Are Desktop PCs Cheaper Than Laptops?

6 min read

The economic factor is one of the key aspects when buying a computer. You may be deciding between a desktop and a laptop, so you want to know how much to spend.

Desktop PCs are generally cheaper compared to laptops. Laptops can integrate the same components as a desktop computer but cost much more. The main reason is that laptop components are more difficult to manufacture, which increases their pricing.

Of course, there are several factors involved and various nuances when it comes to setting the price of a PC. Here, we are going to discuss them and explain the details that increase the cost of a laptop.

Are laptops more expensive than desktop computers?

Laptops tend to be more expensive than desktop Pcs. However, we want to make a very important clarification. When we say that laptops are more expensive than desktop PCs, we are referring to computers that have the same features, that is, the same processor, or at least one similar, the same RAM, graphics card, among other components.

For example, a laptop with a 10th generation i5, 16GB of RAM, and a GTX 2060 can be approximately 30% more expensive than a computer with the same features.

On the other hand, if we compare a desktop PC with this hardware with a laptop that has a 5th generation i3, 4 GB of RAM, and a graphics card integrated into the processor, obviously the desktop computer is more expensive.

It is essential to look at individual computer parts before comparing prices, especially if you do not know much about computers. The fact that a computer is cheaper or more expensive does not necessarily mean that it is older, newer, better, or worse.

In any case, encompassing all aspects, we can say that desktop computers are cheaper, at least globally.

Price comparison of a desktop computer vs a laptop with similar specifications

In this section, we will compare the standard prices of custom-built desktop computers versus manufacturer-exclusive laptops in the market. Why did we choose custom-built desktop computers? Because 80% of desktop computer users use custom-built versions.

In 2021 alone, there were 339 million prebuilt desktop computers shipped globally, which are all custom-built by different markets and stores, compared to the significantly fewer manufacturer or model-specific desktop PCs. Also, aside from being more widely used, custom-built desktop computers are the cheapest variants of a desktop computer. On the contrary, it is the opposite for laptops.

Most, if not all, laptops sold in the market are manufacturer-specific built, meaning they were not built by third parties. This is because all laptops have significantly compact parts and components that are often very difficult to be built by third parties. These are one of the factors why most laptops with the same specifications are more expensive than their desktop counterparts. Laptops are, most of the time, built by professionals with licenses authorized by a single manufacturer.

That’s why below, we will give you an overview regarding the comparison between a prebuilt and custom-built desktop computer, a DIY built desktop computer, and a manufacturer-specific laptop in terms of the standard market price. Please take note that for presold custom-built desktop PCs, we added at least US$50 as the average rate of the labor cost of the stores that build desktop PCs before selling them.

Low-Range Units Comparison­ — Suitable for High-School Students, Office Staff, and Other Basic Users:

COMPUTER SPECSDIY Custom-Built Desktop PCsPresold Custom-Built Desktop PCsDell Inspiron 14
CPUIntel Core i3 – 10th Gen.Intel Core i3 – 10th Gen.Intel Core i3 – 10th Gen.
GPUNvidia GTX 750ti 2GBNvidia GTX 750ti 2GBIntegrated Intel UHD 2GB
Memory4 GB DDR34 GB DDR34 GB DDR4
Storage128 GB SSD128 GB SSD128 GB SSD
Whole Unit Standard Price in USD$300$350$400

Mid-Range Units Comparison — Suitable for College Students, Researchers, and Businessmen:

COMPUTER SPECSDIY Custom-Built Desktop PCsPresold Custom-Built Desktop PCsAcer Aspire 5
CPUIntel Core i5 – 11th Gen.Intel Core i5 – 11th Gen.Intel Core i5 – 11th Gen.
GPUNvidia GTX 960 4GBNvidia GTX 960 4GBIntel Iris Xe Graphics 4GB
Memory8 GB DDR48 GB DDR48 GB DDR4
Storage512 GB SSD512 GB SSD512 GB SSD
Whole Unit Standard Price in USD$528$578$690

High-Range Units Comparison — Suitable for Media & Graphic Artists, Drafters, and Gamers:

COMPUTER SPECSDIY Custom-Built Desktop PCsPresold Custom-Built Desktop PCsMSI GE76 Raider
CPUIntel Core i7 – 11th Gen.Intel Core i7 – 11th Gen.Intel Core i7 – 11th Gen.
GPUNvidia RTX 3060 12GBNvidia RTX 3060 12GBNvidia RTX 3060 12GB
Memory16 GB DDR416 GB DDR416 GB DDR4
MotherboardB550-A ASUS ROG StrixB550-A ASUS ROG StrixN/A
Whole Unit Standard Price in USD$1,480$1,530$1,800

Reasons why laptops are more expensive than desktop PCs

A laptop is practical and versatile, as it can be carried anywhere. However, when comparing a personal computer that has these features with a desktop computer, the price may not be the most attractive.

Here, we discuss some of the reasons for the difference in price between the two models:

1. Portability

A desktop PC cannot be easily transported, as it is designed to be left in a fixed place. In contrast, laptops are made to be carried from one place to another, so much so that that is their main purpose.

That added feature dramatically increases the price, because it is an obvious advantage over desktop computers. The more useful and versatile a device is, the higher its price, even if it’s just a little more.

2. Component manufacturing

Although a laptop and a desktop computer may have the same parts, or at least equivalent to each other, their price will not be the same. Laptop components are smaller, more delicate, and require different technologies. Likewise, more engineering work must be done, which implies that its final cost is increased.

3. Battery inclusion

The battery is an essential part of laptops. Desktop computers, on the other hand, do not have this component. Therefore, although it is not the most expensive part of the laptop, it does have an impact on its final price.

4. Design and assembly

Most desktop computer builds can be done in a generic way. It is even possible to exchange parts between different computers quickly and easily. This is not the case with laptops, because their components have to be designed specifically and millimetrically for each model.

5. Accessories and peripherals

Almost always, when a desktop computer is cheaper than a laptop, it refers only to the tower. That is, the computer case where the main components of the equipment are included. But additionally, we have to add the monitor, keyboard, mouse, speakers, among others.

The laptops are ready to use without the need to install any additional accessories. In the long run, when buying the rest of the accessories and peripherals for a conventional computer, the price has been more or less similar.

6. Brand

As we have mentioned before, most desktop computers are generic, or parts can be purchased separately. As a result, there is no specific brand behind every computer, and although there is a warranty, it may not be directly with a brand.

In the case of laptops, they are made by specific manufacturers and reputable brands, which greatly increases their value in the market.

7. Operating System

Almost all laptops come with a pre-installed operating system, which in most cases is Windows. If so, the economic cost of the license is included in the final price of the laptop. Depending on the version of Windows, it may be cheaper or more expensive.

8. Marketing

Finally, the popularity and demand for laptops are very high in the market. And as with any product, the more marketing you do, the higher its price.

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Desktop PC vs laptop: which one to buy at the best price?

Based on the comparisons, by approximating, we have the following:

  • Low-range desktop computers are 18.75% cheaper than low-range laptops.
  • Mid-range desktop computers are 19.85% cheaper than mid-range laptops.
  • High-range desktop computers are 16.40% cheaper than high-range laptops.

Please take note that the ratio we computed are based on approximations only through the comparisons we conducted in this article using the standard prices of each unit in common electronic markets. Other laptop models and custom-built systems may vary in prices depending on common factors such as but not limited to the computer manufacturer, the PC builder, the hardware manufacturer, and the electronic store itself.

If you need portability, it is definitely recommended to invest in a laptop to be able to take it anywhere. A laptop can also be used for a desktop-ambiance setup if you have external hardware such as a monitor, keyboard, and mouse, and then connect them to your laptop. But if you are going to use the computer most of the time at home, it is preferable that you choose a desktop model to be more practical.

With desktop computers, once you buy the rest of the accessories and peripherals the price will be more or less the same. Still, you should remember that desktop PCs are more durable, easier to maintain, and more comfortable.

Of course, if you can afford both types of computers, it is best to have one of each version. Although, a laptop can be used for a desktop-ambiance setup with externals, it cannot beat the durability and customizability of a desktop CPU.

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Jefferson is the main author and administrator of I like sharing information and news about technology.