The Desktop Isn't Dead

The Desktop Isn't DeadSales of desktop computers have slowed while sales of laptops and tablets have taken off. Welcome to 2013.

I'm here to claim the desktop isn't dead. Although I'm writing this entry from a MacBook Pro, the bulk of my 9-5 work is performed on a desktop PC. It's my most comfortable work station and the entire set up, excluding the 17 inch flat panel screen I've been using for the past decade, cost me less than $300.

I should point out my desktop is running Ubuntu Linux, a free O/S, which did bring down the cost, but it's fast, reliable and acts as my de-facto work station. It's about five years old and if sales of the desktop are declining, this is probably the biggest reason. Your five year old desktop works as well today as it did when you bought it. There's been no need to upgrade.

Who else still uses a desktop computer for work or play? If you're using a desktop computer, how old is it?


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Gump

Completely pertinent to this discussion :

http://www.engadget.com/2013/01/23/intel-will-discontinue-desktop-motherboards/

I feel that the form factor of desktops will slowly die and will be an anachronism in 5-10 years.

Kids growing up now will see desktops as quaint as us Gen-Xers view room-size mainframes or Digital/DEC mini-computers.

Therefore, you are becoming the quintessential old-timer yelling "Get off my lawn you punks!".

January 27, 2013 @ 11:53 AM

Toronto Mike Verified as the defacto Toronto Mike

@Gump

About two months ago, my brother asked for a desktop computer running Windows.

I actually told him he wanted the "desktop set-up" but the actual computer should be a laptop. He'd have an external screen, mouse and keyboard he'd use, but he'd be working off a laptop.

Then, when he needed to go mobile, he could just unplug the screen, mouse and keyboard and he'd be set.

He still wanted the desktop....

So you're right, the desktop is dying, but the traditional workstation with external screen, mouse and keyboard will survive.

January 27, 2013 @ 11:58 AM

Gump

Ok, well that is a totally different premise that your original post.

I completely agree that working on a "desktop" arrangement will never die, however the "desktop " computer form factor will most certainly will.

Nearly everyone I know has a docking station with 1 or more displays with a full size keyboard and external mouse/trackball/pad. That is the default 'work' setup.

As for your measly 17" LCD - seriously? Everyone at my firm (software) has dual 21-24" LCD/plasmas and I judge that I am 10-15% more efficient working that way - primarily with the 2nd monitor with either my email, showing supporting documentation or log files will I work on my primary display. I *strongly* suggest at least trying it out. You'll be happy to switch.

January 27, 2013 @ 12:16 PM

Toronto Mike Verified as the defacto Toronto Mike

@Gump

Agreed.

I don't think I've ever done that before... wrote an entry and then realized after I clicked publish that I fundamentally disagree with what I wrote. In fact, I 100% believe the Desktop is dead, it's the desktop setup / work station that isn't.

Can I get a mulligan?

January 27, 2013 @ 12:22 PM

St3ve

With wifi everywhere why would anyone want a desktop when they could pay a little more money for a laptop?

Like you said, just get an external keyboad / screen / speakers / mouse and you've got the best of both worlds.

January 27, 2013 @ 12:27 PM

St3ve

But to answer the question:

I own a desktop I bought in 2003 and it sits in my basement and is rarely used - but it works so I keep it.

January 27, 2013 @ 12:28 PM

Mark A.

You can pry my desktop from my cold dead hands. I love it mostly for the 24" 1920x1200 screen. I'd go even bigger and/or higher resolution if I could afford it. The more real-estate, the better. (I also have a second 17" screen for secondary stuff.)

The start of this computer is around 5 years old, but I have since upgraded the old dual-core C2D CPU with a still old, but much faster quad-core C2D a friend gave me. Some newer games wouldn't run with just dual cores. I also upgraded the 8800 GT video card to a 580 GX, and can play everything modern.

My office gave me a laptop (MacBook Air) so I'm all set on that front anyway.

I think the main reason specs haven't been pushed very much lately, and that this has been a golden age of upgrading, is that the current generation of game consoles is over seven years old. Most games are developed with consoles in mind so there hasn't been much incentive to push their seven year old specs.

