Are you are ready to throw your desktop out the window and get the best desktop replacement laptop out there? Well, It’s not that simple and by now you’ve probably haven’t had any luck finding a laptop that would entirely replace everything you could do with your desktop.
That entirely depends on the type of user you are and what your specific needs are. Some of you want gaming level performance, others can settle with basic computing tasks while others may be more interested in multimedia editing or designing in 3D.
Heck some of you just want a huge display just because fonts will be bigger and easier on your poor eyes but unlike a desktop hopefully portable enough to carry too. Let’s not forget the vast array of ports you had with your desktop which you didn’t even know what to do with and for some odd reason you want them again on your laptop.
If you browse around the web they’ll simply throw the most powerful and expensive monsters at you thinking that should cover it for all of you. But..some of these monsters won’t be even reach the next Starbucks without being recharged along the way. Let alone plugging them without causing a short circuit and depriving everyone in the building of light (your pocket as well). In other words, not all of us need such high performance as long as we can run the applications we used on our desktops right? Or at least without any lag or any other issues.
Well look no further…
In this article you’ll find a complete guide on how to pick the best desktop replacement laptop for the type of work (or time wasting activity) you do , along with a list of the best desktops replacement laptops for each of you as of 2017.
- Top 5 Best Desktop Replacement Laptops
- The Best Desktop Replacement Laptop
- Best Touchscreen Desktop Replacement Laptops
- Best Convertible Desktop Replacement Laptop – Great Battery
- Best Desktop Replacement Laptop – Mid Performance
- Best Desktop Replacement Laptop under 1000 – Great Performance
- Lightweight Desktop Replacement Laptop – High Performance
- How To Buy The Best Desktop Replacement Laptop
- Recommended Specs For Desktop Replacement Laptops
Top 5 Best Desktop Replacement Laptops
Whether you are a professional 3D designer, a gamer , or multimedia editor or simply an office/home user you should find a suitable laptop for your budget from this list. Sure I will list some of the monsters suggested all around the web (some of you actually need them) but also laptops that other may find useful for their other less demanding needs. So stick with it and keep scrolling down , eventually you will find your perfect match.
For those not wanting to read a long guide, in a nutshell, here’s what you should be aiming for without hindering performance*.
Of course you can always go far higher up than these specs
What specs should I get?
|Purpose||Processor & RAM
|Every Day Use, Movies, Basic 2D Games||Intel Core i5 and above, 8GB RAM min||Intel Iris Graphics, Intel HD||full HD||512GB-1TB HDD|
|Gaming ( 3 D )||Intel Core i7 HQ or i7 U Series (on a budget) plus 16GB RAM||NVIDIA GeForce GTX 10-series (min GTX 960M)||full HD or UHD, IPS||HDD or SSD|
|Multimedia Editing||Intel Core i5 or i7, HQ or U series
|Any recent dedicated graphics card||‘ IPS, Full HD, +85% sRGB (color space) , good brightness levels & contrast ratios||SDD: preferably PCIe over SATA
HDD: on a budget
|Professional 3D Designers||Intel Core i7 HQ or HK (the higher the frequency the better), Intel Core i7 U series(on a budget)
|Nvidia Quadro/ AMD Fire Pro (workstation cards),
or 960 GTXM for consumer cards and above
|full HD||SSD preferably latest technologies (NVMe, PCIe)|
The Best Desktop Replacement Laptop
High Performance Laptop, Useful for All Users, Best for 3D Work Design & Gaming
CPU: Intel Core i7-7820 HK Processor | RAM: 16GB DDR4 RAM | GPU: GeForce GTX 1070 8GB GDDR5 Graphics Card | Storage: 512GB NVMe PCIe SSD + 1TB 7200RPM HDD | Display: FHD IPS (1920×1080)
Ports: x4 USB 3.0 Ports, SD Card, DVD Reader, Ethernet, HDMI 2.0, Mini Display, Thunderbolt 3 USB 3.1 Type C port, headphone & mic jack
Extra: G-SYNC Display, Illuminated Chiclet Keyboard
Let’s start with this beast. This is overall the best desktop replacement laptop for just about everything. Although far too overpowered for most of you, if you have the budget, why not invest on it? This is as close as you can get to a desktop for just about every purpose:
Not only does it have the fastest clock speed for processors (HK series as opposed to HQ), it’s also of the latest generation (7th or Kaby Lake). That along with the HK series ,an “unlocked” version of the HQ series, will give you the best processor there is as far as laptops go.
