Should I Buy a Desktop or a Laptop?

Which is better – a laptop or a desktop computer? We get this question a lot at TaxSlayer and it is a hard one to answer. We tend to recommend desktop computers. Why? Performance and cost. However, the type of computer, desktop verses laptop that is ideal for a tax practice depends on the needs of the specific office owner and their business. Each has features that may be desirable and/or essential for the tax professional. What works best for a given tax office may not be the right choice for another tax practice. Basically, the type of system that is purchased should suit your business model.

When deciding between buying a desktop or laptop, you should consider the strengths and weaknesses or each. Each year TaxSlayer updates its system requirements. The information is posted on our support website and can also be found in the Pro Support Knowledgebase. Whichever type of computer that you decide to buy should meet our minimum system requirements.

To help with your decision, consider the pros and cons for each type of computer from TaxSlayer Pro’s perspective:




 Cost There is a wide price range for laptops and most laptops in the lower price points most likely will not meet our system requirements. Laptops that do meet our system requirements tend to be the more expensive models. The cost for desktop models that meet TaxSlayer Pro’s system requirements tends to be lower than laptop costs that meet
 Processor   (CPU) Laptops by their very nature are designed to be smaller than a desktop. This requires the manufacturer to fit the central processing unit (CPU) into this smaller space. Many laptops have limited CPU’s when compared to desktop units. Laptops with larger CPU’s will tend to be more expensive and/or larger. Since Desktops are larger in size it is easier to fit such a unit with a larger central processing unit (CPU). As a result, desktop models tend to have larger processors and at lower price points.
 Portability Hands down laptops are the way to go if you need to take a computer to another location to perform any type of activity. While desktops can be moved from location to location. They are designed to be used in a single location
 Security All computers connected to the internet are at risk from being hacked, contracting viruses, etc. Because laptops are portable, there is the additional risk with such a machine that it is easier to steal, and it may be taken to locations which place it more at risk. They also can be dropped, damaged, inadvertently forgotten and even lost. As with laptops, all computers are at risk from being hacked, contracting viruses, etc. Because desktops are not portable they avoid some of the security risks associated with a laptop.



Most laptops will have a smaller keyboard and fewer options associated with the keyboard.

Some laptops have small screens and that may make it difficult to display the entire program.

Of course, laptops can be connected to a docking station, which then allows it to be used with any keyboard or monitor.

Desktops can be connected to any keyboard or monitor. This provides great flexibility
 Battery/Power When 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 limit period that a laptop battery will power the system. Desktops must be connected to a power source at all time to run.
Networking Laptops because they are portable work best as a stand-alone system. They can be networked, but it requires the user to connect and disconnect the laptop each time

Desktops can be easily networked to other computers.

Desktops clearly work better than laptops when networked and are our preferred system in this environment.


If you have any questions about your computer or a computer you intend to buy, please call customer support at 706-868-0985. We’d be glad to help!