The laptops of 2023 will get new chips and new graphics. Many will get new touchpads, some will get new fans, and a few will get funky styluses. But some of the coolest, weirdest, and most exciting updates are coming to screens.
Just a couple years ago, buying a high-end laptop display — particularly for gaming — meant figuring out your priorities. You could have a high resolution or a high refresh rate. You could have OLED or a device that was actually affordable.
This year, we’re seeing more of those benefits converge. There are more laptops coming that are both high-refresh-rate and high-resolution than ever before. We’re seeing those elements combined with features that have been unusual and niche on laptops in the past, such as Mini LED and even glasses-free 3D. Many of these jack-of-all-trades displays are going to be on the pricey side, but new features in high-end products are often a sign that we’ll see those features in more accessible ones down the line.
Here are some of the display trends to look out for in laptops this year.
Screens are going to be big this year — both figuratively and literally. Across the board, we’re seeing laptops make the (objectively correct) switch to the 16:10 aspect ratio, which makes for a taller device with extra vertical screen space. A shift to larger-screened (but not necessarily larger) models has followed. Across the board, we’re seeing 15-inchers become 16-inchers and 17-inchers become truly enormous 18-inchers.
Particularly in the gaming space, we’re expecting to see some of the largest laptops ever released in 2023. Razer has announced its largest Blade ever, the Blade 18 (which Razer will not officially say is a sequel to the Blade 17 but is, as far as I can tell, a sequel to the Blade 17). I saw a model in person, and I can’t overstate how much screen this 16:10 machine provides. It’s going to be a beast.
Razer is far from the only company taking the 18-inch leap this year. Asus, Acer, and Alienware will all be topping their high-end lines with 18-inchers. We’ve also seen a number of prominent 15-inchers, including Asus’ ROG Zephyrus G15 and Razer’s Blade 15, upgraded to 16:10 16-inch models this year.
Mini LED isn’t brand new; it’s been trickling its way into the laptop space for the past few years. But we expect it to explode into the high-end mainstream in 2023, as it’s debuting in a number of prominent upcoming gaming machines. One of the big names is Asus’ ROG Zephyrus G14, one of the most anticipated releases in the 14-inch gaming space. We’ll also see it on the Razer Blade 16, which I was able to try at the show (spoiler alert: it looked pretty good), as well as other high-end models from Asus and MSI.
Unlike standard LCD screens, which use one group of lights (or multiple large groups) to project an image, Mini LED displays use many clusters of tiny diodes (local dimming zones) that can brighten or darken independently. While Mini LED doesn’t provide quite the same contrast and (theoretical) power savings as an OLED display, it can generally produce a higher peak brightness and doesn’t come with the same burn-in and image retention concerns that OLED often does.
Speaking of OLED, though…