web analytics

The entire work model we built the concept of laptops around not only doesn’t exist anymore, it may not ever exist again.

Source: Rob Enderle Why a Desktop PC Makes More Sense than a Laptop Today – eWEEK

Enderle has a point when he says that laptops were built for a world we no longer inhabit. He is talking about the way we work has changed since the Covid-19 pandemic upended the idea of heading daily to offices and travelling to work meetings.

AMD Ryzen Pro

While he has a point, it is overstated. That may have something to do with the AMD Ryzen Pro advertisement that shows on the page. It may not. Let’s take the story at face value.

The AMD Ryzen Pro is a range of high-end processors for desktop computers. As always with AMD, there is a focus on performance. Beyond that the new processors are optimised for working from home on desktop computers.

Make that, working from home on a desktop computer when you work for an organisation with IT professionals. Ryzen Pro processors include a dedicated security processor and full memory encryption. They support remote management tools.

Is there really a trend away from laptops?

It’s all interesting enough, yet we’re not here to talk about that. The subject of interest is the trend away from laptops and back to desktops.

Enderle thinks it is a big thing. He writes: “I’m coming around to the idea that laptops as a trend are over, that the new trend will be desktop computers.”

In my book the trend is real enough. I’ve done exactly the same myself. Look out for a post on this when I have some time. In my case I switched before the lockdown and for a different set of reasons.

Yet dumping the laptop is not for everyone. Not by a long chalk.

Sure, we will work away from home less often. For some people it will stop and that’s it. For others there will be less working away from home. Not zero working away from home. When that happens, the laptop is still the right tool most of the time. You could use an iPad if you have a desktop. Many people would prefer to have the one device that works in both cases.

Some prefer laptops

The second reason why there won’t be as big a shift as Enderle suggests is that many people prefer laptops regardless. This may be because people prefer the physical form of a laptop. It maybe because laptops take up less room and do not need a dedicated desk and chair. Not everyone lives in a spacious mansion with a fancy home office.

Laptop, PC, Tablet sales

According to this Statista graph, computer makers sold 166 million laptops in 2019 and 88 million desktops. In round numbers that’s two laptops for every desktop. In 2010 it was 200 million laptops and 157 million desktops, roughly four to three. The blue shows desktops, the dark blue is laptops and the grey shows tablet sales.

There has been a long term drift towards laptops. It stretches back beyond the graph. It’s possible the pandemic trend may halt the drift. Numbers may even drift back a little. But I’m certain desktops are not about to outsell laptops any time soon.


17 thoughts on “When a desktop computer makes more sense than a laptop

  1. I have a laptop. Bought it when I was doing my degree as I needed better computing than what was available at tech. It was useful for about 18 months but now it just sits around gathering dust.

    It did use it extensively not too long ago as my desktop had died and I couldn’t replace it immediately. But even then I had it hooked up to my desktop monitors and keyboard to use.

    Here’s the thing:
    If I could get a phone that was as powerful as my desktop, that I could plug into a base station so I could work on my desktop monitors/keyboard, and that could run all my Windows apps (including games) then I wouldn’t have my desktop PC. I’d just have my phone and my desktop workstation.

    Now, that phone doesn’t seem to be coming into existence because:

    Nobody’s making a x86 phone chip which pretty much precludes using my apps
    Nobody’s making a Windows phone any more. Not that Windows phone was ever a good idea. What was needed was a phone that ran PC Windows and not one that ran an ARM Windows look-a-like.
    I’m pretty sure that its impossible to get enough cooling into a phone to dissipate the power that my PC draws. ARM chips run at highish MHz and have enough cores but they still can’t compete with the shear computing power and speed of a PC. Even gaming laptops can’t, quite, compete.

    Given all that then the PC ain’t dead and it ain’t dying – and it won’t do until a phone is as powerful as a PC.

  2. Laptops would seem to be more important than ever, but I’d like to see a more seamless approach to docking them, connecting to external screens etc, so they are more useful for desktop work too.

  3. I don’t work for myself so I don’t really get any say in what equipment I get to use.

    At home I have an ancient Lenovo X220 with a SSD and 8GB RAM. It is fine for what I do at home.It has a docking station which is good too. I sometimes hook it up to a external monitor and that is good too.

    At work I have an 8-core i-something desktop PC with two monitors with 1TB of rotating rust and 16GB of RAM. I work in software development and those two monitors are essential to my productivity. I have around 20 tabs open in Chrome — please don’t try an push FF back onto me, I don’t care about your freedom arguments.

    The desktop runs an Ubuntu Linux; the notebook Linux Mint.

    The desktop wins at work. I left it running during lockdown and used Google Remote Desktop to access it from my home notebook. It worked a dream.

    Some day there will be a great way to access extra CPU/storage from a small device and have it all done in the cloud. However, today I cannot let my code live in the cloud (IPR issues) and my employer doesn’t want costs fluctuating up and down as things get down in the cloud, or locally, as needs want.

    To go to a notebook all the time I would need a great docking station, a 15-17in display, a minimum of 16GB RAM. Of course, my employer would have to pay for that. I am not a great believer in sponsoring my employer by supplying my own equipment for their business benefit.

    Also, I like the fact that most of us at work have desktops. It means meetings don’t have 10 people focused on typing into keyboards; we actually talk about the problem at hand instead.


  • Bill Bennett

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

%d bloggers like this: