Gaming Desktop vs Laptop – What’s the best for gaming?

Updated: June 29th, 2020By: BrantonGuides2 Comments

When it comes to picking out a new computer, there will almost always be reasons to consider both laptops and desktops. But, which platform is the best and which one should you buy? That’s exactly what we’re going to explore in this article by looking at the various differences between laptops vs desktops. With any luck, by the end you’ll easily be able to figure out which one is your best option.

For starters, both platforms have their own pros and cons and there’s no such thing as a “one size fits all” solution – yet. With that in mind, to ensure that you’re making the right decision you should always be weighing your options.

That all said, let’s get started by comparing some of the biggest and most obvious differences first. From there we’ll break down each platform’s pros and cons in a list-based format.

Laptops vs Desktops

Easily the biggest difference between laptops and desktops is mobility. With a desktop, you’re obviously going to be restricted in where and when you can use your system. Unless you’re extremely inspired, it’s simply not viable to be hauling around a monitor, a keyboard, a mouse, AND your tower… And even if you do that, you’re not going to be firing it up while you’re waiting for a flight or in between/during classes. Conversely, laptops are (again, obviously) wayyyyyyy easier to use on the go because that’s what they’re designed for.

The second biggest difference is price vs performance. With a laptop, you’re always going to be spending more money to get less powerful hardware when compared to a similarly priced desktop – it’s a compromise you have to make to get mobility. There are, however, ways to get better gaming performance on a laptop than you initially get. Laptops can often cost nearly double that of an equivalently specced desktop for similar specs. For example, the HP Omen Gaming Laptop is great but a gaming PC with similar specs would be about half the cost.

However, if you’re buying a desktop for the first time, then the cost of the extra peripherals you probably need (monitor(s), mouse, keyboard, speakers, desk, chair, etc) can often balance out – or even flip – the price variance.

Desktops have better bang for your buck (but less convenience), especially if you get one of these recommended under $400 desktops.

The third most noticeable difference is ease of use. Not in terms of actually using your system, but in regards to repairing or upgrading it. Due to their compact nature, laptops are often put together in such a way that they can be difficult to work on without specialized knowledge or system-specific guides. In comparison, desktops can always be worked on (and even built) by the greenest beginners with a high rate of success.

Finally, we have thermals. Generally speaking, the more compact a gaming laptop is, the harder it’s going to have to work to keep everything within ideal operating temps – for some parts, this can be as high as 80-90c! That means laptops will often run significantly hotter than a desktop with equivalent specs would and can even permanently damage your laptop if it runs at high temperatures for a long time. I damaged my laptop playing League of Legends when I was in college.

Exactly how much depends on the individual systems, but there could be anywhere from a 10-30c difference under load. Luckily, you can buy a laptop cooling pad to help keep temps within reason if you find your temps are too high.

In summary…

  • Laptops are the best for on-the-go use
  • Desktops are often significantly cheaper than laptops with similar specs
  • Desktops are much easier to work on for most people
  • Laptops often run hotter than comparable desktops

So Is a Laptop or Desktop Better?

You might have already seen this coming, but there’s really no such thing as the best platform. The best one will be determined by your individual requirements more than any subjective opinion I, or anyone else, might have.

  • If you need a computer that can be used on-the-go, then a laptop is the obvious best choice. Check out these gaming laptops under $500 if you have a budget
  • If you need the most power possible without spending too much, AND you don’t need mobility, then a desktop is likely your best bet.

It only becomes a tough choice when you fall somewhere in the middle of those 2 groups. It boils down to weighing the pros and cons of each platform and comparing them to what you need. If one platform checks more boxes than the other, then you’ll know what you need to get.


At the end of the day, whether you choose a laptop or a desktop should be a decision based on your own specific requirements, instead of someone else’s opinion.

If you need something mobile for school, or work, or whatever, don’t let someone talk you into buying a desktop just because they think it’s the best. Even if you’re gaming, a laptop can easily perform on par with desktops – as long as you’re willing to pay the premium for mobility.

On the other hand, desktops are the ideal solution if you only need to use your computer at home and you have enough space to set one up. Or, if you’re trying to get the most power for the least amount of money and you’re willing to compromise on mobility.

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Hey there! I'm Branton, the founder and lead editor here at PC Game Haven. Since our launch in 2015, we've helped thousands upon thousands of gamers build their dream desktops, find the perfect peripherals, and more. Thanks for stopping by and feel free to get in tough!

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September 12, 2018 4:53 pm

whats the case in the picture?