Laptop vs. Desktop for Web Development: Pros and Cons

laptop and technical parts of pc on tabletop at home

If you are looking for a new computer for all your coding and programming work, and feel stuck between the age-old debate of laptops vs. desktops, you aren’t alone.

People have their own preferences, but advocates of these groups present a lot of convincing evidence in favor of their choices.

Desktops are more affordable, but they have zero mobility. Are you sure you want to be lugging around a large, clunky desktop to the meeting room when all the other coders show up with smart and swanky laptops?

Yeah, not the most ideal scenario.

But laptops are stubborn horses when it comes to upgrades and repairs. You have very little room for maneuvering and must mostly deal with the specs you got when you bought the machine.

So, which is better for a professional web developer, laptops or desktops?

Let’s try and simplify that.

Factors that should affect your choice:

Generally, a web developer doesn’t need a hardcore, ultrafast processing machine. Most coding work is limited to working with a text editor, browser, terminal, template files, and such. For that, you don’t need to pay a high-end price for a heavy-duty gaming or design-specific laptop.

So, what should you look for when you’re comparing different machines for your next programming computer?

We’ve compiled a list.

Power and performance

If you were looking for a computer system for design work, hands-down we’d ask you to choose a PC over a laptop any day. PCs are mean machines when it comes to pristine web or graphic design work. A laptop doesn’t compare.

But for a web developer, the choice isn’t that simple. You may not need a lot of horsepower for a coding computer system but you still need speed and agility.

While something as lightweight as 8GB RAM can be considered okay, err on the side of caution by choosing at least 16 GB RAM. A quad-core processor with 3GHz speed and the i5 or i7 processor should be on your checklist.

Plus, also focus on a computer that comes with SSD (solid state drive) instead of HDD (hard disk drive). SSDs are safer, petite, and offer more speed than a standard hard drive.

Screen Size & Resolution

After performance capabilities, the screen’s size and resolution is the most important consideration to keep in mind.

You want something large enough and clear enough to see the multiple lines of codes you are working on. A good screen resolution also ensures you don’t suffer unnecessary eyestrain, plus with multiple windows open on your system, a large screen allows you to toggle between them with more efficiency and ease.

Upgrades and repairs

Another thing to keep in mind is the amount of wear and tear your system will sustain so you can budget for future upgrades and repairs.

Laptops are notoriously bad when it comes to upgrades and fixes — most components are welded with the motherboard so repairs aren’t as easy. You will most likely have to buy a new system.

PCs are much better when upgrading or fixing a broken part. They are also easier and cheaper to do. But not Apple computers. With Apple machines, much like laptops, a new system is usually the answer.

Computer security

While coders practice secure programmatic practices already, it’s imperative to cover all your bases by investing in the physical safety of your computer too.

Data disposition companies provide you with a responsible way to take care of all your data disposition needs, ensuring none of your old devices carry any sensitive data that can be taken advantage of.

Additionally, investing in a PC compared to a laptop may provide you with an added layer of security as computer thieves don’t favor desktops — too large and ubiquitous to carry.

Ergonomic working conditions

You’re going to spend a lot of time sitting behind your computer as a web developer. While laptops offer great mobility, allowing you a change of scenery and position every now and then, desktops are far better ergonomically.

You can change the position of the keyboard and mouse, giving you more ease of work. Laptops are fixed-distance machines and are bad for posture, wrist health, and neck, shoulders, and back muscles.

Laptop vs. Desktop for Programming




Power and Performance

A desktop is more powerful than a laptop but for most coding work it’s unnecessary. Since you don’t need a lot of raw power in your coding computer, a laptop offers the best balance between speed and performance.

Bonus value: laptops are lightweight.

Mobility and connectivity

If mobility is your concern, desktops don’t provide that.

Desktops are also difficult to connect remotely and may offer a dated experience to your client when you have to present your work in the meeting room.

Laptops are the most ideal computer systems when it comes to offering portability and ease of connectivity.

You can carry them anywhere and connect them to large monitors with no hassle.

Upgrades and repairs

Desktop computers are easiest and cheaper than laptops when you need to get them fixed. Laptops may not be easy to upgrade but there isn’t a lot of need for regular upgrades as coding work isn’t too heavy on decently-powered systems.

Computer security

Physically, desktops are more secure as they are difficult to steal. Laptops are stolen all the time so you’ll need enhanced security features to keep your data secured on it.

Ergonomic working conditions

A desktop workstation is the best for programmers as it offers improved ergonomics and more flexible arm, wrist, and shoulder movements. Laptops offer higher mobility but restrict a lot of your natural movements when you are typing, often leading to severe cases of carpal tunnel syndrome.


Ultimately, it comes down to what works best for you.

If you are at a stage of your career where you can afford to splurge on your computer system, build a good developer desktop setup for yourself. Sure, it doesn’t have the mobility, connectivity, and convenience of a laptop, but it improves your work efficiency and your posture, too.

But if you prefer ease and convenience and find that you work best when you can keep moving from one place to the next, a laptop is what you need.



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