Should I Buy a Desktop or a Laptop?

Choosing the best computer for your business is not an easy decision. Many factors like performance, cost, and software compatibility can impact what you pick.  

Each tax office has its own unique needs, so it is hard to recommend one solution for every business. Use the chart below and additional information to help inform your decision. 

Note: Each year, TaxSlayer updates its system requirements. The information can be found here. The computer that you decide to buy should meet our minimum system requirements. 




 CostLaptops come in a variety of prices to fit any budget. Desktops are also affordable, depending on the model you get.
 Processor   (CPU)Laptops are designed to be smaller than a desktop. This requires the manufacturer to fit the central processing unit (CPU) into this smaller space. As a result, many laptops have limited CPUs when compared to desktop units. Laptops with larger CPUs tend to be more expensive and/or larger. Since Desktops are larger, it is easier to fit them with a larger central processing unit (CPU). As a result, desktop models tend to have larger processors and at lower price points.
 PortabilityLaptops are the way to go if you need to take a computer to another location to perform any activity. While desktops can be moved from location to location, they are designed to be used in a single place.
 SecurityAll computers connected to the Internet are at risk of being compromised or contracting viruses. Because laptops are portable, there is an additional risk because it is physically easier to steal. They also can be dropped, damaged, inadvertently forgotten, and even lost. As with laptops, desktop computers are at risk of being compromised or contracting viruses. However, because desktops are not portable, they avoid some of the physical security risks associated with a laptop.
 Battery/PowerWhen disconnected from a power source, laptops run on their internal battery. This permits them to be portable and used when other power is not available. However, there is a limited period that a laptop battery will power the system. Desktops must be connected to an external power source at all times to run.
NetworkingLaptops work best as a stand-alone system because they are portable. They can be networked, but it requires the user to connect and disconnect the computer each time. Desktops can be easily networked to other computers.

When purchasing a computer solution, the first thing to consider is the level of mobility you see yourself needing. For example, if you work in a traditional office setting and plan only to use your computer for work-related tasks, you can save a considerable amount of money by purchasing a desktop computer. 

If you need mobility, especially as more work slowly converts to remote, you may need to consider a laptop. Traditionally, larger laptops can have longer-lasting batteries and tend to be marketed as desktop replacements, meaning they have similar power and performance to their desktop variations. However, they do cost more money. It all depends on your specific wants and needs when it comes to portability. 

Note: It is important to note that TaxSlayer is available in the cloud on both Mac and Windows desktop computers and laptops, but the original software is only compatible with a Windows desktop. 

There are three main components you need to consider when purchasing any computer. 

Hard Drive 

This is where your documents, operating system, and settings are stored. 

It is recommended to purchase as much internal storage as you can afford to last as long as possible. You can also use external hard drives to offload data and free up internal drive space, but these tend to be slower. 256 GB of internal storage is considered the minimum by today’s standards and is plenty for most people storing documents, applications, and small libraries of videos. However, 512 GB is recommended to ensure you can store twice the amount, and this storage option tends to still be affordable in most cases. 

Tip: A backup service is recommended as a safety net for your essential files. Storing files on your local drive seems like a great idea, but events like a fire or a flood can destroy all the data you rely on for your business. An offsite backup service is always a smart business decision to protect and recover your data if needed. 


This is the component that temporarily holds data for quick access. This is where a computer stores settings as you work on a document before you save it to the hard drive. It is common to use 8GB for light office work; however, if you use your computer for more intensive tasks, such as graphic design or video editing, then it’s recommended that you purchase at least 16GB. For video work, 32 GB or better is optimal. 


This is the processing center of the computer. A quad-core processor is recommended for running multiple applications or programs at the same time. Depending on your workflow, and the demand you place on your computer, this can range from less expensive dual cores to eight and even ten core processors. A dual-core is an optimal cost-saving purchase if you do light work, such as a word processor, a web browser, and normal web use. However, quad-core is the standard baseline for any additional tasks. Therefore, it’s important to think about what you would use your computer for now, and potentially what you could be using it for in the future. 

Contact our customer support if you have any questions about your computer or a computer you’re thinking about buying.

The information in this article is up to date for tax year 2021 (taxes filed in 2022).