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Laptop vs Desktop


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#1 Lode   Members   -  Reputation: 981

Posted 27 January 2012 - 06:34 AM

I'm pondering whether I'd take a laptop or a desktop as next computer. I've always had desktops. Laptops are easier to move, take less space, ...

It seems you can get a reasonable (though clearly slower) CPU, a good graphics card and a nice amount of RAM in a laptop, so that looks fine. Hard disks can be external to make up for the tiny disks they put in there.

However, do you know if the following should normally be possible with a laptop?

-Install Linux (ArchLinux in particular) on it and support the graphics card, audio card, networking, etc...
-Use a large 1920*1200 monitor with DVI connector rather than the monitor of the laptop itself
-Use a PS/2 keyboard rather than the keyboard of the laptop itself
-Have the laptop be closed while you use it (after all you don't need its monitor if you use a larger one)
-Connect a proper speaker set to it.

Also, if you always use it with the adapter connected to a power socket, is the battery used at all? Can a battery give problems after a while, even if you're never actually using it in a portable way?

Basically, so that using it would "feel" like using my current Linux desktop, except there's laptop in place of the current desktop case, but still have a normal keyboard, monitor, mouse, USB hub, etc... on my desk.

What do you prefer, and why?

Thanks!

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#2 cowsarenotevil   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 2012

Posted 27 January 2012 - 06:45 AM

However, do you know if the following should normally be possible with a laptop?

-Install Linux (ArchLinux in particular) on it and support the graphics card, audio card, networking, etc...


Almost always.

-Use a large 1920*1200 monitor with DVI connector rather than the monitor of the laptop itself


I'm pretty sure this is just a function of the GPU that your laptop has to happen. I know the last two laptops I've had have had DVI; HDMI is probably more common now but you can get an adapter.

-Use a PS/2 keyboard rather than the keyboard of the laptop itself


I haven't seen PS/2 on a laptop (or desktop) for quite some time. I know there are USB to PS/2 adapters. I don't know how well they work.

-Have the laptop be closed while you use it (after all you don't need its monitor if you use a larger one)


Yes. (EDIT: You may have to disable some "automatic sleep when lid closes" type of setting on your operating system, though)

-Connect a proper speaker set to it.


Most laptops I've seen have a 3.5 mm stereo output for headphones/speakers.

Also, if you always use it with the adapter connected to a power socket, is the battery used at all? Can a battery give problems after a while, even if you're never actually using it in a portable way?


The battery usually gets charged partway, but you can typically run the laptop even if the battery is removed altogether. I've heard that it doesn't make much difference in terms of the overall life of the battery.

Basically, so that using it would "feel" like using my current Linux desktop, except there's laptop in place of the current desktop case, but still have a normal keyboard, monitor, mouse, USB hub, etc... on my desk.

Thanks!


They make all kinds of docks and things that have the same ports (possibly more) as your laptop, so you can plug your peripherals into the dock, and then plug the laptop into the dock; that way, when you take your laptop somewhere, you don't have to reconnect all of the peripherals one at a time, you can just plug the laptop back in.
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#3 japro   Members   -  Reputation: 887

Posted 27 January 2012 - 06:54 AM

I found that some of the laptops I had/have would run hotter when using them with the lid closed. On the other hand, why even bother closing the lid and only using the external monitor... just use both. Also I have installed linux (Ubuntu in my case) on all my laptops without issues.

#4 gavco98   Members   -  Reputation: 372

Posted 27 January 2012 - 07:19 AM

While everything you said above is possible, is it what you really need?

The main advantage of a laptop is portability and the fact they take up less space. If you are going to be attaching a large monitor, then you are going to lose these advantages already.

In order to gain these advantages, you need to make a few sacrifices with a laptop - they are more expensive for a similarly specced system. Also, everything in laptops tends to be integrated into the motherboard, so there is almost no possibility of upgrades, besides memory and hard disk. If a component fails, you will probably need to replace the entire laptop rather than a failed component.

(A few months after buying my first laptop, I discovered that the USB ports did not work. It was replaced under warranty, but they included the bill when they returned it, the cost of the repair was about equal to the original purchase price.)

