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Why Are Laptops More Expensive than Desktops

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One of the most common questions I get from computer users is why are laptops more expensive than desktops?  While that may come as a surprise to you, many computer users out there just don’t understand what makes them so much more expensive.  After all, the parts inside a laptop are very similar to a desktop PC and when you compare the two types of machines often you can get a faster desktop for the same amount of money as a slower laptop.

So why is that exactly?  Are the companies just trying to rip us off?  While I’m not going to sit here and argue about corporate greed and exactly how bad it is, I can tell you that laptop prices isn’t just about bigger profits for PC manufacturers.  There is actually much more to it than that.  Today, we will take a look at a few of the reasons why laptops are more expensive than desktops so we can all begin to understand exactly why a good laptop will come with a higher price when it is put side by side with a comparable desktop.  Hopefully, by the time you are finished reading this, you will gain a new understanding about laptop pricing.

Benefits of Laptops

Before we go any further, let’s take a moment to think about some of the benefits of laptops.  It is important to understand these benefits before you begin to consider the price of the laptops.  After all, the benefits you can get from a product can often impact how much that product costs.  Some of the most common benefits are:

  1. Portability – The most obvious reason a laptop is so much better is they are just so portable. You can take a laptop with you almost anywhere as long as you have battery power and use it effectively.  A desktop simply doesn’t give you this option.
  2. Compact design – A laptop features a compact design that is small enough to fit on your lap making it the perfect computer for anyone who wants minimal mess on their desk or someone who just doesn’t have that much space to begin with.
  3. Less Cable Mess – With a laptop you have one power cable, and nothing else. On a desktop, you often have to deal with a jumbled mess of spaghetti wire on a regular basis.  This not only looks bad, but can also make it difficult to access and troubleshoot if there is a problem.
  4. Power Efficient – Laptops are also much more power efficient than bigger often more power hungry desktops. This means that if you run your laptop all the time in your home, it will cost you much less to power it compared to a desktop.

Do They Really Cost More?

Is It Worth It
Now that you understand the benefits of a laptop, it is time to look at prices.  It is true that laptop prices have fallen quite substantially in recent years. Today you can even find laptops for basic use that are around $300 and sometimes even less.  The thing is desktop prices have taken a nose dive as well.  So, if you are paying $300 for a laptop you can expect to find a desktop with the same specs for much lower than that.  It’s hard to believe that the market has changed so much.  Remember, there was a time when a basic desktop could cost you over $10,000.  The fact is, unless you happen to find one really great clearance sale, if you want a laptop you can expect to pay a little more than you would if you picked up a desktop.

Why Laptops Cost More

But why is that?  Are laptops really worth more?  Let’s take a few minutes and look at why laptops cost more than desktops.

Laptop Benefits

Remember those benefits we just talked about?  Or have you forgotten them already?  All those wonderful benefits a laptop will give you is really one of the major reasons why laptops are as popular as they are today.  People love the convenience of being able to take their computer with them wherever they go.  They want to be able to work and play from the cars, airports and even in the park.  No matter what task it is, people love the freedom that a laptop brings.  All you have to make sure of is you have enough battery to last you while you work.

So what do all of these benefits add up to?  It is quite simple actually.  It leads a couple of things.  First, more manufacturers will make more laptops, and second, computer makers will charge more just so you can get these benefits out of your next computer.

More Expensive Parts

If you are using a laptop right now, look away from your screen and have a look at the case for your computer.  Do you have an old desktop lying around?  If so take a look at that case.  Notice anything different?  Of course you do.  The size! A laptop is much smaller compared to a desktop.  This means that the same types of hardware have to be squeezed into a much tighter space.  To accomplish this, PC makers have come up with smaller versions of the same types of hardware that fit easily into small, think enclosures.  Without these parts, the laptops we know and love simply couldn’t be a reality.

What many people don’t realize is that there is a cost to these parts as well, and when manufacturers make these smaller parts, they are often more expensive than the historical standard computers parts that are sold almost everywhere these days.  Because they are so small, the manufacturing process is usually much more involved.  This drives up the cost of manufacturing.  Now the computer makers aren’t going to lose money on a computer.  Instead, they simply pass that cost onto the customer by way of slightly higher prices.

Laptops Include a Screen

Finally, another very obvious reason, but you would be surprised how often people forget about this little issue.  All laptops come with a screen built into them.  They would have to otherwise they wouldn’t make very good laptops.  With a desktop, however, there is no screen.  Sure you can find package deals that come with an LCD monitor, but these monitors often can’t be compared to the high quality screens that come on most laptops today.

A good screen can add anywhere from $100 or more to the purchase of a new computer.  If you already have one you may not have to worry about it, but if you go with a laptop, remember that you get a brand new screen with your purchase.  It’s all part of the package deal.  This one little factor can often make a huge difference in the price.

