Laptop Processor vs Desktop Processor 2023: What’s Difference?

Most Laptops are usually more inexpensive than desktop computers, so when one is in need of a computer to use on the go, they are much more likely to purchase a laptop rather than a desktop computer.

But, if you require your computer to be portable, it may be worth investing in a laptop with a fast processor so that you can work from anywhere you have an internet connection.

Laptops come with a different type of processor than desktops. Which should you invest in between Laptop Processor Vs Desktop Processor? Let’s find out more about laptop processors, and how they compare with their desktop counterparts

What is a Laptop Processor?

The processor of a laptop has a significant impact on productivity. If the processor is powerful, one can run multiple applications quickly.

A laptop can handle any critical situation with ease, thanks to the help of an updated, powerful processor.

The processor’s clock speed is a measure of its processing speed. It is lower on a laptop than it would be on a desktop.

What is a Desktop Processor?

The heart of a desktop is a desktop processor. A processor on a desktop has the same goal as a processor on a laptop.

Although there are many differences in productivity, performance, and price, the core principle of each is the same.

In recent years, AMD and Intel have been the dominant desktop processor manufacturers. Both offer a wide range of options for users with different price points.

Differences between Laptop and Desktop Processors

Cooling Headroom

Laptop Processors and Desktop Processors - Cooling Headroom (1)

A cooler is used to cool a desktop processor. It often has twice the cooling power of a typical laptop’s cooling system.

Even low-end desktop coolers such as the stock cooler Intel ships with its processors can be vastly superior to the cooling power that is more expensive.

A processor with more thermal headroom has more power. Desktop Processors Have Higher Clock Speeds and last for longer periods than a laptop.

This ultimately results in better performance for the desktop CPU. A laptop processor can also be affected by heat issues.

They will increase their clock speeds, and then there won’t be enough cooling to cool down the heat. The temperatures start to rise dramatically.

It is not unusual for laptops that are thin or light to reach temperatures well above 90C. Desktop processors typically hover between 70C and 80C under load.

Laptop processors reduce their clock speeds in an attempt to keep them from overheating. They lose performance and can’t keep up with desktop counterparts once they have done that.

Check out our guide about the Best Amd Fx Processor 2023

Number of cores

A laptop processor must also face power and thermal restraints. A laptop has a limited amount of storage space. These factors often lead to desktop processors having more cores than their laptop counterparts.

The i5 8300H is the laptop processor, while the i5 8300H is the desktop processor. The 8400 has 6 cores, while the 8300H only has 4. The more cores you have, the better your performance.

Desktop processors are more powerful than their counterparts because they have more cores. They also have more cache. The more cache you have, the more information your CPU can store for quick retrieval.

ProcessorsI5 8300HI5 8400
L1 Cache256KB384KB
L2 Cache1MB1.5MB
L3 Cache8MB9MB

Laptop Processor vs Desktop Processor: Socket

The sockets used to insert the processor into the motherboard of a desktop or laptop are different.
The majority of laptop processors are soldered to the motherboard. They are not usually removable or replaceable.

A desktop motherboard includes a separate socket or slot for the processor. The processor can also be removed easily.

It is easy to update the processor on a desktop.

Laptop Processor vs Desktop Processor: Different clock speeds

Given an i5 processor for the desktop and an equivalent i5 processor for the laptop. The base frequency of the desktop processor could be around 2.8GHz with a maximum frequency well above 4GHz.

The desktop processor may have a base frequency of 2.4GHz, but a maximum frequency of 3.5GHz.

The processor’s core frequency is the fastest, so it can execute more instructions per second.

The processor’s core frequency determines how fast it can execute instructions per second. As we have already discussed, if you increase the clock speeds, you will be adding a lot more heat to the system.

Laptops don’t have as much thermal headroom so their clock speeds can be slower than desktop processors to prevent them from overheating.

You might think that overclockable processors are the answer. They allow you to increase stock clock frequencies to get more performance.

If your laptop processor does support overclocking, you will get an additional 200-300 MHz, at most, before your cooling system limits.

However, with ample cooling, desktop processors can be overclocked up to 1GHz with adequate cooling to achieve maximum performance.

Laptop Processor vs Desktop Processor: Power

Each processor comes with a Thermal Design Power (or TDP) rating. This rating is in Watts. TDP ratings are the maximum heat that a processor can generate. Due to cooling limitations, laptop processors have a lower TDP rating than desktop processors.

TDP ratings for laptop processors range from 15W to 45W. Desktop processors have TDP ratings of up to 35W. However, they cannot reach a maximum of 200W. A laptop must be able to run entirely on its internal battery.

Laptop Processor Vs Desktop Processor - Power (1)

There is a limit to how much power internal components can draw and, ultimately, performance limits.

On the other hand, desktop processors can produce a lot of heat before they have to back off or reduce power.

You can also choose to have your cooling system replaced with a newer model on desktops. This will allow you to increase the performance of your computer. Unfortunately, there is no such system available for laptops.

Read also our comparison of Gaming Laptop Vs Business Laptop

Laptop Processors Usually Don’t Support Overclocking

You can increase the clock speed of your processor and get better performance by overclocking it.

Laptop processors that allow overclocking are harder to find, and the additional MHz available are very limited.

Overclocking is not possible on laptop processors. You will usually get between 200 and 300 MHz.

However, you can get a desktop processor up to 1 GHz faster, which is a significant performance increase.

Laptop Processors Are More Expensive

They are more expensive than desktop processors due to the complexity of technology needed to fit a powerful processor into such a small area.

A powerful gaming laptop can end up costing more than a gaming computer desktop, even though it has more powerful components.

