Pre-Built Gaming Desktop vs. Gaming Laptop: Which Should Be Your New Rig?

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Choosing between a powerful desktop and a high-performance laptop is a dilemma that plagues many PC gamers. And while conventional wisdom dictates that a pre-built gaming desktop will beat a laptop in almost every way, the truth is far from being that cut-and-dry nowadays. Manufacturers have proven that they can pack laptops with the latest and greatest hardware, too, making their machines more than capable of competing with their taller, beefier cousins.

Looking into purchasing a gaming PC for yourself this holiday season and torn between whether you should choose a pre-built gaming desktop or laptop? Read on for some of the differences between the two that can hopefully guide you towards the best decision:

Features
On the surface, it can be easy to assume that a gaming laptop fulfills many of the same functions as a gaming desktop, with the desktop winning out from sheer performance alone. Looking a bit closer, though, the differences between the two are quite stark.

For one thing, with a gaming laptop, it’s literally plug and play. It comes equipped with a built-in display, a keyboard, a touchpad, and onboard speakers. Some of them also offer touch or pen support. A gaming desktop, on the other hand, can’t be used without peripherals. You’ll need to buy those before you can interact with it.

Performance
Most people think that performance is where a gaming desktop shines over a laptop. That assumption primarily has to do with heat–specifically, the dissipation of it. In the compact form factor of a laptop, heat generated by the components, especially when playing graphics-intensive titles, isn’t as easily dissipated. This can cause thermal throttling, leading to frame loss and other performance issues.

Gaming desktops, on the other hand, are significantly roomier. They can be as roomy as you want them to be, too–you can go for a mid-sized pre-built gaming desktop or a full tower, which will have more than enough space for all the components you could possibly want as well as everything needed to cool them adequately. Space for air to flow isn’t the only advantage that a desktop can have over a laptop; with a gaming desktop, you can look into alternative cooling solutions such as mineral oil or water cooling systems to keep your system running in the best possible conditions.

Another reason why a pre-built gaming desktop outperforms laptops in most demanding tasks has to do with the hardware. In most cases, gaming laptops are equipped with the mobile version of a component, even if it has the same name as the desktop version. This goes for processors and graphics cards, specifically–the most important parts of any gaming rig.

Portability
If you need a gaming PC but also a system to bring with you to school or the office, then a gaming laptop is obviously the better option. These are systems built with portability in mind, and they are getting thinner and more lightweight as time goes on.

There are exceptions, though. If you’re someone who requires portability for LAN parties with your friends, you may instead want to look into mini or small form factor gaming PCs. Granted, you can’t readily bring these to class without the accompanying peripherals, but they should be portable enough to serve your purposes if their main purpose is to play games with your friends over a local area network.

When it comes to choosing between a gaming laptop and a pre-built gaming desktop, it’s important to consider your priorities. You may want to consider the choices over at CLX if your heart is set on a pre-built gaming desktop, though. The offerings from their Scarab line are worthwhile options that don’t sacrifice performance for portability.

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