The key differences between laptop and desktop computers are size and portability. At one time, most desktop computers were more powerful than the average laptop computers. Evolving developments in computer technology have made the capabilities of both types of computers more uniform, according to Intel.
Because laptop computers are small, self-contained machines, all of the hardware that is needed to use the computer is bundled into one unit, including the display and keyboard. This allows fantastic portability; a user is easily able to carry his laptop virtually anywhere. However, the size limits the space available inside for hardware and internal cooling, which has been a limiting factor in terms of overall performance. This is changing as technology and manufacturing advance in the production of very small, very powerful hardware components.
The benefit of a desktop computer is that it has its central processing unit, known as a CPU, detached from the visual display and other peripheral devices. For the average user, this does not provide substantial benefit; it is more important for specialized uses. A powerful computer requires that special attention be paid to cooling and power supply to keep the machine running smoothly. The separate CPU allows users space to install more advanced components and adequate cooling to achieve high-performance hardware configurations, desirable for applications such as 3D modeling and gaming. A variety of keyboards, mice and other peripherals exist to facilitate these special uses. Additionally, keeping the display separate allows users to choose larger or smaller displays or to use more than one at a time.
Students and traveling professionals who are often on-the-go are likely to own laptops. These traveling people depend on the instantaneous communication that laptops afford them wherever they go. They usually purchase multiple laptop batteries and power cords to assure minimal downtime. Individuals who run their business, academic or personal affairs from a fixed home or office location are able to opt for desktop computers with large, stationary monitors and detached keyboards to make performing daily computer tasks more pleasant and ergonomically correct.