What is the difference between a netbook and a laptop? – which is better?

What is the difference between a netbook
What is the difference between a netbook and a laptop - which is better
  1. What is a netbook, and how does it differ from a laptop
  2. The difference in basic parameters
  3. Situations when it is better to refuse a netbook
  4. Conclusion

Even though with the advent of tablets and smartphones with a large screen diagonal, the segment of netbooks has significantly narrowed, such devices can still be found on the shelves of electronics stores. They cost much cheaper than classic laptops, as a result of which a user who is poorly guided in computer technology has a reasonable question – is it worth it to overpay? This article will tell you how a netbook differs from a laptop and how tasks each laptop computers are best suited.

What is a netbook and how is it different from a laptop

On the laptop market, there are now three most common types of technology, the main classification of which is carried out according to their dimensions and screen diagonal:

  1. laptop – portable PC with a screen diagonal of 13-18 inches;
  2. netbook – a portable PC with a screen diagonal of 8-12 inches, visually represents a compact version of a laptop with weaker hardware;
  3. ultrabook – the most modern type of laptop with a diagonal of 13-15 inches, made in a very thin, most often metal case.
What is a netbook and how is it different from a laptop

In terms of characteristics, ultrabooks, despite the small thickness of the case, can be compared with classic laptops. On the other hand, netbooks designed for simple tasks have much more modest specifications.

Difference in basic parameters

Let’s consider how a netbook differs from a laptop and which is better in more detail:

  1. Performance. The vast majority of netbooks are not designed to perform resource-intensive tasks. They can surf the Internet, work with text files, or watch a movie. We are still not talking about comfortable work with hardware-demanding software or games (except for old projects with primitive graphics). Netbooks are usually equipped with Intel Atom processors, the main advantage of which is low power consumption. At the same time, their older brothers can run on multi-core Core i3, i5, and i7 chipsets, have discrete graphics cards and handle the most difficult tasks without problems.
  2. Memory size. Here again, the superiority belongs to laptops, for which the presence of an SSD or a hard drive for several terabytes is not uncommon, and the amount of memory in modern devices can reach 32 GB or more. In netbooks, drives with more than 260 GB are rarely used, and the amount of RAM usually does not exceed 4 GB, which also imposes a limitation on their capacity.
  3. Optical drive. Manufacturers of modern ultrabooks have begun to abandon the use of CD / DVD drives in their devices to save space in the case, and if you need an optical drive, then finding a laptop with it will not be a problem anyway. At the same time, in netbooks, it is not available in principle for work. With disks, you will need to connect an external drive.
  4. Autonomy. There is no clear leader in this category. An average inexpensive netbook can operate on a single charge for 7-9 hours, while budget laptops are usually equipped with not the most durable batteries that provide 3-4 hours of battery life. But the market is full of long-lasting laptops that can run up to 9 hours on a single charge. It would be best if you looked at specific models.

In accordance with the above, the issue of price becomes relevant. Obviously, netbooks are cheaper as simpler devices. And the savings are quite appropriate if you understand that such a device will meet the requirements and tasks that you plan to solve on it. Otherwise, using a netbook can be a real headache.

Situations when it is better to refuse a netbook

We have already realized that netbooks cannot cope with resource-intensive tasks that require high hardware performance – this is video editing, working with 3D graphics, computer games, and similar scenarios. But there are also less obvious cases in which such a gadget will bring sheer disappointment.

The keys on a netbook are smaller than on a regular laptop, and typing long texts on a miniature keyboard causes a lot of problems even for people who type quickly and accurately. Also, most netbooks lack function keys, which further complicates the workflow.

A tablet with a docking station is a great alternative to a netbook

Also, the netbook is not convenient when processing images and large tables due to the display’s small diagonal. You won’t be able to edit photos because netbooks are obviously a budget class of technology, which is equipped with mediocre displays based on TN matrices to reduce the cost. It would be best to make a lot of effort to buy a netbook with a decent IPS display.


To summarize – it makes sense to take a netbook of the main task that will face communication and use of the Internet. This compact device weighing up to 1 kg, which can easily fit into a woman’s handbag, will be convenient when traveling. If necessary, it will give access to a full version of Windows OS, which your smartphone cannot provide.

In all other cases, it makes sense to look towards laptops. And given the compact ultrabooks and tablets running on Windows that have appeared on the market, if you have a sufficient budget, it is better to forget about netbooks altogether. By and large, this is already a morally outdated type of technology, the life cycle of which is coming to an end.

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