Laptops made the transition to the WFH easier, but still expensive

Laptops skyrocketed in the past two months when thousands of companies rushed to make arrangements from home for lakhs of employees. Many wanted to buy PCs, many more wanted to rent. And there just wasn't enough available.

Businesses that already had the majority of their workforce on laptops made the transition from work to homes much easier than those with many desktop computers. The latter involved logistical challenges of transporting the monitor, CPU, USB, along with cables. It took time. Additional workforces were needed to transport and then configure the systems in the employees' homes.

So will this pandemic make the world's transition to a pure mobile device? Harish Kohli, manager of PC maker Acer India, says that while laptops have evolved, there are still features that are better managed on desktops than on mobile devices. “These are largely processor-related jobs. If you are coding, processing large-scale data, analyzing data, or rendering videos, then the processing power of the computer becomes very important, he says.

However, there have been significant advances in laptops. About five years ago, there was no gaming laptop, and heavy gaming relied on high-end desktop computers because they required advanced processors, graphics cards, and 2-3 coolant fans.

Kohli says Acer has been working on the laptop's cooling technology and has had some success. We have now reached stage 4 of refrigerant technology whereby we have been able to miniaturize a gaming device on a laptop, he says.

Lenovo has very powerful Nvidia Quadro GPU-based laptops and TGX remote workstation software. Vikram Mulye, Product Manager (SMB) at Lenovo India, says that laptops have narrowed the gap with desktop computers when it comes to front-end bus (FSB), RAM and hard drive. FSB connects the computer processor to the system memory (RAM) and other components on the motherboard. Security is also a lesser concern, but desktops score better on the expandability of the hard drive, says Mulye.

But high-end laptops cost 15-20% more than desktops with similar configurations. A Dell G3 15 gaming laptop, for example, costs $ 1,050, compared to $ 850 for a G5 gaming desktop.

For IT service providers, who have thousands, in some cases lakhs, of employees, a large-scale switch to laptops is an expensive proposition. In companies like, and, a large percentage use desks also because customers demand it. Many clients are uncomfortable with their work on mobile devices that leave the workspace. Rahul Agarwal, MD and CEO of Lenovo India, says that large IT companies will continue to use desktop computers as they are profitable.

Software startup Appnomic says that while 20% of its engineers are on desktops, it's considering moving to laptops, at a cost, to allow for a better work-from-home experience. “Some have desktops because they need larger configurations and 24x7 operating systems, for example, to test the product. In such cases, we will consider bundling more hardware (in our lab or in the cloud) so that the demand for resources is not high on the laptop, ”said Pranav Jha, director of operations and head of product and R&D operations. D.

But many big global companies like SAP and Intel have made permanent advances towards laptops. The German software expert said most of his employees are on laptops, since working from home is one of the benefits SAP employees receive, at the managers' discretion. SAP said that since its entire campus at Whitefield in Bengaluru is Wi-Fi enabled, laptops also allow employees the flexibility to get away from their desk and work anywhere on campus.

Intel's workforce has been highly mobile and has used mobile PCs for many years. Employees are used to working with a broad set of communication and collaboration technologies that help them work effectively and productively even outside of the office, senior vice president and chief information officer Archana Deskus wrote last month.

Ranjit Atwal, research director at Gartner, said there has been an increase in demand for laptops in all countries as companies embark on business continuity plans that require laptops for home work hours. Lenovo's Atwal and Agarwal believe this demand will decrease as global demand slows down with this pandemic. But once economies begin to recover, laptop prices drop, and businesses begin to use the power of the cloud, desktops can become less and less relevant.