Laptops are more about convenience and production costs than they are for powerful performance.

Laptop Processors are not upgradeable

Technology moves fast. A few years ago, the top-of-the-line PC you purchased was likely to be average or below average today.

A desktop computer doesn’t require you to worry about this. You can easily upgrade any part of the system, even the processor.

You can upgrade to a faster graphics card, more RAM, and a larger hard disk.

Some laptops have more RAM and SSD than others, but you cannot upgrade the processor on a desktop PC. You’ll most likely need to buy a new laptop when it comes time to upgrade.

The Most Powerful Laptop Processors

There are still powerful laptop processors available. These laptop processors will not be cheap, but they are very powerful and provide a lot of power. You will need to spend more if you are looking for power comparable to desktop computers.

AMD and Intel are the names that have driven innovation in the processor manufacturing sector for many years. They’re the two names to choose from when you’re choosing your machine.

Laptops with the following processors will give you computing power and speed.

AMD Ryzen 9 5900HX: This processor has a significant clock speed for a laptop. It can run at 3.3 GHz but can also be clocked at 4.6 GHz. This 8-core processor is found in the ASUS ROG Zephyrus Duo 15, which retails upwards of $2.500. This should give you an idea about the price ranges that you will be dealing with.

Intel Xeon E-2276M: This 6-core processor has a 2.8 clock speed but can go up to a staggering 4.7 GHz. This processor is available in the Lenovo ThinkPad E53, which is less expensive than the ASUS ROG. It’s not going to be less than $1.200.

Intel Core i7-1075H: A second processor was found in the ASUS ROG series (the ASUS ROG GX701LXSXS-XS78 and the Acer ConceptD 7 Ezel). The clock speed is 2.3 GHz, but it can be boosted to 5.1 GHz using the Intel Turbo Boost technology. You will pay more than $4,000 for the ASUS ROG mentioned above. The Acer, however, is slightly more affordable at $2.400 (small being the keyword).

Intel Core i9-9990HK: This octa-core (8 cores) processor has a speed of 2.4 GHz but can be boosted up to 5 GHz. It is available in the Acer Predator for $4.799 at Acer’s online store.

These processors represent the pinnacle in laptop engineering and come with a high price tag.

They all demonstrate how far technology has come in fitting a lot of power into a small area.

Can I use a desktop CPU on a laptop?

A laptop that supports desktop processors will allow you to use a desktop computer’s CPU. This is only possible with a small number of laptops. They are often large and have powerful cooling. Origin’s high-end gaming laptops that run on desktop CPUs(Central Processing Units) are some of the best.

Important to know that these laptops are limited in their ability to use a few different desktop processors. They must fit into the laptop’s socket. The laptop also limits power and thermals. Even if your laptop allows you to swap out the processor, the real issue is whether you should.

Laptop and desktop processors are the same? Although they are identical, they are not interchangeable as easily on laptops that use desktop processors. It may take some time to get to the processor, and it might require some tweaking. You may need to spend some time learning about the cooling system of each laptop before you can access the processor.

You won’t be able to modify your laptop’s processor if it doesn’t have a desktop processor. No matter what processor you choose, your laptop will most likely have a non-removable one. If you get a laptop with a removable processor, the laptop will not work with any unknown processor as it was not designed to.

It may work if the processor has the same consumption of power as before, but it can still be unstable and buggy. Most often, a laptop’s processor will die, and you will need a new one.

FAQs about laptop and desktop processors

Laptop Processors and Desktop Processors- Clock Speeds (1)

Can I change the processor of my PC?

You are able to change the processor of your PC, but you may have to do some additional work. Most likely, you will need to update the motherboard’s BIOS, install new drivers for the motherboard and chipset, and update the operating system (Windows or Mac OS X). You can’t just swap out a processor for another as this doesn’t work as an exchange.

It will make your system unable to boot or run properly. You also may not be able to select the processor that you want to use.

Why do laptops have smaller processors than desktops?

Processors in laptops are typically smaller because they have to be more mobile and they also draw less power. Laptops require less processing power to operate.

They are also designed to be very portable and more easily portable. This means that if you are on the go, you will want the processor to be smaller so it doesn’t take up too much space when on the laptop.

So when looking for a laptop with good specifications, check the processor first. Look at the TDP (Thermal Design Power) rating which will tell you if the processor can run on lower voltages than what your motherboard requires.

Is it the same for power usage between a laptop and a desktop processor?

Even though a laptop may have the same processor as a desktop computer, its power consumption will likely be much lower. These processors are tuned by laptop manufacturers to consume as little power as possible to keep the laptop cooler and quieter.

This also significantly increases the battery life. The laptop processor will perform less than the desktop one due to its power consumption limitations.

There are also differences in the number of cores. The cores of laptop processors are usually smaller than those on desktops. Because more cores mean that the computer will use more power and produce more heat, there are fewer cores in laptop processors. Laptop processors have fewer cores, which means they can run at lower clock speeds.


The CPU that is found on a laptop is different than the CPU that is found on a desktop. Desktop CPUs are usually more powerful and less expensive, but laptops are cheaper, lighter, and have longer battery life.

A laptop’s limited cooling system means that it can only dissipate heat for a short time before it must reduce its performance to avoid overheating issues. A desktop processor, on the other side, has more thermal headroom and can run for longer periods of time than a laptop processor.

Thanks for reading MedCPU’s guide! I hope you learned something about laptops and desktop processors. There is a lot more to learn and if you have any questions or comments, please feel free to leave them in the comments section below.

Video: Laptops That Use Full Desktop CPUs

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