Laptop Or Desktop?

Hi there,

since my Laptop (Core2 2 x 2.6 GHz, 3GB memory) broke down, I have to get a new PC.
I am considering both, a Laptop and a Desktop PC.
I am unsure of what would be better. I certainly is a speed/mobility tradeoff.

Now my question:
I will be looking in the 1000 Euro.

That means either a laptop with a i7-2630QM (4 x 2.0 GHz) and 6GB memory, or a desktop with a faster quadcore (e.g. i7-2600 with 4 x 3.4 GHz).

What do you think? Will the speed difference in that range be relevant? Is a laptop like this too slow? I will use it for Renoise (obviously) as well as Reaper for recording, together with VST instruments and effects.

I would be glad to hear some opinions.


imo, computers nowadays are not ‘too slow’ anymore. the minimum specs on any computer (laptop or desktop) you can buy right now are so high that you will be able to do about anything with them (unless you want to play Crysis 2 of course). for sound, you should consider a good soundcard. i believe it is harder to find that onboard a laptop than a desktop. CPU+RAM are important, but, as i said before, they are high enough for running Renoise. you can always take an upgrade so your system is even faster, but we are coming towards a point where for example your OS can’t use more than 4 Gig of RAM or something (i’m no expert), so it’s useless to have more than that.

again, some of the above might be incorrect, but in the end imo, just go with a laptop for mobility and a desktop for ease of modification etc. that’s how i think at least.

Buy a desktop computer if you don’t plan to travel a lot ^_^ i recommend you to build yout own computer from scratch. Buy a chassi and all of the rest components. it is easy ;)

Hi ! I’ve bought a laptop, because of the mobility and because when you’ve got a sudden flash of inspiration it can happen anywhere, AND I’ve bought a desktop (…) because when you’re at home, it looks more comfortable, and because of the speed (I had a 2000 € budget for my computer needs). But Renoise finally works well and looks the same on both of them… I’ve installed now similar configurations and “synchronise” most of my files through Dropbox. The only big difference between the desktop usage and the laptop usage is that I’ve a bigger screen size on the desktop., I also plugged my MIDI keyboards and controllers in the USB port of the desktop. It changes a bit the way I make music. If you still hesistate, I recommend you to buy a 20" screen laptop.

Thanx for reading

i think those two things contradict each other a bit. a 20" laptop is not so easy to take with you.
anyway, everything else you said there proved my point, there is no real difference, performance-wise.

the following is a very subjective interpretation concerning this topic - properties that are crucial for me might be insignificant for you, but here we go:

for 1000 EUR you can pretty much get high-end hardware if you go for desktop or a mid-range system if you go for laptop.
that means, the budget would allow buying a fast SSD drive for OS (120GB) plus a big data grave (i.e. 2 TB for 60 bucks) for storage purposes of whatever consumes plenty of space (sample libraries, ROMpler VSTi like kontakt etc, movies and so on).
desktops also allow installation of 3,5" drives whereas laptops usually ask for the 2,5" form factor in which HDDs are generally a bit slower when compared to their 3,5" counterparts with the same rotation speed.
CPU, GPU and RAM would also be faster, better and sufficiently powerful for whatever task you may run on them, incl. recent games.
besides all that you could easily tweak and OC a desktop system to sqeeze even more power out of it. especially intel sandy bridge based CPUs virtually beg to be overclocked - at least if you get one with a freely assignable mutliplier like the i7-2500k or the i7-2600k.
this is of course all possible thanks to the fact that desktop systems allow a physically way bigger cooling solution as opposed to laptop systems where everything is hard up for space and room.

to sum it up, here’s my desk- and laptop pro/contra:
(everything that is “+” for desktop is “-” for laptop and vice versa)


  • allows installation of more than one harddrive (SSD + HDD combination)
  • allows installation of 3,5" harddrives (always faster when comparing modern solutions of both size worlds)
  • enables you to overclock the CPU by some easily made alterations in the system BIOS
  • due to the plus in physical size, desktops allow mounting of better, more efficient and therefore more silent cooling
  • separate hardware parts are easily upgradeable (e.g. graphics card)
  • you can get internal soundcard which might be more comfortable and less pricey than an external solution (fewer cables on the table)
  • more “bang for the buck” (faster cpu, gpu, ram for the same money)
  • overall power consumption is usually significantly higher, if you go for performance hardware
  • less mobile / not mobile

for me, the most striking difference is the fact that i can install an SSD / HDD combination in a desktop which is always problematic when you wanna do that with a laptop.
of course you could always get a setup with an internal SSD and an external eSATA HDD, but imo that’s pretty messy (cables) and less comfortable. it would also be quite a hassle when you want to stay mobile with that setup.
if you think you don’t need an SSD as a system drive, i recommend never working with a system that has one, because once you did so you don’t wanna go back anymore. it’s really a night/day difference.

for the “power user”, which i think digital musicians like us renoisers belong to, laptops are always nice to have as a secondary system (or even mandatory if you’re doing live stuff) but cannot fully compensate the performance offered by a proper desktop configuration.

just my humble opinion though…

if you buy a desktop make sure that it is silent enough! fans drive me crazy!

remember that laptop keyboards are a bit more awkward to input certain key combos unless they’ve got all the keys of a regular one. also, the layout might be different which can be a bit frustrating.

i went for a rather okish laptop, a 21,5" lcd screen, a backlit mechanical keyboard (for srs night time trackking! :P) and an external usb audiocard.