I would have a serious think about just how often you will need to take advantage of the portability, and if there are better solutions to achieve this. Do you plan to read while in bed, or watch films on a train once a month? If so a desktop + a tablet may be a better option.

If you do anticipate frequently working remotely, then a laptop could be the way to go.
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#5 way2lazy2care   Members   -  Reputation: 782

Posted 27 January 2012 - 07:34 AM

I would agree with the above in that hooking all that stuff up to a laptop kind of takes away the bonuses of a laptop. If you're almost always going to use it hooked up to your docking station or however you end up hooking it up, you'll be paying extra money for features you aren't using; namely portability. If you want something portable and a desktop setup, get a netbook/tablet and a desktop PC.

#6 mdwh   Members   -  Reputation: 855

Posted 27 January 2012 - 08:18 AM

I find a desktop plus my Samsung netbook works well - unlike a tablet, I get a real computer that's still highly portable, and has a physical keyboard. Though having said that, I plan to switch later this year to laptop + netbook, so I don't always have to be using a desk when at home (or making do with the lower power netbook).
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#7 way2lazy2care   Members   -  Reputation: 782

Posted 27 January 2012 - 08:57 AM

I find a desktop plus my Samsung netbook works well - unlike a tablet, I get a real computer that's still highly portable, and has a physical keyboard. Though having said that, I plan to switch later this year to laptop + netbook, so I don't always have to be using a desk when at home (or making do with the lower power netbook).


You could get a convertible tablet :-p There were a bunch of convertible tablet/netbooks at CES that looked really attractive.

I have a desktop, old as crap laptop I use for browsing the internet while watching tv, and a convertible tablet that I use as my portable desktop replacement. My convertible tablet is more powerful than the convertible tablets I mention above though.

#8 nilkn   Members   -  Reputation: 960

Posted 27 January 2012 - 03:19 PM

As far as I'm concerned, a gaming laptop is mostly a waste of money. You'd just be far, far better served with a significantly more powerful and cheaper desktop. It's hard to exaggerate how much more powerful desktops can be compared to laptops.

A laptop should be all about small size, portability, and ease of use when sitting on your lap. The best laptop out there in my opinion is the 11" Macbook Air.

#9 swiftcoder   Senior Moderators   -  Reputation: 9860

Posted 27 January 2012 - 03:49 PM

^That's pretty much what I run with: an 11" MacBook Air for day-to-day tasks and travel, and a powerful AMD desktop for gaming and graphics tasks. It works out pretty well.

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#10 Sirisian   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 1730

Posted 27 January 2012 - 09:55 PM

I'm a fan of desktop replacements. I program and game on a 17" P170HM Clevo. I got mine from Malibal which is one of many retailers that build Clevos and offer warranties. Runs all games at max settings so far using the 485m (DX11). One thing that's nice is a lot of Clevo retailers let you upgrade later.

However, if you are under a budget I would definitely recommend getting a desktop then buying a cheaper more portable laptop.

#11 Krohm   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 3052

Posted 28 January 2012 - 03:26 AM

I have been positively impressed by netbooks. Portability wise, they are unbeatable.
I'm surprised they are going down... wait... ah, yeah, that 'atom' thing...
1st gen atom was terrible.
2nd gen is so-so. I know a few mainstream users on 2nd gen atoms. They are fine with it for their daily use.

A friend of mine bought a HP convertible with an SSD (he told me it's an OCZ?), Radeon 5400 and CoreI3 ULV (1.20 Ghz) about a year ago. It's awesome, but was a bit pricey. Touchscreen is shit.

I strongly recommend cheap desktop + cheap netbook. I'd love to have a look at some netbooks based either on Via Nano or AMD's equivalent... atom is really too weak for me, not for any serious use, unless you learn the art of patience in small ticks.

#12 NoisyApe   Members   -  Reputation: 104

Posted 28 January 2012 - 05:11 AM

Laptop has won, but I will always hold Desktop near to my heart.

#13 benryves   GDNet+   -  Reputation: 1992

Posted 28 January 2012 - 10:03 AM

I've never really liked laptops - they're too small and cramped to be much fun for "real" work (especially those nasty keyboards) yet still too bulky and heavy to be much fun to carry around, especially on public transport.

