Why I Still Want a Desktop Computer

Almost everyone in the tech world agrees that the future is mobile. In fact, I do too.

Being able to work wherever, whenever, untethered by cables is great. To write a blog post in a park or share photos from the beach is one of the most convenient and enjoyable things technology has allowed us to do. People move around a lot these days, and the laptop just makes sense.

Yet, though you might call me crazy, for my main, day-to-day computer, I still want a desktop computer. While admittedly, I wouldn’t only want a desktop, I still don’t want to live without one.

So why would I – someone who doesn’t really play PC games that much or do any heavy graphics or video editing – insist on having a desktop?

More Everything!

To sum up my preference for desktops with a gesture to the internet expression “MOAR!” may seem both crass and obvious – but it’s an important point.

It’s true that laptops are now excellent performers. They can be configured with Intel i7 processors and tons of storage and memory. But the simple limitations of size and heat mean that desktop computers will, for the foreseeable future, always be more powerful than their portable equivalents.

Most people assume that extra power is to be used for games or putting together an HD video clip.

But quite to the contrary, desktops just do everything faster: booting up; surfing the web; installing new software; doing updates; everything. If you spend half your life in front of a computer screen, why do it on a lesser machine? Even the slickest Macbook or Thinkpad pales in performance comparisons to a similarly priced desktop. If you want the fastest, you want a desktop. So it’s  a desktop for me.

A True Media Center With High-End Components

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So, what does all that power for not so much money get you? Well, to my mind, you get a powerful, capable unit that becomes the center of your entertainment life.

Sure, you can watch movies on a laptop. Connect it to speakers and monitor, and it will suffice.

But, my desire for desktops comes from wanting the very best – and getting the best is hard on a laptop. Blu-Ray drives are still a rarity on portables. High-end laptop sound cards exist, but they’re expensive and uncommon. Video cards are inevitably slower, and even cheaper desktop cards fully accelerate HD video.

What’s more, it’s very easy and affordable to simply throw an extra terabyte or two into a desktop. The same goes for RAM or something like TV tuner cards. Desktops make it easier to not only keep current, they offer the best possible experience.

Additionally, there’s also just the sheer physicality of the things. A desktop allows you a semi-permanent spot in your apartment or house for ‘your machine’. Connect it to a booming stereo, or a big-screen TV. Have your microphone, webcam or other accessories permanently attached.

A decked-out desktop becomes a true media and communication ‘center’, rather than that simply being a metaphor.

More For Less

Again, as with performance, the time of laptops being drastically more expensive are long over; it’s a question of simple supply and demand. With more people buying them, the cost has gone down.

But desktops obviously remain much better value when performance is the only consideration. A reasonably powerful computer can be put together for $500, and a $1000-$1500 will get you near top-of-the line stuff: Intel i7 processors, fast video cards, 4-6GB RAM and at least 1TB of hard drive space.

That still cannot be said for laptops – at least if you want a fast laptop.

A Hybrid Solution

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To be clear, I wouldn’t want to give up my laptop. In fact, I’m typing this post on one right now –  while staring at a lake. It’s pretty great.

But when it comes to my main work computer that I use for the bulk of my writing, surfing, and media consumption, I want a big, powerful, slick desktop stuffed with high-end components. Like audiophiles still want CDs instead of MP3s despite their convenience, I want the power and expandability of a desktop for my primary computing experience.

And hey – can you blame me for wanting the very best?

Do you also still want a desktop, even if you you’re not a gamer or designer? Or do you think that the mobile nature of the laptop computer or tablet overcomes the performance advantages of the desktop?

What do you think?

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Written by Navneet Alang

Navneet Alang is a technology-culture writer based in Toronto. You can find him on Twitter at @navalang

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  1. i’ll always use a desktop. and i’ll never buy a laptop, a smartphone, or a tablet. I want my computer usage to be in my home, and my experience in the real world to be, well, real.

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