desktop replacement computer

We all know the pain of carrying around a massive, heavy laptop that just can't compete with a desktop. But what if we could have the best of both worlds? That's where desktop replacement laptops come in – powerful machines that pack a punch and can even outperform desktops in some cases, all while remaining portable.

These machines are perfect for those who need to travel but can't compromise on power or performance, or simply for those who prefer not to have a separate desktop setup. With the advancements in technology, desktop replacement laptops have never been more capable and can rival even the most powerful desktop setups. In this guide, I'll help you choose the best desktop replacement laptop based on your needs and budget, so you can experience the ultimate power and performance without sacrificing portability.

The right processor

desktop replacement laptop processor

When it comes to choosing the right laptop processor for a desktop replacement, there are a few factors to consider. With the recent release of Apple's ARM-based M1, M2, M2 Pro, and M2 Max system-on-chip modules, AMD capturing 20% of the laptop CPU market, and Intel's 13th-generation Core processors already released, there are many options available.

If you're looking for a MacBook, the H-series processors such as the i7 or i9 are best suited for demanding projects such as 3D modeling and VFX. However, if you're not pushing your machine to its limits, an U-series processor would be sufficient.

It's important to note that a fast processor is not always necessary for speeding up rendering times; instead, the GPU does most of the heavy lifting. When comparing processors, benchmarks such as Cinebench and PassMark scores can be helpful.

It's also essential to keep in mind that high-end CPUs may not be necessary for professionals unless you have the budget to spare. In terms of RAM, a minimum of 8GB is suitable, but for professional audio production, 16GB or more is recommended.

Here is a table of recommended processors grouped by price and performance metrics:

Processor Price Range Performance
Ryzen 5 6600H Minimum Good for everyday use, light gaming
i5-12450H Minimum Good for everyday use, light gaming
Ryzen 7 6800H
Apple M1 Pro (or Max)
Recommended Good for demanding tasks, professional audio production
Ryzen 9 6900HX
High-end Best for demanding tasks, professional video editing

Overall, when deciding on the right laptop processor for a desktop replacement, consider your budget and what tasks you will be using your laptop for. Look for benchmarks and don't expect to get a high-end CPU at its entry price point. By keeping these factors in mind, you can choose the right processor for your needs.

Choosing a graphics

desktop replacement laptop graphics

When it comes to choosing the right graphics card for your desktop replacement laptop, it's essential to pay attention to a few key factors. With Nvidia dominating the market and the recent release of their RTX 40 series cards, it's important to note that the majority of current notebook GPU options still rely on the RTX 30 series.

One significant change in the past few years is the increasing power demands of desktop GPUs, leading to a wider gap between notebook graphics and desktop graphics cards. Additionally, Nvidia has discontinued the Max-Q label, leading to a wide variance in graphics performance even within laptops with the same GPU chipset.

For gamers, a dedicated GPU is essential as opposed to relying on integrated graphics, which can lead to subpar performance and limited battery life. When choosing between Nvidia and AMD, both have their pros and cons, but Nvidia has been dominating the market due to superior energy efficiency and better overall performance per watt ratio.

To determine how well a laptop will perform in games or 3D modeling, it's best to check its benchmark scores using reputable sources like 3DMark or Unigine benchmarks. For 3D modeling, a graphics card can make a significant difference, especially when dealing with large and complex models.

In terms of specific recommendations, for a minimum level of performance, an RTX 3060 is suitable. For a more robust gaming or 3D modeling experience, an RTX 3070 or RX 6800M is recommended. For the high-end experience, an RTX 3080 is the way to go.

When shopping for a laptop GPU, it's also crucial to consider the cooling system's quality to ensure the laptop can handle heat from the GPU without throttling performance. By following these guidelines and considering your budget and performance needs, you can choose the right graphics card for your desktop replacement laptop.

Price Bracket Recommended GPU
Minimum RTX 3060
Recommended RTX 3070; RX 6800M
High-end RTX 3080

Deciding on a memory

RAM for desktop replacement

Check the laptop manufacturer's website or user manual to confirm which RAM types and frequencies are supported.

When deciding on the right RAM configuration for your laptop, consider your budget and the type of work you'll be doing with it. For most people, 16 GB is the bare minimum, while 32 GB is recommended. If you require higher performance, such as for video editing or 3D rendering, 64 GB or more is recommended.

Here is a recommended RAM configuration depending on your budget:

Price range Minimum Recommended High-end
Low-end 16 GB 16 GB 32 GB
Mid-range 16 GB 32 GB 32 GB+
High-end 16 GB 32 GB 64 GB+

How to choose the right storage for desktop replacement?

