Notebookcheck

Desktop versus Notebook

Florian Glaser, Tanja Hinum (translated by Andreas Osthoff), 12/01/2015

Full speed ahead. We have built a completely new desktop PC to be up to date for our gaming articles. It competes with high-end notebooks and we are going to use it for comparisons. Who wins the duel?

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German-English-Translator - Details here

For the original German article, see here.

Do not worry: Notebookcheck is still focused on laptops and mobile devices. We just want to use this article to introduce our new PC, which will be used as a main platform for upcoming desktop benchmarks with Nvidia GPUs (AMD chips are running on a second system).

This is obviously a good chance to compare it with real gaming laptops, which are designed for gaming enthusiasts with prices over 1500 Euros (~$1593). Are notebooks still significantly slower than their desktop siblings? And what about the price-performance ratio? We will cover these questions and many more over the course of this article.

Except for two storage drives, the Blu-ray burner and the operating system, all components were provided by the respective manufacturers available to us. The cooperation is limited to a short product description, but there are no other agreements.

Notebookcheck Desktop PC
Processor
Intel Core i7-6700K, Socket 1151
Graphics adapter
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 980 - 4096 MB, Core: 1127 MHz, Memory: 3500 MHz, GDDR5, ForceWare 359.00
Memory
16384 MB 
, 2x 8 GB G.Skill Trident Z DDR4-3000 @2133 MHz, 2 of 4 slots occupied, up to 64 GB
Mainboard
Intel Sunrise Point Z170
Storage
Crucial MX100 256 GB, 256 GB 
, SSD + Crucial M500 480 GB SSD + OCZ Trion 100 480 GB SSD + Western Digital Caviar Green 1000 GB HDD, Slots: 1x M.2 (Mainboard) + 3x 2.5-inch & 3x 3.5-inch (chassis)
Soundcard
Realtek ALC892 @ Intel Sunrise Point PCH - High Definition Audio Controller
Connections
4 USB 2.0, 4 USB 3.0 / 3.1 Gen1, 1 VGA, 1 DVI, 1 HDMI, 1 DisplayPort, 1 Kensington Lock, Audio Connections: Surround & SPDIF (Mainboard) + headphones & microphone (chassis front), USB 3.1 Type-C, USB 3.1 Type-A
Networking
Intel Ethernet Connection I219-V (10/100/1000MBit)
Optical drive
HL-DT-ST BD-RE BH16NS40
Size
height x width x depth (in mm): 493 x 495 x 230 ( = 19.41 x 19.49 x 9.06 in)
Operating System
Microsoft Windows 10 Pro 64 Bit
Additional features
PSU: 750-Watt
Price
2300 Euro
Note: The manufacturer may use components from different suppliers including display panels, drives or memory sticks with similar specifications.

 

Case & Components

The chassis is the ATX case Silent Base 600 from Be Quiet!, which is almost 50 cm long, 23 cm wide and 49 cm high (~20 x 9 x 19 in). One highlight is the pre-installed noise insulation. With the hardware, the black case it tips the scale at almost 10 kilograms (~22 lb), so even bulky desktop replacements like the Clevo P870DM/P771DM, the MSI GT72S or the Asus G752 (up to 5 kg/11 lb) appear pretty light.

We would call the quality and build of the Silent Base 600 decent to good. While the side elements are made of metal, both the top cover and the outer front are made of plastic. The case also leaves a sophisticated impression when you have a closer look at the features. As well as two dust filters (see pictures), you get an opening for a simpler installation of the CPU cooler, a hard drive cage and the 2.5-inch trays behind the motherboard. Overall, the Silent Base 600 can accommodate three 3.5-inch hard drives and – depending on the number of HDDs – 2 to 3 2.5-inch storage devices. 

Thanks to the generous and clever internal layout, it is not only possible to use very long power adaptors, but also multiple high-end GPUs. We only had a problem with the CPU cooler. The Dark Rock 3, which is also from Be Quiet!, is huge and there are only a few millimeters between the CPU cooler and the two memory modules from G.Skill (2x 8 GB Trident Z DDR4-3000). The fixing mechanism of the Dark Rock 3 is not perfect. On the other hand, you will get a high cooling performance with a low noise development.

