Desktop or Laptop for Remote Work

  • Steve Jones - SSC Editor

    SSC Guru

    Points: 721092

    Comments posted to this topic are about the item Desktop or Laptop for Remote Work

  • Jeff Moden

    SSC Guru

    Points: 997215

    Interesting article, Steve.  Thanks.

    I finally bought a new laptop about 8 months ago (it's only my second one in more than a decade after my first one, which still works).  It has a 17 inch high resolution screen, 32GB of RAM, a 6 core i7 theaded to 12 that will run at 4GHz if I want it to, a full size backlit keyboard that I can change the color and brightness on, killer graphics, 1TB of some pretty fast spinning rust, 2TB of some nasty fast NVME SSDs, Blue Tooth, both Cat 5 and Wireless Network connections,  a shedload of ports (including but not limited to HDMI, USB 3, USB C, Display port, headset, mic, chip cards) that I could run at least two additional monitors on (but choose not to for now), and more including a pretty good built in camera, mic, and some fairly awesome stereo speakers .  If I want to take it to the back porch to work with it, it has the range.  Because it's my only machine, I don't have to worry about backing up multiple machines nor keeping them in sync or trying to remember which machine I stored something on even though it would be easy to network all of them together to do so.  And it doesn't take as much space as a desktop, monitor, and keyboard.

    I don't miss my desktop at all (haven't used one at home in more than a decade).  Basically, I bought this new laptop as a "desktop" box that just happens to look like and have the portability of a laptop. 😀

    I feel for you having to lug two laptops on travel.  I assume it's because one is for work and one is for you?  Very fortunately, I don't have that problem... we have a setup at work where we store work stuff on individually assigned "user drives" on the work network.  It's kind of like working in the cloud but it's a company cloud of on-premise hardware and it's been working very well for the almost 9 years I've been working for my current company.

    One of the really cool parts is that (compared to a desktop box) I can close it at night and not worry about a cat peeing on the keyboard (yeah... it's happened) or my sweetie dropping something on it.

    Again... I'm just not missing a desktop.

    --Jeff Moden


    RBAR is pronounced "ree-bar" and is a "Modenism" for Row-By-Agonizing-Row.
    First step towards the paradigm shift of writing Set Based code:
    ________Stop thinking about what you want to do to a ROW... think, instead, of what you want to do to a COLUMN.
    "Change is inevitable... change for the better is not".
    "Dear Lord... I'm a DBA so please give me patience because, if you give me strength, I'm going to need bail money too!"

    Helpful Links:
    How to post code problems
    How to Post Performance Problems
    Create a Tally Function (fnTally)

  • Nick

    Newbie

    Points: 2

    I use a Microsoft Surface Pro 6 connected via a USB cable to a Kensington hub which has attached a large external monitor, keyboard, mouse, speakers and multiple USB ports. Best of both worlds, multi screen and proper input.

    Another advantage is that other devices can be attached via USB to the hub in place of the Surface so others can use the same setup. I even use it with an all-in-one desktop to provide a second screen and peripherals for Photoshop.

    Nick

  • GregLow

    SSC Veteran

    Points: 252

    Hey Steve, agree with other posters about it now being a choice you don't have to make. When I can easily get a laptop with 2x2TB NVMe SSDs, an i7 or i9 with lots of cores, 32 or 64 GB of memory, LTE modem built in, fast WiFi, etc. and then just plug it into a USB-C dock with a single cable, and get power, wired network, multiple large external screens, webcam, mic, lots of external ports, etc. , what on Earth does a really desktop add to the equation? And if I want to go somewhere, I unplug one cable and leave. Most capabilities are with me as I go. Desktop possibly an option if I spent all day rendering video, but currently use a previous laptop for that when need something beyond my laptop, which isn't often. It's still responsive even when rendering.

  • David.Poole

    SSC Guru

    Points: 75396

    I've got a works MacBook Pro.  The problem I have now is that while the laptop is ultra portable the monitor I use isn't.

    I must investigate screen casting. At present I'm too burned out to play with tech.  It's not just a case of laptop portability. It's mouse + keyboard + monitor etc.

    I don't like the Mac keyboards or the built in track pad. I would like to try a pen mouse.

    That said my 2013 desktop still works. Anything not for work gets done there.  When it burns out I will probably get a decent non-Apple laptop

  • call.copse

    SSCoach

    Points: 17245

    i9 laptop with 1.5Tb SSD is fine for me 🙂

     

  • Doctor Who 2

    SSCertifiable

    Points: 7905

    I have both a desktop and a laptop, both personally and professionally. Between the two I prefer a desktop. My personal desktop is a Dell XPS 8700, which is now 5 years old. Earlier this year I replaced the hard drive with a 1 TB SSD. I really notice the difference, even though the processor is a 4th generation i7. My laptop is a couple years old HP Spectra. I love it, but the funny thing is that now I'm working from home, I use it a lot less.

    Normally the machines I used at work were always better than what I had personally. It certainly was that case at my previous job. However, in my current job it isn't. The large state department I work on, I guess, can't afford much, apparently. My work desktop and laptop both are approaching 10 years old. I remember the first day of work at my current job, the PC tech guy didn't know what my role was supposed to be, so naturally he got me one of the standard issue desktops that would have been given to anybody, that wasn't a manager. (All managers get new Microsoft Surfaces.) Their practice is to reissue machines used previously by someone else. That normally gets handed down from person to person, until the machine literally no longer reboots. The first keyboard I had, I have no idea how old it was. The keys didn't travel without intense pressure applied to them to make them move. It was like I was trying to type on concrete. With my first paycheck I bought a keyboard, because I could see they had no intention of getting me one. I did get a second hard drive installed, because I was running out of disk space due to all of the software that I had to install as a developer (Visual Studio, SSMS, etc.) Fortunately for me I happened to have the work laptop at home, when the pandemic of 2020 hit. That has been a life saver ever since. Yeah, it's old and I'm dangerously low on disk space, but I'm in a lot better condition then most, because most are either using DirectAccess or Guacamole Remote Access to access their work desktop from whatever home device they're using.

