List of computer size categories

This illustration shows the development of computers, from huge room-sized computers in the 1940s and 1950s (left-most photo) to smaller personal computers over the 1980s to the 2010s.

This list of computer size categories attempts to list commonly used categories of computer by the physical size of the device and its chassis or case, in descending order of size. One generation's "supercomputer" is the next generation's "mainframe", and a "PDA" does not have the same set of functions as a "laptop", but the list still has value, as it provides a ranked categorization of devices. It also ranks some more obscure computer sizes.



Mainframe computers are large and expensive but powerful, so they can handle hundreds and thousands of connected users at the same time.



Mobile computers


Distinctive marks

The classes above are not rigid; there are "edge devices" in most of them. For instance, the "subnotebook" category can usually be distinguished from the "PDA" category because a subnotebook has a keyboard and a PDA has not; however, tablet PCs may be larger than subnotebooks (making it seemingly correct to classify them as laptops) and also lack a keyboard, while devices such as the Handspring Treo 600 have something that might charitably be called a keyboard, but are still definitely in the "smartphone" category.

In the higher end of the spectrum, this informal and somewhat humorous rule might help:

  • You can throw a laptop if you wanted to
  • You can lift a workstation if you need to
  • You can tilt a minicomputer if you need to
  • You cannot move a mainframe, even if you tried


See also


  1. "minicluster". Archived from the original on 2012-09-06. )
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