The best 4K laptops don’t just have a great screen. They’re lightweight, powerful, efficient, and have a wide selection of ports and features. Our favorite of the lot is the Dell XPS 13. It looks brilliant with a 1080p screen, but the 4K option really makes its visuals pop. The XPS 15 is another favorite of ours, but if you’re not a Dell fan we have a selection of other fantastic 4K laptops to pick from.
After reviewing hundreds of laptops and spending thousands of hours staring into their hypnotic screens day to day, we know what makes a great 4K laptop and all of these are fantastic options for your next upgrade.
At a glance
- Dell XPS 13
- Dell XPS 15
- HP Spectre x360 15
- Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Extreme
- Asus ZenBook Pro 15
- Razer Blade
Dell XPS 13
Why you should buy this: The XPS 13 is a killer laptop in every way and looks fantastic with a 4K panel.
Who’s it for: Anyone but gamers.
What we thought of the Dell XPS 13:
The XPS 13 is our favorite all round laptop, so it’s perhaps no surprise that its 4K option tops the list of our favorite 4K laptops too. The latest version goes beyond anything we’ve seen before, though, moving the webcam back up top where it belongs, trimming the bezels and chassis even more, and offers some of the best internal hardware you can get at the 13-inch size (although here are some other options).
In our review, we took a look at the 4K model with an Intel Core i7 processor, 8GB of RAM, and a terabyte of solid state storage, which delivered class-leading performance, but there are an array of options with weaker or smaller hardware choices to deliver greater value. Whichever option you pick, though, the 4K touchscreen looks fantastic, even in bright offices and outside, thanks to its impressive 472 nits of brightness. It’s got great contrast, support for a wide gamut of colors, and better color accuracy than almost any competition in its bracket.
The only caveat to all this is that the 4K screen does demand more from the battery, so you do need to sacrifice a little of the XPS 13’s longevity to upgrade it to 4K.
Read our full Dell XPS 13 review
Dell XPS 15
Why you should buy this: It’s the XPS 13 but bigger with more room to enjoy that beautiful 4K screen.
Who’s it for: Anyone who wants more than a 13-inch laptop can deliver.
What we thought of the Dell XPS 15:
Larger and more capable, but a little-less portable, than its smaller sibling, the XPS 15 steals the top spot of our best 15-inch laptops list and the 4K configuration is one of our favorites. You get a cheaper price and better battery life with the 1080p option, but if you’re after that 4K experience, the XPS 15 is one of the best.
This version suffers from poor webcam placement in the base of the display bezels, but the upcoming 2019 update has resolved the problem. It has solid performance thanks to powerful Intel Core i7 and i9 CPUs, up to 32GB of memory, and an Nvidia GTX 1050 Ti graphics chip for decent entry-level gaming capabilities. Meanwhile, the 2019 update will feature the option for an OLED 4K screen, as well as the 9th-gen Core i9 and a GTX 1650 graphics card.
While not quite as sleek as some of the newer XPS laptop refreshes, this XPS 15 model is still fantastic to look at and use and is one of our favorite 4K laptops available.
Read our full Dell XPS 15 review
HP Spectre x360 15
Why you should buy this: It’s an awesomely powerful 2-in-1 with great visuals in both laptop and tablet mode.
Who’s it for: Those who want the best 4K screen clarity in a convertible laptop.
What we thought of the HP Spectre x360 15:
Laptops that can convert into tablets, 2-in-1s, as they’re often called, typically miss out on being great laptops by virtue of trying to be a jack of all trades. Not so with the HP Spectre x360 15, which packs some seriously powerful hardware into a relatively lightweight chassis for an awesome notebook with some tablet capabilities too.
The six-core Intel Core i7-8750H CPU in our test model paired perfectly with the onboard Nvidia GTX 1050 Ti to deliver decent gaming performance — even at 4K resolution — while overall system power and the fast solid-state storage kept everything feeling snappy and responsive. It even looks great on the outside, with a unique blue color-scheme accented with gold that steers clear of the gaudy label, but certainly stands out from the pack of black and silver alternatives.
The display itself looks gorgeous and though it falls behind some of the competition in terms of contrast, its wide color gamut support is top-tier and its color accuracy is only beaten by the XPS 15. Like the XPS 15, the 2019 update even includes an option for a 4K OLED screen, though it’s limited to 8th-gen processors and an Nvidia MX150 graphics card.