On top of that, you also get one of the latest Graphics cards there is: Nvidia GeForce GTX 1070. There’s only one graphics card more powerful than the 1070 , the 1080GTX which just recently came out and is not available on many laptops these days but only a few.
But their overall performance may not compare to the ASUS shown here due to the HK series and along with the latest storage technology there is PCIe NVME. You’ll have the fastest launching times and overall reading/loading speeds from any software you come across plus you get an additional 1TB HDD to store any files you are not using or any library of videos, photos, projects, that do not require blazing fast reading speeds.
While the cooling system is mostly ignored when shopping for desktop replacement laptops (which is just as important as the components to keep it performing at its best), this one has of the best designs and cooling systems to keep your laptop with the same performance at all times and extend its lifetime too.
What about the design? Well when it comes to designing desktop replacements or high end laptops, ASUS is one of the top brands you can go for. They don’t just swap in a high end graphics card and CPU and call it a day like some brands may do. The design is always optimized to make sure it performs with the specifications its actually listing on its description.
Now take a look at the ports listed, I just couldn’t find a laptop with all of these ports rolled into one. You get x4 USB ports to connect your external monitor, printer, keyboard, mouse just like your regular good old desktop & an USB Type C port with thunderbolt connectivity. The latter will allow you to connect two external monitors with it AND also give you insane transfer speeds when extracting files from your laptop to an external storage device.
Lastly, the display has great brightness levels and resolution (1080p) with an IPS panel for wide viewing angles. The color space gamut is about 110% of the sRGB space and is very color accurate as well.
Unfortunately , like most high end laptops with huge and beautiful displays both the weight and battery life are not great: 8 pounds and ~3:40 hours of battery. Needless to say, this one is really going to be a desktop replacement it’ll run any application flawlessly and will need to be plugged in too.
Best Touchscreen Desktop Replacement Laptops
2. 2017 HP Envy
TouchScreen, Decent Gaming Performance, Good for Multimedia Editing
CPU: Intel Core i7-7500U Dual-Core Processor | RAM: 16GB DDR4-2133 SDRAM (2x 8GB, expandable to 32GB) | Storage: 1TB 7200rpm Serial ATA Hard Drive | GPU: NVIDIA GeForce 940MX (2GB DDR3L delicated) | Display: Full HD (1920 x 1080) (IPS)
Ports: x3 USB 3.0 Ports, 1x USB Type C. SD Card Reader, x1 VGA, x1 HDMI, Headphone Jack, Ethernet
Extra: Built in Webcam, DVD Burner, BlueTooh 4.0, AC Wireless,Fingerprint reader, Backlit Keyboard
For those who can’t afford the ASUS (probably most of you) but still want an all around desktop-like laptop that can perform just about every task out decently, the HP Envy 2017 your best alternative.
The CPU is neither of the HQ series or the HK series (both four cores) but the clock speed remains about the same (2.7GHz up to 3.5GHz) and in fact not every application out there benefits significantly from a multiple cores however they’re very useful to make multitasking between heavy duty apps run without any lag. Luckily, the RAM, which is far more important for multitasking, is of the latest protocol there is DDR4 and can be upgraded up to 32GB.
The Storage is just an HDD, there’s no SSD, but it has 1TB of capacity which will allow you to save around 200 HD movies.
On the flip side, it has a dedicated graphics card: 940GTX which is just behind the recommended baseline GTX 960M for gaming but this is sufficient as long as you don’t run yours at the highest settings.
Multimedia editors in particular will benefit from this card since they don’t really require the latest nor the oldest to rip off the benefits of having one, as long as it’s a recent one the software will take advantage of 3D effects with no issues. Professional 3D designers will also see a benefit from it as long as their models are not extremely complex or huge is size.
The display being full HD or 1920×1080 also comes with a wide gamut coverage (110%+ of the sRGB) for designers out there but the brightness levels are average , definitely not something you can take out on a sunny day.
Lastly, the battery is not great but its not that bad actually : ~5 hours which is what you would expect after cutting down a few extra features such as the quad core processor . The weight remains 6.8lb which is the avg for most laptops of this size.
