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5 Reasons to Avoid Buying a New Laptop Today: A Computer Expert‘s Perspective

As a digital technology expert with decades of experience, I‘ve seen the laptop computer evolve from a niche product to the default choice for most people‘s computing needs. But while laptops have come a long way in terms of performance and features, they still have some significant drawbacks that make them a suboptimal choice for many users.

In this article, I‘ll share my top five reasons why you should think twice before buying a new laptop, as well as some alternative devices that might better suit your needs.

1. Laptops are fragile and prone to failure

One of the biggest issues with laptops is their lack of durability. The very portability that makes them so convenient also makes them more susceptible to damage from drops, spills, and other accidents.

According to a study by SquareTrade, 31% of laptop owners reported damage within the first three years of ownership. The most common types of damage were:

  • Cracked screens (15%)
  • Liquid spills on the keyboard (11%)
  • Power jack failures (9%)
  • Hinge and frame cracks (6%)

These types of accidents are much less likely to occur with a stationary desktop computer. But even if you manage to avoid physically damaging your laptop, there‘s a good chance it will suffer from some kind of hardware failure over its lifespan.

A 2019 study by cloud backup provider Backblaze found that the average annual failure rate for laptops was 5.1%, compared to just 1.2% for desktops. The study also found that certain laptop brands and models were much more failure-prone than others, with some experiencing failure rates as high as 13%.

2. Laptops have worse thermals and performance than desktops

Another major drawback of laptops is their compact design, which limits airflow and makes it harder to keep components cool. This is especially problematic for high-performance tasks like gaming, video editing, and 3D modeling.

Laptop CPUs and GPUs are often severely throttled to stay within thermal limits, resulting in lower sustained performance than their desktop counterparts. For example, a laptop RTX 3080 graphics card might have a boost clock of just 1245 MHz and a TDP of 80-150W, while a desktop RTX 3080 can boost up to 1710 MHz with a TDP of 320W.

The performance gap between laptops and desktops is even more pronounced when it comes to CPUs. A top-of-the-line Intel Core i9-12900HK laptop processor has a boost clock of 5.0 GHz and a TDP of 45W, while the desktop Core i9-12900K can boost up to 5.2 GHz with a TDP of 125W.

In real-world benchmarks, this translates to a significant performance advantage for desktops. In Cinebench R23, a popular CPU rendering benchmark, the Core i9-12900K scores 27,981 points in the multi-core test, while the Core i9-12900HK manages just 14,751 points.

3. Laptops are harder to upgrade and have shorter lifespans

Laptops are also much more difficult to upgrade than desktops due to their proprietary designs and lack of standardized parts. Many laptops have soldered RAM and storage, making it impossible to upgrade these components without replacing the entire motherboard.

This lack of upgradeability, combined with the lower performance and durability of laptops, means they tend to have much shorter lifespans than desktops. According to a study by the International Data Corporation, the average lifespan of a business laptop is just 3 years, compared to 5-8 years for a desktop.

As a result, laptop owners often find themselves in a constant cycle of buying new devices every few years just to keep up with the latest technology. This is not only expensive, but also contributes to the growing problem of e-waste.

4. Laptops are more expensive than comparable desktops

Another factor to consider is the cost of laptops compared to desktops with similar specifications. Because of their compact designs and specialized components, laptops often command a significant price premium.

For example, a Dell XPS 15 laptop with an Intel Core i7-11800H processor, 16GB of RAM, and a 512GB SSD costs $2,299 at the time of writing. A comparable Dell XPS desktop with the same processor, RAM, and storage can be had for just $1,299.

When you factor in the shorter lifespan and higher failure rates of laptops, the total cost of ownership becomes even higher. According to a study by the Gartner Group, the average annual cost of owning a laptop is $3,444, compared to just $2,084 for a desktop.

5. There are many alternatives that may better suit your needs

Laptops may be the most popular type of computer, but they‘re not the best choice for everyone. Depending on your needs and preferences, you may be better off with a different type of device. Here are a few alternatives to consider:

Desktop computers

For users who prioritize performance, upgradeability, and long-term value, a traditional desktop tower is hard to beat. Desktops offer a wide range of configuration options and can be easily upgraded with off-the-shelf parts.

They‘re also much cheaper than laptops with comparable specs, and their larger form factor allows for better cooling and quieter operation. If you don‘t need the portability of a laptop and have the space for a desktop, it‘s definitely worth considering.

Mini PCs

If you like the idea of a desktop but don‘t want a bulky tower taking up space, a mini PC might be the perfect solution. These compact computers pack the performance of a full-size desktop into a chassis that‘s not much bigger than a stack of CD cases.

Mini PCs are ideal for home theater setups, digital signage, and other applications where space is at a premium. They‘re also popular with travelers who need desktop-class performance on the go.

Some notable mini PCs include the Intel NUC, Lenovo ThinkCentre M series, and HP ProDesk G series.

All-in-one PCs

All-in-one PCs are another space-saving desktop option that combines the computer and display into a single unit. These devices offer a clean, clutter-free look that‘s perfect for home offices, reception desks, and other environments where aesthetics are important.

All-in-ones are available in a range of sizes and configurations, from compact 24-inch models to expansive 32-inch 4K workstations. Some even support touch input for a more interactive experience.

Popular all-in-one PCs include the Apple iMac, Dell Inspiron 7000 series, and HP Envy 34.

2-in-1 laptops and tablets

For users who need the portability of a laptop but also want the flexibility of a tablet, a 2-in-1 device can be a good compromise. These hybrid devices have a touchscreen display that can be detached or rotated 360 degrees to transform into a tablet.

2-in-1s are popular with students, creative professionals, and anyone who needs to take handwritten notes or draw on their device. They‘re also great for media consumption and casual gaming.

Some top 2-in-1 laptops include the Microsoft Surface Pro 8, Lenovo ThinkPad X12 Detachable, and HP Spectre x360 14.

If you don‘t need the keyboard at all, a standalone tablet like the Apple iPad Pro or Samsung Galaxy Tab S8 might be a better choice. These devices are incredibly portable and offer excellent battery life, making them perfect for on-the-go use.

The bottom line

While laptops are undeniably convenient, they have some significant drawbacks that make them a less-than-ideal choice for many users. From their fragility and thermal limitations to their high cost and short lifespans, there are plenty of reasons to consider alternatives to laptops.

Of course, everyone‘s needs and preferences are different, and there‘s no one-size-fits-all solution. But by carefully evaluating your requirements and budget, you can find a device that will serve you well for years to come – whether it‘s a desktop, mini PC, all-in-one, 2-in-1, or tablet.

As a digital technology expert, my advice is to prioritize performance, upgradeability, and long-term value over short-term convenience. A well-built desktop computer may not be as portable as a laptop, but it will likely offer better performance, more flexibility, and a lower total cost of ownership in the long run.

At the end of the day, the most important thing is to choose a device that meets your specific needs and fits your budget. By doing your research and considering all your options, you can make an informed decision that you won‘t regret down the line.