SMB Computer Hardware: Laptop or Desktop?

SMB Computer Hardware: Laptop or Desktop?

As a small- to mid-sized business, you want your SMB computer hardware to meet your needs and your budget. Before you start researching your options, you have to start with one fundamental decision: Do you purchase desktop computers or laptop computers?

Ultimately, the decision will depend upon your company's specific needs. However, understanding the basic differences between each type of computer can help you make a more confident decision regarding your SMB computer hardware.


This one might seem obvious, but laptops are lighter and easier to carry with you than are desktop computers. This portability is due primarily to the fact that the hard drive and monitor go together in one compact package.

Over time, laptops have become smaller and lighter. You can even purchase mini laptops that weigh as little as 3 pounds, though you will need to deal with a smaller screen as well (as small as 10 inches across).

Desktop computers, on the other hand, are intended to stay in one location. Even all-in-one desktop computers are larger and heavier than are laptops. Plus, they typically need a keyboard in addition to the hard drive/monitor combination, which makes them less convenient to carry around. If you are looking for portability, a laptop is the best choice.

Winner: Laptop Computer



The same characteristics that make laptops portable make them compact as well. The combination of hard drive, monitor, and keyboard into a convenient frame also makes them smaller than their desktop counterparts. As a result, they require much less space than do desktop computers.

Desktop computers, on the other hand, tend to take up more space than do laptops. They are simply bigger and less compact than are laptops.

Space may not be a big deal to some SMBs. If you have ample office space, setting up desktop computers might work well. If, however, you are trying to manage a small space efficiently, you might prefer the more compact laptops.

Winner: Laptop Computer



As a small- to mid-sized business, your SMB computer hardware has to fit your budget just as much as it has to fit your technological needs. That is why you need to consider the price differences between desktop computers and laptop computers.

The good news is that you can find affordable options for either type of computer. The bad news is that the features you get in each price range will vary between laptop computers and desktop computers. In general, you will pay more for a laptop than you will for a desktop when the features (such as memory, speed, etc.) are the same.

If you can find an option that meets your technological needs within your budget (or a really great deal) you may wish to consider other factors before settling the desktop vs. laptop debate. However, if you need to stay within a certain price range and have little flexibility on features, you are more likely to find what you need in a desktop computer.

Winner: Desktop Computer



SMB computer hardware needs to do more than be affordable and portable. It needs to keep your data (and your clients' data) secure. In general, desktop computers are more secure, simply because they are not usually moved from place to place. As a result, they connect to a single Wi-Fi network that you can easily secure. In addition, they are much less likely to be stolen because of their size.

Laptop computers are also very secure. However, two of their features can lead to security breaches if you do not handle them correctly. The first is the fact that, if moved from place to place, they are likely to connect to a number of different Wi-Fi networks. These networks are not always secure, and you cannot always monitor which networks your employees are using.

The second is that laptops, because they are small and light, are more likely to be stolen. A stolen laptop can present a serious loss of sensitive data. As a result, if security is of paramount importance, a desktop computer may be the best choice.

Winner: Desktop Computer



Computers need to perform to your company's needs. For example, an insurance company working on risk analyses will likely need more processing power than, say, a jewelry store needing computers to track inventory.

Desktop computers and laptop computers each have different performance capabilities. In particular, desktop computers will have greater performance capabilities than will laptop computers. The reason for the desktop computer's greater speed, memory, and processing power is due to the fact that its components do not need to be compressed into a compact frame. As a result, there is more room for technological features that deliver greater performance.

Winner: Desktop Computer


Institutional Needs

Your SMB computer hardware needs to meet your institutional needs. For example, if you have an institutional culture that values work flexibility, you may prefer to outfit your employees with laptops so they can work from home or from the office. On the other hand, if you require high-end functionality and data security, you may prefer to use desktop computers.

The key is to select a device that meshes with your institutional needs and culture. Once you do that, you can narrow down your choice further based on factors such as price and portability.

Winner: Depends on the business.


The next time you need to purchase SMB computer hardware, consider the differences between desktop computers and laptop computers. These two types of computers perform similar tasks, but they are not the same. When it comes to portability, space, price, security, and performance, considering their differences can help you make the right choice. You also always need to consider your institution's culture and needs before you purchase a desktop computer or a laptop. Considering all of these factors together can help you to make a choice that will serve and your employees well over the long term.

If you need IT support for your SMB, please reach out to TARC. We offer the practical support and guidance you need to help you manage all of your IT needs.