SSD drive for desktop replacement

As SSDs continue to dominate the market, it's essential to pick the right one for your desktop replacement laptop. The most common type of SSD now is the PCIe M.2, which offers impressive speed and efficiency.

The amount of storage you need for your laptop depends on your use case and your willingness to rely on external and cloud storage. However, for a desktop replacement laptop, we recommend a minimum of 500 GB, with 1 TB as the recommended capacity, and high-end laptops (~$2k+) offering 2 TB.

When choosing an SSD, capacity is the most crucial factor to consider. While read/write performance is essential, most PCIe drives provide adequate performance for most professionals and gamers. TBW is also a useful metric, but its significance may be overstated, as even the most demanding scenarios do not exceed industry-standard TBW figures.

If you need a desktop replacement laptop, look for models with two drives or at least an unoccupied M.2 slot for expansion. While SSD performance benchmarks aren't as important as they once were, they're still worth considering if you're dealing with extremely space-demanding files, such as 8K video footage.

It's also worth noting that desktop PCs have a significantly higher storage capacity ceiling than laptops. For a true desktop replacement, a USB hub with multiple external drives may be required to even the playing field. If you work in a team and there is a lot of overlap in shared resources, a NAS setup is also worth exploring.

Below is a table of recommended SSD configurations, depending on your budget and laptop price:

Budget Recommended SSD configuration
< $900 500 GB
$900 – $2000 1 TB
> $2000 2 TB

Choose an SSD that meets your storage needs and fits your budget, and you'll be able to enjoy fast and reliable storage on your desktop replacement laptop.

How to choose the right display for desktop replacement?

laptop display wallpaper bright

When it comes to choosing the right laptop display for a desktop replacement, there are a few key factors to consider. Screen size and resolution are important, as is the panel type. You should also consider whether you need a high refresh rate or adaptive sync technology. Finally, look for displays with good color accuracy, contrast, brightness, and viewing angles. Here's what to expect at different price points:

Price Range Display Type Brightness Contrast Ratio Color Gamut Coverage
Entry-level TN 260 nits 500:1 60% sRGB
Mid-range IPS 300 nits 800:1 80% sRGB
High-end IPS 350 nits 1000:1 100% sRGB

When it comes to screen size, 15" laptops are still popular, but if you can afford it, we recommend going for at least a 17" display. In terms of resolution, Full HD is still the most common, with QHD and 4K options available in premium gaming and business laptops, as well as professional notebooks for creators.

Panel type is also important, with IPS panels offering better color accuracy and wider viewing angles than TN panels. OLED panels offer the best contrast ratio and black levels, but they're less common due to their high cost. QLED panels combine the best features of IPS and OLED displays without any major downsides, but they're slightly more expensive.

If you're a gamer, look for displays with high refresh rates and support for adaptive sync technologies like G-Sync or FreeSync. Other important factors to consider include color gamut coverage (especially if you edit videos), contrast ratio, brightness, and viewing angles.

In conclusion, when it comes to choosing the right laptop display for a desktop replacement, it's important to consider your needs and budget. Look for displays with good color accuracy, contrast, brightness, and viewing angles, and consider options like high refresh rates and adaptive sync if you're a gamer. With these factors in mind, you can find a laptop display that meets your needs and provides an immersive viewing experience.

Deciding on a battery

desktop replacement laptop battery

When looking for a laptop to replace your desktop, battery life is an essential factor to consider. While more power-hungry components can take their toll on the battery runtime, battery tech has come down in price, so decently good battery life (6h) is achievable even in budget laptops.

MacBooks are known for their excellent battery life, and the same goes for the latest MacBook Pro. However, it's important to know how they tested it, and not solely rely on Apple's advertised runtime. The average battery life of a notebook is around 7 hours, but some can last up to 12 hours!

But why is a big battery not necessary for a desktop replacement? Well, if you're going to use your laptop as a desktop replacement, you'll most likely have it plugged in most of the time. Therefore, having a massive battery may not be a priority. However, having a decent battery life that can provide you with some mobility is still crucial.

When comparing batteries, you can use benchmarks such as 3DMark and Cinebench R23 to compare different processors and their performance in gaming and video rendering tasks. These tests will give you an idea of how much battery life you can expect when performing certain tasks.

To know how long your laptop will last before having to recharge, check the laptop manufacturer's website for their advertised battery life. Keep in mind that the actual battery life may differ depending on usage and settings.