Speaking of cooling: We installed a third chassis fan (Be Quiet! Silent Wings 2) to ensure a quiet system operation. The stock chassis has "only" one 140mm fan at the front and another 120mm fan at the back. There are additional mounting places for fans at the top, the bottom and the side, but we did not use them. Great: Thanks to the integrated 3-way fan control, you can easily reduce the speed of up to three fans.

There is no shortage of connectors in the Silent Base 600. Below the power and reset button you can find two USB 2.0 ports, two stereo jacks as well as two USB 3.0 ports. As expected, most ports are located on the motherboard. Asus provides a brand-new socket 1151 model, Z170-A, which is designed for Intel’s Skylake generation. The latter manufacturer provided us with a Core i7-6700K, which has a TDP of 91 watts and does not even scratch the limit of the cooler (190 watts). For comparison: The high-end quad-cores for notebooks have a 45-watt TDP.

Back to the motherboard. Like its many other 1151 siblings, the Asus Z170-A has an M.2 slot for solid-state drives. There are also four memory slots and three PCIe-3.0 slots. Since only a few users use dual-GPU configurations (micro stutters), we will use just one graphics card as well. Nvidia and PNY had already sent us the high-end chip GTX 980 and the mainstream GPU GTX 950 a few months ago.

Motherboard: Asus Z170-A
Motherboard: Asus Z170-A
Processor: Intel Core i7-6700K
CPU cooler: be quiet Dark Rock 3
Thermal compound: be quiet DC1. Additional fan: be quiet Silent Wings 2
PSU: be quiet Dark Power Pro 11
Graphics card 1: Nvidia GeForce GTX 980
Graphics card 2: PNY GeForce GTX 950
RAM: G.Skill Trident Z
Storage 1: Crucial MX100. Storage 2: Crucial M500
Storage 3: OCZ Trion

The storage equipment is no less generous. Modern games occupy a lot of space, so we have equipped the system with three SSDs. While the operating system (Windows 10 Pro 64-bit) is installed on a 256 GB Crucial MX100, a 480 GB Crucial M500 takes care of all the Steam games. Origin and Uplay games are stored on a Trion 100 from OCZ (also 480 GB). The package is rounded off with an older 1 TB HDD from Western Digital. Despite the anti-vibration mounting of the hard drive, we can sometimes hear clattering and vibration noises from the Caviar Green, which was not the case in the old chassis (Lian Li PC-7 Plus). We still have to find out if this is caused by the HDD or the hard drive cage. Otherwise, the case and the cooling system ensure a very quiet 3D operation, which is currently not possible with a notebook (more on this later).

The same applies to the connectivity of the motherboard: Most laptops cannot keep up with five audio ports, six USB ports (2x 2.0, 2x 3.0, 2x 3.1) and four video outputs (VGA, DVI, HDMI, DisplayPort). Gigabit-Ethernet and a PS/2 port are mandatory for a desktop as well. The power is provided by an 80-Plus-Platinum PSU with a nominal output of 750 watts. The Dark Power Pro 11 from Be Quiet! meets the expectation with the top performance and a very restrained fan. Thanks to the modular cable management and the openings in the chassis, you can use the available space very well.

However, these components are not cheap with a total price of around 2300 Euros (~$2442), which is quite a lot for a desktop system. If you add a display, speakers and peripherals, you quickly reach between 2500 and 3000 Euros (~$2654 to ~$3185). For this price, you can get a well-equipped high-end notebook with IPS panel, quad-core CPU, 16 GB of RAM, solid-state drive and GeForce GTX 980M. So is an expensive desktop system really worth it? We compare the performance, system noise and power consumption.

