Is 4K UHD worth it on a laptop?

Peat Moss

Limp Gawd
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Does a 4K UHD screen on a laptop (e.g. 15.6") offer any significant benefit? Is there any downside, besides cost? With a high resolution on a small screen, do you have to really crank up the scaling to be able to read text?
 
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My XPS13 has a 4K display, and I love it. Text and drawn elements are just so much crisper and clearer relative to my 24" 1920x1200 display.

You will have to up the scaling, otherwise everything will be too small to be usable. But at 15.6", even a 1080p display might work better with some upscaling.

Aside from price, only real downside is a 4K display uses more power.
 

Aurelius

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Does a 4K UHD screen on a laptop (e.g. 15.6") offer any significant benefit? Is there any downside, besides cost? With a high resolution on a small screen, do you have to really crank up the scaling to be able to read text?
Not at this point, I'd say.

While it certainly looks nice, you don't need 4K to get a pristine-looking image on a 15-inch display -- it mainly kills battery life using current technology. And Windows generally does a worse job of scaling UI than macOS, so it's not great if you do have to scale up.

The ideal right now is somewhere in between, like 1600p or (as in the 16-inch MacBook Pro) 1920p. I don't think 4K on laptops will be truly mainstream until battery life improves.
 

bobzdar

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Having a 15" MBP with 3k screen and a 1080p 14" 120hz screen in my Zephyrus G14, I'd take the high refresh screen over high pixel density in a second at that size. That said, if you went up to a 17" screen DTR, I could potentially see that being the crossover point of it being worthwhile to have more pixels given the larger area and DTR's mostly being plugged in all the time.
 

jtm55

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Hi All,
I think its personal preference. the only way to know is try it out & see for yourself
 

tungt88

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Hmm ...
In terms of gaming? Not really, since there aren't too many mobile GPUs that can really take advantage of 4K with details cranked up (even the RTX 2080s I see in some gaming laptops are mostly the MAX-Q variants, meaning effective RTX 2070 or less performance [desktop-wise] -- and the RTX 2070 Max-Q is more like RTX 2060 or less desktop performance).

In terms of videos/text? It might be worth it, depending on how sensitive you are to pixelation/fuzziness in images & text -- I couldn't stand 1080p (even w/ClearType) on my earlier 15-17" laptops, and so my current laptop has 1440p @ 17", which works out quite well (for that matter, it also has a GTX 1080, which is a few percentage points behind a GTX 1080 desktop, so it works out quite well for gaming combined w/G-Sync).
 

Shoganai

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If you read on your laptop a lot, then yes. Going to back to 1080p on a laptop feels like I’m using Windows 95 or something.
 

KarsusTG

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4k is better for a text document than 1080, but a 4k screen has a decent battery life hit. Ofc you can drop your resolution to 1080 while on battery if you need more battery life.

The new xps 15 and 17 have 16:10 setups now, so 1920x1200 and 3840x2400 is back. I would take that x1200 over 4k on a laptop any day.
 
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4k is better for a text document than 1080, but a 4k screen has a decent battery life hit. Ofc you can drop your resolution to 1080 while on battery if you need more battery life.
That's not going to help at all with power usage. The issue is the physical power draw of the 4k panel and backlight, not the GPU having to render at a higher resolution.

I love it on my XPS 13, which now has the 16:10 screen. I set it to 150% scaling and everything works very smoothly.

A tip to help with battery life: disable the touch screen feature.

https://www.lifewire.com/disable-windows-10-touch-screen-4579853
Only 1.5? Wow, that seems really tiny. I have my XPS 13 at 3x (under KDE, but that shouldn't matter).

I never understood the appeal of touchscreens. Hate smudgy screens.

I do wish it was 16:10 when I bought mine.
 

Commander Shepard

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Only 1.5? Wow, that seems really tiny. I have my XPS 13 at 3x (under KDE, but that shouldn't matter).

I never understood the appeal of touchscreens. Hate smudgy screens.

I do wish it was 16:10 when I bought mine.
Yeah, 150% or 175% are good for my use. I'm a writer, so the more text I can see clearly on the screen, the better for my work.
 

IdiotInCharge

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Bigger issue is also that you simply cannot get some higher-spec laptops without a panel that has a resolution that's too high to be run at 1:1. Looking at you Dell, asshats.

I pretty much don't want >1080p/1200p on a laptop. The smaller the laptop, the closer I use it, so it's generally readable. And if 4k is a power drain, well, that's a bit counter to the purpose of a laptop in the first place. Also scaling doesn't work everywhere. Lots of legacy crap that simply doesn't scale well, and generally looks like ass (with some UI elements scaled and some not...).
 

KarsusTG

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That's not going to help at all with power usage. The issue is the physical power draw of the 4k panel and backlight, not the GPU having to render at a higher resolution.
I used to think that too, but I have proved repeatedly with my p51 that I get ~10% battery life from just dropping my screen to 1080p from 4k. I do however believe this is based on the panel because they are not all created equal.


I pretty much don't want >1080p/1200p on a laptop. The smaller the laptop, the closer I use it, so it's generally readable. And if 4k is a power drain, well, that's a bit counter to the purpose of a laptop in the first place. Also scaling doesn't work everywhere. Lots of legacy crap that simply doesn't scale well, and generally looks like ass (with some UI elements scaled and some not...).
I agree with this. Honestly, that XPS 17 is actually physically smaller than my 15" laptop so getting that with a 1920x1200 screen would be amazing.
 

Aurelius

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Bigger issue is also that you simply cannot get some higher-spec laptops without a panel that has a resolution that's too high to be run at 1:1. Looking at you Dell, asshats.

I pretty much don't want >1080p/1200p on a laptop. The smaller the laptop, the closer I use it, so it's generally readable. And if 4k is a power drain, well, that's a bit counter to the purpose of a laptop in the first place. Also scaling doesn't work everywhere. Lots of legacy crap that simply doesn't scale well, and generally looks like ass (with some UI elements scaled and some not...).
Oh, greater than 1080p/1200p is fine on a laptop, it's just that Windows laptop makers have this weird all-or-nothing approach to displays that doesn't take battery life or scaling into account. Either you get a basic 1080p screen or an all-out 4K touchscreen that cuts your battery life in half and requires dramatic scaling. The Goldilocks in-between resolutions like 1440p or 1600p are seemingly dying breeds outside of the MacBook line.
 

IdiotInCharge

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Oh, greater than 1080p/1200p is fine on a laptop, it's just that Windows laptop makers have this weird all-or-nothing approach to displays that doesn't take battery life or scaling into account. Either you get a basic 1080p screen or an all-out 4K touchscreen that cuts your battery life in half and requires dramatic scaling. The Goldilocks in-between resolutions like 1440p or 1600p are seemingly dying breeds outside of the MacBook line.
True that. And all I want is 1080p, 120Hz, full SRGB with VRR. I'll take integrated Intel graphics for that matter!

[and proceed to game in it]
 
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