This is an all around desktop replacement laptop, you can do pretty much any type of activity or run any software without issues as long as you never go to maxed out settings or expect the fastest performance in all instances. For half the price of the ASUS, this is a pretty good deal.
TouchScreen, No Graphics Card, Basic Use, Budget
Ports: x3 USB ports (x2 2.0 and x1 3.0), HDMI, Headphone Jack, SD Card Reader, Ethernet
Extra: AC Wifi & Bluetooth , HD WebCam built in microphone, DVD+/-RW, BackLit Keyboard
If you are simply looking for a desktop replacement for basic computer tasks (word editing, movies, web browsing, Microsoft Office, basic video & image editing etc) and not any intensive apps for multimedia editing, 3D games or 3D work and also be able to save a few hundreds, the Dell Inspiron will fit the bill.
As you can see from the specs the processor isn’t quad core nor the latest generation (it’s the 6th generation , the previous one like most laptops) but the difference between these two generations is not insignificant. Although the storage capacity is 1 TB , the technology used isn’t as fast as other laptop’s shown here ( 5400 RPM ) . These two specs however are not needed for basic computing tasks (a latest CPU & SSD for storage) but are always a huge bonus to speed things up should we need to run anything heavy software later on. Luckily, laptops have come a long way in terms of performance and there are actually many low end laptops like this one that can in fact run just about any basic computing task you come across as well as allow you to keep your sanity in check with movies and a few games.
Like many desktop replacements of its size, it does have 16GB of RAM for multitasking and you should be able to do it with no issues. Besides, having enough storage capacity for all the heavy files you may ever come across it can also be upgraded to an Solid State Drive or a faster reading storage device (7200 RPM) should you be in need of an increase in performance later on.
Connectivity wise it has a myriad of ports as you can see, most importantly plenty of USB 3.0 ports (x3) for all of your external devices.
On the flip side, the display is still full HD and glossy (like most touchscreen laptops). It’s bright and clear although not as color accurate as other models but if you are not a professional in multimedia editing ( photos , videos ) then this isn’t noticeable at all.
The only real issue as far as basic usage goes is the weight, it’s quite heavy and definitely not something you wish to carry around all day. The battery life is also average hitting up 4 hours but with that weight size (7.4lb) it’ll be pretty much plugged in or always close to an outlet.
This is a pretty good option if all you are looking for is a laptop to entirely replace your desktop for your basic usage and freeing you up of some space by replacing your desktop with a wireless computer.
Best Convertible Desktop Replacement Laptop – Great Battery
TouchScreen, Mid 3D Gaming Performance, Good Multimedia Editing, Mid Level 3D Design
CPU: Intel Core i7-6500U Dual-Core Processor 2.5GHz to 3.1GHz | RAM: 12GB DDR4-2133 SDRAM | Storage: 1TB 5400 RPM SATA | GPU: NVIDIA GeForce 940MX graphics 2GB vRAM | Display: Full HD TouchScreen 2 in 1 Laptop-Tablet convertible
Ports: 1x USB Type-C port, 1x USB 3.0, 1x USB 2.0, 1x HDMI, SD Card Reader,
Extra: Wireless AC, Bluetooth , HD Webcam w/ microphone, No Optical Drive, Backlit Keyboard
Not every user out there wants the latest and best performance for their work or games, for those looking to get a decent performance across all applications including 3D Games, Multimedia Editing ad Professional 3D Design or modeling while still enjoying a decent battery life this is the laptop to go for.
It has the same CPU as the Dell 7000 shown above which is on par with most choices hear except with the fact that it’s a dual core processor, the clock speed however remains high and that’s all that matter to run any application. The RAM however is only 12GB but can be upgraded up to 16GB. It also offers a slow storage device 5400 RPM HDD but with enough storage capacity for all purposes 1 TB. The hard drive itself can be upgraded to have an SSD but it can also actually hold two drives so you can have a hybrid set up : an SSD to increase the overall performance of your programs and OS (decreasing up boot up times to seconds) and keep the 1TB HDD to store all of your heavy, video, project files. Even without any of these upgrades you can throw in some heavy multitasking: +20 web browsing apps, video player and other common applications all at the same time with no lagging issues.
However makes this model useful for all users across is the graphics card, definitely not the latest or the recommended one to start with (960GTX vs 940MX) but if you are a multimedia editing ( photos , videos ) then this isn’t an issue really as long as you have a dedicated GPU you can rip off the benefits of having one with all of your software.
