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Should You Buy an OLED Laptop? Here’s What You Need to Know

Laptops with OLED displays, instead of the traditional LCD, are more popular than ever. Why? They're gorgeous.

asus proart studiobook 16 oled
Asus

Should you buy a laptop with an OLED display? You should at least consider it! OLED laptops are pretty new to the scene, the first weren't introduced until 2016, but they started to hit the mainstream several years ago. And now, quite a few big manufacturers, including Dell, Razer and Asus, have all released laptops that are configurable with OLED displays. That said, many of the most popular laptops in 2020 are still equipped with LCD displays, including every MacBook. So, what’s the deal?

The OLED Advantage

You’ve probably used or at least seen a smartphone or a television with an OLED display. OLED, which stands for “Organic Light Emitting Diode,” is a newer display technology that boasts numerous advantages over more traditional LCD displays. The main reason why it’s taken this long to get to OLED displays in laptops? Simply, it’s a newer technology and it’s been hard to perfect.

Beautiful Picture: Just like with OLED TVs, laptops with OLED panels are able to produce brighter and more lifelike colors, with superior black levels and contrast. The reason for this is the OLED display is able to turn on and off individual pixels, as opposed to groups (or zones) of pixels like in LCD displays, making the OLED display capable of producing a more accurate image. It also makes the OLED display more efficient because it’s not illuminating extra pixels, and in fact can save energy in “dark mode” because it requires no power to show the color black.

Less lag: There are other performance advantages to using an OLED display – most noticeably, better refresh rates. Traditional LCD displays require a separate LED panel for backlighting, which tends to cause lag and motion blur, but OLED displays don’t need a separate panel and therefore don’t have this lag problem. This also results in faster refresh rates and wider viewing angles.

Likely lighter: The lack of the extra backlighting panel means that OLED displays (and thus OLED laptops) can be thinner and lighter. That’s definitely and obviously a good thing.

Watch Out For

One maker: One important detail to know is that Samsung is the only manufacturer of OLED panels for laptops. That means whether you’re buying a Lenovo, Samsung, Microsoft, Dell or HP OLED laptop – they’re all going to have a similar Samsung display.

Needs to be big: Samsung is the sole provider of OLED panels to laptop manufacturers, and Samsung is only making 15-inch panels. This means that all new OLED laptops in 2019 are 15-inch laptops. If you were thinking about getting something smaller, or possibly larger, you’re out of luck.

Burn-in: As is true with OLED smartphones and OLED TVs, burn-in is a problem. Certain pixels on an OLED panel that are used more often than other pixels, probably because they are located in a more central part of the panel, will become less bright over time and creating an uneven image. There are different types of burn-in – temporarily or permanent – but generally OLED displays don’t age as well LCDs.

Price: The main knock against OLED TVs is the price. Since OLED technology is still relatively new, it’s more expensive to manufacture. And the same is true with OLED laptops.

Who Should Buy an OLED Laptop?

The superior picture quality and faster refresh rates mean that OLED laptops are generally great for gamers. It doesn’t hurt that most of the best OLED laptops to date are actually gaming laptops, too. Still, more and more OLED laptops are getting released which are more creative and productivity-focused, too. They typically make good laptops for video editors and photographers, thanks to the vibrant and accurate screen.


Does Apple Make an OLED Laptop?

No.

Apple upgraded its newest 14- and 16-inch MacBook Pros in a lot of ways (more ports, more keys, more power), and even gave them bigger, better displays — but they weren't OLED display. There were lots of rumors suggesting that since the latest iPhone 13 models do have an OLED display, the new MacBook Pros would as well. But Apple opted for a mini-LED instead.

This mini-LED display is a type of LCD display (which Apple is used to using in its Macs), and it can achieve almost the same black levels as an OLED display. There are a couple key advantages to mini-LED displays, however. They can actually get brighter. They're cheaper to manufacture. And, maybe most importantly, there's no risk of burn-in like with OLED.

The Laptops

Dell XPS 13 OLED (2021)

Dell
Dell XPS 13 (2021)
dell.com
$1,619.99

Dell's XPS 13 has been one of the best Windows laptops for years. It's powerful, beautiful and, thanks to its touchscreen display and convertible design, it's also super versatile. This year, for the first time, Dell is allowing you to configure the XPS 13 with an OLED display. It boosts the price and causes the normally excellent battery life to take a little hit, but it makes this extremely popular Windows laptop even better.

Dell XPS 15 OLED (2021)

Dell
Dell XPS 15 (2021)
dell.com
$2,058.00

The Dell XPS 15 is essentially a larger version of Dell's XPS 13 (above), as it has a touchscreen display that's 15.6-inches rather than a 13.4-inches. It still packs top-of-line specs, including Intel's latest chipset and a Nvidia graphics cards, along with larger keyboard and trackpad, making it one of the best big-screen Windows laptops you can buy.

Asus ProArt StudioBook 16 OLED (2021)

Asus
Asus ProArt StudioBook 16 OLED (2021)
asus.com
$11.00

Asus's "ProArt" line of laptops are aimed purely at creators, with the integrated keyboard dial, which is designed for photo and video editing within Adobe's Creative Suite of apps, as a dead giveaway. In additional to a huge and gorgeous 16-inch 4K OLED display, the StudioBook 16 packs a powerful AMD Ryzen 9 chipset, a Nvidia GeForce RTX 30 Series graphics card, a 120Hz refresh rate and up to 1TB SSD. This makes it a pretty capable gaming machine, as well.

Asus ZenBook 13 OLED (2021)

Asus
Asus ZenBook 13 OLED (2021)
amazon.com
$1,299.99

The ZenBook 13 is Asus's thin, lightweight and super portable laptop that's configurable with a beautiful OLED display and a pretty high-end Radeon graphics card. Aside from its design and display, its defining features are its excellent battery life and its price — it's less than $1,000, easily making it one of the most affordable OLED laptops you can buy.

Razer Blade 15 (2021)

Razer
Razer Blade 15 (2021)
razer.com
$3,060.00

That’s right, you can buy the 15-inch Razer Blade, already one of the best gaming laptops out there, with a beautiful 4K OLED touchscreen display . It’s expensive, for sure, but it’s hella powerful and arguably delivers the most vivid colors, the fast response times, and the lowest lag of any other gaming laptops that are available right now.

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