Recently we showed you a list of the best currently available gaming notebooks by price category in our opinion (that is we have tested them). We also introduced you to our new ranking system which sorts notebooks by their battery life – a feature not to be neglected and a major selling point for a lot of users. Now we would like to further ease you in the search for the perfect notebook by categorizing them by the quality of their displays.
Now we would like to further ease you in the search for the perfect notebook by categorizing them by the quality of their displays. A good screen is crucial for users that process images and videos, for graphics designers and let’s face it – who doesn’t like to play their favorite game or watch Netflix on a nice sharp display.
But what makes a good display good. There are many things to consider when looking for a high-quality screen – refresh rate, color temperature, maximum brightness, color deviation, color reproduction, viewing angles, the amount of blue light emitted (read more about the harmful impact of the blue light) and the presence or lack of pulse-width modulation (read more). Luckily we have tested all of these properties which you can read about in our in-depth reviews and we will share the summarized results with you.
We also want to mention that we at LaptopMedia have created an application that uses custom profiles for each model we have tested to enhance the user experience and fix any present issues. You can read more about them here.
You can check out all available laptops on the market here: http://amzn.to/2malnT2
The best display on laptops under $1000
Our first choice is the Acer Aspire F15 (F5-573G) – http://amzn.to/2n6WKWq
You can check out its full review over here: http://laptopmedia.com/review/acer-aspire-f-15-f5-573g-a-big-step-forward/
The Acer Aspire F15 (F5-573G) is equipped with a 15.6-inch TN panel manufactured by Innolux – N156HGE-EAL. The resolution is Full HD (1920x1080p) which translates into a pixel density of 142 ppi. This means that the pixels become indistinguishable (“Retina”) from a distance equal or greater than 60 cm. The maximum recorded brightness in the middle of the screen is 219 cd/m2 and 213 cd/m2 across the surface (only 7% deviation). The color temperature is 7500K (1000K above the optimal D65) which means that colors will be colder. The maximum color deviation (dE2000) is 1.8 which is an excellent result for a budget device (values above 4.0 are unwanted). However, the contrast ratio is quite low – 350:1. The display offers poor viewing angles which are normal for a TN panel. The model stands out with its good color reproduction.
Surprisingly for a cheap TN panel, it covers 100% of the sRGB gamut and 96% of the DCI-P3. We have picked this model exactly because of the excellent gamut coverage. The colors will look magnificent when gaming so this notebook can be considered as a good entry-level portable gaming machine. However, due to the nature of the display, they won’t look realistic so if you are after an accurate display for serious work you may want to look elsewhere. The tonal response curve has an average value of 2.11. With our “Office/Web Design Work” profile, the value becomes 2.16 and almost matches the reference curve. Our ColorChecker test detects an average deviation of 10 and a maximum of 17. These numbers are severely lowered by our profile – the average becomes 2.1 and the maximum 4.3. Unfortunately, the panel uses PWM across all brightness levels and the used frequency is 1KHz which is higher (that’s better) than the average in the price range but still harmful. Our Health-Guard profile can significantly lower the negative impact on your eyesight.
Our next choice in the budget category is the Acer Switch Alpha 12 – http://amzn.to/29ekqxT
You can check out its full review over here: http://laptopmedia.com/review/acer-aspire-switch-alpha-12-review-a-tablet-that-can-actually-replace-your-notebook/
The Acer Switch Alpha 12 offers a screen made by Panasonic – the VVX12T041N00. The IPS panel has a diagonal of 12 inches with QHD (2160×1440p) resolution and an unusual aspect ratio of 3:2. The pixel density is 216 ppi which mean that the display becomes “Retina” when viewed from more than 40 cm. We shouldn’t forget to mention that it is a touchscreen panel – something we rarely see in this particular price point. We detected a maximum brightness in the center of the screen of 361 cd/m2 and an average of 338 cd/m2 across the surface. This leads to a 14% maximum deviation.