3D Gamers and 3D Professional designers however will have to settle with project sizes and settings that are neither too high or too complex to deal with. If you can deal with that that, then there would be no lagging issues. This is the case for most 3D users out there so it should affect only the most advanced projects in 3D or higher settings for games than full HD.
The display also doesn’t fall behind: 114% sRGB coverage , has good screen brightness (at max levels) and is very color accurate making making one of the best deals for multimedia editing and design.
The battery is above 6 hours a quite significant amount above the average of laptops of this size (3-4 hours) however it remains quite heavy at 6.5lb despite being a tablet-laptop.
All users should benefit from the performance, vivid display and good battery life this one offers. Definitely a better option than the above but it’s a couple of hundred dollars more expensive.
Best Desktop Replacement Laptop – Mid Performance
5. HP OMEN
Great Display, Decent Battery, Good Gaming Performance, Great Multimedia Editing, Good 3D Work Performance
CPU: Intel Core i7-6700HQ (2.6 GHz, up to 3.5 GHz, 6 MB cache, 4 cores) | RAM: 12GB-32GB DDR4-2133 SDRAM | Storage: 1TB HDD + 256GB-512GB SSD| GPU: NVIDIA GeForce GTX 965M (4 GB GDDR5 dedicated) | Display: UHD 4K IPS anti-glare (3840 x 2160)
Ports: x2 USB 3.0, X1 USB 2.0, HDMI, Ethernet, Headphone jack, SD Card Reader
Extras: HD WebCam with built in microphone, backlit keyboard, DVD Burner, Accelerometer Sensor, AC Wifi, Bluetooth
This is a better option than the Dell 2in1 if you want to get a better and more ideal desktop replacement for all purposes without many restrictions for intensive applications, however the price will start to increase significantly. But the increase in performance is nearly in all departments.
The Processor on this one has 4 cores and goes up to 3.5GHz , significantly greater improvement over the last two processors seen above. Multitasking between heavy apps should pose no issues with this one as well as rendering heavy multimedia files be it for video or 3D designs/models. The RAM stays the same (12 GB) but it’s upgradeable to 16GB.
The best part is of course the graphics card, GTX 965M with 4 GB of vRAM as it will allow you to comfortably use 3D software with minimal issues, this is the recommended starting graphics card for gamers and even for 3D professional designers, the 4GB of vRAM in particular (compared to the 2GB of vRAM above) allows for greater scenes and models with 3D applications. Gamers in particular can benefit from choosing higher configurations of this model which include the latest graphics card GTX 1070 but the cost will increase significantly from the base model presented here.
That’s not all where your money is going, you also get a 4k resoluton display the highest on this list for the best viewing experience when editing or when having a good time with movies, games and anything image related. The increased resolution along with the IPS Panel also results in a wide gamut coverage ( 171% of the sRGB) far greater than any laptop listed here with great color accuracy and decent brightness levels(higher than average).
Lastly, the storage device is the most ideal configuration for all users. An SSD (the latest technology PCIe and Protocol too NVMe) to increase the performance of just about any software you may have and an HDD to store all of your old projects and files.
Best Desktop Replacement Laptop under 1000 – Great Performance
6. Acer Aspire Nitro Black Edition
Great Graphics Card and Affordable
CPU: Intel Core i7-6700HQ 2.6 GHz (6MB Cache) | RAM: 8GB DDR4 Dual-Channel Memory | Storage: 1TB 5400RPM Hard Drive | GPU: NVIDIA GeForce GTX 960M with 4GB GDDR5 VRAM | Display: Full HD Screen
Ports: x2 USB 3.0, HDMI, Ethernet, Headphone jack, SD Card Reader, x1 thunderbolt 3 (USB 3.1 Type C),
Extras: HD WebCam with built in microphone, backlit keyboard, DVD Burner, AC Wifi, Bluetooth
If the HP OP was too expensive for your budget but you still want that graphics card to perform 3D work and deal with 3D games at full HD settings, then if you are willing to make a few sacrifices (for now) the Acer Aspire will cost you almost half the price.
