Desktop vs Laptop: What Do I Need as a College Student in 2023?

As a college student, you will agree that having a personal computer is as vital as your textbooks. However, the question most college students has is the desktop vs laptop question – what do you need as a college student?

Generally, college life is quite demanding, and a desktop or a laptop is an essential tool to help make life easier. Now, the question remains which is better for a college student; a desktop or a laptop?

In this article, you will learn the difference between a desktop and a laptop and what to go for as a college student.

Why You May Need a Computer in College

Laptops are no longer a luxury but a necessity as they have become an educational dependency. Below is a list of reasons why you may need a desktop or computer in college:

  • You can get to join online classes. Also, engaging with your fellow students and your professors.
  • It will help you complete your coursework and research the assignments you are assigned in college.
  • You can connect as well as communicate with your friends and family.

While you are here, you may check out: 40 Free Online Courses in the UK with Certificates| 2023

Desktop vs Laptop Similarities

While there are some distinct differences between a desktop and a laptop, there are some similarities too. According to Difference Between, below is a list of some similarities between the two:

  • Desktops and Laptops are sold with pre-installed software and operating systems like Windows 7, or if it is an Apple computer, then the Mac OS.
  • Both computer units come with port connections (varying between each make and model), and a built-in CD/DVD component, however, this is being phased out in some of the newer Laptop models.
  • Peripheral devices can be connected such as external hard drives, printers, cameras, and phones, etc.
  • For both the Desktop and Laptop, key specifications to consider before purchasing is
    • CPU
    • Memory (RAM)
    • Hard drive capacity
    • Graphics card.
    • These specs determine the computer’s limits so if video production is the primary task and the computer has a low-end graphics card, then the computer (laptop or desktop) will not be well suited for the job.

What is the Difference Between a Desktop and a Laptop: Desktop vs Laptop?

There are a lot of distinct differences between a desktop and laptop. We will discuss them right away.


Desktops are not built for any battery use. They can only be operated and run on main powers. However, laptops can run on batteries and main power.

Their batteries can last up to several hours. However, this is mostly dependent on the processing power being used, open Bluetooth and WiFi connections as well as other settings and features that increase battery power consumption.


Typically, desktops are usually put in homes and offices. They usually need to connect to an external monitor, keyboard and mouse.

On the other hand, laptops come with built-in components, unlike desktops, and so can be easily transported from one environment to another as one complete device./head

Screen size

Typically, the screens of desktop monitors can vary from 15 inches to larger screen sizes as 34 inches.

On the other hand, laptops come with inbuilt screens whose screen sizes vary too. The larger the screen size, the heavier and larger the laptop.


The speed largely depends on what you intend to use the desktop or laptop for. However, in recent times, desktops and laptops have become competitive in speed as well as in performance specifications.

Regarding speed, desktops are more powerful for gaming and video production. However, it is for basic office and internet usage, then a laptop will be perfectly recommended.

Storage, memory and data

If you need to store large data, a desktop would be more suitable as you could easily expand the memory to improve performance. If not, you could expand the hard drive to contain the large file you are trying to save.

On the other hand, laptop memories can be expanded but not as much as desktops can.

Also, in terms of data, you do not need to worry about losing your data on desktops. However, backups are recommended for all data regardless of which computer unit it resides in. However, you are exposed to more risks of losing your data on laptops due to theft, physical damage, loss of computer, and malware.


Regarding costs, entry-level desktops tend to be relatively cheaper for most users. Although there are desktops with higher specifications at higher prices, one can purchase entry-level versions at very affordable rates for the average household.

On the other hand, entry-level laptops are more expensive than desktops. They tend to have laptops with varying specifications and features; the higher the prices, the higher the specifications.


On desktops, the components can be dismantled and replaced to allow easy upgrading of specifications such as memory, storage capacity, graphics controllers and some others.

On the hand, the things that can be replaced in laptops include hard drives and memories. You must purchase a new and higher laptop model if you want to upgrade any other aspect.

Maintainace and Repair

Because it is easier to remove, change or replace the components of a desktop, it is a lot simpler to repair when there is damage.

However, this is different for laptops. Laptops have a compact design, and with most of their components being non-removable, it usually requires technical expertise to fix when there is an issue.

Usablity and assembly

Typically, desktops are not much easier to use than laptops. When newly purchased, Desktops must be manually set up by connecting the necessary devices. Also, they need larger worker areas.

Unlike desktops, laptops are more portable and do not require large work areas or any manual setup and connection to other devices before you can use them. All you need to do is to power it up and open to begin to use it. Usually, there are only a little effort needed to for the basic setup.

Should I Choose a Desktop?

