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College Advice

Should You Bring Your Desktop Computer to College?

DormEssentials November 22, 2020
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Moving to your college dorm is, no doubt, an exciting event in your life. Before you move to a dorm room, there are things you should and shouldn’t pack. Whatever you are taking with you, you need some form of a computer with you; it’s needed more than ever in todays hybrid online, in person classes. Computers are a must-have in college; you’ll need it for various activities, like taking notes, attending virtual classes, and much more.

Usually, you will see students using laptops for most of these tasks. But what if you had an amazing gaming rig back home? Or less yes, what if you don’t have any computer, and are wondering if you want to build a new rig before college starts? Should you bring it with you, or do you need a laptop? Let’s find out.

The Answer

While it isn’t common to bring a desktop with you to college, if you want to, you can. While there are certain benefits a desktop computer can provide, which a laptop can’t, especially in terms of computing power for the price, we don’t actually recommend it. To answer the question again, while nothing is preventing you from bringing your desktop, we recommend you stick with a laptop in college.

The first and most important thing to keep in mind in the dorm room setting. Usually, dorm rooms are small in size, and some rooms come with furniture so, before you bring your desktop, if the size is appropriate to the table. Unlike a laptop, with a desktop, you need other accessories like a monitor, keyboard, and a mouse, these are the must-have accessories. So, you should account for the room you will need for all of these. As for network connectivity, some dorm rooms come with multiple ethernet ports, but that’s not the case everywhere. So, check if you have access to a wired internet connection or not. Because, unless you’re using a great motherboard, you usually don’t have wireless connectivity right out of the gate; you will need a separate adapter for that. 

Another thing to keep in mind is the dimension of the case you’re using. Dorm rooms are small, and a large case any becomes a caveat. So, if you’re already using a tower case, consider switching to a mini-ATX case. You can ask a friend to help you with this project or seek professional help. If you’re already carrying many things to college, reconsider bringing your desktop. As time marches forward, laptops are getting more and more powerful. With laptops getting powerful, many people are opting for a laptop over a desktop as it can accomplish the same tasks. But there are things to consider here too. 

If you’re getting a powerful gaming computer, chances are it’s large, loud, and creates alot of heat- and you have to consider the price too. In summary, a regular laptop is your best bet for college, with a gaming laptop offering the best of both worlds if you want the added power. So, while you consider the pros and cons, here are our list of the best laptops for college that will be as good as your desktop for your needs.

Why You Shouldn’t Need To Bring Your Desktop to College 

Now that you have the answer to your question, let’s lot at some of the perceived benefits you can reap by bringing your desktop to college, and why a laptop is superior. 

Typing

In college, you’re going to get a lot of assignments, and chances are you need to type many of those assignments. If you’re someone who’s used to typing on a keyboard, you’ll have a hard time adjusting to your laptop’s keyboard. Due to size limitation, the keys on a laptop has a much tighter fit; this leads to accidental key presses. Besides assignments, you might have a job or a blog to maintain that requires you to sit in front of a computer for longer periods. The last thing you’d want is for the lack of a full-sized keyboard to slow down your productivity. Typing is just more enjoyable on an actual keyboard. The good news is you can always get a external keyboard and monitor and plug it into your laptop. This allows you to take notes in class or the library, while getting the benefits of a mechanical keyboard back in the dorm.

Synchronization

If you’re bringing both a laptop and a desktop to your college, you may think you’re getting the best of both worlds. You can carry your laptop to class and takes notes on that, and through cloud sync, you can view that later on a big screen. This also works the other way. Things you have prepared on the desktop can be accessed from your laptop, no need to carry an extra USB drive. This also means that you don’t need to hunch over your laptop squinting your eyes, losing your vision, and ending up with back pain before you graduate. The reality is, you can simply carry a laptop to and from class, then plug it into a external monitor, keyboard, and mouse back at the dorm to get the best of both worlds feeling.

Bigger Screen

The obvious advantage you’re getting with a desktop is the bigger screen. There are many advantages of having a bigger screen. Firstly, over a laptop monitor, a larger display will go easy on your eyes. You won’t have to squint your eyes to work. Secondly, with a larger display area, you can view more content at once, whether it’s graph and charts or a show on Netflix. But that’s not all, with a bigger screen you can easily view two windows at the same time. This helps you increase your productivity without costing your vision. The good news is external monitors via HDMI or VGA are readily available on almost all laptops.

Software

Even though laptops are getting better and better, there are some things that a desktop does better. If you’re planning on multitasking, using powerful applications, you will find that a desktop performs better than a laptop. This is because a laptop is limited by its narrow airflow and battery. Due to thermal throttling, ordinary laptops can’t put out the same performance as a desktop. Also, on a bigger screen, using an application is much easier. You’ll have room to extend tabs and other bars inside the applications. Finally, if you’re a gamer, having your rig by your side is a huge plus point. Even though laptops have graphics card equivalent to the desktop version, those cards can’t put out as much power as a graphics card on a desktop. There’s also the issue of your laptop heating up, and it can get extremely uncomfortable to keep your hands on it. Realistically though, in school you may be using a number of web based or text editing programs, with some visual editors for projects, testing or simulation. The load is not that intensive. While gaming is a common social activity in the dorms, the usual laptop can handle the current games fine, especially if you don’t turn the settings to max.

Repairing and Upgrading

When it comes to the price of components and the cost to repair and upgrade them, we acknowledge that the desktop takes the crown. There will come a time when you might need to upgrade your system. When that time comes, upgrading the components of your rig is much easier than upgrading a laptop. If your laptop slows down or needs to be repaired, you might need to pay a premium to fix that component, and in case of upgrading, sometimes there’s not much you can do but buy a new one. When it comes to the price of components, for a desktop, there are many options available; such can’t be said about a laptop. Also, the price tag on components for your laptop like a ram stick is higher than a desktop ram stick. So, when it comes to price, upgrading, and repairing, nothing beats a desktop. The reality though is that even for a 4-5 year college stint, assuming you bought a recently new or refurbished laptop entering college, you shouldn’t run into major issues or have a need to upgrade.

Bottom Line

In conclusion, while you can take your desktop to college, a laptop makes a lot more sense for college, as you can bring it to class or the library as you study and take notes, and you can always hook up external monitor, keyboard, and mouse back in your dorm room to make it function like a desktop.


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