The color temperature in the middle is 7510K while the average across the surface is slightly lower at 7440K. This means that similarly to the Acer Aspire F15, colors will appear colder. The maximum color deviation dE2000 is 3.8 which almost tops the limit of 4.0 which we consider unwanted. The contrast ratio is 800:1 which is good for a budget device. The display has comfortable viewing angles from a 45-degree angle.
In terms of color reproduction, the Switch Alpha 12 provides a good 94% coverage of the sRGB color space. The tonal response curve has an average value of 2.35 which is above the reference point but using our Office/Web Design Work profile lowers the value to 2.18 and almost matches the curve with the referenced. Our ColorChecker test detects an average deviation of 3.6 and a maximum of 6.5. However, our profile lowers these numbers to 1.6 and 2.4 respectively. Switch Alpha 12’s display uses PWM across all brightness levels and the case is the same as the Aspire F15 – the frequency in 1KHz (better than most in the price range but still unwanted). Our Health-Guard profile can fix this issue.
WINNER: Acer Switch Alpha 12
The best display on laptops under $1500
Let’s move to the slightly more expensive models. As expected in this category screens become a lot better.
Our first pick is the Lenovo Yoga 910 – http://amzn.to/2mIOicB
You can check out its full review over here: http://laptopmedia.com/review/lenovo-yoga-910-review-just-sexy/
Lenovo Yoga 910’s screen in manufactured by AU Optronics and carries the model number B139HAN03.2. The diagonal of the IPS panel is the rather odd 13.9 inches. The resolution is Full HD (1920x1080p) which translates into a pixel density of 158 ppi. In other words, you will stop to recognize the different pixels when viewing the display from a distance greater than 56 cm.
The recorded maximum brightness in the middle of the screen is 310 cd/m2 and the average across the surface – 292 cd/m2 (the maximum deviation is just 11% – on the right side of the screen). These brightness levels are more than sufficient for indoors work but the display might appear dim in direct sunlight. The recorded color temperature is 7990K which is far from the optimal 6500K temperature – colors will look colder than the reference (D65). The maximum color deviation to the center of the screen (dE2000) is 2.7 which isn’t a perfect score but still a good one as values above 4.0 are unwanted. The screen has a very good contrast ratio of 1240:1. The viewing angles are excellent.
Yoga 910’s screen has a decent color reproduction. It covers 95% of the sRGB color space which means that colors will appear vivid and saturated. The gamma curve is far from optimal (1.97) – dark areas of an image will appear even darker while the color temperature will aid for more blue-like colors. Our Office/Web Design Profile smooths things out by almost perfectly matching the gamma curve with the referenced one. The ColorChecker test detects an average deviation (dE2000) of 6.5 and a maximum of 12 but our profile lowers these values to 1.2 and 2.9 respectively. Lenovo Yoga 910 can be boasted about the complete lack of PWM across all brightness levels thus making it ideal for using for long periods of time without affecting even users with sensitive eyes.
Next up is the ASUS ROG GL 502VT – http://amzn.to/2nfllcd
You can check out its full review over here: http://laptopmedia.com/review/asus-rog-gl502-gtx-970m-review-premium-gaming-notebook-with-special-attention-to-detail/
The screen of the ASUS ROG GL 502VT is made by Samsung and it is model 156HL01-104. This IPS matte touch panel has a diagonal of 15.6 inches and a resolution of 1920 x 1080p (Full HD). After doing the math we see that the pixel density is 142 ppi which means that pixels become indistinguishable from a distance of more than 60 cm. The maximum brightness of the panel is 350 cd/m2 and 327 cd/m2 is the average value across the surface (maximum deviation – 14% in the bottom left corner). Color temperature is 7670K which is more than a 1000K higher than the optimal 6500K temperature. In other words, colors will appear colder than they should be – something we see in most low-cost screens. The maximum color deviation DeltaE 2000 is 3.4 which is rather high as 4.0 is the threshold above which is considered unwanted. Contrast ratio is OK – 970:1.