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Component Price

Case

be quiet! Silent Base 600 (silver) ~100 Euros

PSU

be quiet! Dark Power Pro 11 750 Watt ~170 Euros

Mainboard

Asus Z170-A ~150 Euros

Processor

Intel Core i7-6700K ~450 Euros

CPU cooler

be quiet! Dark Rock 3 ~60 Euros

GPU

Nvidia GeForce GTX 980 ~500 Euros

RAM

16 GB G.Skill Trident Z DDR4-3000 ~130 Euros

Storage 1

Crucial MX100 256 GB ~110 Euros

Storage 2

Crucial M500 480 GB ~190 Euros

Storage 3

OCZ Trion 100 480 GB ~150 Euros

Storage 4

Western Digital Caviar Green 1.000 GB ~70 Euros

Optical drive

LG BH16NS40 ~70 Euros

Operating system

Windows 10 Pro 64 Bit ~150 Euros

Total

2300 Euros

Performance

Yes, you can already get powerful desktop PCs for 1000 Euros (~$1062), but you will have to invest more than 1500 Euros (~$1593) if you want maximum performance, brand-new components, high efficiency and a quiet operation. You cannot really call it high-end without at least one SSD and 16 GB of RAM. Our platform should have more than enough performance reserves for the next few years, as long as we update the GPU from time to time.

CPU-Z
CPU-Z
CPU-Z
CPU-Z
CPU-Z
HWiNFO
Latency

Processor

Despite the fact that Intel’s Skylake architecture is hardly faster than Haswell and Broadwell, the Core i7-6700K (currently hard to get) is still the perfect choice for passionate gamers.

Single-core rendering
Single-core rendering
Multi-core rendering
Multi-core rendering
CPU & GPU load (GTX 980)
CPU & GPU load
CPU & GPU load (GTX 950)
CPU & GPU load

The quad-core can reach 4.0 to 4.2 GHz under load, which is still quite a lot in 2015. The same applies to the number of threads. The 14-nm chip simulates four virtual cores via Hyperthreading, which can improve the performance in some applications. Thanks to the modern manufacturing process, the CPU does not consume a lot of power despite the high performance..

Cinebench R11.5 CPU Multi 64Bit
9.73 Points
Cinebench R11.5 CPU Single 64Bit
2.05 Points
Cinebench R15 CPU Multi 64Bit
882 Points
Cinebench R15 CPU Single 64Bit
181 Points
Help

Nevertheless, some notebooks prove that this level of performance is also possible in the mobile segment. Notebooks like the Schenker XMG U506, the XMG U706 and the XMG U726, for example, can also be configured with the i7-6700K. Laptop counterparts like the Core i7-6700HQ and the Core i7-6820HK are roughly 20% slower in Cinebench R15 and R11.5. Attention: The i5 desktop series does not support Hyperthreading and can fall behind mobile chips in multi-core benchmarks.

Cinebench R15
CPU Single 64Bit (sort by value)
Notebookcheck Desktop PC
Intel Core i7-6700K
181 Points ∼83%
Schenker XMG U706
Intel Core i7-6700K
173 Points ∼79% -4%
Schenker XMG U726
Intel Core i7-6700
171 Points ∼78% -6%
Schenker XMG U506
Intel Core i5-6600K
166 Points ∼76% -8%
Schenker XMG P706
Intel Core i7-6820HK
151 Points ∼69% -17%
Schenker XMG P506
Intel Core i7-6700HQ
146 Points ∼67% -19%
CPU Multi 64Bit (sort by value)
Notebookcheck Desktop PC
Intel Core i7-6700K
882 Points ∼20%
Schenker XMG U706
Intel Core i7-6700K
875 Points ∼20% -1%
Schenker XMG U726
Intel Core i7-6700
813 Points ∼19% -8%
Schenker XMG U506
Intel Core i5-6600K
601 Points ∼14% -32%
Schenker XMG P706
Intel Core i7-6820HK
709 Points ∼16% -20%
Schenker XMG P506
Intel Core i7-6700HQ
680 Points ∼16% -23%
Cinebench R11.5
CPU Single 64Bit (sort by value)
Notebookcheck Desktop PC
Intel Core i7-6700K
2.05 Points ∼84%
Schenker XMG U706
Intel Core i7-6700K
1.97 Points ∼81% -4%
Schenker XMG U726
Intel Core i7-6700
1.91 Points ∼78% -7%
Schenker XMG U506
Intel Core i5-6600K
1.88 Points ∼77% -8%
Schenker XMG P706
Intel Core i7-6820HK
1.73 Points ∼71% -16%
Schenker XMG P506
Intel Core i7-6700HQ
1.69 Points ∼69% -18%
CPU Multi 64Bit (sort by value)
Notebookcheck Desktop PC
Intel Core i7-6700K
9.73 Points ∼36%
Schenker XMG U706
Intel Core i7-6700K
9.6 Points ∼35% -1%
Schenker XMG U726
Intel Core i7-6700
8.94 Points ∼33% -8%
Schenker XMG U506
Intel Core i5-6600K
6.93 Points ∼26% -29%
Schenker XMG P706
Intel Core i7-6820HK
7.78 Points ∼29% -20%
Schenker XMG P506
Intel Core i7-6700HQ
7.48 Points ∼28% -23%

