Laptop Screen Resolution: How Millions of Pixels Will Make You Happy

Laptop Screen ResolutionThe best laptop screen resolution for a 15.6-inch display is 1920 x 1080-pixels, or Full High-Definition (Full-HD). More pixels = more detail. And a more realistic rendering of content.

Even if you’re just surfing the net. And not planning on watching movies or playing games. 1080p gives you 40% more vertical pixels than a 1366 x 768 panel. Which means you can also see more stuff at once, rather than having to scroll all over the place to get the whole picture.

Weighing the options for screen resolution is absolutely critical to buying a laptop. Because no matter what you intend to do with your system. Working on it will primarily be a visual experience.

Find out why more pixels create a sharper image. And discover which screen resolution you prefer for your new laptop.

Laptop Screen Resolution

All the images you see on a laptop’s display are built up by thousands and even millions of pixels. Resolution refers to the number of pixels-per-inch (PPI) used to create the display panel of a laptop. This number is represented (horizontally x vertically).

You’ll be spending many hours in front of your laptop. So, eye-strain, which can lead to headaches is a concern. And something you definitely want to avoid. Your laptop screen resolution is a critical factor that determines how much information your able to see on the display at one time. It also affects the quality, or sharpness of the image.

If you work with high definition (HD) images or video. You already know how crucial it is to be able to see all the fine details of your work in order to deliver a good product. To get even better-quality images. Some higher-end laptops come with 2560 x 1600-pixel displays, and even 3840 x 2160 screens. Go for laptops with screens labeled 2K/Quad HD (2560 x 1440), and 4K/Ultra HD (3840 x 2160) for the best picture quality.

Check out for some really great tips on how to prevent eye strain when using your computer.


Types of Laptop Display Resolutions

High Resolution Display

Most applications and Web pages are optimized at 1024 x 768 PPI to show content completely. Budget and mainstream laptops have 1366 x 768-pixel display marketed as HD. While technically correct. It’s actually the lowest laptop screen resolution you can get. Why is this a problem?

Productivity benefits from a sharper image. 1366 horizontal pixels only allows you to see about half the document at a time. High resolution makes texts easier to read, and you can display Web pages at different sizes without losing accuracy.

Raymond Soneira, president of DisplayMate. A company that tests screens. Says you need a panel with at least 172 PPI for a good viewing experience.

Here are the major types of laptop screen resolution. Along with recommendations for how you can get the most out of each one:

HD: 1366 x 768 laptop screen resolution is standard on mainstream laptops. It’s good for Web-surfing, emails and basic computer tasks.

HD+: 1600 x 900 laptop screen resolution is great for casual gaming and watching DVD quality movies.

Full HD: 1920 x 1080 resolution allows you to watch Blu-ray movies, and play video games without losing any level of detail.

Retina Display: 2304 x 1440; 2560 x 1600; and 2880 x 1800 resolutions. These are found exclusively on MacBooks that are 12-inch, 13.3-inch and 15.6-inch, respectively.

Quad HD, and QHD+: 2560 x 1440; and 3200 x 1800 resolutions, respectively. This extremely high pixel density creates crisp detail and pin sharp text. It’s ideal for photo professionals and graphics work, as well as for high-def movies and games.

4K Ultra HD: 3840 x 2160 screen resolutions have 4x the pixels of Full HD, creating rich colors and images for viewing and editing incredibly lifelike images and graphics.


How Does the OS Figure into the Laptop Screen Resolution?

The OS and Laptop Screen Resolution

A high laptop screen resolution works best on bigger displays. As touched on in the MacBook vs PC Laptop part of this Buying a Laptop Series. Except for Apple. Laptop manufacturers haven’t figured out scaling yet. So, the result of more pixels is objects that appear smaller than normal.

For example, a Windows application might create a window that’s 640 x 480 pixels, which will take up a conservative part of a 1366 x 768-pixel display.

That same 640 x 480-pixel window on a 1080p display will look significantly smaller. And if the display itself is small, like an 11-inch Chromebook. The winodow’s content could be difficult to make out.

Operating systems compensate by scaling the content and images bigger. But simply increasing the size won’t make the content clearer. So, the algorithms approximate what the pixels should look like. And replaces them with high resolution versions. Results vary depending on the quality of the algorithm. But the MacOS is phenomenal at this.

Manufacturer code laptops with a certain resolution in mind. Clearly, the limiting factor to think about when buying a laptop is the software it comes with.


Consequences of More Pixels


An issue worth considering as you think about screen resolution in the laptop buying process is that since every pixel must be rendered. The graphics card has to work harder.

And since more power must be consumed to produce those images. Laptops with higher resolution screens will have less battery life.

Furthermore, if you have trouble seeing things up close. Objects on a high-res laptop might be difficult to see because of the whole scaling issue It could turn out that a low-resolution display might be more comfortable for you after all. For instance, all the content on a 1366 x 768-pixel screen will appear larger and easier to read.

But these facts shouldn’t dissuade you from getting a laptop with a higher resolution monitor. Far from it. You’ll be happier with a laptop that packs more pixels per square inch. And, panels with a high resolution tend to have better color accuracy, and better viewing angles.


Next up in the series, we look into graphics cards to help you decide how much viewing power your system really needs.

There’s more than screen resolution alone to think about as you weigh the display options of two similar laptops. And we’ll dive into what they are in future posts.

Was there anything about a laptop screen resolution you would like to include in this guide? Please let us know in the comment section. We’d love to hear from you.

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