What Is the Difference Between Desktop and Laptop Computers?


Quick Answer

The basic difference between desktop and laptop computers is that laptops are designed for portability. Laptops can easily be carried in a case or bag, while a desktop is typically set up on a desk, table or counter with the intention that it stay there for use.

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What Is the Difference Between Desktop and Laptop Computers?
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Full Answer

A laptop is an all-in-one machine, with the screen, keyboard and mouse built into the device. Comparatively, desktops typically have a separate keyboard and mouse, and the central processing unit can be separate from the computer monitor. Laptops are typically designed to be around the size of a notebook when closed, so their components are smaller than the components used in desktop computers. As a result, a laptop often sacrifices performance for portability. An average desktop has more hard drive space, a faster central processor and better graphics performance than an average laptop with a standard hardware configuration.

Some high-end laptops have hardware specifications that allow them to approach or exceed the performance of some desktops. However, a desktop is ordinarily preferred for graphics-intensive uses, such as gaming.

One of the major differences between laptops and desktops is screen size. To preserve portability, laptop models rarely have a screen size that exceeds 15 to 17 inches. With a desktop, the user can incorporate a large screen of up to 27 inches or more and can even use multiple screens, since the computer system is permanently placed.

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