System Performance

We evaluated the system performance with the tool PCMark 7, which benefits significantly from fast storage devices. With a score of 7311 points, the desktop PC is a few percent points ahead of expensive gaming notebooks like the Schenker XMG U726, XMG U706 and XMG U506, all of which were equipped with a PCIe-SSD (Samsung SM951) in our reviews.

PCMark 7 Score
7311 points
Help
PCMark 7 - Score (sort by value)
Notebookcheck Desktop PC
GeForce GTX 980, 6700K, Crucial MX100 256 GB
7311 Points ∼85%
Schenker XMG U726
GeForce GTX 980 (Laptop), 6700, Samsung SM951 MZHPV512HDGL m.2 PCI-e
7093 Points ∼83% -3%
Schenker XMG U506
GeForce GTX 980M, 6600K, Samsung SSD SM951 512 GB MZHPV512HDGL
7064 Points ∼82% -3%
Schenker XMG U706
GeForce GTX 980M, 6700K, Samsung SM951 MZVPV512HDGL m.2 PCI-e
6582 Points ∼77% -10%

Storage Devices

We have already indicated that there are hardly any differences between notebooks and desktops in terms of storage devices. However, this is not surprising since both use 2.5-inch drives.

Crucial MX100
Crucial MX100
Crucial MX100
Crucial MX100
OCZ Trion 100
OCZ Trion 100
OCZ Trion 100
OCZ Trion 100
Crucial M500
Crucial M500
Crucial M500
Crucial M500

Even though the performance differs on paper, the SSDs are very similar in practice. The SATA-III interface will limit the transfer rates to around 500 to 550 MB/s, but small files are more important in practice, so subjectively, PCIe or NVMe models are not much faster.

Crucial MX100 256 GB
Sequential Read: 498 MB/s
Sequential Write: 337.1 MB/s
512K Read: 434.7 MB/s
512K Write: 336.3 MB/s
4K Read: 32.45 MB/s
4K Write: 116.1 MB/s
4K QD32 Read: 335.4 MB/s
4K QD32 Write: 295.4 MB/s

GPU Performance

While in the past notebook GPUs were often significantly slimmed-down versions, fps enthusiasts do not necessarily have to use a desktop nowadays.

GeForce GTX 980
GeForce GTX 980
GeForce GTX 980
GeForce GTX 980
GeForce GTX 950
GeForce GTX 950
GeForce GTX 950
GeForce GTX 950

The best example is the recently launched GeForce GTX 980, which is almost identical to its desktop counterpart. Our system managed an advantage of up to 3% compared to the Schenker XMG U726, both in Unigine Heaven 4.0 as well as 3DMark 13 and 11, respectively. The GTX 980 also performs very well compared to the rivals from AMD (R9 290XR9 Fury,...).

3DMark 11 Performance
15325 points
3DMark Fire Strike Score
11408 points
Help

The mainstream product GTX 950 is in a more difficult position. The Maxwell chip is around 10 to 15% slower than a GeForce GTX 970M and 25 to 30% slower than a GeForce GTX 980M. The results of the desktop models GTX 960 and GTX 970 are available here and here.

