So, you’ve elected to play PC games instead of console games. No doubt you’re aware of the many advantages there are in PC gaming. But should you go with a laptop or a desktop? Here are the factors to consider.
This will sound strange, but price is pretty even between gaming laptops and gaming desktops. You can get budget versions of either for as low as $700, and if you want to really spend money—well, the sky is the limit.
Here’s where gaming desktops have gaming laptops beat. The long-term maintenance costs on a laptop versus a desktop will always be higher because, unless you’re handy enough with electronics that you repair your own laptop, you’ll be paying service charges for someone to fix your laptop instead of doing it yourself. With a desktop, self-repair is much more viable.
Obviously, gaming laptops come with their own screens, keyboards, and mouse pad. But you’re going to want a real gaming mouse for most games, and you probably will want to upgrade to a gaming keyboard and bigger screen. You’d have to buy those for a desktop anyway, so with the laptop, you’re essentially paying twice.
Winner: Desktop, kind of
Desktops, even small ones, take up a lot of space. Not only do laptops not do that, they’re also easy to move out of the way. Close it and you’re done. Now you can use the space for something else.
Desktops are easier to repair than laptops, hands down. They can take a greater range of parts, it’s easier to swap parts out even if you’ve never done it before, and you can do so in as much time as it takes to go to the computer store and back.
Even opening a laptop tends to require specialized tools. On top of that, fewer parts and pieces can fit inside. And keep in mind that even if you’re fixing something simple like a cracked screen, it’s going to sit in the shop for a day or so while they fix it. With a desktop, you can just swap out an old screen you have kicking around; your downtime might be a few minutes tops.
Everything that applies to repairing also applies to upgrading your devices. If a new graphics card comes out, it’s easier to fit into your gaming desktop than it is into your gaming laptop.
If for some reason you want to share your gaming PC with someone, it’s easier to share a laptop than a desktop. If you want to share the desktop, they have to play it where it already is, unless you want to do a bunch of takedown and setup. If you want to share a laptop, you just hand it over.
Obviously, laptops win the portability round and if portability is your main concern, then you’re going to go with a laptop. Yes, you can put your desktop, screen, and keyboard in your car and drive over to your buddy’s house for a LAN party like it’s 1995—and if you do, more power to you. But the reality is if you’re going on a plane, train, or boat and want to game instead of interacting with the rest of the world, you’re taking a gaming laptop or a portable console, not a gaming desktop.