Imagine buying a laptop that delivers poor video experience, or worse, one that displays blurred graphics during your favorite game session.It’d certainly disappoint and make you wish you hadn’t bought it in the first place. That’s why you need to consider the screen more closely.
The screen is one of the weighty features that determine whether a laptop will deliver the value you want. Consider a gamer and a video editor – each would wish to have a screen with superb graphics and terrific refresh rates for the best experience. Movie fans would prefer a big screen, outdoor users would like not-too-glossy screens, and so on.
In this post, I will break down all the nitty-gritties you’ll want to check in order to single out the perfect screen, according to your needs.
The main factors to inspect are the screen size, screen type, resolution, and the graphics processor.
The screen size is given in diagonal measurement (from the top left corner to bottom right corner of the screen). Typical laptop screen sizes vary between 11 and 17 inches. Standard-sized ones range from 14.1 to 15.4 inches.
Larger screens are perfect if you are looking to have a wider and easier view of the screen while smaller screens are ideal for portability and handiness.
The following table presents screen sizes with their recommended value.
|Screen size range||Recommended value|
|13.3 inches||Good for ultra-portability|
|14 to 16 inches||Optimal size for thin and light machines|
|17 to 19 inches||Good for desktop replacement|
|20 inches and higher||Good for luggable PCs|
Mainstream laptops come with a special aspect ratio feature that gives the option of a more cinematic screen view – this means a smaller screen size in the height dimension.
Technically speaking, the aspect ratio is the horizontal width of a screen in relation to its vertical height. An aspect ratio of 16:9 means that the screen has 9 units of height for every 16 units of horizontal width.
The resolution refers to the number of pixels (dots that make up an image) on the display, given as the number on the horizontal dimension by the number across the vertical height.
Screens display richer and more vibrant images when running at native resolution. Therefore, if you want to see more graphic detail or have more work space on the display, a higher native resolution is recommended.
Even so, screens with very high resolution can display small fonts and frustrate users with poor eyesight. To solve this problem, all you need to do is adjust the size of the font in the operating system settings.
The following table presents a range of standard screen resolutions in use today.
|Standard Screen resolutions|
The Full HD is generally recommended for mainstream laptop users. But, if you are planning on using your laptop for gaming, video and photo editing, entertainment, or any task that relies on graphics, go for a screen with a higher resolution.
The screen type represents the type of technology used in making the display panel and the coating of the screen. Currently, TN and IPS are the most common screen types.
TN panels are common because they have faster refresh rates and low costs. However, they display less color overall, though this only matters if you are a graphic designer or if the laptop display is your central feature. They also have narrow viewing angles, meaning that the display quality reduces once you move further off center while viewing the screen.
If you want to view more colors and have wider viewing angles, go for an IPS screen but be ready to spend more. A drawback of IPS displays is they offer slower refresh rates. This makes them unsuitable for gaming and fast videos.
There is also a range of other display type technologies. IGZO, for instance, is a new term that is starting to roll up in some laptops. It’s a chemical composition for making power-efficient laptop displays and will eventually be beneficial to ultraportable laptop users who prefer screens with high resolution. The main drawback for IGZO is that it’s rare and highly priced.
OLED is another display technology appearing in select laptops. It is commonly used in mobile devices like tablets and smartphones. As opposed to LCD technologies, OLED screens do not have any form of backlight on them. Instead, each pixel produces its own light, giving them better contrast ratios and color.
Thanks to the new Windows OS interface, touchscreens are now a thing in Windows-based laptops. They are good replacements for trackpads because they allow you to navigate the entire operating system with ease.
Nevertheless, touchscreens can add to the overall cost of the laptop. They can also draw more power from your battery.
Touchscreens are more common in convertible or hybrid laptops (or 2-in-1s), which boast the ability to be folded over and used as tablets. Hybrids with a screen size that falls in range of 11 to 13 inches are the best for usability. Larger sizes tend to be harder to hold and use.
Glossy or Matte?
Screens with glossy coatings offer greater levels of brightness and color. However, they can produce glare in bright environments.
Most laptops with touchscreens also have glossy coatings over their panels given that these hardened glass coatings combat fingerprints better and are easier to clean.
On the other hand, matte screens feature an anti-glare surface that reduces the amount of light reflected on the screen. They are good if you are planning to use your laptop in outdoor or bright settings.
Graphics cards did not matter in the past because consumers did not require 3D graphics or accelerated video. However, they have become a necessity in the modern age as more and more users are getting accustomed to running graphics intensive tasks like gaming, photo editing, video editing, and 3D modelling.
There are two types of graphics cards.
Integrated graphics cards are included in the laptop’s circuitry, either on the motherboard or in the CPU chip, and utilize the system’s memory. If you have a laptop with 8GB of RAM, the video card will use a small fraction of the available memory for graphics processing. Integrated graphics cards are a cheaper alternative although their performance is limited.
Discrete or Dedicated cards have their own video memory and do not rely on your system’s RAM. They are perfect for professional graphic designers and serious gamers because these users require intensive graphics to run their tasks. However, dedicated cards can nibble more on power and/or heat up your system pretty fast. If you want to buy a dedicated card, ensure that your laptop has plenty of cooling vents and at least one or more fans. Also, be ready to cough more dollars.
Two popular graphics card manufacturers are AMD and NVIDIA. The following chart provides a list of the current collection of graphics processors from the two companies, starting from the least to the most powerful.
- AMD Radeon R5 M315
- AMD Radeon R5 M320
- AMD Radeon R5 M330
- NVIDIA GeForce 920M
- NVIDIA GeForce 930M
- AMD Radeon R7 M340
- NVIDIA GeForce 940M
- AMD Radeon R7 M360
- NVIDIA GeForce GTX 950M
- AMD Radeon R9 M365X
- AMD Radeon R9 M375
- NVIDIA GeForce GTX 960M
- AMD Radeon R9 M470
- AMD Radeon R9 M380
- NVIDIA GeForce GTX 965M
- AMD Radeon R8 M470X
- AMD Radeon R9 M385X
- NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1060M
- AMD Radeon R9 M390X
- NVIDIA GeForce GTX 970M
- AMD Radeon R9 M485X
- AMD Radeon R9 M395X
- NVIDIA GeForce GTX 980M
- NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1070M
- NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1080M
If you’re having trouble choosing a screen or laptop? Hit us via our contact page and we will help.