How? In terms of performance it stays with a quad core processor with 2.6-3.5 GHz clock speed (luckily since you can’t really replace it later) and of course the most recommended baseline graphics card for any 3D Work: NVIDIA GeForce GTX 960M with 4GB vRAM. Again the large vRAM as opposed to RAM will allow you to deal with huge scenes in 3D design and more complex models, plus the 960M is a stable card among all 3D applications this includes 3D modeling applications as well , gaming at full HD settings will not be a problem but maxed out settings of course will but who runs higher than that on laptops these days?
In case you haven’t notice the reason why it’s so affordable is the fact that it only comes with 8GB RAM and HDD storage, both of these features would have to be upgraded to match up the performance of the laptops above. You can get it up to 16GB RAM and swap in an additional SSD to have along with your HDD. However, you can test the waters if your satisfied with this configuration first, if not, just upgrade it yourself rather the pay the company to do it. Obviously doing it on your own will result in a huge saving of money. You can also opt to go for the upgraded version here before purchase but this will cost just about the same of the HP OMEN shown above.
Either way, the display quality remains the same and pretty good for those into multimedia editing or those who simply want an excellent screen: full HD and with an IPS display. You’ll get great viewing angles, good brightness levels, high contrast ratio and wide sRGB color gamut coverage(94%) with this one too. Of course having a good display will make it both heavy (6.8 lb) and with a short battery life too 4 hours.
Other extra perks worth mentioning are: good quality keyboard, great sound quality and great cooling system to keep everything at its full performance.
Lightweight Desktop Replacement Laptop – High Performance
Great 3D Work Performance, Gaming and Multimedia Editing
CPU: Intel Core i7-6700HQ Quad Core Processor (2.6-3.5GHz) | RAM: 16GB (8GB x2) DDR4 2400MHz | Storage: 256GB M.2 SATA SSD + 1TB (5400rpm) GPU: NVIDIA’s GeForce GTX 1060 6B vRAM | Display: Full HD 1920×1080
Extra: AC Wireless, Bluetooth, Full HD webcamwith built in microphone, Backlight Keyboard w/ Anti-Ghost Key, VR Ready
Ports: x1 USB 2.0, x3 USB 3.0, x2 USB 3.1, Thunderbolt 3, HDMI, Display Port, Kensignton Lock, Headphone Jack, SD Card Reader, Ethernet
Among the best desktop replacement laptops with the biggest display size, this takes the crown in portability/performance ratio. Despite having all of the features you are seeing listed , it only weights around 5lb while that may not sound appealing to the general consumer used with 13.3” laptops having 3lb, among the desktop replacement laptops this is a significant decrease from the avg. 7lb most offer.
So what do you get with this size and weight? Nearly everything you need for just about any task or any user out there be it basic computing tasks, gaming in 3D, professional 3D design or multimedia editing. Why? It holds all of the important features: SSD for storage, Quad Core Processor and one of the latest Graphics card for the general consumer, GTX 1060 with 6GB of vRAM for greater 3D performance.
It doesn’t fall behind on its display quality either: full HD, IPS for great viewing angles, nearly 100% of color coverage in sRGB space along with decent brightness levels.
So what’s the issue with this one? It runs quiet hot but that’s the trade off for having a lightweight design and all of that performance packed into it, luckily it does have a great cooling system to keep the system from frying and from burning your lap if you decide to use it like that (it has two fans in different locations as opposed to one).
However it is difficult to upgrade its components due its design. But you won’t find a lightweight laptop of its size with the same performance just yet, you might be waiting for one or two years for that to come.
How To Buy The Best Desktop Replacement Laptop
This section is mostly written for those who don’t know what specifications they need to recreate what they were doing with their desktops before they decided to drop it off in front of the street. First of all what type of user are you?
If you are a basic user looking to get more space in their living room and simply want to do basic tasks such as word processing and watching movies, then obviously there’s no need to overspend more than 700$ for a laptop. A huge display is probably the only worthy investment,
A desktop replacement laptop for movie watching or a few simple games does not require a heavy duty and powerful laptop either, just about any laptop can be your desktop replacement. Of course, the screen size and display are two features you may want to replicate. Watching movies is not very battery demanding so expect +1 or +2 hours on battery life when reading reviews. While most laptops out there come with a port for you to connect an external display, that’s not something you want to rely on when you want the best viewing experience. So stick with a full HD resolution which is ideal for entertainment unless you can put up with squinting your eyes all the time on a smaller size laptop or ultra book.
