Laptops vs. desktops for employees

If you’re reading this, then there’s a good chance that you’re on a desktop or a laptop. In the modern workplace there seem to be polarizing opinions on this topic. Similar to the Mac versus PC debate, whether or not you prefer a laptop or a desktop comes down to personal preference… Or does it? Chances are your organization chose one or the other for a variety of reasons, with the company culture in mind. Now, culture can mean a lot of things. Things like work hours, location of work, workspace setup, and type of work device all contribute to the overall culture of a workplace. Let’s look at the pros and cons of choosing each device type.

Desktop 

Pros:

1. More machine power.
Desktops are not preferred by gamers for no reason. Desktops can use anywhere from 60-250 Watts by the average user, with laptops only using 15-45 Watts by the average user. This difference can be seen in processing power, speed, and capacity – all things that can make a difference in the bottom line of an organization. 

2. High-quality display.
Depending on your line of work, the amount of importance put on this feature will vary. Having a high-quality display is helpful when it comes to things like graphic design, website development, software development, and other visually based industries. Knowing what is worth the investment and not on this front will come down to what your people are utilizing their machines for. If they are in a graphics-heavy field, then this is a must to guarantee quality work.

3. Easily upgraded.
Desktops differ from laptops by being easily pieced together. This characteristic makes them adaptable, flexible, and customizable. If you need to switch out a graphics card, upgrade the processing power, or invest more in the memory capabilities for your device, then you can handle that as standalone issues rather than a complete device overhaul or replacement. This feature is great for organizations that want some room to grow with the devices they choose to use.

Cons:

1. It’s stationary.
One of the major drawbacks of the desktop option is the limited mobility of the device. Being stationary, the user is often limited as far as where they can use the machine. With modern office trends going more and more away from a stationary workday, this may be a major drawback for organizations that want to encourage working remotely, in third spaces, or working when traveling.

2. Size/setup.
Desktops are not the most compact devices. Being up to 5 times the size of some laptops, this option is far from petite. The setup of desktops is also a negative for many organizations, due to them needing additional resources with each device – like a trackpad, mouse, and keyboard.

3. Cost.
Desktops are more of an investment than laptops, with a higher base price, plus the additional costs of the accessories for the device. Depending on your organization, the cost may be a large drawback. Although more scalable than laptops, desktops are going to cost more upfront and to upkeep, as you grow. To counteract the cost, your group should also consider the longevity of the device since desktops are known to last 5-8 years, with laptops only lasting for 3-5 years on average.

Laptop 

Pros:

1. It moves with you.
The main appeal for a laptop is the mobility of the device. Being able to go with you, where you need to work, this feature can be a make or break when it comes to the decision of which device to use. If your organization offers flexible working hours or locations, then this option will support those company perks well.

2. Cost-Effective.
Laptops on average cost between $600 – $700 each, with some ranging up to $2,000+. This is in comparison with desktops, that cost on average between $800 – $1,200, with some ranging up to $5,000+. The laptop is more cost-effective overall, making it easier for groups to focus their resources on other facets of the business.

3. Size/setup.
Laptops are obviously more compact than desktops. Weighing less and taking up less space, the size of the device is a huge perk for those looking to be on the go. The setup for the device also gives a range for the organization as far as how many accessories to include or not include. With a laptop being an all-in-one device, you can often get away with using the device as it comes. This makes the setup as much or as little of an investment as you would like, giving your business chances to save money and resources where you can.

Cons:

1. Battery Life.
Being tied to a charger is not ideal, but with increased portability comes an increased need for charging the device. Laptops are coming with more and more battery life, but the need to charge is always going to be an issue with these devices when they are on the go.

2. Limited machine power.
Although portable devices are always evolving, the machine power offered by a laptop is unable to match that of a desktop device. Offering 4 times less power than the average desktop, laptops are not going to be able to handle the same amount of work as a traditional desktop. Even though this is a negative takeaway for laptops, the average amount of power produced by laptops is more than enough for the average work being done within most organizations.

3. Lower quality display.
The display on a laptop is hard to match to the quality of a desktop monitor. With fewer pixels used than most desktop monitors, laptop screens are not going to be as good for anything graphically based like design or development. If this is a make-or-break feature will depend on the type of work done by your organization.

Although modern laptops are continuously upgrading to meet the needs of working professionals, there is still a clear difference between desktops and laptops in the workplace. The answer of which is better for your organization goes back to how your people work. Are they on the go often? Working from home? Designing/working with software that requires a lot of machine power and a high-quality display? All of these factors are important to consider when choosing which is right for your group. It’s also possible that the correct answer doesn’t involve just one choice. Depending on people’s roles, they could alternate between devices or work on different machines. As working remotely has become more of a norm, we are seeing a move towards laptops and away from desktops for most roles. This doesn’t mean that there aren’t cultures that would prefer a stationary device, but that giving people an option that provides flexibility is a choice that’s increasing in popularity year over year in the business world.

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