/ Technology

Poor old desktop PC, sitting unloved in a dusty corner

Dusty computer keyboard

Man cannot live by iPad alone. Laptops, tablets and smartphones may be leaving PCs gathering dust in the corner, but is there still a place in your life – and living room – for a desktop PC?

My old PC has been sitting in a corner at my parents’ house for years. Last year my dad bought an iPad which lets him email and web browse with speed and ease, leaving my old PC gathering dust.

But after spending two hours on Easter Monday trying to upload a photo from my dad’s iPad onto a non-iPad optimised webpage, we conceded that we’d have to fire up the old computer. The final ‘photo upload’ hurdle proved insurmountable for his iPad.

So it seems you can’t put all of your (chocolate) eggs in one (iPad) basket. Now I know my dad’ll be reluctant to chuck out the old workstation without having a desktop replacement.

Replacing your desktop PC with a laptop or tablet

However, with laptops becoming ever more powerful and with plenty of cloud storage options available, the case for having a PC sitting around at home is becoming less convincing. This is backed up by our latest survey, where nine in 10 laptop owners told us they mostly use their laptop at home.

However, there are still lots of desktop machines out there. Of the people who responded to our computer reliability survey last year, 69% said they owned a desktop or all-in-one – 2% more than owned a laptop. But how many of those are being neglected in favour of laptops and tablets? Quite a few I imagine, given that 28% of PC owners bought theirs before 2007.

Which leaves me wondering whether the majority of PCs are sitting neglected in the corners of bedrooms, home offices and living rooms, watching the walls and gathering dust. Or are there some times you just couldn’t be without your home PC?

Murram says:
8 April 2013

I am sure that the use of Laptops is a fashion and is not driven by practicality. Using a Desktop PC with a keyboard firmly positioned on the desk and large monitor located at head hight is not likely to give back problems, wheras bent over a laptop located on your knees which moves as you use it will. My Desktop tower unit has had a larger hard drive installed, a bigger monitor and additional RAM. It was upgraded from Windows XP to Windows 7 64bit and despite its age is still perfectly adequate for my needs. It is neither practical or cost effective to do any of these things with a Laptop PC. There is also the problem that Laptop batteries have a life and if it is still possible to purchase a replacement when they fail, it will certainly not be cheap. Whilst I accept that a Laptop is portable and a Desktop PC is not, I would suggest that a Tablet is a much better solution if portability is your criteria, with a Desktop PC also available for when you wish to do work that is not as convenient or possible on a Tablet.


Laptops are hardly a fashion and tablets are definitely not a substitute for a desktop or a laptop. I use all three, and the tablet is my substitute for a smartphone. The desktop machine will probably last longest.

Em says:
8 April 2013

Laptops – or at least portable computers – are not a fashion.

I bought my first “luggable” Compaq Portable III in 1988. I couldn’t afford the new price of $5,000 and bought it for around £1,500 second-hand.

The first decent desktop replacement, it weighed 10kg and had a 10″ bright orange plasma display you could warm your hands on on a cold day. Definitely mains-powered only! But it had the big advantage that I could use it in the office and take it home every night, so always available for a bit of overtime or preparing something for Monday morning, without messing with floppy disks.

Rayemond says:
9 April 2013

If you have an avid gamer in your house, a laptop just wont do. Gamers need a high end graphics card with one or two large cooling fans.


Well there’s not much support for laptops in this Conversation, so I hope Which? will take note and keep their eyes on desktops well into the future. The serious world has not ‘moved on’ and just because the newer IT developments give portability, and are more image-making perhaps, it doesn’t mean we are all going to forsake our trusty heavy-weight machines in favour of the racing model. We have a laptop in the house [somewhere] but everything we do is on desktop PC’s, and I don’t think there is anything better for creating and processing documents, spreadsheets, reports, web browsing across a number of sites, and all the other functions mentioned by previous contributors. We don’t have smartphones or tablets because when we are ‘on the move’ [as important people say] we are usually in the company of each other or friends or relatives and it is not appropriate to use a gadget. Likewise, we cannot see that any communication devices have a place in the bedroom or the kitchen or the sitting room. We also think our PC’s should be shut down no later than 7 pm [I probably shouldn’t have written that – I expect somebody’s going to dig up one of my late night posts from a very old conversation; it’ll be the exception that proves the rule!].


It has taken a long time, but I’ve found something where we disagree strongly, John. We don’t turn TVs off at 7 pm, so why turn of our computers?

I would not be without my desktop machine, as I have explained above, but most of the time I use the laptop. At the moment it’s on the kitchen table and I am using it while I am cooking. At night, it just goes to sleep, and thankfully does not snore.


The TV doesn’t go on until 8pm! In between times, we dine.


My last desktop PC stopped working eight years ago. I gave it to a technically minded friend to see if she could get it working and after several false starts where it worked for a couple of hours before crashing, I gave up on it and bought a laptop. This was the best decision I ever made. Instead of being isolated in the study/spare room on the desktop, I could sit anywhere in the house – except the lavatory – and use the laptop. Instead of spending a couple of hours a week on the PC, I now spend more than a couple of hours a day on the laptop. About the only thing I miss the larger screen PC for is large spreadsheets, but as time goes on, my spreadsheets become fewer and smaller.

I only have one laptop, no smart phone or tablet, unlike most of those posting in this discussion. I would not have a smart phone because the screen size would be useless for me. If all of you multi device keepers had to select only one device to keep, which one would you choose?


Desktop, without doubt. Just put it in your living room!