It’s a little heavier than we’d like for tablet use, but that minor gripe aside, the HP Spectre x360 15 is a fantastic 4K laptop well suited to just about anyone.
Read our full HP Spectre x360 15 review
Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Extreme
Why you should buy this: ThinkPads are amazing work machines, and the X1 Extreme is no different — now with a great 4K screen.
Who’s it for: Anyone who wants to maximize screen real estate for work and play.
What we thought of the ThinkPad X1 Extreme:
If style is the least of your concerns or you want 4K laptop power in a system that doesn’t scream “look at me,” then the ThinkPad X1 Extreme might be what you need. It packs capable hardware into a durable, sturdy chassis that eschews modern design meta in favor of function, with a fantastic keyboard to boot.
While the X1 Extreme retains the rigidity and sturdy feel of its predecessors, the latest version has still gone on a diet, featuring sleeker lines and body than the ThinkPads that came before. Those trimmer bezels help contain the high-contrast 4K panel that hits a ratio of 1,110:1 in our testing — that’s better than most other top laptops we’ve tested. Its color support and accuracy are among the best too, making this one of the better looking 4K laptops out there.
It falls behind a bit on battery life, managing less than six hours in our video loop test, but this machine is more designed for work than play. It can play though, thanks to its powerful array of six-core Intel eighth-generation CPUs and an optional Nvidia GTX 1050 Ti, making it more than capable of playing Esports games at decent frame rates. Even at 4K.
Read our full Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Extreme review
Asus ZenBook Pro 15
Why you should buy this: It’s a worthy competitor for the XPS 15 and has a fancy Screenpad to boot.
Who’s it for: Those who want power and enjoy innovative features.
What we thought of the Asus ZenBook Pro 15:
The only laptop on this list to technically come with two displays, the ZenBook Pro 15 is a unique offering that has some quirks and drawbacks that are all its own.
While mostly built like most other ZenBooks we’ve ever tested, this one turns things on its head with the introduction of the ScreenPad, an LCD touch panel instead of a typical touchpad. The buttons aren’t great, but we enjoyed the touchpad function with its support for Windows 10 gestures, and the ability to use it for dedicated apps like calculators and music players. It’s certainly more useful than Apple’s Touch Bar.
The 4K screen in this laptop isn’t the best, with so-so contrast ratio and somewhat disappointing color accuracy, but at 335 nits it’s reasonably bright, and we found it good enough for productivity work and looking at photos. There’s always the new OLED option though, if you want a better looking panel for a bumped cost.
Where it falls down in visuals, though, the ZenBook 15 makes up for it in raw performance. Our review system with the powerful Intel Core i9-8950HK dominated the competition in all productivity benchmarks and its gaming power wasn’t bad either, delivering playable frame rates at 1080p in Rocket League, Battlefield 1, and Civilization VI.
Read our full Asus ZenBook Pro 15 review
Why you should buy this: The Blade is an amazing gaming laptop and 4K really makes the visuals pop.
Who’s it for: Gamers and anyone who likes a flashier laptop.
What we thought of the Razer Blade:
Razer makes a few different gaming laptops, some larger and more capable than others, but our favorite is still the standard Blade for its mix of features, affordability, and great gaming power. The 4K options are the most power hungry of the lot, so Razer demands not only a higher price, but mandates a more powerful graphics chip too. The weakest you can opt for is the Nvidia RTX 2070 Max-Q, though the 2080 Max-Q will give better frame rates and opens up the option for a 4K OLED panel which is absolutely gorgeous.
Whether you opt for LED or OLED though, the Razer Blade is an awesome gaming machine with all the hardware you could need, a great aesthetic, solid build quality, and even decent battery life if you don’t push it too hard. We managed more than six hours in our 1080p video loop test. Don’t expect as long if you’re watching UHD movies, but that’s still rather impressive for such a powerfully specced machine.
The Razer Blade isn’t cheap, but it’s the only 4K laptop on this list that can game like a real gaming laptop and still offer all the functionality of a work machine if you need it for something more productive in between gaming sessions.
Read our full Razer Blade review
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