Color reproduction is good with 97% coverage of sRGB/ITU-R BT.709 (web/HDTV standard) in CIE1976. The gamma curve is messed up – dark colors appear lighter and light colors have a bigger value than the reference. However, our Office & Web Design profile fixes this issues. The ColorChecker test detects an average deviation (dE2000) of 4.1 and a maximum of 9.1. The Office & Web Design profile lowers these numbers by 140% making them 1.7 and 3.8 respectively. Unfortunately, the display uses an “aggressive” PWM with 200Hz frequency for all brightness levels below 100%. Luckily, our Health-Guard profile combined with our application eliminates the harmful PWM.
WINNER: Lenovo Yoga 910
The best display on laptops under $2000
If you are about to give up to $2000 for a notebook you will probably be looking for a good gaming laptop or a portable workstation. In both cases, a good display is a must. Here are our picks.
First in the list is the Lenovo ThinkPad P70 – http://amzn.to/2nOCo2u
You can check out its full review over here: http://laptopmedia.com/review/lenovo-thinkpad-p70-review-heavy-duty-thinkpad-making-professional-desktops-look-obsolete/
Lenovo ThinkPad P70 utilizes a Samsung-made LTN173HL01-901 display. The diagonal of the screen is 17.3 inches and the resolution is Full HD (1920x1080p). This means that the pixel density is 127 ppi or to put it, in other words, you will stop to see the individual pixels when viewing from a distance greater than 69 cm. The maximum recorded brightness is 307 cd/m2 in the middle of the screen but the average across the surface is 285 cd/m2 with a maximum deviation of 11%. The color temperature is 7130K which is a bit over the optimal 6500K, therefore, colors will have a slight blue-ish tint (also knows as “colder” colors). The maximum color deviation (dE2000) has a value of 3.2 which isn’t the best but it’s still well under the unwanted level of 4.0. Viewing angles are excellent and the contrast is good with a ratio of 930:1.
The display covers 99% of the sRGB gamut so practically all of the web-based and HDTV colors can be reproduced. The gamma curve is almost ideal with very little fluctuations around the reference curve. Our Office & Web Design profile further smooths any issues. The self-calibration is very good – the ColorChecker test detects average values of 1.8 and a maximum of 2.6. The display does not use PWM to control the brightness level over 50% (you will most likely use it this way) but PWM is present under 50% brightness (about 80 cd/m2). The used frequency is very low – 220Hz which can be considered as aggressive but you won’t be keeping the screen so dim most of the time. However, our Health-Guard profile can eliminate the PWM and reduce the emitted harmful blue light. One of the neatest features of the device is the built-in color calibrator – you just choose your desired settings and close the lid. When you open it again the screen has calibrated itself to suit your purposes.
Next up is the Acer Predator 15 (G9-593) – http://amzn.to/2nj2FYM
You can check out its full review over here: http://laptopmedia.com/review/acer-predator-15-g9-593-with-gtx-1070-review-the-second-attack/
The Acer Predator 15 (G9-593) is equipped with a 15.6-inch IPS matte touch panel manufactured by LG Philips. it carries the model number LP156WF6-SPP1. The resolution of the display is Full HD (1920x1080p) which means that the pixel density is 142 ppi (the display becomes “Retina” when looked at from more than 60 cm). One if the most notable features of the display is that it supports NVIDIA G-Sync technology (if you are not familiar with it, you can read this article). The maximum brightness of the panel is 343 cd/m2 and 316 cd/m2 is the average value across the surface (maximum deviation of 12%). The measured color temperature is 7500K which is a bit far from the optimal 6500K temperature – colors will be more to the blue (colder) side. The maximum color deviation dE 2000 is 3.2 which is OK considering that values over 4.0 are unwanted. The viewing angles are comfortable and the contrast ratio is 1000:1.
The screen can represent 89% of sRGB/ITU-R BT.709 (web/HDTV standard) in CIE1976 – to make it more clear it can reproduce almost all colors used in Internet and HDTV. The gamma curve is far from optimal but our Office & Web Design profile fixes it. It also lowers the DeltaE of the colors to an average of 2.4 (4.3 before calibration). However, PWM is used to control the brightness level from 0 to 99% brightness but the frequency used is very high (20KHz) which greatly reduces the negative impact on the eyesight. Nevertheless, the Health-Guard profile eliminates it as well as a portion of the blue light emissions.
