The pros and cons of buying the latest desktop computer largely revolve around what it will be used for and who will be using it. In decades past, computer systems were evolving very rapidly, and waiting six months to make a purchase could result in acquiring a much better computer system for the same price than buying one right away. Computer systems have matured to the point where hardware and software improvements are now more gradual, and many of the changes that come along go unnoticed by the typical user.
As new systems come out with larger hard drive storage capacity, larger monitors, more memory, and so on, older systems with slightly inferior specifications become significantly cheaper to buy new or used. This is a benefit to consumers, but it is one that tends to only impact them directly if they fall within a narrow demographic. If the latest desktop computer available is to be used as either a business machine that requires a very large storage and fast-processing capacity, or for gaming enthusiasts and graphic artists who rely on computer systems with high-end video processing capabilities, then it is best to focus on getting the newest, fastest system available.
Personal computers change in three primary ways as time passes. The abilities of the hardware advances gradually, making the machines faster at running software and capable of storing larger amounts of personal data. The operating systems continue to evolve, with preceding ones that had many problems being replaced by new operating systems more responsive to consumer interests and needs. The latest desktop computer system also offers the advantage of coming with basic pre-installed software that is easier to work with and has more useful features.
Home computers have now nearly saturated the marketplace, with estimates that, as of 2005, 76% of Americans owned a personal computer, and, as of 2006, 56% of British citizens had one. This widespread computer ownership has reduced the incentive for hardware and software manufacturers to invest heavily in designing more powerful and expensive versions of the latest desktop computer. The market for high-end computer systems is now focused largely on the gaming and graphics design communities.
Purchasing the latest desktop computer does convey significant advantages over a selection of its near-cousins, laptop and notebook computers. Most of the latest miniaturized and powerful hardware advances are targeted towards portable computer systems. They, therefore, continue to remain more expensive than the latest desktop computer does.
A typical model of the latest desktop computer is more reliable, and rarely prone to overheating than laptops, where the compact space must contain powerful microprocessors, storage batteries, and high-wattage power supplies. Desktop systems of equal price to comparable laptops also have faster processors, larger hard drives, monitors with more vivid color and more memory, simply because the components can be larger, weigh more, and be less portable. Personal computers built for home use also suit a wider range of people, from children to seniors. Peripheral devices, such as a mouse, are easier to work with than touchpads on laptops, speakers offer better sound on desktops than on laptops, and monitors are of a higher resolution for the visually impaired.
Desktop computers still conform to the original design idea for personal computers as well. That is, they intentionally are made to be taken apart and upgraded with newer components by the owner, such as memory and graphics cards. This makes buying a inexpensive mid-range desktop computer, or upgrading a system just a few years old, often more practical and appropriate than spending money on the latest desktop computer that is available.