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Laptop vs. Notebook: What's the Difference?

Edited by Janet White || By Harlon Moss || Updated on October 5, 2023
A laptop is a portable computer with a clamshell design, while a notebook typically refers to a thinner and lighter variant of a laptop.

Key Differences

A laptop is a general term referring to a portable computer that opens with a hinge, typically comprising a keyboard on one side and a screen on the other. It provides all the functionalities of a desktop computer while offering mobility. On the other hand, a notebook, in the context of computers, is essentially a slimmer and often more lightweight version of a laptop, emphasizing portability and convenience for users on-the-go.
Historically, laptops were larger and relatively heavier, making them less convenient for frequent travel. The term "notebook" emerged to describe computers that had a more compact design, similar to the size of a standard paper notebook, hence the name. Both laptops and notebooks serve as primary computing devices for a vast number of users globally, with distinctions often blurred in everyday language.
Technologically speaking, both laptops and notebooks come with similar internal components, including processors, memory, storage, and graphics capabilities. Yet, notebooks may sometimes compromise on certain aspects, like ports or drive options, to maintain their sleek form factor. Manufacturers often label their products based on market trends and consumer preferences, causing both terms to be used interchangeably in many scenarios.
While the term laptop is broadly recognized and used universally, the term notebook might sometimes be confused with the paper-based notebook used for writing. It's essential to discern context when discussing or considering the term "notebook."

Comparison Chart


Typically thicker and heavier
Slimmer and more lightweight


Portable but may be bulkier
Emphasizes on ultra-portability

Hardware Capabilities

May have extensive ports and options
Might compromise on some features for sleekness

General Use

Broad term used for all portable computers
Used for more compact laptops

Possible Confusion

Clear context as a computer
Can be mistaken for a paper notebook based on context

Laptop and Notebook Definitions


A computer designed for mobility with a clamshell design.
The laptop's battery lasts for 8 hours on a single charge.


A lightweight and slim portable computer.
I prefer using a notebook for business trips due to its portability.


A portable personal computer.
I purchased a new laptop for my college assignments.


A computer resembling the size of a paper notebook.
Her notebook is so sleek and easy to carry.


A computer often equipped with a built-in webcam and microphone.
I attend my online classes using my laptop.


A term sometimes used interchangeably with laptops.
The store has a sale on both laptops and notebooks.


A computing device with the power of a desktop but portable.
The game runs smoothly on my gaming laptop.


A device ideal for basic computing on-the-go.
I use my notebook mainly for browsing and documentation.


A machine suited for work and play on-the-go.
I carry my laptop to coffee shops to change my work environment.


A compact laptop emphasizing mobility.
The notebook fits easily into my small backpack.


A portable computer with a display screen hinged to a keyboard, small enough to use on one's lap.


A book of blank pages for notes.


(computing) A laptop computer.


A light, portable computer that is generally thinner than a laptop.


A portable computer small enough to use in your lap


A book in which notes or memoranda are written.


Why is a slim laptop called a notebook?

The term relates to its compact size, akin to a standard paper notebook.

Is there a performance difference between laptops and notebooks?

Not necessarily. It depends on the specs, though some notebooks might compromise certain features for slimness.

Is a notebook a type of laptop?

Yes, a notebook is a slimmer and lightweight variant of a laptop.

Are laptops generally heavier than notebooks?

Yes, laptops are typically bulkier and heavier compared to notebooks.

Can notebooks run high-end applications like gaming laptops?

Some can, but notebooks often prioritize portability over high-end specs.

Do professionals prefer laptops over notebooks?

It varies. Professionals needing high-end specs might lean towards laptops, while those prioritizing mobility might prefer notebooks.

Are notebooks more expensive than laptops?

Price varies based on specs and brands, not necessarily the classification as laptop or notebook.

Which has more variants in design, laptop or notebook?

Laptops, being a broader category, tend to have more design variants than the specific slim designs of notebooks.

Are gaming laptops also called gaming notebooks?

Some manufacturers might use the term "gaming notebook" for slimmer designs.

Is the term 'notebook' more modern than 'laptop'?

It emerged later to describe slimmer laptops, so it can be seen as more modern in that context.

Which is better for travel, laptop or notebook?

Notebooks, being lighter and slimmer, are often preferred for travel.

Can a laptop have the same slim design as a notebook?

Yes, in many contexts, the terms are used interchangeably.

Do notebooks compromise on keyboard quality?

Some might have shallower keys due to slim designs, but quality varies by brand and model.

Which is more popular among students, laptop or notebook?

It depends on individual needs, but notebooks often appeal for their portability.

Which has a longer battery life, laptop or notebook?

It varies, but notebooks often prioritize longer battery life for on-the-go usage.

Which is more durable, a laptop or a notebook?

Durability depends on build quality and materials, not the classification.

Can both laptops and notebooks connect to external displays?

Yes, both typically have ports or adaptors for external screen connectivity.

Is a netbook the same as a notebook?

No, a netbook is a smaller, less powerful variant, while a notebook is a slim laptop.

Do all notebooks lack a CD/DVD drive?

Most modern notebooks omit these drives for slimness, but there are exceptions.

Are there any brands that specialize only in notebooks?

Many brands produce both, but some might emphasize their notebook lines more.
About Author
Written by
Harlon Moss
Harlon is a seasoned quality moderator and accomplished content writer for Difference Wiki. An alumnus of the prestigious University of California, he earned his degree in Computer Science. Leveraging his academic background, Harlon brings a meticulous and informed perspective to his work, ensuring content accuracy and excellence.
Edited by
Janet White
Janet White has been an esteemed writer and blogger for Difference Wiki. Holding a Master's degree in Science and Medical Journalism from the prestigious Boston University, she has consistently demonstrated her expertise and passion for her field. When she's not immersed in her work, Janet relishes her time exercising, delving into a good book, and cherishing moments with friends and family.

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