The Complete Guide to Laptop Screens: Types and Resolutions Explained

Photo of author

Do you have a broken laptop screen that needs changing? Do you want to learn about the different kinds of laptop screens before you get a screen change? If you need to change your laptop screen, we’ve got a guide right here for you.

Since the pandemic began, people realize the beauty of having remote work. Almost two-thirds of US workers who worked remotely during the pandemic want to continue to work in remote conditions. This also means that a lot of laptops need screen extensions or replacements.

If you want to know more about laptop screens, we’ve got you covered. Below, we’ll discuss all the important things you need to know about laptop screens. We also included extra information on how to find the perfect laptop screen for you.

1. Screen Resolution and How It Works

The first thing we’re going to talk about is resolution and how it works. Screen resolution is how many pixels a screen can show you. On a digital display, every image you see gets created by pixels on a grid.

Each pixel takes one of 16.7 million colors. Together, the pixels work to trick our eyes and create images. Imagine the sprites from the old Super Mario games.

The more pixels there are on a screen, the sharper and better-defined an image will be. Pixels create the images you see on this webpage right now. You’re reading this very text because a certain number of pixels are glowing in a certain series of colors.

Thus, the number of display resolution is important. For example, a notebook has a resolution of 1920 x 1080. This means the screen has 1,920 pixels lined up horizontally and 1,080 pixels aligned vertically.

You’ll notice that a 1920×1080 screen resolution gets written down as 1080p or full HD. Other screens have a display resolution of 1366×768 or 720p. The “p” in 1080p stands for progressive, specifying the number of vertical lines in the display.

How to Choose the Right Resolution

Most people are already fine with a 1080p or 1440p screen resolution. If your work involves visual designing, your laptop needs a high-resolution display. Screens with higher-resolution displays can help you get a closer look at the details of a photo.

If your work involves encoding and other simple functions, get a screen with 1080p or 1440p. If you edit videos for a living or have other high-function visual needs, get a screen with a high resolution. Screen resolutions today reach up to 3840×2160 or 4K and above.

Is your laptop screen blurring and showing signs of wear and tear? Remember that most laptops have a lifespan of 3-5 years only. If your laptop is nearing or already at this age, consider a new laptop instead.

2. Types of Laptop Screen Panels

Let’s head over to the types of monitors and which one works well with your needs. Screens for laptops and computers belong in one of three basic display types. These three types are the TN, IPS, and VA panels.

The TN or Twisted Nematic panel is the most affordable type of LED screen. It provides smooth motion, but it isn’t color-accurate. Certain colors can shirt or tint when you view the screen at an angle.

The next type is the In-Plane Switching panel, which is more color-accurate. IPS panels also present good views from different angles, but their blacks look more washed out. If you like to do your work in a dark room, IPS panels aren’t the best type for you.

Finally, we have the VA panels or vertical alignment panels. It has deep blacks and good colors. However, it also has blurry motion and weak viewing angles.

VA panels are also quite expensive. If you want a screen that offers fast refresh rates for video editing, look for TN panels. If you want higher color and viewing angles which are great for image editing, go for IPS panels.

Other Types of Screens

TN, IPS, and VA panels aren’t the only technology used for screens. Today, you can also find screens that use IGZO, OLED, and more. Let’s first define IGZO.

IGZO uses a new chemical composition for building displays that substitute the traditional silica substrate. This new technology lets manufacturers create thinner display panels that have lower power consumption. This technology is most likely to be the future of power-saving, high-resolution displays.

Next, you may see screens that use OLED technology, which is often for high-end mobile screens. Compared to LCD, OLED screens don’t need a backlight. Instead, pixels produce light from the display. This gives OLED screens better contrast ratios and color.

Many Windows-based laptops offer touchscreen technology. Some tablet models, like iPads, are closer to digital tablets with keyboard accessories. If you like computers that let you touch screens, you can also find touchscreen displays.

3. Screen Size

One of the most important aspects to consider when you’re getting a screen replacement is screen size. Most screen panel sizes vary from model to model. However, you’ll find that most manufacturers follow a set of standards for their screen sizes, as well.

As for screen size, you look at the diagonal measurement of the screen in inches. Thus, a 16-inch laptop has a screen that measures 16 inches from the lower-left corner to the upper right. Notebook laptops often have screen sizes ranging from 10.6” to 18.4”.

Laptops that use smaller screens are great for mobility. A smaller screen size means lighter weight and more flexibility in the use of space. Larger screens make working on the laptop more comfortable, but it also sacrifices portability.

4. Other Things You Need to Know About

The tech world of screens and displays has a lot of other terms that most people don’t know about. Below, we’ll define these terms. Read on to learn what they mean and to get a better understanding of screens before you buy one.

Contrast Ratio

Screens with terrible contrast ratios can cause eye problems. Between 50% and 90% of people who work at a computer screen have symptoms of computer vision syndrome. If you want to avoid this, make sure you buy a display that has a good contrast ratio.

First, what does the contrast ratio mean? It is the ratio of luminance between white and black on a display. A screen with higher ratios is better because it gives more definition to an image. It also helps your images look more realistic on a screen.


Speaking of brightness, let’s talk about nit. The nit is the standard unit of luminance used to describe sources of light. Higher nit ratings mean that the display can get brighter.

Laptops often have displays with 200 and 300 nits on average. Excellent models have 500 nits and above. For example, a 13-inch MacBook Pro has 548 nits, which makes it the laptop model with the brightest screen.


The term HDR or high dynamic range often shows up in photography. Today, it’s becoming common in the laptop screen and display market, too. HDR is the technology that allows for a high level of contrast between light and dark images on a screen.

If your display has HDR technology, you get images with better color depth. HDR makes the images on a screen seem more vibrant and brighter. However, only a few programs support HDR now.

Refresh Rate

Screens and displays often feature refresh rates. This is the speed of a display to change the picture in a second. Common refresh rates are 60Hz, 120Hz, and 144Hz.

A computer screen’s refresh rate doesn’t affect color accuracy or resolution. If you often play video games, you want your monitor to have a high refresh rate. It creates a smoother gaming experience and avoids screen tearing.

Screen Coating

Many consumer laptop screens have glossy coatings over LCD panels. This coating allows more color and brightness to shine through. However, these types of screens are not ideal for outdoor use because they produce a lot of glare. If you buy screens that use a glossy coating, keep your laptop usage indoors for a better experience.

Corporate-style laptops use anti-glare or matte coatings which reduce external light reflection. If you see yourself using your laptop in office lighting or outdoors, get a screen with a matte coating. However, a matte coating can mute or affect display brightness and contrast.

5. How to Shop for the Perfect Laptop Screen

Consider everything we discussed above, including screen panel types, screen resolution, and others. Also, consider the purpose of the screen. Will you use it for gaming, work, or both?

Do you want enough room on the screen to spread your documents and apps? Or do you prefer a laptop with enough screen size for better mobility? When you’re buying a laptop or an extension screen, always consider the screen size.

Next, consider ports and connections that connect your external display to your laptop. If you’re buying an external screen or two, make sure their connections will fit your laptop ports. Most modern screens use an HDMI port.

Look through online reviews if you want to make sure that you buy the right model. If you want to find good laptops with the right screens, you can look for deals here.

Learn More About Laptops and Computers

That ends our in-depth guide on laptop screens. Take the time you need to look for one with the right size, resolution, panel, and other features.

Did you enjoy learning about the types of laptop screens? Do you want to see more content on laptops or computers? Check out our other posts now for more educational tech guides like this one.

Leave a Comment