Choosing a Desktop Replacement Laptop

Are you planning to get a new desktop computer because your laptop just keeps dragging you down with its slow PC performance?
If so, you may want to consider going for a best-of-both-worlds kind of deal, and choose a DTR laptop instead – also known as Desktop Replacement Laptop. In simple words, this term is used for bigger laptops that feature powerful processors, meaning they can often be used to replace regular desktop computers.
If you’ve never heard of a DTR laptop, this article will get you up to speed. You may realize this kind of machine is the perfect choice for you!

What is a DTR Laptop, exactly?

DTR, or Desktop Replacement, is just a fancy acronym for laptops with a screen size of 17” or larger. Usually, this kind of laptop will feature a powerful processor and graphics card, and often two hard drive bays (which is highly convenient if you want to combine an SDD with a regular HDD).
Models in this range are usually pretty heavy and feature a short battery life since the increased processing power implies increased power consumption. Let’s consider the main benefits of owning a DTR laptop, at a glance:
– Less clutter and fewer cables on your working desk when compared to a desktop
– Powerful processor that gets the job done faster than a normal laptop
– Ability to relocate your computer easily when needed
– Allows working outdoors when you happen to feel like doing so
There are DTR models as big as 20” available on the market! Granted, such a big laptop can’t be comfortably carried around on a daily basis. However, when the need to change locations arises, it will certainly be easier to take your workstation with you, compared to a regular desktop computer.

For what kind of user is the DTR right?

The main trade-off when choosing a DTR over a desktop computer is simply the potential to upgrade versus the potential to move around. If you choose a desktop computer, you will get a chance to keep upgrading your machine over the years. With a desktop you could add a new graphics card, more memory at a cheap price, and possibly even a faster processor. Generally, you can also get more performance for your money when purchasing a desktop when talking about these parts.
With a laptop of any kind or size, your upgrading options are more limited… especially as far as cost efficiency goes. Unlike desktop computers – with portable computers, the main parts such as the processor and graphics card are not easily removed and changed.
This doesn’t mean that you will be entirely grounded to the laptop you pick up from the store, though: as with most modern laptops, changing components such as the RAM sticks and Hard Drives on a DTR is a fairly simple procedure.

Are DTR Laptops as powerful as a regular desktop?

Yes and No. You see… a laptop computer is never quite as powerful as a desktop with similar specs, since the parts need to be made smaller and often this implies trimming down certain features. Moreover, the processor speeds for portable CPU’s usually trail behind those on desktop CPU’s for at least six months.
In any case, while it means you can’t get the fastest computer setup currently available with a DTR laptop, it also means that you can find some very robust and powerful machines in this range. You just won’t be able to get an absolutely top-of-the-line configuration, since that’s only possible with a custom desktop setup.
Bottom line: If you’ve been planning to get a new desktop computer because you could use a powerful workstation. If you enjoy the mobility and reduced clutter that’s availed by a laptop and if you’re not planning to perform a lot of hardware updates in the future, then a DTR laptop may indeed be right for you. Also, it goes without saying that working on a bigger laptop is more comfortable since you get a bigger screen, a bigger track pad, and a full-size keyboard.

This is a guest post by Dominic Acito. Dominic brings his experience as a computer engineer, a PC super user, and a web developer to our site.