Difference between Laptop and Notebook

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When you are trying to determine whether you should purchase a laptop or a notebook, the entire process can be rather confusing.  Many companies may call one mobile device a laptop, while another may call a similar device a notebook.  However, there are differences between the two that should be considered trying to understand the laptop vs notebook decision.

What is a Laptop

A laptop is a small computer that is generally portable, and often has the same functions as a desktop computer.  These computers can range in weight from 3 pounds to as much as 18 pounds, depending on the materials used, the size of the laptop, and the features that it includes.

What is a Notebook?

A notebook computer is a personal computer that is designed to be lightweight.  A notebook usually weighs at the most 5 or 6 pounds, and is smaller in size than a laptop computer.  These mobile computers were initially designed to be the size of an actual notebook so they could easily fit into a briefcase for easy transportation.

Laptop Vs Notebook

While both of these computers are designed to be portable, there are differences in them that can be used to determine which one is the best option for your needs.  The following comparisons will show you the differences between the two.

DVD Drives

  • A laptop has an integrated DVD drive
  • A notebook does not have an integrated DVD drive, but usually has a connection to allow one to be connected externally


  • Laptops are generally manufactured by Dell, HP, ASUS, Lenovo, Compaq, Samsung, Toshiba, and Alienware.
  • Notebooks are usually made by Samsung, Apple, Toshiba, Dell, and Sony.

RAM (Random Access Memory)

  • When it comes to memory, laptops generally have something between 1GB to 8GB of RAM.
  • Notebooks generally have much smaller memory than laptops. However, many newer models do contain bigger memory depending on the manufacturer.

Cooling Abilities

  • A laptop has built in fans that are powerful, and are designed to adjust their cooling capacity based on the current state of usage.
  • Notebooks are not equipped with extensive cooling capabilities due to having significantly less processor power than laptops.

Screen Size

  • Laptops have screens that are anywhere from 12 inches up to 19 inches in the viewing area.
  • Notebook screens can range in size from 9 inches up to around 15 inches in the viewing area, although some manufacturers offer larger screens on some versions.


  • A laptop computer generally weighs between 3 and 12 pounds, so they can be rather cumbersome to carry around in a carrying case for an extended amount of time.
  • Notebooks are much lighter than laptops, and usually weigh around 5 pounds or less.


  • Laptops are designed to replicate the abilities and power of a desktop computer, yet are small enough to be used on a lap or small table.
  • Notebook computers are designed to have some of the features and functionality of a desktop, but are usually not able to handle as many programs or open windows due to their smaller processor size.

There are many different reasons one may choose a laptop vs a notebook.  The main differences between these two devices is the processing power, as well as the size and weight.  If you are planning to use a mobile computer in much the same way as you use your desktop, a laptop is generally the better option.  Laptop computers are often chosen as a replacement for a desktop computer because they allow users to do the same things.

Other Considerations Between a Laptop vs Notebook

When you are trying to decide whether you should opt for a notebook vs laptop, you should also consider whether you want to use peripherals.  A laptop computer generally has more USB ports and other plug in options to allow for the addition of mice, hard drives, or printers.  A notebook generally offers only one or two extra USB options, which means that you may not be able to add additional hard drives while trying to use a mouse, and many do not have the ability to hook up to a printer.

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  • Diego Martin

    Great comparison, and awesome site, congrats. Diego from http://ordenadoresportatiles-baratos.es/

  • Doug Powell

    Actually, it is difficult to find any computer manufacturers who refer to any product as a laptop. The term is obsolete as a result of lawsuits resulting from certain people with disabilities who used their computers in their laps and did not realize just how hit they could get. As a result not computer company will actually recommend you use these devices I your lap.

  • razzell2

    I would think the diff between the two comes down to processor and ram power and speed. That is, if you plan on using your laptop like you use your pc.
    That would be my determining factor.
    Loved the comparison. You have helped me decide which one to buy.
    Thanks much.

  • Constance Thomas

    Thanks, this was a big help. Notebooks have no dvd drive? Not for me!

  • Cade Foster

    I found a HP notebook I liked it but the only drawback was that it doesn’t have a connection for a printer . I have a very minimal use of engines and I love the physical appearance of that white notebook only to be disappointed by the minimal portals .

  • Kevin Goodman

    there is no difference between a laptop and a notebook, just different terminology by different manufacturers and laptop is an older term.

    btw, you said:
    “Laptops have processors that are between 1 RAM and 8 RAMs or more.”
    That made absolutely no sense whatsoever, all it did is destroy any credibility you may have had by making it look like you know nothing about computers. If you were talking about how many sticks of RAM can be inserted onto the motherboard then its still wrong, I challenge you to find a single laptop or notebook that can fit more than 2 sticks on the motherboard (not including an old luggable or lunchbox form factor portable computer).

  • nohackmove

    the comparison here defines ultrabooks not notebook.
    it shall be same to be notebook or laptop

  • meme queen ♚

    So, a notebook is a piece of crap?