Gaming Laptop VS Desktop: How to Decide What’s Better for You?

by Brad Whitcroft on Nov 09, 2021

Gaming Laptop VS Desktop: How to Decide What’s Better for You?

Every gaming enthusiast has a unique style and preferences. Some like tower desktops with a mechanical keyboard and RGB lighting. 

While some prefer to have a sleeker more portable gaming rig. One that they can easily tuck away and carry around. 

If you are reading this, chances are you aren’t yet sure which one is the right fit for you. 

By the end of this article, you will have a clear winner between a gaming laptop and a desktop.

Let’s get started. 

Gaming Laptop VS Desktop: Portability 

It’s safe to announce a winner for this one. Even the largest laptops are more portable than small-sized desktops. 

After all, portability is what makes laptops so desirable, right?

A gaming laptop, no matter how large, can fit in a backpack. Whereas, you need generous table space for a desktop. 

So, ask yourself, is the portability of your gaming rig important to you? Maybe you don’t want to stick to one place and would prefer location independence?

If yes, a gaming laptop would be the right fit for you. 

And, if portability isn’t as important a factor for you, and you’ve got enough space on your table, a desktop PC has many other benefits. 

Gaming Laptop VS Desktop: Upgradeability 

Upgradeability is one of the most obvious reasons why many gamers prefer desktops over laptops. 

Of course, you can’t build your own laptop, neither can you upgrade it later. 

On the flip side, you can easily upgrade desktop components like the RAM and GPU whenever you want. 

You don’t have to buy a new desktop PC when its components start to age or when a better alternative hits the market. 

You can always install that new and improved graphics card even after years of using a desktop.

So, as far as upgradeability is concerned, a desktop PC takes a clear lead. 

However, it’s important to note that not all desktop PCs are fully upgradeable. Prebuilt desktops that use proprietary motherboards offer limited upgradeability. 

Moreover, you can change the RAM and storage on a lot of laptops.  

But, overall, a desktop is a clear winner when it comes to upgradeability.  

Gaming Laptop VS Desktop: Cost Comparison 

It’s not easy to pick a winner when it comes to cost, especially because both types of machines have their pros and cons. 

So, it really boils down to what your preferences are and how much are you willing to pay for them. 

For instance, some gamers can’t compromise on the portability of their gaming rig. They would be more than happy to pay a few extra bucks to be able to carry their machine around. 

But, generally, you can build a cheaper custom desktop mainly because the component costs depend on your choice. 

That said, you do have to invest a little more in a desktop as it doesn’t come with all the features built-in. 

For instance, you would have to buy a gaming keyboard, a gaming mouse, a great LCD, a speaker, and maybe more. 

So, the cost of a desktop can easily rack up if you let it. 

Whereas, a laptop comes with all of those features. 

Gaming Laptop VS Desktop: Performance Comparison

Your gaming rig’s performance largely depends on the specs you chose. Of course, you can’t expect an $800 desktop to outperform a $3000 laptop. 

That said, generally, a gaming desktop is more powerful than a gaming laptop. 

This is because there is a lot more space inside a desktop CPU than in laptops. Because of that, there are more fans in a desktop, which helps it to dissipate the heat produced by its components effectively. 

And, a lower temperature on a computer translates to better overall performance. 

And, thanks to a bigger, more efficient cooling mechanism in desktops, you can afford to install heavier graphics cards.  

Whereas a laptop’s less efficient cooling system limits its performance, and you also have to deal with system heat-ups sometimes. 

Although some laptops do come close to the performance of a similar-spec desktop, there is still a gap to be filled for obvious reasons. 

However, keep in mind that while desktops are great at heat dissipation because of powerful colling systems, they can be a lot noisier as well. 

Of course, some powerful gaming laptops can be noisy, too. And, because their batteries can only be so big, they don’t last as long as you might want. 

Gaming Laptop VS Desktop: Aesthetics

The aesthetics of your desktop don’t depend on its initial condition. You can always invest in your desktop whenever you can afford it and make it more appealing to the eyes. 

So, a desktop’s performance isn’t the only thing that you can upgrade later. 

Gaming Laptop VS Desktop: Pros and Cons

Gaming Desktop Pros

  • If you want to play high-end latest games, the better cooling mechanism and upgradability of a desktop makes it a better option for you 
  • If you are on a budget, a desktop can pack more power at a less price
  • Plus, you can customize and upgrade your desktop whenever you want

Gaming Desktop Cons

  • You will be compromising on portability when you chose a desktop
  • Considering the up-gradation costs (mouse, keyboard, speakers, monitor), it can prove to be costly

Gaming Laptop Pros

  • A gaming laptop would be your ideal companion if you move a lot and can’t compromise on the portability of your machine
  • Moreover, it’s a better option when you don’t have enough room for a desktop
  • A gaming laptop is for you if you are not interested in upgrading your machine later and are a less demanding gamer

Gaming Laptop Cons

  • Gaming laptops tend to be pricier even when they have the same specs as their desktop counterparts
  • Because laptops don’t have as efficient a heat dissipation mechanism, their performance is generally lower
  • The customizability of a laptop is very limited 


Clearly, picking a clear winner between a gaming laptop and a desktop isn’t as straightforward; both have their pros and cons. 

The right thing would be to think about your exact needs and wants before comparing the two. And, make a decision based on that information.

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