The Ultimate Guide to Laptop Screen: Resolution, Color, & Refresh Rate

laptop screen quality

One of the important things to consider when buying a laptop is the screen.

Whether you are doing video editing, streaming movies or 3D modelling and rendering, the screen is an important factor because, eventually, you will be looking at the screen the entire time.

Here are some elements of a laptop screen that you should consider:

Choose 1920 by 1080 Resolution or Higher

Every display panel is made of a series of dots called pixels, and the more the pixels the more detailed things in your screen will be.

laptop screen guide

Most laptops will have a low resolution of 1366 by 768, meaning they will show less detailed content than high resolution of at least 1920 by 1080 pixels. In fact, a screen resolution of 1920 by 1080(1080p) can show as much as 10 more lines of text on the screen.

You can fit two windows next to each other with the 1920 horizontal pixels but you can’t do the same with 1366 pixels. Videos and photos will also look a lot sharper .You can also choose a display with a higher resolution than the 1080p. These higher resolution screens will, however, use more power therefore reducing the battery life.

Note that screen resolutions may have different names. For example, the 2560 by 1440 could be listed as 2K display. You should try getting a laptop with a resolution of at least 1920 x 1080 unless you are getting a cheap laptop.

High resolution laptops are pricey, and you can pay up to $2000 for a high resolution laptop. A basic laptop with a resolution of 1080p costs anywhere from $500 to $800. Spending more means you are getting better screen resolution.

Touch Screen or Non-Touch

Another factor to consider when choosing a laptop screen is whether you want a touch or non-touch screen.

If you are buying 2 in 1 laptop there is no doubt you be getting a touch screen. When buying a standard clamshell laptop, you will have to weigh the advantage of having a touch or non-touch screen.

A touch laptop looks cool theoretically though it comes with a number of drawbacks such as:

High power consumption: Touchscreen laptops tend to consume more power leading to a reduced battery life

Price: Touchscreen laptops tend to increase the laptop price and you might end up paying 100 to 200 dollars more

Glossiness: Mot touchscreens have a glossy surface that reflect light, hence harming your viewing angles

Nevertheless, touchscreen laptops are more 21st century, and you have a dozen options when creating designs, writing reports or watching a movie. You may pay an extra $200 over a standard non-touchscreen laptop, but it is definitely worth it.

Brightness (250 Nits plus)

Apart from resolution and color quality, you also need a bright screen.

Bright screens make color to pop up and give you wide viewing angles. If you are going to use your laptop near the window or in direct sunlight, you will need a brighter screen.

Most laptop companies measure brightness in nits and the higher the nits, the brighter the screen. Bright screens have over 300 nits. For convenience, consider buying a laptop with over 250 nits on average.

Color Quality

The more color your panel can produce, the more vibrant images will appear.

Laptop screen quality

A laptop’s ability to reproduce all the colors is measured in sRGB gamut. The best laptop can reproduce over 95 percent of sRGB gamut and some exceed a 100 percent.

Only a few manufacturers disclose their screen gamuts and those that do use a wider gamut such as NTSC or Adobe RGB. 72 percent NTSC gamut is equal to 100 percent of sRGB.  

If you don’t know a screens gamut coverage, try checking if it is labelled IPS or OLED. Better quality laptops use the IPS (in-plane switching) technology which are more vibrant and standard than the twisted nematic (TN).

OLED (Organic Light Emitting Diode) is the most colorful type of screen you will find the market. All pixels in OLED light themselves. There are only two laptop models with this type of display i.e. the Alienware 13 and Lenovo Thinkpad X1 Yoga.

Refresh Rate and Response time

You should also consider the screen refresh rate and response time before buying your preferred laptop.

The refresh rate is the number of times per second that a screen updates itself. Response rate is measured in hertz. You will find that most laptop screens have a refresh rate of 60 hertz (Hz). Some high end laptop can however have panels with 12oHz.

Response time is the amount in milliseconds that a pixel takes to change color. For a gaming laptop a good response time is 5 milliseconds or less. You should try getting a laptop with high refresh rate and low response time.

Laptops with low refresh rate and high response time may not be able to keep up with the pace of fast laptops. In that case, you may start having problems like ghosting and tearing.

Other laptops come with NVidia G-Sync technology which minimize ghosting and tearing. This is by synchronizing the display panel with the video card.

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