Unfortunately no laptop will ever match up the performance of a desktop when it comes to intensive gaming, you simply get more and better components from a desktop but there are laptops today so powerful that will let you run your games at high settings with few issues. Both the graphics card and the processor along with the display will give you the best gaming experience just like your desktop.
The main issue with gaming laptops is the fact that most manufacturers take any of the latest CPU along with a powerful GPU and leave the rest to draw and luck, the design is much less important for them since consumers are generally looking at the GPU and CPU. It’s best for you to read reviews of performance (even when the specs seem lower) before drawing any conclusions on which is the best.
Professional Editing and/or 3D Modeling
For 3D Modeling and any type of editing or design, depending on the size of your files or the complexity of your projects there are workstation laptops with state of the art components especially designed for an increase in performance when dealing with such software.
These laptops usually have workstation cards: quadro or firepro and processors that you might have never heard of (HK or Xeon). Alternatively, if you deal with mid-range projects and software that does not require the most expensive desktops out there, you’ll be pretty satisfied with gaming laptops since they also focus on components for intensive 3D applications and models. Generally these are enough for multimedia editing and 3D modeling even among professionals.
However for those dealing with multimedia files and editing an external monitor (which has far greater quality than a laptop’s display) is always recommended for the final touch ups of your editing.
Recommended Specs For Desktop Replacement Laptops
Regardless of what you plan on doing with your desktop replacement laptop, here are the general features to look out for if you want to match up the performance a desktop or the feel of a desktop. They’re not going to be low end I can tell you even for basic home use, I’m sure your desktop had more power than that! A maxed out desktop replacement laptop can cost as much as several dozens of Chromebooks!
Due their size the best desktop replacement laptops come with features usually found only in desktops, like dual hard drives, expansion ports, and extra-large screens (up to 20 inches diagonally), full sized keyboard and more ports than you’ll ever use.
The very one thing where laptops can compete against desktops is RAM. You can get pretty much have the same performance from RAM with your laptop as your desktop. Ideally you’d want to maximize RAM as much as possible even if you think it won’t be useful. RAM is cheap these days so it shouldn’t affect your budget that much and it’s easily upgradeable on most laptops that are in the 15.6” and above size.
Why bother with more RAM? RAM is one of the key features that will allow you to heavily multitask between your apps just like your good old desktop, if you go easy on it you may have some lagging issues even when dealing with small fry software and games in the near future. Try to aim for 8GB and preferably 16GB. Either way all laptops with huge displays offer you with the ability to upgrade them so you’re ok in picking up one with 8GB for now until you think you need more.
This is the brain of the computer and the one responsible to run your applications with blazing fast speeds and also will allow you run the most intensive and heavy duty software there is which includes games and 3D software for professional and multimedia editing (videos, photos or audio). Most desktop replacement laptops (since they’re bigger than 13.3”) will have enough space therefore come with the best and latest CPUs for laptops starting with intel core i5-i7 all the way to the ones you’ve never even heard of.
It’s pretty rare to find low performance CPUs in huge laptops unless they are from 10 years ago. Nevertheless you still need to know what each can do and what they mean so you can buy the proper CPU for your applications and purposes. Here’s a quick breakdown:
Examples: i7-7500U. i7-6700HQ, i7-6820HK, i7-7820HK, Xeon E3-1535M
U: These are processor with 2 cores. These are recommended for home users, basic applications such word editing and watching videos.
HQ: These are the best choice for all professionals dealing with 3D work, gamers and multimedia editors. Optional for basic tasks and home users or just movies.
HK: These are more useful for professionals dealing with 3D Modeling Applications with the highest complexity of detail in their projects. These processors have the highest frequency speeds as of today.
Xeon : These are special CPUs designed with many cores usually 12. They’re not useful or even have an increase in performance for professional, editors and gamers. Too many cores (past 6) can’t be efficiently used by most software applications today. They’re only a good choice for programmers dealing with servers and several virtual machines. If you don’t know what those terms mean, don’t worry, only a few brave souls reading this know what they can do.
If for some reason you thought that an intel core i7 from a desktop will have the same performance as the ones labeled “intel core 7” in a laptop, think again. Not even close, laptop processors are different depsite the same label and are especially designed to fit in the small space that laptops have available and even then they can’t achieve their full performance due to the lack of ventilation.
