeze with this powerful machine as it comes with upgraded 16GB of RAM. The hard drive is 256GB SSD and provides massive storage space for huge files, so you can store important data and work your way through it with ease.

Desktop computer that comes with massive display

If you’re wanting a powerful desktop with an impressive display, look no further. Not only does this Acer Aspire model come with a powerful 10th Gen Intel Core i5 processor but you’ll also get a beautiful 27-inch full HD widescreen edge-to-edge LED back-lit display. You won’t be disappointed with the views for sure.

This all-in-one PC packs all the essential computing features you need into a slim, space-saving design that’s simple to use, functional and looks great on your desk.

This desktop has the ultimate display setup

Finally, we get to a desktop that comes with the wow factor! This Dell Optiplex 3060 is both powerful and breathtaking with its two, yes two, 24-inch full HD LCD displays. Talk about the ultimate multitasking setup.

But this desktop is more than just a pretty face, it also packs a punch of power. Its processor is an Intel Core i5-8500 and comes with 8GB DDR4 PC4-21300 2666MHz memory and 500GB SSD for ultra-fast storage. You really can’t go wrong with this system.

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