3DMark
3840x2160 Fire Strike Ultra Score (sort by value)
Notebookcheck Desktop PC
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 980
3111 Points ∼33%
XFX Radeon R9 Fury Pro
AMD Radeon R9 Fury
3563 Points ∼38% +15%
Schenker XMG U726
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 980 (Laptop)
3098 Points ∼33% 0%
Sapphire Radeon R9 290X Tri-X OC
AMD Radeon R9 290X
2722 Points ∼29% -13%
Desktop PC
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 950
880 Points ∼9% -72%
1920x1080 Fire Strike Score (sort by value)
Notebookcheck Desktop PC
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 980
11408 Points ∼43%
XFX Radeon R9 Fury Pro
AMD Radeon R9 Fury
23381 Points ∼87% +105%
Schenker XMG U726
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 980 (Laptop)
11096 Points ∼41% -3%
Sapphire Radeon R9 290X Tri-X OC
AMD Radeon R9 290X
10233 Points ∼38% -10%
Schenker XMG P706
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 980M
8380 Points ∼31% -27%
Schenker XMG P506
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 970M
6672 Points ∼25% -42%
Desktop PC
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 950
5652 Points ∼21% -50%
3DMark 11 - 1280x720 Performance (sort by value)
Notebookcheck Desktop PC
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 980
15325 Points ∼49%
XFX Radeon R9 Fury Pro
AMD Radeon R9 Fury
14860 Points ∼48% -3%
Schenker XMG U726
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 980 (Laptop)
14925 Points ∼48% -3%
Sapphire Radeon R9 290X Tri-X OC
AMD Radeon R9 290X
14015 Points ∼45% -9%
Schenker XMG P706
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 980M
11514 Points ∼37% -25%
Schenker XMG P506
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 970M
9627 Points ∼31% -37%
Desktop PC
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 950
8659 Points ∼28% -43%
Unigine Heaven 4.0 - Extreme Preset DX11 (sort by value)
Notebookcheck Desktop PC
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 980
80.5 fps ∼39%
XFX Radeon R9 Fury Pro
AMD Radeon R9 Fury
77.1 fps ∼37% -4%
Schenker XMG U726
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 980 (Laptop)
78.7 fps ∼38% -2%
Desktop PC
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 950
36.5 fps ∼18% -55%

Gaming Performance

More and more displays support 3840x2160 pixels, which is why we have also been testing games in this resolution since mid-2015. This resolution is a challenge even for high-end GPUs, so the performance is hardly sufficient for smooth gameplay. It does not matter if you look at “Star Wars Battlefront” or “Assassin's Creed Syndicate”: Neither a GeForce GTX 970M nor a GeForce GTX 980M can smoothly handle a combination of UHD and high details; you will need a GeForce GTX 980 (desktop). If you are satisfied with 1920x1080 pixels, the less-expensive high-end chips are sufficient.

