Why Are Laptops More Expensive Than Desktops?


If you’ve been computer shopping recently, you’ll probably have noticed something that might seem rather strange. Quite often, laptops are more expensive than their desktop counterparts. If you don’t believe us, try it yourself; go to a shop selling computers and observe the way in which the differences between the two platforms cause the cost of laptops to be exponentially higher than that of desktops.

Why is this the case, though? Since desktop computers are often more powerful than laptops, you would imagine that laptops would be the less expensive proposition. This isn’t the case, however, and there are some very good reasons for that. From components to what you’re actually getting in the package, laptops being more expensive than desktops makes sense. Here are some of the reasons laptops are more expensive than desktops.

The screen is part of a laptop

The screen can be one of the most expensive components in a computer, especially if it has a high resolution. You’ll notice this is also true of other devices; if your smartphone ever needs to be repaired, you’ll probably have to pay a higher premium if the screen is damaged than you would if any other component was in need of repair. Screens are expensive to repair and maintain.

A laptop, as you’ll know, comes complete with a built-in screen, where a desktop PC doesn’t include this component. Of course, desktop PCs can sometimes be bundled with monitors, and a desktop PC can also be integrated into its display, but you’d expect to pay more for these options. It’s the same for a laptop; since this expensive component is incorporated into the design, the overall package is more expensive.

Components in general are more expensive

Given a laptop’s relatively diminutive form factor, you can expect to pay a premium for laptop components, which are more expensive to produce and maintain than their desktop counterparts. This goes for pretty much every internal aspect of a laptop; be it RAM, graphics cards, or processors, you’ll pay more for laptop component replacements than their desktop alternatives.

If you need a good example of this, look no further than laptop graphics cards. The GPUs for laptops are much smaller than the desktop versions; the RTX 3080 is a monster in terms of size, but the laptop version is a fraction of its bulk. This is one of the key reasons why laptops are more expensive than desktops; it’s because everything is smaller and more delicately-constructed.

It’s harder to upgrade a laptop

Because of the aforementioned size difference in components, upgrading a laptop is much more difficult. Opening up a laptop chassis and swapping out components isn’t as easy as it is with a desktop PC. Most of the time, if you want to change out a PC component, you simply need to detach the original and replace it with the new version. However, for a laptop, there’s often actual disassembly work involved.

Of course, this isn’t always the case. If you’re replacing a PC processor chip, for example, you’ll probably need to carefully apply necessities like thermal paste, and sometimes, laptops are sold with specifically upgradeable components, especially if they are gaming-focused. However, for the most part, laptops are more expensive because you aren’t expected to swap out their internals.

It stands to reason that the more popular option is the one that would command the higher price. This is very much the case with laptops. More people want laptops for their convenience and portability than desktops, which are clumsy and difficult to carry around. This means that you’re more likely to pay extra for laptops, because they’re in higher demand.

This philosophy does, of course, have exceptions. Gaming laptops are more expensive than their desktop counterparts despite there arguably being less demand for portable gaming machines of this nature. This is largely thanks to the aforementioned component difference; it’s harder to maintain gaming laptops than desktops, so they command higher prices.

Laptops are portable

Perhaps the simplest and most obvious reason that laptops command a higher price than desktops is this: they’re portable. You can carry laptops with you wherever you go, working on them as long as you have a power supply nearby. This isn’t true of desktop PCs, though; you’ll need several power outlets for your monitor, PC, and any other appliances you happen to need.

The portability of laptops also feeds into the difficulty with which you acquire their components. Since a laptop component must be small enough to fit into a portable chassis, it has to perform a similar function to its desktop counterpart but with a fraction of the size to work with. This isn’t an easy thing to manufacture, which is why you’ll pay more for laptops, generally speaking.

Laptops have a battery

Desktop PCs don’t require a battery to operate; they’re powered by a mains supply, so you need to plug them into the wall or into an extension socket to power them on. Laptops, however, have an internal battery that you can charge, meaning you can use them while they’re not plugged in. It stands to reason, therefore, that this extra component would raise a laptop’s price.

As a result of their smaller form factor and portability, laptops do have better power efficiency ratings than desktop PCs by and large. However, there are exceptions to this rule; gaming laptops generally draw more power than their non-gaming-focused counterparts, mainly because of the dedicated GPU and improved heatsink integration. For the most part, though, laptops are more power-efficient than desktops, driving up their prices.

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