Here's a list of recommended batteries and what to expect at each price level:

  • Budget: Expect a minimum of 2 hours of battery life with basic usage.
  • Mid-range: Expect around 4 hours of battery life with moderate usage.
  • High-end: Expect around 8 hours of battery life with heavy usage.

In conclusion, battery life is an essential factor to consider when looking for a desktop replacement laptop. Make sure to check the laptop manufacturer's website for their advertised battery life and compare benchmarks to get an idea of how long the battery will last under heavy usage. With the above recommendations, you should be able to find a laptop with a battery that suits your needs and budget.

4 Best Laptops for desktop replacement

i7-1165G7 | Iris Xe Graphics G7 96EUs | 8 GB RAM | 256 GB SSD | 14″ IPS; 1920x1080 |

1.Acer Swift 3 SF314-59-75QC

Affordable and portable, Acer Swift 3 SF314-59-75QC is a decent choice for everyday computing, but the hot temperatures and poor audio might be a deal-breaker.
  • Compact, sleek design
  • Good performance
  • Great battery life
  • Thunderbolt 4 support
  • Poor typing experience
  • Runs hot under load
  • Poor speakers

The Acer Swift 3 SF314-59-75QC is a sleek, lightweight laptop that provides great performance, excellent battery life, and good build quality, making it a solid choice for everyday computing. It comes with Thunderbolt 4 support, a fine matte IPS screen, and a fast NVMe SSD, but the shabby typing experience, hot temperatures, and poor speakers might be a drawback.

Lenovo ThinkBook 15 G3
  • Expandable RAM
  • Good battery life
  • Display contrast and brightness could be better
  • Base unit could use more rigidity
i7-12700H | RTX 3060 | 16 GB RAM | 1000 GB SSD | 16.1″ IPS; 2560x1440 |

2.HP Omen 16

desktop replacement laptop
  • Superb processor (i7-12700H)
  • Awesome graphics card (RTX 3060)
  • Awesome display (16.1 IPS)
  • Large 1TB SSD
  • Run-of-the-mill memory amount (16GB)
  • Heavy (5.98 lbs)
  • Up to scratch processor (i7-11800H)
  • Very good graphics card (RTX A3000)
  • Weighty (6.38 lbs)
i7-12700H | RTX 3070 Ti | 64 GB RAM | 2000 GB SSD | 15.6″ IPS-level; 2560x1440 |


GIGABYTE AORUS 15 XE4: A High-Performance Desktop Replacement for Gamers.
  • Impressive performance
  • Highly responsive 165Hz panel with a wide color gamut
  • PCIe 4.0 SSD
  • Individual key lighting
  • High power usage at idle and low load
  • No card reader
  • Only one USB-A port.

GIGABYTE AORUS 15 XE4 is a compact gaming notebook that offers impressive performance, a highly responsive 165Hz panel, and a wide color gamut. It also has PCIe 4.0 SSD, individual key lighting, solid battery life, Thunderbolt 4, and Power Delivery. However, it has a high power usage at idle and low load, no card reader, and only one USB-A port.

ASUS ROG Strix G15 G513RM
  • Fair design and solid build quality
  • Good inputs and IO
  • Some quirks affecting everyday ergonomics, but improvements over the Scars
i9-12900H | RTX 3080 Ti | 32 GB RAM | 1000 GB SSD | 16″ IPS G-Sync; 2560x1600 |

4.Acer Predator Triton 500

Acer Predator Triton 500 is a slim, robust, and high-performance gaming laptop.
  • High performance capabilities
  • Excellent, bright 240-Hz display
  • Robust and relatively slim aluminum case
  • Good touchpad
  • Soldered-in RAM
  • Inaccessible SSD
  • Fan noise and warm palm rest
  • Keyboard layout

The Acer Predator Triton 500 SE is a great choice for those who need a slim, powerful, and well-built gaming laptop. It boasts an excellent 240-Hz display, extensive connectivity, fast WiFi, and a good touchpad. However, its soldered-in RAM, inaccessible SSD, and keyboard layout are not perfect.

Eluktronics MECH 17 GP2 Liquid Cooled
  • Up to scratch processor (i9-13900HX)
  • Terrific graphics card (RTX 4090)

    Table of the Best Laptops for desktop replacement

    LaptopPrice (approx)
    Acer Swift 3 SF314-59-75QC
    HP Omen 16
    Acer Predator Triton 500

    2 thoughts on “Desktop Replacement Laptops: The Ultimate Guide to Finding the Perfect Machine for Your Needs in 2023

    1. Great information! As I’m thinking of ‘ditching’ the desktop, going solely with laptop, this is great info! Thanks! (Plus, helps this 60 something grandmother to figure it all out.)

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