Why Laptops Cost More

Included Interface Hardware

When you buy a desktop, all you usually get is a box unless you pick one of those combo deals that come with keyboards and mice.  But a laptop, on the other hand, comes with a trackpad and keyboard built into the system.  When buying a desktop, you have to factor in those added costs if you truly want to compare their costs apples to apples.  In the end, how much do you save if you also have to upgrade your keyboard and mouse at the same time?  Those savings you see in the initial purchase of a new machine won’t really mean much once you pick up all those extra peripherals for your desktop.

Think about it, most desktops don’t come with a keyboard, mouse, or other extras such as a webcam.  All of these will have to be bought if you want to get the same functionality out of your desktop as you can out of your current laptop.

Higher Demand

Do you remember your classic lessons on supply and demand in your economics courses from high school and even college? I can’t claim to remember everything (I think I partied just a little too much), but I remember enough to understand why they are higher. There is simply more demand for laptops compared to desktops.

Really how many people do you know these days that just use a desktop computer?  Probably not very many if any at all.  More and more people are looking to buy laptops for their main computers today, and as you know from the laws of supply and demand, the greater the demand the greater the price.  Since more consumers want laptops, companies can afford to charge just a little more because they know that people will still buy them even if they know they are more expensive.

Choosing Between the Two

Choosing Between the Two
Desktops have lost quite a bit of popularity in recent years with many experts predicting their end once the mobile revolution began to take hold.  Of course, desktops are still managing to hold on and show no signs of extinction as of yet, so they still present a more affordable option when you are shopping.  Still, a laptop gives you far more flexibility than a desktop ever could.  After all, isn’t it really nice when you are traveling to be able to open your laptop and get a little work done or maybe even play a quick game for a little distraction?

Now, if you are shopping on a very tight budget that you simply cannot budge from, then you may want to consider a desktop.  They are far cheaper compared to a laptop meaning that you can get a much faster computer for your money.  However, if you need to be able to work from multiple locations, a desktop is most definitely not the best option for you.

Is It Worth It?

Another question I get asked a lot when people start to understand the differences between laptops and desktops and their associated costs.  So is it worth it?  Really that all comes down to you.  Do you think it is?  Based on how you currently use your computer and how you want to use your computer in the future, do you feel it is worth it?  Some will say yes while others will definitely say no.  In the end, you have to ask yourself what you think.

In my personal opinion, going with a laptop is most definitely worth it.  Although at the same time I must confess that I own both.  Each one has its own purpose, of course, and I wouldn’t change how I did it for the world.  The desktops and my laptops all serve their purpose effectively making my computer use much more fun and efficient for me.  But just because I feel this way, doesn’t mean that is the only way to feel.  Unfortunately the answer to the question, is it worth it, isn’t so black and white.  It is all kinds of gray and you are going to have to figure out for yourself if when you look at the gray you see black or white.


Well there you have it.  Now you have at least a little understanding about why laptops are more expensive than desktops.  Is it worth it?  I think so but in the end it is completely and totally up to you.  It is money in your wallet, after all.  Don’t let me tell you how to spend it.

Laptops offer a ton of benefits to computer users everywhere that desktops simply can’t provide.  While you may have to sacrifice a little power or up your budget a little bit to get exactly what you want, in the end it is all worth it as you will take home a computer that is complete and ready to be used without having to spend time connecting a bunch of different wires to it just so you can turn it on and use it.  Do you think laptops are worth the extra expense?  Let me know in the comments below.

By Matt Garrett

Matt is an IT professional with over fifteen years experience supporting network infrastructure and computers. An avid gamer, Matt enjoys his time playing and writing about his experiences both in the IT world and in the gaming communities. You can find more of his writing on our sister ShopNinja sites where he enjoys talking about anything and everything tech.

One reply on “Why Are Laptops More Expensive than Desktops”

BUULLLLSH*****TTT. A FEW of the parts might be just a little more costly to make. But part of the problem is there has never been much motivation to standardize the bodies, part, etc. If you really could buy all the parts from a variety of suppliers and put it all together the way you can with desktops, the cost would only be marginally higher than building your own desktop.
The answer is actually that is it simply not in the traditional culture of laptop suppliers to orient the industry that way. They just have no motivation to agree on a set of measurements, volumes, locations, etc. (a set of ‘model’ standards, like the laptop equiv of ATX, ITX, etc.) There NO SUCH THING as a technical reason for the configurations to be infinitely and randomly different and proprietary in small ways. It doesn’t provide some magical benefit.They could be constrained into a few important standards and be EXACTLY as functional, quiet, and cool. There is no technical barrier to doing that, and it would benefit the end users and create a enthusiast builder market as well. And it wouldn’t necessarily mean lower profits for the laptop builders. What they might lose in premiums on the DIY portion of market would be at least partially offset by that portions increased frequency of upgrading and changing parts etc. And with recent changes in chip process size and efficiency, the differences in performance vs desktop are practically completely gone. Desktop builders would LOVE to be able to build laptops. It makes sense that there would be a DIY laptop industry, there simply isn’t one.

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