Technology is thriving while the gap was huge a few years ago where an intel core i3 desktop processor would match the best i7 processor from a laptop today the differences are shorter but still significant.. An Intel core i7 for example is about 20% less powerful on laptops.
The bottom line is…
If you want to match up the performance of your desktop on your laptop, you may want to invest on the highest CPU (clock speed) you can get. This is more important than the number cores since virtually all software out there doesn’t take advantage of having more than 4 cores or even any number of multiple cores. If you are using basic apps, you will not notice any difference whatsoever if you go for a mid range CPU on your laptop.
Basic User & Entertainment: i5 core U series and above.
Gamers: i7 HQ (quad core) is recommended. i7 U on a budget.
Professionals 3D designers & Multimedia Editors: HQ series and above. HK series is highly recommended. U series on a budget for multimedia editing.
This will dictate how fast your applications in 3D be it games or for editing files will run. They also have an impact on anything related to editing ( video and image ) but the difference is not significant nor apparent unless there’s 3D work involved. Before you decide on which graphics card to go for your needs, let’s go over what each can do:
Integrated Graphics Card
These are the graphics card integrated into the CPU, they share the same resources such as the amount of memory available. Obviously, it would be nice for that graphics card to have two separate memories: one for the CPU and one for the graphics card itself right?
But this is enough for basic gaming, home use and watching movies and anything not graphic intensive especially in 3D. If you’re looking for a desktop replacement laptop for all of these purposes, you can settle for these they are the cheapest and more energy efficient (more battery life). They’re labeled as “Intel HD Graphics” or “Intel Iris”.
Dedicated Graphics Card
These are the ones that have their own resources and are positioned separately from the CPU. They come with their own memory , freeing up the CPU to use its own memory by itself. Since they have their own memory they obviously perform better than integrated graphics card. So if you’re application is graphic intensive there will benefits from having a dedicated graphics card but that doesn’t mean you can go ahead and get the first huge laptop with a dedicated card:
Two types of Dedicated Graphics Card
Consumer/Gaming Graphics Cards
These are the ones you’re mostly familiar with, they’re used by gamers, media editors and even 3D designers and professionals. Ex: NVIDIA GeForce, AMD Radeon.
Workstation Graphics Card
These are special graphics cards solely for the purpose of getting stuff done especially projects and work that require the highest amount of detail and complexity. These are rarely needed even by professionals 3D designers but rarely for multimedia editors. Ex: NVIDIA Quadro, AMD FirePro.
What graphics should I get?
|Purpose||Recommended Series||Recommended GPU for highest settings/performance||Budget GPU/ Mid Settings/ Mid lvl Project Size|
|Gaming||Nvidia GeForce GTX 10-series, AMD RX 400-series||Nvidia GTX 1080, AMD RX 480||NVIDIA GTX 960M, NVIDIA GTX 940M and above|
|Multimedia Editing||NVIDIA GTX 960M||Any|
|Professional 3D Designers||Nvidia Quadro||Nvidia Quadro , AMD Fire Pro||NVIDIA GTX 960M and above|
|Every Day Use, Movies, Basic 2D Games||Intel HD Graphics, Intel Iris||Any||Any|
What if I don’t need a dedicated Graphics Card?
If your budget allows and you really want to recreate the performance of your laptop, get a dedicated graphics card anyways. Why?
Everything image related: video, photos, animations in 2D or 3D will be done by the graphics card and your CPU will be free to take care of everything else. In a nutshell you’ll be doing your processor a huge favor by giving it more memory(its very own memory) and resources to handle computations therefore increasing the overall speed of your laptop. It’s not required for some of you but keep that in mind.
However if budget is restricted and you are a basic user, you’re better off investing on a better processor than a graphics card. Otherwise, the rest of you should be going for a dedicated graphics card, any will better than nothing if you are on a extreme budget as long as you keep your processor as high as you can afford it to be.
The third most important feature to make your laptop as close as possible to your desktop, the monitor. In general a laptop will never be able to match up the resolution, brightness and color accuracy of a desktop. A laptop has to save power as much as it can and does not allow for too many components for displaying features.
However because components reduce in size over the years, laptops are getting pretty close. This is what you should aim for to try and match up your desktop display:
Resolution: full HD for all, 4k resolution is nice but takes a toll on your pocket and battery life.
