The Big Question: Desktop Or Laptop?

I think we're all aware that, for gaming purposes, a desktop is usually more cost effective — and better — than spending a heap of money on a gaming laptop.

But what if your PC is for more that just gaming? What if you need something portable?

That's really my dilemma. I'm considering buying a new PC. I haven't had a proper gaming PC for years and I'm really convinced about getting one. But I also need a new laptop for work, for general life stuff.

So I am considering buying a gaming laptop. Crazy right?

What are you guys and girls playing with right now?


    Desktop. Absolutely and positively.
    The ONLY advantage of laptops is the portability. But if it's a gaming rig that isn't being moved, no question, desktop.
    Hell we have LAN gaming nights once a fortnight and the vast majority still lug in desktops, and gently mock those with laptops...
    ... until the end of the night when they just shut the laptop lid and head off lol

      I have kids and a wife at home so my awesome gaming laptop allows me to play on the train to and from work. Otherwise I wouldn't be a gamer in any sense that I used to be.

        Yep that's fair enough, that's covered I think by the 'portability' ;)
        Like I said, if it's a box that nots moving, desktop is for sure the go, but if you need the portability like yourself, then laptops are great.
        To each their own, my personal preference is still a desktop, as I don't need the portability for it, more power/options/expandability for less cash :)

        Last edited 04/09/15 8:35 am

    I don't like desktop replacement style laptops, which pretty much all gaming laptops fall under.

    I've got a gaming PC and a Macbook Air. Between the two, I can do everything I like and I find it really hard to think of a laptop that I could use at my desk and on the couch in the same way I use the two separate devices.

      Buying a MacBook Air caused me to realise how horrendous Windows truly is and never want to turn my gaming PC on ever again. I then bought a PS4 to aid in that goal. I'm still thanking myself every day for that!

    Laptop - can't beat portability. It won't run the latest and greatest games at 60 FPS but I prefer using consoles on a big screen anyway. Plus I need a laptop to do game coding and easy transfer to demo and meetings.

      Disagree regarding not being able to run the latest and greatest. If you're willing to spend the money, such as myself, my Metabox P50SG with Geforce GTX 980M can run everything on highest settings.

    Personally I am using a gaming laptop, Alienware however it is very impractical as a lap top. Suits my needs fine as I don't need to take it everywhere, but I move a lot because of work therefore a desktop does not cut it, and I have a surface pro for work needs.
    There are some slim options around like the HP or Razer, however heat could become a major issue. If you need portability for work maybe do a high end desktop and a mid range netbook type thing to just use for work.

    For the cost of a low end gaming laptop you can build a decent desktop. It's a no brainer really. For the price of a mid range gaming laptop you can build a fantastic desktop.

    Just buy an el cheapo lappy to do your work (<$500) and spend the remainder of what your total budget was on the parts for a desktop.

    I can only say this one way. The bottleneck is real.

    Last edited 02/09/15 11:34 am

    Desktop. I just don't need the portability so spending the extra money on an equivalent laptop seems pointless. Plus I hate Laptop keyboards, and I would want a full sized monitor. Once I plug in a mouse, keyboard and monitor, what's the point of it being a laptop anyway?

    Rather than buy a 2000-3000 gaming laptop buy a 1000 dollar ultraportable like a macbook air and a 1000 dollar desktop gaming pc. A hybrid of the two is usually crap at both things.

      You can always stream from the desktop to the laptop with Steam if you really want to play on the laptop too.

    As a few have said, a laptop can run most of the interesting PC games well enough (even if it's a mac, nowadays), and the bigger experiences are available on console anyway. I find very few games that I want to play that are not possible on a combination of PS4 and Macbook Pro.

    One disadvantage to consider of a desktop: where is it going to live? Are you likely to isolate yourself to the study or whatever to play games, rather than hanging around with your family? I know that even though I have a desktop PC in the study, I never play games on it because I rarely feel like isolating myself at the other end of the house.

      We get around that in our house by having two gaming PCs in the same room.

      Although we still like to isolate ourselves all the time. Space is nice.

        I only get to spend a few contact hours per day with the woman I chose to live with. Even if we're doing other things, it's nice to be in the same room.

          Our situation is fairly different, so being able to get away from each other is important.

      Isolation is an advantage if you ask me. Nothing grinds my gears like the Mrs coming into my nerd cave to annoy me while I'm wrecking noobs ;p

    Tricky decision.

    I've had these computers in my life to date:
    Adequate Desktop. (12)
    Adequate Laptop. (15)
    Gaming Desktop. (23)
    Gaming Desktop & Adequate Laptop. ( 24)
    Gaming Desktop & Gaming Laptop. (26)

    The last line is my current situation.

    For the majority of people who enjoy gaming and have on-the-go jobs, I'd suggest the GD&AL combo merely for the price. If money is no object, go gaming for everything because more power is never a bad thing.

    Just be aware that laptops like the Alienware 17 (one I got) are heavy. Very heavy. Also bulky. I consider it more of a portable work station rather than a gaming laptop. To sit it on my actual lap would be to cut the circulation of blood to my legs.

    Razers Laptop (whatever it's called) would probably be a good option for people who want to game on the go, work on the go and relax at home. It's thin, light and capable enough. But I'd consider it more brittle than the Alienware.

    Also. Despite the fact I have an arguably better gaming Laptop than I do gaming Desktop (4x the RAM to name one difference), I spend more time on the desktop than I do the laptop. I typically only ever use the laptop if I know I've gotta do some 3D stuff when I'm not able to access my desktop.

    Last edited 02/09/15 11:47 am

    Desktop please. I just like looking at it and saying "I put this together, fuck yeah"

    Last edited 02/09/15 11:51 am

      God yes. Researching the components and putting my PC desktop together was probably just as satisfying as playing on the damn thing.