January 27, 2013 @ 12:39 PM

Toronto Mike Verified as the defacto Toronto Mike

So... if I were to write this after my first coffee of the day...

I still use a desktop compter to perform the bulk of my 9-5 work. I have a comfortable work station set up, and it all works for me.

I also use my work-issued MacBook Pro a lot... whenever I want to work from the couch or bedroom or coffee shop or Europe or record a podcast via Garage Band or use PhotoShop or Dream Weaver. My son swears by the Dell because his games want Windows, but I use the MacBook Pro.

But the desktop isn't dead for me. I wouldn't replace it with a new desktop, but I'm glad I have it. I still use it frequently.

January 27, 2013 @ 12:40 PM

CQ

Next month my desktop turns 11. Ram Memory chips and hard drive (a few years' past already) had been upgraded. It goes with a wire connected mouse, bucket-sized 17 inch (1024*768) monitor, and a large 1987 two-colour keyboard.
Mobility would be very nice. However it is firm. Both in its hardware and software. The 32-bit XP Pro operating system is also freeware tweaked with all sorts of utility improvements, bringing to it some of the since-touted GUI developments.
Its underlying theme is still from Windows 98 (less space bloat) with Win a 3.1 purple brick bitmap as a currently tiled background. It is vastly easier to read from then a family member's Windows 7 Home edition Aero-themed laptop I tried. I don't mix-up typing with the Caps Lock key either.

January 27, 2013 @ 12:43 PM

headsup

I mostly use a laptop for computer-related work. I did have to purchase a desktop recently to use as a printing station (or embossing station) for brailled materials. I only use this for about fifteen-twenty minutes/week, but I would be lost and unable to perform work duties without this set-up. With changes in technology and my personal budget, I think that this set-up will be a thing of the past, but the amount I run the desktop, I could probably keep it going for another fifteen-twenty years at the current rate if I had to.

January 27, 2013 @ 3:32 PM

Rick C in Oakville

My home and office computers are 6 year+ Dell desktops. Mine is actually a refurb i bought of the DFSdirect.ca dell off lease website. Rock stable and they run 24 hours a day. My office issued an ACER laptop for my road trips, can't stand the keyboard, make a million typos with it, and caps lock engages far to easy. The touch mouse pad is forever putting my cursor in places i don't want to be typing.
I really only use it for email, typing letters and surfing the net, fast enough for me.
I thought desktops were still in vogue for the extreme gamer crowd, as they could put in high speed video cards, etc.?
Long live the Desktop, but I said the same about Beta tapes too.

January 27, 2013 @ 3:34 PM

Lynne

@Rick C - You sound like me regarding the @#$% keyboard on my Acer laptop. I had to set the sound to beep when caps lock is engaged. I used to type 85 wpm and now I'm down to 15. Glad nobody's paying me by the word anymore.

January 27, 2013 @ 4:14 PM

Blind Dave

I still use an actual Windows desktop. Both at home are about 5 years old and still run XP. My one at work is a recent purchase and runs Win 7.

I understand the logic behind the desktop setup, but I find working from a laptop, even with an actual monitor, to be cumbersome. As my handle suggests, I am legally blind, so I need a big monitor close to my face, and an easy to move keyboard in front of me as I am not a very efficient typist. I also have no need to be truly "mobile", as my office is just a few minutes from home and I carry a flash drive with me on my keychain.

Mike is correct about the pc working just as well now as when I bought it. I reinstall windows once a year (or even an image backup) and give the box a blowout from time-to-time and I have rarely had an issue.

I will likely make one more desktop purchase, and if that lasts 5-8 years, perhaps something else will be along by that time that will be as easy for me to use as a desktop.

Tablets are great but laptops are too awkward for me.

January 27, 2013 @ 4:16 PM

CQ

@Lynne
(with a desktop keyboard) I use KeyTweak v2.3 by Travis Krumsick.
http://www.softpedia.com/get/System/OS-Enhancements/KeyTweak.shtml
There is also a program called Mapkeyboard that requires the Windows Net framework (un-tested by myself). http://www.softpedia.com/get/System/OS-Enhancements/KeyTweak.shtml
With the first program, I have added a missing Win Key to F12 and copied the Equal Key to my Right Control button. The Caps Lock button might be adjustable as well.

