Is there a difference between Laptops and Computers

Laptop, PC, Computer, so many different names for the same thing. Why on earth would we make it so difficult for ourselves to identify the same thing with multitudes of words? Unless they are not the same thing, and if that is the case, what is the difference between a Laptop and a Computer?

Computers are the shortened name for a Desktop Computer (sometimes known as a Personal Computer, or PC) and are meant to be set up in one location, whereas Laptops are portable versions of a Desktop Computer.

Well, that was simple. But it can’t be as simple as that, there must be more to it, as you can take a laptop and place that on a desk, so why would you prefer a laptop over a desktop and vice versa. Read on to find out.

Desktop Computers

As the name suggests, these devices are best located on a desk or table, this is due to the fact that many different things are usually connected to the desktop computer. These are known as peripherals, as they are required to use the computer, but are not vital for the functionality of it.

Here are a few vital peripherals that you may be aware of:

  • Monitor
  • Mouse
  • Keyboard

As you can see from this list, they are used to interact with the computer, using to monitor to view what is being shown, and the keyboard & mouse to interact with it, but they are not required for the computer to function. You can easily change the mouse for another one without interfering with the functionality of the computer itself.

However, if you didn’t have any of these items, then you wouldn’t be able to use your computer, which is why I call them ‘vital peripherals’.

There are other peripherals that are non-vital, such as USB thumb drives, external drives, and USB mug warmers (yes, those actually exist.)

Desktop Varieties

You can get many different varieties of sizes and shapes of desktop computers, and this is known as the form factor. Small form factor, large form factor, you get the idea. But also they have different names too, here are a few:

  • Tower
  • All-in-one
  • Small-Form-Factor (SFF)

The tower is the computer that people automatically think about when they picture it in their minds, well for my age group anyway, not so much the younger generation. This is the great big box that sits under the desk and holds all the magic inside.

A Computer Tower

Tower computers are popular with gamers and computer enthusiasts that like to build their own computers. These big bulky things have a lot of space inside, making it easier to fit things or in fact, add more to their interior to make it more powerful (I’ll save what’s in the interior for another post.)

Small-Form-Factors (SFFs) are the same as the tower, but just very small. These are popular in busy office locations, where they don’t need a lot of power from the computer and are restricted in space.

All-in-one computers are built into the monitor, so your monitor is the computer too and you only need to add a mouse and keyboard for the peripherals. These are great in a home office, as you don’t have an ugly box in the corner, and also keep cabling to a minimum.


Although laptops provide the same functionality as desktop computers, they are completely different as they have the mouse, keyboard, and monitor built-in. This makes them very portable, and is a favorite purchase for business people, and also those that like to travel.

The laptop also has a built-in battery, so you are not restricted from being connected to an electrical outlet, and can use it whilst traveling.

All this convenience, however, does have its drawbacks, as the laptop is one complete system. If there were to be a failure on one part of it, such as the monitor, then the whole item will need to go in for repair. Whereas with a desktop computer the monitor can be easily swapped out for a new one.

I must admit though, as I am writing this very post, it is on a laptop, but it is placed on a desk with a mouse, keyboard, and monitor connected. I do this to have the flexibility of the laptop, but I can utilize a big monitor on the desk too.


Although laptops and computers seem like very different things from the outside, in fact, they actually perform the same tasks. However, some may lean towards using one over the other due to how they use it, and what they use it for.

Someone that constantly stays in the same room using just basic functions may choose a cheap tower computer, but others may be in a similar situation, but don’t have the space, so they may choose a small-form-factor.

I, for instance, sometimes use a computer at the desk, in the car (when someone else is driving of course), or on the train. I also like to use my computer on vacation, or when staying with some friends or relatives over holiday periods. So my choice is a laptop.

Whilst using it at the desk, I connect peripherals such as a mouse, keyboard, and monitor (I may invest in a USB mug warmer one day), so that I can sit properly and relax.

So it seems that the only difference between a computer and a laptop is a personal choice. We are all individuals, so you can tailor your choices as you see fit.