Do Desktops Last Longer Than Laptops?

By Tim Chesonis •  Updated: 12/22/20 •  7 min read

If I were to purchase a computer today, which one would last longer, a desktop computer or laptop computer?

Desktops do typically last longer than laptops because laptops are far more susceptible to drops, spills, overheating, and food.  However, you can take pre-emotive steps to ensure that your laptop will last for several years to come.

Laptops are More Likely to be Dropped

Because laptops are, by design, portable, obviously they have a higher likelihood of being dropped than a desktop computer. After all, when was the last time you saw somebody carry a desktop computer, along with a monitor, keyboard and mouse for everyday use?

By design, desktops are stationary. They are not meant to be moved or carried around, any more often than you would move your living room furniture. Of course, you can move them, or even transport them from one location to another, but that does not happen to often, and when people do move their desktop computer, they tend to be extra careful with it.

Laptops on the other hand, are meant to be carried from one location to another, be it from one room to another within your house, or back-and-forth from your home to school or work.  People tend to protect their laptops for the most part because they don’t want any Harm to come of them. But just because you may take great care to ensure that your laptop is protected, does not mean that other people give a wit about your laptop.

For example, think of the student who has their laptop on their classroom desk only to see it crash to the floor because of fellow student, who happened to be walking by, inadvertently swung their backpack over their shoulder, crashing it into your laptop, and onto the floor (true story, by the way).

Just like one should drive a car defensively, as though everyone on the road is trying to crash into you, you should think about how others might inadvertently damage your laptop and take precautions to prevent such mishaps.

Additionally, when you move you laptop from one location to another, don’t just throw it in your backpack naked.  Protect it by putting it in a Laptop Sleeve Bag, like the Morisot Laptop Sleeve Bag found here on for only $13.99, or one like it.  Then, please that in your backpack or carry bag, and never just drop your bag on the floor when you arrive at your destination, as you will surely damage your laptop if you do.

Laptops are Subject to Spills

Spills happen. Unfortunately they tend to happen at the worst time, and  when they happen at your desk, . . . well, you can imagine the havoc that a spilled cup of coffee, milk, soda, beer, or any other liquid drink would have, especially if it were to spill on your laptop.

Spilling liquid on your desk probably won’t have any effect on your desktop, unless the spill somehow was able to o make its way into the casing of your desktop computer.

The bottom line? If you spill anything on your laptop, game over.  Is it repairable?  Well, it depends on the company behind the laptop.  Most brand name laptops will cost more to repair than to replace when it comes to spillage. The exception, however, is the MacBook from Apple.  If you accidentally spill liquid on a MacBook, the repair starts at $800, unless you have AppleCare+.  If your MacBook is covered by AppleCare+, your maximum out-of-pocket expense will be $300.  Better $300 that’s $800.

Now, we are all guilty of placing drinks on the same surface that our laptops are on.  I would highly recommend that you get in the habit of placing your drink on a separate surface altogether, perhaps a tray, or small table next to your desk.  Honestly, why risk it?  Personally, I use a tall stool and place it right next to me.  It’s sole purpose is to hold my drinks (and food, but we’ll get that later).  I would hate for you to have read this article, only to find that you wish you had taken my advice.

Laptops are More Likely to Overheat

Heat is the enemy of electronics.  This is why fans are found in both desktop computers and laptop computers.  Fans are used to cool your computer down to ensure that they do not  overheat when using power intensive programs over a long period of time.  Your computer needs to “breathe”, and by that, I mean that it requires space around the computer for air to flow.

When it comes to laptops, one of the worst things you could do is to use your laptop on your bed.  The blankets prevent airflow, which will cause your laptop to overheat if left on long enough.  Using your laptop without allowing it space to “breathe”, will significantly decrease its life-span.  The same applies when using your laptop on your lap.  If it feels hot on your legs, its time to put it on a flat surface so that it can breathe.  For these reasons, it is highly recommend that you only ever use your laptop on a flat surface.

Desktop computers can overheat under extreme circumstances, however, they don’t overheat nearly as often as a laptop.  The reason for this is because desktop computers tend to have more powerful fans, and they also tend to have space around them to “breathe”.  The fans within a desktop computer suck all of the heat out of the enclosure, allowing the hot air to escape from inside of the chassis.

Laptops are Magnets for Food

Food is healthy for you, not for your laptop.  Let’s face it, we all tend to eat when using our computer, be it a desktop or a laptop. The difference between eating at your laptop or desktop computer is that the keyboard for the laptop rests on the computer itself, and all of the small crumbs can work their way through the keyboard and into the inner workings of the hardware in your laptop, which can cause damage, or at least shorten the life expectancy of your laptop.

Crumbs are not the only things that can find their way into the keyboard of your laptop.  Pizza sauce can make its way into the sides of the keys on your keyboard by eating Pizza.  Eating foods like chicken nuggets or French fries will leave small remnants on your fingers which will make their way into your computer.

Because desktop keyboards are completely separate from the computer,  at best, you only risk needing to replace the desktop computer keyboard, which is easily replaceable.  You can buy a new keyboard for $9, and a really nice keyboard for about $30. The point is that replacing a desktop computer keyboard is far less expensive than replacing the laptop, (or paying someone to open it up and clean it out for you).

May I offer a word of advice?  Use hand sanitizer before you touch your keyboard.  Any keyboard, be it for your desktop computer, or your laptop.  It should never be dirty, and certainly should not have crumbs on it.  It’s just disgusting and is so easily avoidable.  Take 60 seconds to wipe you keyboard down with a cotton swab dowsed in rubbing alcohol once a week.  Not only does it look better, but it’s just good computer maintenance.

Closing Thoughts 

If you were to purchase a computer today, and your objective was to get one that would last for several years, it really would not matter if you purchased a desktop or laptop computer, provided that you took the preemptive measures found in this article.  If you do, you will ensure that your laptop will last for several years to come.

Tim Chesonis

Tim has been helping people with computers needs for several years, and he loves to help people succeed. He brings a wealth of wisdom and insight from an entrepreneur's perspective and enjoys freelance writing. In fact, when he's not writing an article, you might find him binge-watching Suits or formatting his computer . . . again, just for fun. To learn more about Tim, click here.