January 27, 2013 @ 4:58 PM

CQ

@Lynne
(with a desktop keyboard) I use KeyTweak v2.3 by Travis Krumsick.
http://www.softpedia.com/get/System/OS-Enhancements/KeyTweak.shtml
(Link corrected] There is also a program called Mapkeyboard that requires the Windows Net framework (un-tested by myself). http://www.inchwest.com/mapkeyboard
With the first program, I have added a missing Win Key to F12 and copied the Equal Key to my Right Control button. The Caps Lock button might be adjustable as well.

January 27, 2013 @ 6:11 PM

Lynne

@CQ Thanks, but I will grin and bear it. It's the physical location of the caps lock on the Acer keyboard that is causing everyone's grief. I have learned the hard way to read user comments online before buying anything again. I have adapted to it fairly well, 10 months later... I will pass it along to my husband in a year or two. He types with 2 fingers so it won't bother him.

January 27, 2013 @ 7:30 PM

Anon&on

I have a laptop, but use it mostly on my desk (that I made for a previous desktop box).
I don't see how the desktop setup (box or portable) can die. I have 2 power bars attached to the desk, both full of big hulking adapters, a 10 port USB hub (full), several USB extensions to attach cameras, speakers, assorted charge cables... and on and on.
Scanner, printer, external drives,modem, airport base station.
Sometimes it's easier to stay at the desk than to unhook the laptop from the lifelines.
No shortage of cables and wires in the wireless world.

January 27, 2013 @ 7:47 PM

Teena in Toronto

I've been using a laptop since 2002.

When I bought my latest one last year, I asked if they still sell desktops and the sales guy said they had ONE in the back and it had been there awhile.

January 27, 2013 @ 8:50 PM

Ryan

@Gump

Just because Intel isn't going to make motherboards any more does not mean that it is all over for desktops. There are countless other motherboard MFG's out there. The gaming enthusiasts will always use PC's...but I completely agree that the desktop as a whole are nearly dead.

@Mike

Mobile is the way to go. I see that eventually, you will be able to use your smartphone as your Laptop further shrinking the amount of stuff you have to carry with you. Now, if everyone could just agree on a standard connection method between the workstations and the smartphones - that would be great. (shaking my fists at you Apple!)

January 28, 2013 @ 8:20 AM

Sam from England

If you're familiar enough to replace things that go wrong (e.g hard drives) then the great thing about a desktop is that you're never going to have to buy an entire new computer when it breaks. I've technically had my desktop since 1998, but I have replaced every single part at least once sine then.

I don't have a laptop, but I do have an ipad and that's enough that I hardly ever use my desktop anymore.

January 28, 2013 @ 8:24 AM

Cheryl

I work at home. I have a desk top for work and a laptop for personal stuff. The desk top is about four years old. Got it in 2008. I'm not sure if the desk top is really dead. I didn't know it was. I never used a tablet. If I have to, I hope it will work for me. I don't have a cellphone. Maybe I should get one, but why get one. People shouldn't be talking or texting while walking or driving anyway.

January 28, 2013 @ 9:32 AM

SJB

I will use my desktop until it croaks. I think I bought it shortly after XP was introduced. And on a totally unrelated subject, what's up with Stormin Norman, they seem to have replaced his overnight stints at the Fan 590 with drivel.

January 28, 2013 @ 9:49 AM

james

I have a desktop,but since I moved in August all I've done with it was connect the HDD's to my laptop and copy some music. It's going away soon .I just use my laptop now. Too convenient.

January 28, 2013 @ 2:42 PM

Jacob

I use a desktop at work, but I spend most of my time on a MacBook Pro.

I'd never trade it for an iPad.

January 28, 2013 @ 3:21 PM

Jason from Sudbury

I love my desk top. Got an I7, bought it almost 3 years ago, and before that I had a P4 which I had for 7 years. I've got an old piece of shit Dell lap top that I use when travelling, but I dont care much for lap tops.

January 28, 2013 @ 8:07 PM

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