Glossy Laptop Screens: Good or Bad?

Key Points

  • Certain features make a laptop screen better than others.

  • The different types of color spaces are important to know.

  • There are pros and cons for a gaming laptop with a glossy versus matte screen.

  • You'll learn why gaming laptops don't have glossy screens.

From work to personal use, there isn’t an aspect of life that isn’t complete without a computer — even the tiny one in your pocket on which you text and ignore calls. No matter the type, it’s important to be happy with your newest purchase. And if you are a gamer, you may never have considered a gaming laptop with a glossy screen — but you will after reading this article.

Laptops are useful pieces of technology for those constantly on the move. Whether you’re a PC enthusiast who knows all the intricacies of what’s under the hood or a pragmatic person who simply sees a computer as a tool, one decision must be made when purchasing a new laptop: Do you want a gaming laptop with a glossy screen or not?

You might not know where to start when making a decision. If so, you came to the right place.

What Makes a Screen "Good"?

Several specific features make a "good" computer monitor or laptop screen. The number one aspect consumers look at when purchasing a digital display is the resolution. However, a good laptop screen should also have wide viewing angles, a fast refresh rate, low response time, and good color accuracy.

Additionally, the display should be bright, have minimal glare, and be easy to view in different lighting conditions. All these features work together to offer the clearest, smoothest, and sharpest image your eyes can behold.

You now know what goes into generating good image quality on a screen, so what does all this jargon mean?

Pixels Per Inch

Pixels per inch (PPI) measures the number of pixels in an image when displayed on digital devices such as computer monitors, laptop screens, and mobile phone displays. An image with a higher PPI will be sharper, clearer, and have more detail.

Old cathode-ray tube monitors had 96 PPI while modern displays have up to 140 PPI.

The Dell XPS 15 7590 laptop has the highest amount of pixels per inch, with a 4k resolution display and a PPI of 282.

iPhone and ear pods rest on laptop keyboard

Refresh Rate

Refresh rate is how many times per second the display draws a new image. The speed is measured in Hertz (Hz) and the higher the refresh rate, the smoother and more realistic the image appears. Typical refresh rates for computer monitors are 60Hz, 75Hz, and 144Hz. If you have a 144Hz screen, your display refreshes its image 144 times in one second.

The best way to think about this is when you refresh a website. Sometimes it takes a couple of seconds. The screen will briefly go black, and then the web page appears. Imagine that the website you’re trying to refresh loaded 144 times in a single second. It’s frighteningly fast, so when you’re watching a video or playing a game, the refresh rate is higher and your brain doesn’t register any kind of stutter. You see the video or game as a constant stream of information.

Resolution

Not to be confused with PPI, a computer monitor’s resolution is the number of pixels displayed on the entire screen. It is typically expressed as the width and height of the display, such as 1920 x 1080. Higher resolutions result in a sharper and clearer image while lower resolutions result in a blurrier and more pixelated image. The most common resolutions for computer monitors are HD (1280 x 720), Full HD (1920 x 1080), and Ultra HD (3840 x 2160).

Response Time

When it comes to computers, response time can have a few different definitions. In this instance, it refers to the measure of how quickly a display can change the color of individual pixels on the screen. This is typically measured in the time it takes for the screen to go from black to white and back again to black.

Response time is measured in milliseconds and should be as low as possible for the best performance. Lower numbers indicate faster response times and better performance. A fast response time is important for video games and other applications that require smooth fluid motion.

Color Spaces

A color space refers to the range of colors that can be displayed on a computer monitor. The most common color spaces used for computer monitors are sRGB, Adobe’s RGB, and Display P3 (DCI-P3).

sRGB is the most widely used color space for computer monitors and is used for standard image and video files. Adobe RGB has a wider range of colors and is used for professional image editing. Display P3 is a color space optimized for wide gamut displays and is used for high dynamic range (HDR) video and cinema.

sRGB

sRGB stands for standard red, green, blue, and is the standard method used for displaying colors on monitors, TVs, and other digital devices. sRGB is a smaller color space than DCI-P3 meaning it has a more limited range of colors.

However, it can still produce good-looking images and is the most widely used color space in digital displays. Additionally, sRGB displays tend to be more affordable making them a popular choice for budget gamers and consumers.

Person works on their macbook

RGB

RGB refers to a system of combining the primary colors (red, green, blue) in varying degrees to obtain any color in the visible spectrum. Each color is represented by a number from 0-255; by combining these three colors, millions of different colors can be created. RGB is the most widely used color format for digital displays including computer monitors, televisions, and mobile phone screens.

DCI-P3

Digital Cinema Initiatives-Protocol 3 (DCI-P3) displays are a type of display technology that’s found in high-end TVs and monitors. This type of display uses a wider color gamut than the traditional sRGB color space allowing it to display more vibrant colors and deeper blacks.

DCI-P3 displays also produce less light leakage than traditional LCDs making them great for dark-room gaming or watching movies. Additionally, DCI-P3 displays are capable of displaying HDR content which brings out more detail and depth in images.

Gaming Laptops With 100% sRGB

Many gaming laptops offer 100% sRGB coverage. Some popular gaming laptops that currently offer 100% sRGB coverage include the MSI GS66 Stealth, the Razer Blade 15, and the Alienware m15 R4.

It's important to note that 100% sRGB coverage does not necessarily mean that a laptop will have the best display for gaming. Other factors such as the screen's refresh rate, response time, and color accuracy are important for gaming performance.

It's always a good idea to research and compare different laptops before purchasing to ensure that you are getting the best one for your needs.

