Types of computer and differences between them

What types of computers are there? Do you really know them all? Did you know that there are more types of computers than you ever imagined? As with many computer brands, there are collectible computers that you can assemble yourself, each of these brands has countless current series and models. However, in this article we will show you how they can all be grouped so that you have a much broader idea of ​​what each type of computer represents.

Types of computers by purpose

It’s pretty generic to say what types of computers exist, as they can be viewed from different points of view. Here are some of them, starting with the purpose:


These are for personal use in the home or professional field. These computers may be of different types, but they always have some basic components and peripherals. They usually have a screen, keyboard, mouse, a single CPU and a decent amount of RAM.

Such computers can also include those used for office automation, those used in a bank branch (with restrictions to increase security), those for gaming, and much more.


The differences between a computer and a workstation for personal use sometimes disappear and look almost the same. However, as these PCs are designed to support professional use and higher workloads, there is often a significant difference in price.

Therefore, workstations usually have larger amounts of memory and more powerful CPUs or even a few (MP/multi-slot). For example, a traditional computer has 8-16GB of RAM and a Core i3, i5 or i7 processor, while a workstation can use 32-64GB of RAM (or more) and Xeon or similar processors.



In the HPC industry or high-performance computing, several types can also be distinguished. However, the most prominent ones are:

  • Server: large machines designed to provide some type of service. These server groups or data centers can be cloud services, email, hosting, authentication, DNS etc. may be for. It can be anything from small microservers with a few processing units to large servers with thousands of CPUs, large amounts of RAM, and plenty of storage. For example, you can find servers with hundreds of TiB memory, hundreds of thousands of CPU cores, tens of PB storage capacity, and a few tens of MW consumption. Amazon, Google, Facebook etc. this is what companies use.
  • Supercomputer: Almost identical to a server in every way, although the server is intended to perform some services, the supercomputer is optimized to achieve the highest rendering performance required for research (simulation, CFD, air prediction, data capture and interpretation, particle accelerators, bioinformatics data…). You can see some examples at CERN.
  • Mainframe: Similar to a supercomputer, but mainly used by large organizations, especially banks, to perform critical transactions and handle large amounts of data. In this case, not only computational capacity is improved, but also I/O. An example would be IBM Z.

Also, these high-performance systems often work with Unix-like systems, especially Linux. As for processors, they are usually used through AMD EPYC or others based on ARM and GPGPUs from Intel Xeon. In the case of the IBM mainframe that monopolizes this sector, they are based on z/Architecture (CISC type).


On the other hand, depending on the purpose, we have another type of computer, such as embedded or embedded. These include home appliances, vehicles, industrial machinery, IoT, etc. are small computers incorporated into other equipment.

They generally have very low consumption with limited memory and computational capacities and Real Time operating systems.

Types of computers depending on your mobility

On the other hand, it is also possible to distinguish computer types according to the mobility of each piece of equipment and mainly have the following:


Desktop types are those designed to be placed on a desk or work desk. Because of their size they are not designed to be moved from one place to another, as they are heavier they consist of several parts and need a plug to operate.

Within this genre, the following can be highlighted:

  • PC: Classic desktop computers with different brands or desktop operating systems. As with gaming or workstation PCs, they can be extremely high-performance, and they can also be modular so that components can be easily repaired or expanded.
  • AIO or all-in-one: They are between a desktop and a laptop, as they integrate everything into the same display body without the need for a separate chassis. Also, they often have laptop-like power adapters and laptop-like hardware.
  • miniPC: Rather than large towers, miniPCs are rather small boxes into which you can connect a monitor and other input and output peripherals, as in a traditional PC. These computers are typically miniITX, microATX, etc. Uses form factor motherboards.

PC or Mac? Personally I think it is the same, so there is no difference. Mac is nothing but an Apple branded PC with macOS operating system.



Laptops or laptops are also another type of computer in this category. They are designed to improve mobility as they are much more compact, lighter and integrate a battery to be self-sufficient and do not require constant connection. Within this type are the following subdivisions:

  • Notebook: These are portable computers with a screen of 15 inches or more and often have more powerful hardware. In some gaming or workstation categories it can weigh more than a few kg.
  • Netbook: Typically weighing 1-2kg, with displays ranging from 7 to 12 inches, with hardware designed to be efficient, and without much performance. Also, they’re usually inexpensive.
  • Ultrabook: They are very light (≤1 kg) and thin, designed to maximize mobility and autonomy. Therefore, U-series CPUs, iGPUs, etc. such as low-power equipment. Their screens are generally between 13 and 15″. The major downside to these is that they are soldered to most of the components, including the RAM in some cases, so they are not modular and usually don’t have as many ports due to the thinness of their housing.
  • 2 in 1: portable computers with less difference to tablets. In the case of convertibles, they are tactile, allowing the screen to be folded or rotated for use in tablet mode. In 2-in-1, you can disconnect the keyboard from the computer and leave only the touchscreen as a real tablet, and reconnect the keyboard + touchpad whenever you want, making it a laptop again.

PMD (Personal Mobile Device)

PMD (Personal Mobile Device) or simply mobile devices, tablets, smartphones or phablets are devices that can also be classified as one of the types of computers. CPU, GPU, RAM, memory for secondary storage, I/O, display, operating system, etc. they come with. However, it is designed to have the smallest possible dimensions, as well as lighten the weight as much as possible. The screens of these devices vary between 3-6″ on smartphones and 7-12″ on tablets.

These devices can have a runtime similar to or higher than an ultrabook on a single charge. It is designed to allow the battery to extend the range as much as possible with very energy efficient equipment. As for the operating system, they also tend to use some specific systems like Android and iOS/iPadOS among others.

Types of computers by logic family

Looking at the logic family, one can distinguish between:


They are types of computers that work with binary, that is, with ones and zeros. Although there were many cases of analog equipment in the past, they are now in the vast majority. The difference from analog ones is that it works with high (1) or low (0) voltage electrical pulses to interpret information.


They use not just two logical voltage values, but a wide range of them (signals, constant values, various physical quantities…). These analog computers have been replaced by modern digital computers, although still for some specific tasks. In addition to being machines with a specific purpose, they give approximate answers.

Types of computers by computer paradigm

Given the computing paradigm on which the computer is based, two major groups that already coexist in some cases can be highlighted:

Classic computing

Current classical computing, as we all know, is based on classical logic with programs in standardized languages, traditional components (CPU, buses, memory and I/O).

Quantum computing

This new paradigm has just arrived and is still in development, although some significant progress has been made. Quantum computers are another type of computer for the future due to their capabilities far superior to classical machines, thanks to the use of quantum phenomena to work with a unit called a qubit or qubit (a quantum bit that can have several states).

Types of computers by generation

On the other hand, they can also be distinguished by the generation to which they belong, which surpasses such computers or generations:

  1. Based on vacuum tubes between 1940-1950.
  2. The years 1950-1960 were characterized by the use of transistors in PCBs.
  3. From 1960 to 1970 they used integrated circuits, that is, chips replaced printed circuits in some cases.
  4. From 1970 to the present, with microprocessor-based equipment.
  5. The fifth generation is already starting and will be AI computers.

Other computer types

Finally, there are other computers (devices with CPU, memory and I/O) that you use frequently and that are camouflaged with a lot of equipment that you don’t know are computers too: Industrial machines, Home Appliances, Gadgets, routers and modems, Smart TVs, some toys, Some PC peripherals also include a computer inside, such as printers, flying eye, home robots, musical equipment, etc.