Size: Anything Above 15.6” for just about any purpose. You won’t miss your desktop if you go for the highest display size available.
IPS Panel: this feature will allow you to increase the color accuracy and give you better viewing angles, a must for pretty much any user especially for multimedia editing.
If you are a multimedia editor (mostly for 2D images) , make sure your laptop has:
- Greater color coverage (+85% of the sRGB color space, forget aRGB)
- Near perfect color accuracy
- Matte display (unless you like to see your own reflection while editing).
- +15.6” inches
- 4k resolution may not scale with your software, check with their website.
- The suitable sizes for desktop replacement laptops have the biggest size, the reason being the extra space allows for more features, better , bigger and more components , ports, on the laptop to resemble a desktop as much as they can. The bigger your laptop is the more space there will be for extra stuff (more Hard drives, ports, cooling system, fans,etc).
- The highest display sizes have 1600×900 resolution. A little more money will get you full HD 1920×1080 to resemble your desktop’s closely. Movies and videos today only have full HD so theres no need to go for 4k resolution if thats what you have in mind.
- Matte finish are generally given to the biggest displays.
- The higher the display the less touchscreen options you’ll have. The Razer Blade Pro is one of the few that do offer one.
- IPS Panels are not common for huge displays, you better read reviews and do your research if you want to find if it they have OK viewing angles in case they don’t come with an IPS Panel
Your desktop had definitely enough storage for all your files and even your family files as well. The reason is simple, there’s more space to fit in cheap and big hard drives within it. Desktop replacement laptops can have the same performance in terms of storage, there’s plenty of space to fit in even 2 different storage devices. The bigger yours is the more storage devices can fit in.
Almost all desktop replacement laptops are upgradeable in terms of storage too, most will allow you to swap in a new hard drive on top of what’s already installed.
However there are two routes to go with as far as storage technology goes which depends entirely on what you used to pull or what you want from desktop laptop:
This is enough for basic home use, watching movies and simple games. They come with large storage capacities (1TB ) for the money. Roughly speaking you can fit in 200 movies within it.
However if you want your laptop to resemble the performance of your desktop or simply want a boost in performance for your needs, then an SSD is the way to go. They’re more expensive per GB and usually they do not come with 1TB of storage unless you go for the real expensive monsters out there.
Regardless if you are a gamer, multimedia editor or professional 3D designer an SSD is almost a must have if you want an increase in overall in performance from your software and less reading/savng/loading times of your files and apps (even your OS will boot up in secs). But if you are on a budget an HDD won’t hinder your performance.
Your desktop had so many ports that you probably never got to use all of them. While a laptop can’t compete with your desktop in this department, you can get the necessary ports for every device you used to connect to your desktop: printer, monitor, webcam, keyboard, scanner, mouse and even a USB hub (for more ports).
If you need a huge amount of USB ports opt for laptops build within the last year (2016) or even (2015) and go as high as you can for their display size, a bigger laptop allows for more space for external peripherals. New laptops come with the latest USB type C ports which is not as useful as the good ol’ regular USB ports we are all used to.
Other ports to consider
HDMI, DVI, miniDisplay: any of them is good for an external display and luckily all desktop replacement laptops or any laptop above 15.6” is 100% certain to have at least one of them so yo don’t really have to woryr in this edpartment.
Net Work Jack: No Wifi? Then you need one of these to directly connect your modem or to simply have faster speeds. Luckily all laptops above 15.6” are sure to have it.
RJ-11 phone jack: This might be useful for using a FAX to receive or send faxes. Unfortunately these are becoming less and less prevalent among all laptops so yours is likely not to have one, don’t expect yours to have one because it’s a 21 inch monster that cost over 5k, check.
If you are treating your laptop as a desktop then battery is going to be an issue, you won’t be able to go days without recharging it or even half a day! Battery life among the big and most powerful desktop replacement laptops are generally limited to a couple of hours. Those desktop replacement laptops with simply huge displays and mid to low performance may last you up to 5 hours.
However, two possible desktop replacement laptops : DELL XPS 15 & MacBook Pro 15 even with the highest specs available for laptops can last you a good amount: 8-10 hours. If you consider 15” laptops to be replacements.
You can expect desktop replacement laptop’s price to start from just under 700$ for home users and everyday computing tasks and up to 1,200 to 1300 for gamers and professionals and even past 3000$ for the best performance with games or heavy software.