Different Laptop Screens

When it comes to choosing a new laptop, the display is one of the most crucial components. It’s a commitment. You have to look at it every time you flip your laptop open and it can’t be swapped out like a traditional computer monitor. Next to the storage space and memory in a laptop, the screen is the most important aspect to consider.

Laptop displays come with many different characteristics. The 90s didn’t see as many options as you have in 2022's market. Not only do LED, OLED, or LCD screens exist, but there’s also the matter of a screen’s finish. Is it glossy or is it matte?

Does it matter? You decide.

Gaming laptop with controller on keyboard

Glossy Screen

A glossy screen refers to any monitor that uses a reflective glass or polymer with a shiny finish. These displays highlight rich colors, dark blacks, and bright whites in their color space which produces more vivid and lifelike images and videos.

Glossy screens often have wide viewing angles meaning you’ll be able to watch a video from a variety of angles without losing color accuracy or contrast. While not all laptops come with a glossy screen, a few popular models are the Macbook Pro, the Dell XPS, and the Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon.

Matte Screen

Matte laptop screens are screens that don’t have a reflective surface. They’re fashioned from different polymers that undergo an etching process. This etching process — which is either conducted chemically or mechanically — eliminates reflectivity by scattering light that hits the screen.

Matte laptop screens also tend to be more resistant to fingerprints, smudges, or dust and are generally easier to clean. They are less susceptible to color shifting when viewed from different angles.

While most gaming laptops come with a matte display, the HP Spectre x360 and the Microsoft Surface laptop are non-gaming laptops that also come with a matte screen.

Boy plays video games on laptop

Glossy Versus Matte Screens

Glossy and matte laptop screens have different characteristics that you may or may not find appealing. Glossy screens are shiny and reflective while matte screens are more muted and work just as well outside as inside.

Here are some potential pros and cons of glossy and matte screens to consider when choosing a laptop:

Pros of glossy screens:

  • Vibrant colors

  • Wide viewing angles

  • Sleek and modern look

  • May be less prone to scratches

  • May be easier to clean

Cons of glossy screens:

  • Can produce glare and reflections

  • Can be distracting to some users

  • Colors may not be as accurate as on a matte screen

Pros of matte screens:

Cons of matte screens:

  • Colors may be less vibrant and lifelike

  • Viewing angles may be narrower

  • May be more prone to collecting dust and other particles

  • May not be as sleek and modern looking as a glossy screen

  • May not be as good for outdoor use in bright sunlight

On one hand, it’s a matter of preference which is better. On the other hand, it depends on your purpose for the screen. 

Gaming

Choosing a gaming laptop is an art form. There must be a balance between resolution and refresh rate, the kind of graphics card, and how much random access memory (RAM) is installed. However, the kind of screen is just as important.

You’ll be hard-pressed to find a gaming laptop without a matte screen because manufacturers understand that it’s important for your vision to remain unobstructed by glare. Matte screens also tend to be more durable than glossy screens, which is important to consider when you’re dragging your laptop all over the place. 

Woman plays video games on glossy laptop screen

Video Editing/Production

A glossy screen can be good for video editing because glossy screens produce vibrant colors that can be helpful when working with visual media. Glossy screens are often more responsive than matte displays. Responsiveness is important when navigating video production software.

However, matte screens allow you to see the finer details in your videos and make more precise edits since they don’t suffer from the same reflective issues as glossy screens. If you prefer vibrant colors and don't mind a bit of glare, then a glossy screen may be a good choice for you.

Cinematic Experience

Glossy screens provide a sharp image, so they’re great for watching movies. You’ll feel fully immersed especially if you have a good pair of headphones. However, they can cause discomfort when used in bright light and can be more prone to smudges and fingerprints.

Why Do Gaming Laptops Have Matte Screens?

Since laptops are portable devices, gamers need to be able to see their screen in any kind of light. Whether you’re playing from your bedroom or a local area network (LAN) event, lighting won’t be an issue with a matte screen.

A matte finish reduces glare and reflections making it easier to see the screen, especially in bright or direct light. Smudges and fingerprints are less likely to appear on a matte display, giving gamers fewer distractions.

The matte finish also helps reduce eye strain which is important for gamers who play for long periods. Finally, matte screens tend to be less expensive than glossy screens making them a popular choice for gamers on a budget.

Laptop video game player

Best Screen On A Laptop In 2022

When looking at laptop screens, nothing beats the Alienware x17 R2 gaming laptop in 2022. It’s an ultra-premium gaming laptop designed with power and performance in mind. It features a 17.3-inch Full HD display with a refresh rate of 360Hz, an 8-core Intel Core i9-12900HK processor, 16GB of RAM, 1TB of storage, and an NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3080 Ti graphics card.

The Alienware x17 R2 also includes a full-size keyboard, a 4-zone RGB lighting system, and a Thunderbolt 3 port. This laptop is ideal for gamers who want a powerful and reliable laptop for gaming, streaming, and creative work. For that reason, its price tag might be a little steep for those on a budget.

It comes with a matte screen, allowing you to see every obstacle and enemy as you try to come out on top in Warzone or Fortnite. No glare or reflection will distract you from your objective.

Final Thoughts

It all comes down to your preference. If you don’t mind ensuring the lighting is ideal at all times because a video’s vibrancy is more important to you, then a glossy screen will do just fine. Both glossy and matte screens provide distinct advantages and disadvantages.

Ultimately, the best laptop screen will depend on your personal preference and individual needs for a laptop. You might be a gamer that enjoys the vibrancy of a game's colors, so a glossy display is ideal, or you might enjoy watching videos outside in the sunlight, so a matte screen works better for you.

Consider your laptop’s primary use while keeping in mind your visual preference when browsing for a new laptop. There is no wrong answer if you’re happy with what you see when you flip open that laptop.