    Rod

  • donald.parish

    Old Hand

    Points: 390

    My main machine is my desktop. Fast connections to internet and databases.  I use a laptop almost always to Remote Desktop Connection to my main desktop. Can use mouse, keys and other peripherals, just like I was there. Also no worries if I lose the laptop, because nothing important is on it.

  • Jeff Moden

    SSC Guru

    Points: 997215

    donald.parish wrote:

    My main machine is my desktop. Fast connections to internet and databases.  I use a laptop almost always to Remote Desktop Connection to my main desktop. Can use mouse, keys and other peripherals, just like I was there. Also no worries if I lose the laptop, because nothing important is on it.

    Now that's an advantage to using a desktop.  No worries about losing it somewhere or having it stolen from a hotel room.

     

    --Jeff Moden


    RBAR is pronounced "ree-bar" and is a "Modenism" for Row-By-Agonizing-Row.
    First step towards the paradigm shift of writing Set Based code:
    ________Stop thinking about what you want to do to a ROW... think, instead, of what you want to do to a COLUMN.
    "Change is inevitable... change for the better is not".
    "Dear Lord... I'm a DBA so please give me patience because, if you give me strength, I'm going to need bail money too!"

    Helpful Links:
    How to post code problems
    How to Post Performance Problems
    Create a Tally Function (fnTally)

  • latkinson

    Ten Centuries

    Points: 1297

    I am finally being issued a laptop. The advantage will be that it is a corporate machine and will be able to connect via VPN. Currently, using my personal machines I have to log in through a VDI in order to RDP to my desktop and things like Skype, Teams, softphone are a bigger hassle to set up because they run best in the VDI rather than through the RDP-VDI interface, so I look forward to the laptop experience.

    In my personal life, I am trying to shift my desktop lifestyle over to a laptop with second monitor and move a number of files off to some kind of personal NAS that both my wife an I can share. I will miss the easy hardware upgrade path of the desktop, but look forward to a slightly smaller footprint of equipment to work with.

     

  • david.edwards 76768

    Ten Centuries

    Points: 1083

    Having a company laptop has revolutionised my work.

    It's a decent i7 Thinkpad with (only) 8GB ram and SSD disk, and plenty speedy. We have a Cisco VPN which connects automatically after logon and it's BitLocker protected.

    Our telephony is entirely Skype for Business, so I can undock from my USB-C replicator at work, sleep it, connect to the USB-C replicator at home and just carry on with two widescreens, mouse and keyboard plus the laptop screen. I've been working from home since Mid-March lockdown without missing a beat.

    If I want, come the evening/weekend, I just plug my own laptop into the replicator.

    It was much the same when I got my first laptop about 5 years ago, albeit using "proper" docks, Win7 and a different VPN.

    I don't need fancy graphics cards for anything I do for work or home. Anything needing loads of space and tons of horsepower - I palm off to my server in the loft for home, or the work servers for work.

    I can't see me ever needing/wanting a desktop again.

  • Jason A. Long

    SSC-Insane

    Points: 23711

    All other things held equal, I'll take a desktop machine every time. The desktop will always win  on price to performance. The added case space makes it easier to cool individual components, making them more  reliable over time and the fact that all of the component connections are standardized, means you can easily upgrade/replace individual components without trashing the entire box and with very little worry about brand/model compatibility.

    Laptops, by their very nature, compromise on all of the above in order to squeeze everything into a portable form factor.

    Laptops are great if you actually need the portability they offer... but... if a laptop is going to spend it's entire useful life in the same docking station, why pay a premium for a compromise?

  • Aaron N. Cutshall

    SSCrazy Eights

    Points: 8815

    I've kicked my desktops to the curb. I have a laptop for work and one for personal use. I use a docking station for both when I'm in my office with each connected to dual monitors (yes, I have 4 monitors on my desk!), wireless keyboard & mouse and USB hub. They're both light enough that I can fit them both into a single backpack when I travel. My work laptop is pretty locked down (HIPAA and all that fun stuff), so I have to be mindful of what I need to do. Sometimes I can't access certain sites when I'm on my work laptop's VPN so I often have to reference my personal laptop. Nice thing too is when I travel I'll often use my personal laptop as a 2nd display.

  • Steve Jones - SSC Editor

    SSC Guru

    Points: 721092

    Interesting split of things. I definitely prefer my desktop, with 3 big screens, full keyboard.

    However, on the road, I do like small, light laptops. I feel compromised when I need to work on one for any length of time, but they seem to do fine for short periods of time. I rarely plug one into monitors, but maybe I should when I travel and see what I think.

  • Aaron N. Cutshall

    SSCrazy Eights

    Points: 8815

    Jason A. Long wrote:

    Laptops are great if you actually need the portability they offer... but... if a laptop is going to spend it's entire useful life in the same docking station, why pay a premium for a compromise?

    I have to totally agree with that! I've seen way too many people who leave their laptop in a docking station on their desk and never use it for anything else. I rely on the portability! When I'm at home, it's on my desk in it's docking station. When I'm on the road, it's in my backpack.

    I do back up my important stuff to my OneDrive folder. Now, if I could have a virtual desktop that I could run from a browser at a reasonable cost, I'd consider it. Then I could access my "desktop" from any internet-connected computer.

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