As a college student, your choice between a desktop and a laptop will depend on your needs and circumstances. Here are some factors to consider when making your decision:

  • Portability: If you need to take your computer to classes or study sessions, a laptop is a better choice as it’s portable and easy to carry around. However, a desktop may be more suitable if you plan to mainly use your computer in your dorm room or at home.
  • Power and Performance: Desktops generally offer more power and performance than laptops, especially for gaming, video editing, or demanding software. A desktop is better if you need a computer for these tasks.
  • Price: Desktops are generally cheaper than laptops with similar specifications, so a desktop may be the more economical if you’re on a tight budget.
  • Upgradability: Desktops are typically more upgradeable than laptops, so if you want to customize your computer or upgrade parts such as the RAM, graphics card, or hard drive, a desktop is a better choice.
  • Space: Desktops take up more space than laptops, so a laptop may be better if you have limited space in your dorm room or apartment.
  • Battery Life: If you need to use your computer for extended periods without access to a power outlet, a laptop with a long battery life may be the better option.

Choosing between a desktop and a laptop depends on your needs and priorities. Consider the factors above to help you make an informed decision.

Desktop vs Laptop: What Do You Need as a College Student?

As a college student, choosing between a desktop and a laptop computer can be daunting. Making an informed decision that suits your needs and preferences is important. Here’s some advice to help you make the right choice:

Firstly, consider your level of portability needs. A laptop would be a better option if you’re always on the go and need to work in different locations. On the other hand, a desktop would be a better option if you mostly work in one place and don’t need to move your computer around often.

Secondly, think about comfort and ergonomics. While laptops are portable, they can also be less comfortable for extended periods. This could lead to physical strain and discomfort in the long run. Consider a desktop if you want a more comfortable setup.

Thirdly, power and performance are important considerations. If you need a computer that can handle heavy-duty tasks such as graphic design or video editing, a desktop would be a better option due to its superior processing power and graphics capabilities. However, a laptop would be sufficient if you only need a computer for basic tasks such as browsing the web or using Microsoft Office.

Fourthly, the cost is also an important consideration. Laptops are generally more expensive than desktop computers but offer more convenience and portability. If you’re on a budget, consider a more affordable option like a Chromebook.

Finally, future upgradeability is an essential factor to consider. If you want a computer that can grow with your needs, a desktop would be a better option due to its easier upgradability of components. A laptop may have limited upgrade options depending on the model.

In conclusion, take the time to consider your needs, preferences, and budget before making a decision. Whether you choose a desktop or a laptop, make sure it’s comfortable, suits your needs, and provides the necessary processing power and performance for your academic pursuits.


That’s it! That is all you need to learn about the difference between a laptop and a computer. We hope that you have been able to decide which best suits your college needs.

FAQs – Desktop vs Laptop: Which Do You Need as a College Student?

Is it better to have a laptop or PC for college?

It depends on your needs and preferences. A laptop is portable but less comfortable for extended use, while a PC is more powerful but less portable.

Do I really need a laptop for college?

It depends on your program and personal preferences. Many colleges have computer labs and provide laptops for students to borrow. However, having your laptop can offer convenience and flexibility for studying and completing assignments.

Is it worth it to have a desktop and a laptop?

It depends on your needs and budget. A desktop may offer more power and a larger screen for certain tasks, while a laptop provides portability. Having both can offer flexibility and convenience, but may not be necessary for everyone.

What size computer does a college student need?

The ideal size of a computer for a college student depends on personal preference and intended use. A laptop with a screen size of 13-15 inches is generally recommended for its portability, while a desktop with a 21-24 inch monitor can offer a larger screen for extended use.

Should you have a desktop in college?

Having a desktop in college is not necessary but can be beneficial for certain tasks, such as gaming, graphic design, or video editing. However, a laptop is generally more practical for most college students due to its portability and versatility for completing assignments and studying on the go.

Why are desktops better than laptops?

Desktops are often better than laptops for intensive tasks such as gaming or video editing because they can have more powerful components such as CPUs and GPUs, and can be upgraded or customized more easily. Additionally, desktops usually have larger displays, better keyboards, and more cooling capacity. However, they lack portability.

Do desktops last longer than laptops?

Desktops often have longer lifespans than laptops because they are not subject to the same wear and tear from being moved around frequently. Desktops are also easier to upgrade and repair, so their components can be replaced and extended, whereas laptops can be more difficult and expensive to repair or upgrade.

What can a PC do that a laptop can’t?

A desktop PC can offer more powerful components, such as a larger and more efficient cooling system, allowing for higher performance. Additionally, desktops can accommodate multiple internal drives and expansion cards, have larger displays and more ergonomic keyboards, and can be more easily upgraded or customized compared to laptops.


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