I've personally covered both bases with a desktop PC for most work and a tablet for those cases when I need to pop out to visit a client.
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#14 zer0wolf   Members   -  Reputation: 1018

Posted 28 January 2012 - 02:39 PM

I have a laptop and an iPad. I have a docking station at work that I plug my laptop into, which has a wired internet connection, dual monitors, mouse, and Microsoft natural keybaord. When I go home I just undock the laptop, throw in my bag, and go. It isn't exactly a killer gaming laptop, but allows me to do the game that I do actually do on it - play games like League of Legends and TF2. When I'm just browsing the net or checking e-mail though, I'll usually sit on the couch and use the iPad.
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#15 Sirisian   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 1730

Posted 28 January 2012 - 02:57 PM

When I'm just browsing the net or checking e-mail though, I'll usually sit on the couch and use the iPad.

I use my smartphone for that. :lol: Full keyboard so it's easy to make posts.

#16 zer0wolf   Members   -  Reputation: 1018

Posted 28 January 2012 - 03:06 PM

I'm a Producer, so I compulsively check my e-mail with my phone :P I do find myself browsing the internet often on it, but the iPad really is more ideal for browsing. The iPad is great for use for Google Maps for driving directions in the car, and it is good for looking at recipes in the kitchen! I honestly think iPads are a bit overpriced, but my work paid for it so I can't really complain.
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#17 ManuelMarino   Members   -  Reputation: 153

Posted 29 January 2012 - 12:55 AM

I work with a desktop and two laptops next to the monitor ("L" setup). I'm very happy of this configuration, I can do so many things. My advice is to have both, at last a desktop and a laptop, because you'll use them for different things.
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#18 Gamer Gamester   Members   -  Reputation: 136

Posted 29 January 2012 - 02:27 AM

I agree: aim to get both (ultimate desktop workstation with a laptop/netbook for portability). As a bonus, it can be useful to have a spare computer (like if the need should arise to consult the internet while installing Arch Linux, or something).

If it's not economical to do both right away, then start with one, and eventually add the other.

#19 szigeti_roland   Members   -  Reputation: 96

Posted 29 January 2012 - 09:32 PM

i use laptop and it's fine.

#20 mdwh   Members   -  Reputation: 855

Posted 30 January 2012 - 07:49 AM


I find a desktop plus my Samsung netbook works well - unlike a tablet, I get a real computer that's still highly portable, and has a physical keyboard. Though having said that, I plan to switch later this year to laptop + netbook, so I don't always have to be using a desk when at home (or making do with the lower power netbook).


You could get a convertible tablet :-p There were a bunch of convertible tablet/netbooks at CES that looked really attractive.

They look nice - what's the performance like given they presumably have to have the stuff in the screen section? Are there any with x86, and with a non-phone OS like Windows or Linux?

(Though I'd be happy to simply have a touchscreen netbook with vertical resolution greater than 600...)


For hand-held tablets, I already have my Nokia smartphone (phones are pocket sized tablets, really), which is why for my needs any additional larger device actually be able to be more like a real computer.

As far as I'm concerned, a gaming laptop is mostly a waste of money. You'd just be far, far better served with a significantly more powerful and cheaper desktop. It's hard to exaggerate how much more powerful desktops can be compared to laptops.

A laptop should be all about small size, portability, and ease of use when sitting on your lap. The best laptop out there in my opinion is the 11" Macbook Air.

But then I think that a Macbook Air is a waste of money, as I get something more portable with my much lower cost Samsung N220 Plus :) The 10" Samsung N220 Plus is the best laptop out there, in my opinion.

The point is that everyone's situation is different. Whilst up until now I have managed with a desktop as a main machine, I can see a laptop being very useful and convenient (e.g., can use anywhere in the house, outside, and easy to transport), even if it isn't filling the purpose of being an ultra-portable (which can easily be done with a secondary machine). Cost-wise, it seems that Samsung netbook + Gaming laptop would work out comparable to High end ultra portable laptop (of with the Apple Air is one) + Desktop, so I'd say it's a tradeoff. The former gives you more flexibility at home, more portability with the netbook, but less power in the netbook; the latter gives you more portable power.

People wanting to save money might go with netbook + desktop. People with lots of money to spend might decide on high end ultra portable laptop + gaming laptop Posted Image
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