True confession: Until recently, I never owned a desktop PC. My parents had one when I was in high school that I used (primarily to email girls), but once I hit college, it was laptops all the way. I always needed to have a mobile machine to work on, hopping from class, to a job, to the library, to another job, and back to the dorm, so a desktop never made sense. Besides, who had space in a cramped dorm room for a bulky tower and monitor combo anyway?
That trend continued through grad school, and as laptop prices continued to flatten out, I more or less stopped considering the desktop PC a legitimate form factor for anyone but hardcore gamers and those who needed heavy-duty workstation capabilities.
Even when I entered the tech industry, I worked in an office setting where we used notebooks connected to external monitors instead of desktops, and the only actual desktop PCs I used were builds I put together to test hardware in the lab.
Fast forward a few years, and I’m now in the pantheon of lucky SOBs that work from home. When you work from home, the entire house is your office, which makes having a lappie that much more magical. (Edit product photos in bed while Monday Night Football is on in the background? Don’t mind if I do!)
However, over the months I began to notice something: I started using the desktop(s) down in my test lab more than my laptop. Much more.
There’s always a solid desktop build down there in the tech lair, replete with the latest hot motherboard or other components that I’m testing, and frankly, using a powerful machine like that is something a body can get used to. I like being able to leave 30 browser tabs open on my great big monitor and work on a document and some graphics while Spotify churns out sweet tunes over my 5.1 speaker system–all without any noticeable degradation in application performance.
Let’s not forget to mention the never-ending supply of USB, video, and other ports, nor the ability to swap components in and out whenever I need to.
More importantly, after spending hours upon hours working at my desk with a big bad machine at my side and a large monitor in front of my face, using a laptop can be a terribly uncomfortable experience, comparatively speaking. The screen is too small for me to multitask, the keyboard is impossibly compact and makes my wrists cramp, and with too much demand on the system, laptops start complaining and slowing down like a preschooler at the end of a long shopping trip. That’s not to say that laptops are terrible devices; if you need solid computing capabilities on the go, you absolutely need one, and they’re tremendous for that use case.
But there’s just no comparison to working on a desktop. It’s like settling into an airplane cockpit where the controls are all around you and your reliable and extremely comfortable (orange, early 1990s) swivel desk chair is the captain’s chair. And you are the captain.
A few months ago, the screen went out on my (well over four-years-old) laptop. I haven’t bothered to replace it yet. And I’m sure I won’t unless and until I find myself needing to do more work on the road.