Who Needs What?
The question of whether it would be better to put together a desktop computer system or buy a notebook has no easy answer, because even notebooks could represent a full-fledged alternative for sworn desktop computer fans. The question in this context must be: “What kind of user am I?” Only by answering this can all the pros and cons of the two systems be properly weighed to find the best solution for you.
If you consider yourself a power user, a desktop computer should be an easy choice. For this user group, performance and upgradeability are of principal importance. If technical improvements are planned, these are often carried out by the users themselves, and existing hardware like hard disks and optical drives can be recycled in other machines, which reduces overall costs.
Users who employ their computer mainly for CAD/CAM/3D have a similar profile: graphics performance is of utmost importance here, and a desktop system would be the first choice, with notebooks offering virtually no alternative. Fast quad-core processors and two or more graphics cards are necessary for professional work. Moreover, professional environments demand the use of an extremely high-quality monitor or LCD display.
If a computer is used for classic office tasks, a separate graphics card is not a must: today’s on-board graphics adapters in notebooks offer sufficient performance capability for everyday business use. Another advantage for notebooks is mobility, and in comparison to desktop systems, markedly lower power consumption—only the display size could speak against purchasing a notebook. (Anyone who has to work with large Excel spreadsheets knows the value of a large screen.) If mobility is not important to you, but power consumption is a criterion, desktop systems with notebook components like the Lynx Silent PC MP-1 may offer an attractive compromise.
If the new notebook needs to be able to run the newest games, a dedicated graphics card from ATI or Nvidia is essential. Specially-equipped gamer notebooks, like MSI’s Extreme Edition GX-600 Series, promise unadulterated gaming pleasure. If you often play with other gamers at LAN parties, the notebook’s low weight and high portability are clear advantages, but you should also consider that while gamer notebooks do well in terms of 3D games and overall system performance, a desktop system will still give gamers the best results.