I am always asked what type of computer is best for college. People hear a lot of things, but mostly “Laptop, laptop, laptop!” I’m always first to tell freshman entering college to slow down and consider a desktop for a moment. While laptops do have specific advantages (which I’ll share with you in tomorrow’s post, I promise), desktops can be very useful in college.
You’ll find fewer students lugging their PC Towers or iMacs into their dorm room on move in day. You may see a particularly tech-savvy college student with a huge computer that looks like something from the Sci-Fi Channel. Desktop computers do have a few advantages though.
1. Power – Those cute little laptops are nice and all, but they cannot compare to the power that the desktop can wield. For college students in engineering, architecture, computer sciences, business, or science (just to name a few), you should consider what types of programs your computer will have to run. I’ve seen some pretty robust student programs out there. You don’t want to be stuck going to the computer lab every day because your laptop can’t handle the demands of your architecture program. Talk to the dean of the college, your professors, other students, or your academic advisor to find out what types of programs you’ll need. If they are sizable programs, I’d suggest going with a stronger, more powerful PC.
2. Memory and Hard Disk Space – Yes, a desktop computer can have more memory, and hard disk space too. You can also put more memory in it than laptops. Not only is this helpful for people running robust programs, but it’s also helpful for those students who like to play games and listen to music, while running a bunch of other programs. In terms of disk space, you may not know this, but college students LOVE their music. They also love free stuff. I’m not one to rat anyone out, and I don’t want to alarm you, but some people even use programs (that may or may not be legal) to download movies, TV shows, albums, and a load of other stuff. Having a desktop can allow you significantly more room (in hard disk space) to hold all of the data you need and love. I, for one, have over 6000 songs on iTunes. That’s a lot of Gigs of music. My laptop couldn’t handle that, or it could, but then I wouldn’t have any room for anything else. Also, many students are gamers. I’ve seen countless students in dorms playing WoW (World of Warcraft) at all hours of the night. I suggest a desktop if you’re going to be running demanding games. Also, remember to consider what things you’ll be downloading or putting on your computer before buying.
3. You Can’t Steal Them As Easily – There, I said it. No offense to laptops, but they’re pretty easy to steal. Crime is an issue on many college campuses around the country. People leave their dorm room doors unlocked or wide open all the time, and so it can be quite easy to sneak in and take something. Laptops are just a lot easier to take than desktops. Of course I realize there are laptop locks, but in my experience, less than 50% of students actually use them. In any case, laptop locks can still be cut. Most just let their laptops sit out in the open. Desktops are bigger, have more parts, and just not as easy to take. I have an iMac G5, and let me tell you, that thing is pretty heavy. If I were a burglar, I wouldn’t want to have to run away lugging that behind me. So, consider how safe your campus may be, and thing of the extra security offered by having a desktop.
4. Your Desktop Won’t Distract You in Class – I love students who think they are going to take their laptops to every class and take extensive notes and be the best student possible. This never happens. What actually happens is students take their laptops to class, talk on AIM and use Facebook the whole time. If you have a desktop, you won’t be able to take it to class with you, so it won’t be a distraction. Trust me, there’s no substitute for pen and paper when taking notes.
5. It Will Probably Last Longer – For any student strapped for cash, the life of their computer investment is of utmost importance. I have found that desktops last significantly longer than laptops do in college. The fact remains, while laptops are great to carry around to the Quad, or the cafeteria, or anywhere else on campus, this puts them in much greater danger. I can tell you countless stories of students dropping their laptops, having their laptops fall out of their bags, knocking them off tables during rambunctious dorm parties, spilling drinks on them in the cafeteria, knocking them off desks in class, and much more. You’d have to really try to shove a desktop off your desk. Case and point, I’ve had my desktop for over two years now. My girlfriend had her laptop for under a year. Guess what happened; she went to put her printer away and it was still attached to the laptop. YANK; there went the laptop smashing on the floor. It was funny, because that same thing happened to me a few weeks later, but because my printer was connected to a heavier machine, all I did was move it a little and I was able to realize what was wrong.
6. Cheaper – Laptops can get pretty expensive, especially considering the amount of danger they’re placed in on a daily basis. For the college student who cannot afford much, desktops should really be considered. You can get a decent desktop for $600 (sometimes even less). I’ve never seen a laptop for less than $1,000. That’s a big price difference, especially considering tuitions that will have to be paid and all the other expenses college students have to deal with. FAFSA awards are great, but I doubt they will leave you with enough money to get the top of the line laptop and pay all the other expenses you may have.
7. Customization – For the more tech savvy person, customization is key. You can’t customize laptops nearly as much as you can desktops. Dell offers the whole “build your own computer” thing. Many other PC makers allow you to add different kinds of monitors, ram, towers, etc. Laptops are generally, “pick which one you like and how much memory you want in it.” You also can make minimal changes to laptops after you’ve purchased them. Desktops can have graphics cards changed, RAM added, motherboards, soundcards, monitors, and much more modified. If you are a fan of customization, look no further than a desktop.
So those are seven advantages to having a desktop computer. Laptops may be winning the war for most popular computer for college students, but don’t count desktops out of the race. Always be sure to make use of education discounts and get the type of computer that will best fit your needs.