Star Wars Battlefront
3840x2160 High Preset AA:FX (sort by value)
Desktop PC
GeForce GTX 980, 6700K
40.4 (min: 35) fps ∼31%
XFX Radeon R9 Fury Pro
Radeon R9 Fury, 4790K
50 (min: 43, max: 60) fps ∼38%
Sapphire Radeon R9 290X Tri-X OC
Radeon R9 290X, 4790K
43.4 (min: 36, max: 51) fps ∼33%
Schenker XMG U716
GeForce GTX 980 (Laptop), 6700
39.6 fps ∼30%
Schenker W504
GeForce GTX 980M, 4700MQ
27.9 (min: 23) fps ∼21%
Schenker W504
GeForce GTX 970M, 4700MQ
21.9 (min: 18) fps ∼17%
Desktop PC
GeForce GTX 950, 6700K
17.7 (min: 14) fps ∼13%
1920x1080 Ultra Preset AA:FX (sort by value)
Desktop PC
GeForce GTX 980, 6700K
104.1 (min: 89) fps ∼53%
XFX Radeon R9 Fury Pro
Radeon R9 Fury, 4790K
119 (min: 100, max: 137) fps ∼61%
Sapphire Radeon R9 290X Tri-X OC
Radeon R9 290X, 4790K
104 (min: 92, max: 123) fps ∼53%
Schenker XMG U716
GeForce GTX 980 (Laptop), 6700
102.1 fps ∼52%
Schenker W504
GeForce GTX 980M, 4700MQ
73.1 (min: 61) fps ∼37%
Schenker W504
GeForce GTX 970M, 4700MQ
59 (min: 50) fps ∼30%
Desktop PC
GeForce GTX 950, 6700K
52 (min: 46) fps ∼27%
Assassin's Creed Syndicate
3840x2160 High Preset AA:FX (sort by value)
Desktop PC
GeForce GTX 980, 6700K
27.6 (min: 26) fps ∼37%
XFX Radeon R9 Fury Pro
Radeon R9 Fury, 4790K
31.5 (min: 29, max: 37) fps ∼43%
Sapphire Radeon R9 290X Tri-X OC
Radeon R9 290X, 4790K
26.2 (min: 23, max: 31) fps ∼35%
Schenker XMG U716
GeForce GTX 980 (Laptop), 6700
28.2 fps ∼38%
Schenker W504
GeForce GTX 980M, 4700MQ
20.7 (min: 18) fps ∼28%
Schenker W504
GeForce GTX 970M, 4700MQ
16.2 (min: 14) fps ∼22%
Desktop PC
GeForce GTX 950, 6700K
11.3 (min: 10) fps ∼15%
1920x1080 Ultra High Preset AA:4x MSAA + FX (sort by value)
Desktop PC
GeForce GTX 980, 6700K
33.5 (min: 27) fps ∼42%
XFX Radeon R9 Fury Pro
Radeon R9 Fury, 4790K
28.3 (min: 23, max: 34) fps ∼35%
Sapphire Radeon R9 290X Tri-X OC
Radeon R9 290X, 4790K
5 (min: 3, max: 8) fps ∼6%
Schenker XMG U716
GeForce GTX 980 (Laptop), 6700
32.3 fps ∼40%
Schenker W504
GeForce GTX 980M, 4700MQ
24.2 (min: 19) fps ∼30%
Schenker W504
GeForce GTX 970M, 4700MQ
18.9 (min: 15) fps ∼24%
Desktop PC
GeForce GTX 950, 6700K
4.7 (min: 3) fps ∼6%

Emissions

All the following measurements were performed with a GeForce GTX 980. The fan control of the case was at the medium position (best compromise between noise and temperature).

System Noise

One of the biggest advantages of desktops is the available space, which results in a higher cooling volume. The total of six fans in our system (1x GPU, 1x CPU, 1x PSU, 3x chassis) can dissipate the heat much more effectively compared to a notebook.

If you select a balanced configuration, the PC will stay pretty quiet even during gaming. Most notebooks can only dream about 33 dB(A) in 3DMark 06, only the MSI GT72S and the Asus G752 are not that much louder at 35 and 36 dB(A), respectively. We were able to measure up to 40 dB(A) at the desktop under maximum load – once again a great result. Almost all notebooks reach 45 or even 50 dB(A).

The differences are small while idling. 31 to 32 dB(A) are slightly audible, but not annoying. Laptops with switchable graphics are usually completely silent. Overall, the noise development reminds us of the water-cooled Mini-PC XMG Prime, even though it was only equipped with a Core i5-4590 and a GeForce GTX 960.

Noise Level

Idle
31 / 32 / 32 dB(A)
HDD
32 dB(A)
Load
33 / 40 dB(A)
  red to green bar
 
 
30 dB
silent
40 dB(A)
audible
50 dB(A)
loud
 
min: dark, med: mid, max: light   Voltcraft sl-320 (15 cm distance)
Notebookcheck Desktop PC
GeForce GTX 980, 6700K
Schenker XMG Prime
GeForce GTX 960, 4590
Schenker XMG U726
GeForce GTX 980 (Laptop), 6700
MSI GT72S-6QEG16SR421BW
GeForce GTX 980M, 6820HK
Asus G752VT
GeForce GTX 970M, 6700HQ
Noise
3%
-13%
-15%
-7%
off / environment *
Idle Minimum *
31
30.8
1%
33
-6%
30.6
1%
32.9
-6%
Idle Average *
32
31
3%
34
-6%
31
3%
33
-3%
Idle Maximum *
32
31.2
2%
35
-9%
50.4
-58%
33.1
-3%
Load Average *
33
31
6%
42
-27%
35
-6%
36.2
-10%
Load Maximum *
40
39.6
1%
46
-15%
46
-15%
45.8
-15%