WINNER: Lenovo ThinkPad P70
The best display on super high-end laptops
And finally, let’s take a look at some of the most expensive notebooks out on the market which provide some interesting features to justify the price.
Our first choice is the Alienware 17 R4 (120Hz) – http://amzn.to/2nGUwib
You can check out its full review over here: http://laptopmedia.com/review/alienware-17-r4-qhd-120hz-variant-review-one-of-the-best-out-of-the-box-gaming-experience-you-can-get-right-now/
Alienware 17 R4 comes in different display options. We are talking about the QHD (2160×1440p) model with a fast refresh rate of 120Hz (very useful for hardcore gamers). The diagonal of the screen is 17.3 inches so the pixel density is 170 ppi. In other words, you won’t recognize the individual pixels when viewing from a distance greater than 50 cm. The model number of the TN display is B173QTN and it is manufactured by AUO. One unique feature is the addition of the Tobii’s Eye Tracking technology.
It comes to our surprise that the TN panel is actually very bright with a maximum brightness in the center of the screen of 410 cd/m2 while the average across the surface is 377 cd/m2 (around 15% deviation). The color temperature is 7800K which is far from the optimal temperature of 6500K so colors will appear colder than usual. The maximum dE2000 (color deviation) is 3.9 in the lower right corner. This is maybe one of the only drawbacks of the display as values above 4.0 are unwanted and this is very close. The horizontal viewing angles are good but the vertical ones are below average. The contrast ratio is also not the best – just 650:1 which is expected from a TN panel. Alienware 17 R4 has a version with an IPS panel but the resolution is lower and there is not Tobii’s Eye Tracking technology.
Color reproduction is excellent with a 93% coverage of the sRGB color space in CIE1976.In other words, almost every color used in HDTV and the Internet will be shown. The gamma curve is not the best (value of 1.94) but as always our specific for the model Office & Web Design profile fixes the issue. The ColorChecker test shows an average DeltaE value of 10 before calibration and 2.3 after (significantly lower). Alienware did a good job by not using PWM for regulating the screen brightness which means the screen will be suitable for long hours of work or gaming. Nonetheless, our Health-Guard profile will lower the Blue Light emissions while keeping the colors of the screen perceptually accurate.
Our next pick in this price category is the Acer Predator 17X (GX-792) – http://amzn.to/2mpoVBm
You can check out its full review over here: http://laptopmedia.com/review/acer-predator-17x-gx-792-gtx-1080-review-4k-gaming-on-a-laptop-finally-worth-it/
Acer Predator 17X comes with a beautiful 4K UHD (3840×2160p) IPS panel manufactured by AUO (model number B173ZAN01.0) which can be found in last year’s Predator 17. The 17.3-inch display has a pixel density of 255 ppi which means that pixels become indistinguishable at just 33 cm. The brightness levels are excellent with a maximum in the center of the screen of 384 cd/m2 and an average of 369 cd/m2 across the surface (12% deviation in the lower center). The color temperature is 7000K which is very close to the optimal value of 6500K so colors will be accurate. The maximum color dE2000 deviation across the surface of the panel is just 2.9 which is a good result considering that it’s considerably lower than the threshold of 4.0. Viewing angles are great and the contrast ratio is 1080:1 which is also great. This panel uses the Blue LED + Quantum Dots technology instead of the conventional WLED backlight – a unique feature.
The color reproduction is just marvelous – 100% of the sRGB and 100% of the Adobe RGB color spaces and 97% of the DCI-P3 in CIE 1976 gamut. This means that the screen is excellent not only for gaming and multimedia but for Photoshop and other image-processing software too. The gamma curve follows the referenced one strictly but suggests of a slightly darker image. However, our custom Office and Design Work profile fix it. Our Gaming and Movie Nights profile can lower the average DeltaE from 5.7 to 4.6 (this means more accurate colors). We are happy to say that this display does not use PWM at any brightness level and it’s absolutely safe and suitable for long hours of gaming or working.
WINNER: Acer Predator 17X (GX-792)