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Laptop vs. Desktop

Computer technology is a necessity in the daily academic life of students. Coastal Carolina University is committed to providing state-of-the-art computing technology to its students. The University has established several computer labs throughout the various departments and colleges. Some of theses labs have extended hours of operation. However, some students still prefer to purchase their own computers. Making a decision whether to purchase a laptop or a desktop can be a difficult process. We hope the following information will simplify this process for students.


  • All students enrolling in Computer Science 130, 140 and 150 are required to have their own notebook computers.
  • Graphic Design majors are recommended to acquire a MacBook or a MacBook Pro.Click here for minimum requirements.

The following table provides advantages/disadvantages between laptops and desktops:

  Laptop Desktop
Flexibility,convenience and mobility Students can carry their laptops wherever they go: to the cafeteria, to the library, and throughout campus. Students can also easily take laptops on trips and other places off campus. Laptops occupy little spaces in dorm rooms. Desktops are stationary. They occupy more space than laptops in dorm rooms.
Cost Higher prices than desktops for less power, speed and storage. However, high competition has made laptop prices reasonable. For the same cost of a laptop, one can get a more powerful desktop with more storage and higher performance.
Interaction/Active Learning Laptops allow for maximum interaction and collaboration among students and faculty. Students work together and with faculty anywhere on campus at anytime of day with the latest information at their fingertips. Also, students can gather and manipulate information in the classroom under the guidance of the instructor. Minimum interaction among students and faculty members.
Size and Weight Laptop computers are much smaller and lighter than desktop computers. Often weighing less than 5 lbs., and less than 2 inches thick. While the size of the tower can vary, they are significantly heavier than laptops. A monitor, keyboard, and mouse must be connected to the desktop for it to function, taking up much more space.
Wireless Network Access As wireless network access continues to grow on campus, students with laptops are able to roam around campus and connect to the Internet/Network. They can access classroom notes, assignments, and other resources in various locations on campus. While desktops can also be wireless, access to the internet/network is limited to the physical location of the desktop computer.
Ease of Setup The main parts of the computer such as the monitor, keyboard, and mouse are all part of the laptop. No wires/cables to connect parts together as with a desktop. A monitor, mouse, and keyboard must be connected to the desktop for it to function. Modern desktops color-code these connections for an easier setup. Other items, such as printers, network cable, various USB devices, etc. can complicate the setup process and create wire clutter.
Display (Monitor) Size Sizes are limited. They range from 12.1 inches (diagonal) to 17 inches Wider range of screen types and sizes with some ranging over 24 inches.
Vulnerability to damage and theft Since laptops are designed for transport, they are more vulnerable to damage from accidents and theft. Proper placement of the desktop tower can eliminate most threats of physical damage. Desktops are heavy and ackward to carry, making them harder to steal.
Upgrade-ability and Part Replacements Laptop components are often very specific to each model. Upgrades and replacements are often only available from the manufacturer. Easier to upgrade and replace parts.

NOTE: Individuals may still choose one type of computer over the other based on personal experience, preference, and satisfaction. Also, some individuals may decide to have the best of both worlds by buying a laptop, a large screen and, a docking station.

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