* ... smaller is better

Temperature

The components do not get very hot, despite the moderate noise development. The Core i7-6700K leveled off at 70 to 80 °C (~158 to 176 °F, according to HWMonitor CPUID) during our stress test with the tools FurMark and Prime95. Notebook chips often reach 90 100 °C (~194 to 212 °F) – including throttling. A GPU temperature of up to 82 °C (~180 °F; GTX 980) and 75 °C (~167 °F; GTX 950), respectively, is reasonable as well. Unfortunately, both Nvidia GPUs deactivate their Turbo under maximum load.

Stress test (GTX 980)
Stress test (GTX 980)
Stress test (GTX 950)
Stress test (GTX 950)

Energy Management

Power Consumption

Laptops are traditionally the better choice in terms of power consumption. Desktop PCs consume more power, particularly while idling. An example? 47-54 Watts are easily beaten by the MSI GT72S; 21-33 Watts is a much lower range. The main reason is – as we have mentioned earlier – the switchable graphics, which activates the dedicated chip only during complex tasks.

The results between the desktop and notebook are closer under load. At 135 watts, the PC consumed around 20% more than the MSI GT72S (110 watts) on the first level of 3DMark 06. Once again, the gap is bigger under maximum load (319 vs. 231 watts). This changes when we look at the Schenker XMG U726, where the results are comparable due to the similar components.

Power Consumption
Off / Standbydarklight 1 / 2.2 Watt
Idledarkmidlight 47 / 50 / 54 Watt
Load midlight 135 / 319 Watt
 color bar
Key: min: dark, med: mid, max: light        Metrahit Energy
Notebookcheck Desktop PC
GeForce GTX 980, 6700K
Schenker XMG Prime
GeForce GTX 960, 4590
Schenker XMG U726
GeForce GTX 980 (Laptop), 6700
MSI GT72S-6QEG16SR421BW
GeForce GTX 980M, 6820HK
Asus G752VT
GeForce GTX 970M, 6700HQ
Power Consumption
24%
7%
37%
Idle Minimum *
47
33
30%
36
23%
21.3
55%
Idle Average *
50
34.5
31%
45
10%
26.3
47%
Idle Maximum *
54
36
33%
53
2%
32.9
39%
Load Average *
135
121.8
10%
139
-3%
110.2
18%
Load Maximum *
319
268
16%
306
4%
230.8
28%

* ... smaller is better

Verdict

Notebook or desktop? Nowadays, this decision is – depending on the configuration – more a matter of faith than of performance or price. Considering the performance of the mobile GTX 980 or dual-GPU solutions (like the GTX 970M SLI), notebook owners can also enjoy very high graphics settings. 

Desktop systems still have a few advantages, which are hard to realize in a notebook due to the limited space. This starts with the quiet cooling solution. If you want a quiet system during gaming, you will not be very happy with most notebooks. Desktop systems can also be maintained, upgraded or better tuned  (more BIOS options). Thanks to the better port equipment, you can also attach more displays and other peripherals (external hard drives and so on).

Obviously, a notebook is more mobile. Thanks to the low weight and the compact chassis, a laptop is a perfect companion for people who are often on the road or want to play outdoors from time to time. In short: There is no clear winner, it will ultimately come down to your personal preferences.

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> Notebook / Laptop Reviews and News > Reviews > Archive of our own reviews > Desktop versus Notebook
Florian Glaser, 2015-12- 1 (Update: 2018-05-15)
Andreas Osthoff
Andreas Osthoff - Senior Editor Business
I grew up with computers and modern consumer electronics. I am interested in the technology since I had my first computer, a Commodore C64, and started building my own PCs after that. My focus here at Notebookcheck is the business segment including mobile workstations, but I also like to test new mobile devices. It is always a great experience to review and compare new products. My free time is filled with a lot of sports, in the summer mainly on my bike.