Desktop or Laptop: What to Choose for AI/ML?

Desktop or Laptop: What to Choose for AI/ML?

by September 21, 2022 0 comments

The rising usage of AI and ML across every sector has led to a major upgradation of the PC’s compute capabilities, be it laptop or desktop. Both types of devices have become powerful enough to run AI/ML tools. Now, AI/ML practitioners are faced with a different question—should they buy a desktop or a laptop for the job?

Let’s get the most basic reason out of the way first—portability. If you’re a frequent traveller, then the choice is obvious. Go for a mobile workstation for the job. That’s because gone are the days when desktop CPUs and GPUs were much more powerful than those of laptops. Today, laptops can sometimes outperform their desktop counterparts, so focus on your usage.

Desktops matter when it comes to upgradability. They’re far more upgradable than their mobile counterparts. If you are working on AI/ML projects that are becoming increasingly complex, then sooner or later the mobile workstation won’t be able to handle the load. In laptops, you can only upgrade the RAM or storage. Usually, most laptops already come with an SSD storage, so the max you can do is upgrade to higher capacity or go for the fastest SSD technology. You can’t for instance, upgrade to a more powerful GPU, which is a key requirement for handling Data Science projects. Desktop PCs on the other hand give you the freedom to upgrade almost anything. You can add more RAM, Storage drives, get a new GPU or include any new component easily. This also gives you the freedom to choose the best CPU now and the minimum other hardware components required to perform your task if you are a beginner and later upgrade as your computing needs grow. Also, the cost of desktop ownership is still lower as compared to laptops.

The Right Hardware Configuration for AI/ML

CPU – It’s not always essential to get the most powerful CPU for the job. The Intel Core i5 CPU can be used to perform basic ML and AI tasks because most of the processing gets passes onto the GPU. However, as you start using more complex ML libraries, you need a more powerful CPU. In this case, you should consider a Core i7, i9, or even Xeon CPU.

GPU – The use of GPU is crucial to run all operations simultaneously. Depending on what library you use, and the operation your will run, CUDA or OpenCL can greatly affect GPU usage. Nvidia GPUs are the right choice with CUDA support, and AMD graphics are the better choice for OpenCL or non-CUDA.

Memory – Without ample RAM, a powerful CPU and GPU can’t perform crucial jobs. RAM limits data losses and speeds up the iterations between algorithms and data. A minimum of 16 GB RAM is required if you are on a budget, however, 32 GB or above is recommended. This is because over time, the size of data sets that use increase dramatically. Imagine working on an Excel sheet with a million rows? You’ll need lots of RAM to run even a simple filter on it.

Storage – You need sufficient storage space, as you would be playing with a lot of data. You should consider a fast and large enough storage option to avoid any major slowdowns. SSDs are the ideal choice and better would be NVMe drives as they are the best in SSDs in every way except for the price.

Some Recommendations

For portability, you can look at a mobile workstation like the HP Z Book Studio G8, which is loaded with the latest Intel Core i9 processor along with 1 TB NVMe SSD, 32 GB RAM and a dedicated NVIDIA Ge Force RTX 3070 (8 GB GDDR6) graphics.

For future upgradability, you can check out HP Z1 G6 Workstation, which is equipped with the latest Intel Core i7 CPU, a dedicated NVIDIA Ge Force RTX 2060 SUPER (8 GB GDDR6), 16 GB RAM and 512 GB NVMe SSD.


Choose a form factor that’s appropriate for your needs along with the power to perform the tasks you need to run. Keep your budget in mind, and the future computing power requirements that may arise. Both desktops and laptops are good and are good, so the choice depends upon your requirement.

Click here to visit the HP Online store for some really great deals on the products discussed above.

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