    I have a gaming laptop. It lives on my coffee table so I can use it while sitting on the couch - I play games with an XBox 360 controller. As far as gaming on it is concerned, it's basically another console.

      I have to ask... why not just get a gaming desktop for a fraction of the price? It doesn't sound like you need the portability, just whack the tower under your coffee table and you've saved a stack of cash.

        Because it would be competing with my husband's gaming desktop that's already attached to the TV. This way we can both game at the same time without getting in each other's way.

    Desktops all the way, baby.

    Don't get me wrong, the portability of laptops is great, but... Good gaming laptops are expensive, heavy, and have terrible battery life. For the same cost you could get a great work-only laptop, and have enough coin left over for a pretty damn good gaming desktop.

    Like others have said, hybrids of the two just can't beat two separate devices solely focused on their respective jobs (work and play).

    wait a while and get skylake enthusiast when it comes out.... and you will be proud (q3 2016)
    or get x99 now for the price of that "gaming laptop"

    I am tossing up whether to buy a Laptop next. for me its not the portability from a taking it out and about but rather so I can put it away afterwards and not need a dedicated place in the house for the PC.

    For me Portability is everything. If I bought a dedicated gaming rig it would be up in the office away from the family (and the heater/aircon). I'm not one of these husbands that's looking for an excuse to get away from the mrs, so we both like that I can do most of my gaming/video editing from the living room. I can actually play most games from the couch, only really moving to the table for FPS stuff. I have a Sim Racing rig setup in the office and it's easy to take up there once or twice per week, I can easily plug it into the tele for vpn Netflix or any game played with a controller. I regularly take it to a mates place for combined non gaming projects, I've taken it to the mainland for coop gaming if the weather is horrid. It cost me $3000 just under 3 years ago, people love to benchmark their stuff against mine and tell me how rubbish laptop stuff is and how much I paid, the reality is, 3 years later I can still play every new game that's released and its only quite recent games that my graphics settings are sitting on medium to get constant 60fps. Also, every single person I know with a gaming rig has bought a laptop as well for everything non gaming. Their $1000 gaming rig is much cheaper than my laptop, but add their $2000 imac to the price tag and suddenly they have spent the same, only their imac isn't great for gaming.

    Last edited 02/09/15 12:05 pm

    Just switched from a gaming laptop to desktop yesterday. My old Asus G7JH served me very well for games and CG art, but this is a heck of a lot better just for having a higher quality screen. And another better quality screen once I acquire a cable.

    I would certainly consider picking up another Asus gaming laptop if I needed the portability again.

    Last edited 02/09/15 12:07 pm

    I have both, so I can take the lappy when I travel and still get a gaming fix. However, its heavy and for this reason not really suitable for work. Whilst now the GPU specs are a little dated, its a good fast i7 and almost as fast as my desktop. It plays Skyrim on full nicely and that was pretty much the requirement at the time.

    But in your situation I'd spring first for a cheaper, lighter ultrabook or similar to get you over the line for work, look for the fastest CPU your budget can afford. (RAM and HDD can be upgraded later and there are plenty of games that will work on lower end GPU's) (I mean you gotta work to afford play right?) - Then keep saving for your ultimate gaming rig. Its a really bad time right now with the dollar so pants, so don't rush it, just use the time to research the bits you want.

    define "portable" - I've been rocking an MSI gaming laptop for a few years but it's really more of a desktop replacement you can easily move around (even came with a decent backpack). It's a bit chunky for doing stuff 'on the go', but has been really solid as a home gaming rig hooked up to my old desktop peripherals, and a work rig I can use in the office to keep access to all my files and applications. (plus it's easy to grab and go for LANs)

    another matter is what sort of designs are available (parts-wise) - my GT783 was a good arrangement; with an SSD for the OS, a larger regular drive for data, and a 580M which still gives good graphics performance. A lot of the current models I've seen seem to either go lower end on the GPU, or do ridiculous stuff like RAID SSD arrangements that would help push the price up a decent amount - that's just MSI though since I haven't kept up with the other brands like ASUS or Alienware.

      Playing on the train
      Sneaking it into the crapper at work.

        yeah with a decent gaming laptop that sounds like a formula for fire and/or explosion (especially if you're a bit gassy at the time) :p

    Instead of spending a tonne of money on an overpriced gaming laptop, do this:

    1. Buy a good specced desktop for gaming
    2. Buy a secondary, lower specced laptop for your portable work related stuff

    You'll probably be able to get both and still have money left over compared to buying an overpriced gaming laptop to try to use for both tasks.

      Can I borrow a few grand? :p

    why dont we have both?

    honest question too.
    I have both and I use both on a day to day basis just as much as the other.
    gaming / media work on the PC and web browsing and catching up on the couch with the laptop.

      I can't afford to replace my decade old craptop, let alone even considering the idea of buying both.

    I don't think I've ever had a need for portability. Desktop all the way.

    I have both.

    I've owned a gaming laptop for two years now and it is just a god-send when I go to someone's else house for a few days (which I do on a regular basis). I've recently purchased a gaming desktop for use at home.

    If you have the income then I'd recommend both. Otherwise if you need portability get the laptop, if not then desktop all the way.

    I don't tend to use PC's for gaming but rather for work purposes. My wife's lap top which is a MacBook Air is quite good but most Windows laptop ive used are pretty ordinary, cumbersome, hot and lacking a mouse and number pad - two things I consider essential for using business software.

    Which would you rather, your legs or your arms? They're different beasts for different jobs.

    And my answer is Surface Pro 3 and a desktop.

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