Sure, your laptop's screen is easy to read when you're working at night, but how does it handle the scourge of natural light? To make sure that your favorite YouTube videos don't look like drek on a dim screen, and that you can edit your documents in broad daylight, we performed thorough testing to see just how bright a laptop screen can get.
Specifically, we used a light meter to measure the maximum brightness (in nits) from the four corners and center of each laptop screen. We then took the average of those five scores to find a laptop's brightness score.
While ruggedized laptops (which are made for service workers such as police or firefighters) are rated for up to 1,000 nits, we hope to see brightness scores of at least 400 nits on consumer systems. On occasion, we've seen screen scores in the 500's. And, on this list of brightest laptops, we've even got a 626-nit notebook, the Dell XPS 15.
Here are the brightest laptops we've tested in the last 2 years.
Best Laptop Brightness
- Dell XPS 15 (626 nits)
- Gigabyte Aero 17 HDR (575 nits)
- Dell Latitude 5290 2-in-1 (542 nits)
- Dell XPS 13 2-in-1 (516 nits)
- HP Envy x2 (486 nits)
- HP Spectre x360, 15-inch, OLED (483 nits)
- Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Yoga (477 nits)
- Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon (469 nits)
- Huawei MateBook X Pro (458 nits)
- MacBook Pro 13-inch (441 nits)
Just skimming through our brightest laptops list, you'll see that Dell's got a solid track record, with three of the four top entries — all above 500 nits. Of course, the XPS 13, XPS 15 and Latitude 5290 2-in-1 models set the bar a lot higher than Dell's Inspiron models do, so don't expect all Dells to outshine the competition.
Slots 3 through 7 in this list of super-bright laptops are all 2-in-1 notebooks, such as the Long-Term Evolution (LTE)-capable HP Envy x2 and Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Yoga. Their ranking makes a lot of sense, as you can make a better case for a convertible (which can cost more) when you can use it in tablet mode as you walk around not worrying about how much sun is drenching your room, or any light sources around you.
Those looking for an Apple (or Apple-esque) laptop don't need to settle for a dim display, as the 13-inch MacBook Pro and the MateBook X Pro fill out the bottom of our top 10. Of course, we're hoping that the rumored 16-inch MacBook Pro pumps a lot of nits out of its larger screen.
1. Dell XPS 15 (626 nits)
If you're used to dim laptops, you might need to look into a pair of sunglasses before you trip the light fantastic on the amazingly bright 626-nit organic light-emitting diode (OLED) panel version of the Dell XPS 15. It's the sweetest cherry on top of an amazing system, which packs an overclockable Intel Core i9 processor and an Nvidia GTX 1650 GPU. Oh, and don't worry about the XPS' nosecam problem – it's fixed.
Read our full Dell XPS 15 review
2. Gigabyte Aero 17 HDR (575 nits)
The 575-nit Gigabyte Aero 17 HDR is a sleek, aluminum beast of a gaming laptop, and its brilliantly bright 4K HDR screen won't blink if you open the shade behind your game station. Its gaming performance may not hit the high marks we wanted, but its comfortable keyboard and capable overall performance make it a well-rounded laptop. And at less than an inch thick and less than 6 pounds, it's aerodynamic enough to be portable.
Read our Gigabyte Aero 17 HDR review
3. Dell Latitude 5290 2-in-1 (542 nits)
Detachable 2-in-1s like the Latitude 5290 deserve to go anywhere and do anything, and this tablet's 542-nit screen practically guarantees it. The panel also produces 125% of the sRGB color gamut, so all of your Netflix binges will come through in vivid hues. Dell's Surface Pro competitor also features an automatically deploying kickstand, long battery life and a robust set of security features.
Read our Dell Latitude 5290 2-in-1 review
4. Dell XPS 13 2-in-1 (516 nits)
The 516-nit score from the Dell XPS 13 2-in-1 may not place it at the very top of this list, but it's still bright enough to annihilate your average laptop's output. Other perks of this convertible include nearly 11 hours of battery life, an elegant platinum silver-white design and an ultra-wide 16:10 aspect ratio. A speedy 10th Gen Intel Core i7 processor ties it all together for an excellent package.
Read our Dell XPS 13 2-in-1 review
5. HP Envy x2 (486 nits)
The Qualcomm Snapdragon 835-powered HP Envy x2's bright 486-nit panel isn't the only reason that you'll want to take this laptop everywhere. The detachable's LTE connectivity means you're beholden to no Wi-Fi boundaries, and its 15-plus hours of battery life make it a perfect compatriot for your next road trip. The Envy's strong (Bang & Olufsen-branded) audio completes the cycle.
Read our HP Envy x2 review
6. HP Spectre x360, 15-inch, OLED (483 nits)
The dark-ash silver (think copper and gunmetal gray) is a beautiful laptop, and its 15-inch OLED screen only sweetens the pot. Strong overall performance (U-series quad-core and H-series hexa-core options) and a comfortable keyboard mean that its beauty is not shell-deep, either. Don't make the mistake of looking past the Spectre x360's unique, 45-degree back corners, as a Thunderbolt 3 port is tucked away on the far right corner.
7. Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Yoga (477 nits)
The ThinkPad X1 Yoga is a durable convertible that packs a 477-nit 2K panel into its 0.7-inch thick design. A privacy shutter and fingerprint reader round-out its security features, while its fast 8th-gen Intel Core i7 CPU helps you get the job(s) done. This 2-in-1 also surprises with its array of input/output options: 2 Thunderbolt 3 ports, 2 USB 3.0 ports and a mini-Ethernet jack.
Read our Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Yoga review
8. Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon (469 nits)
The 6th Generation ThinkPad X1 Carbon is one of the best business laptops we've ever seen. Its slim, 0.6-inch carbon-fiber chassis protects its 469-nit HDR screen that produces a whopping 199% of the sRGB color gamut. The Thinkpad's excellent keyboard, one of the best we've ever tested, makes typing long projects a breeze, while its pointing stick is a bit of retro brilliance.
Read our Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon review
9. Huawei MateBook X Pro (458 nits)
The original MateBook X Pro — not the model that's been delayed and hasn't hit the U.S. yet — is one bright laptop, with a 458-nit, 3000 x 2000-pixel display that is nearly all-screen. This achievement happened thanks to Huawei burying its webcam in a fake key in the deck. And with nearly 10 hours of battery life, you also get solid endurance.
Read our Huawei MateBook X Pro review
10. MacBook Pro 13-inch (441 nits)
Don't despair, Apple users – you're not completely shut out of this top 10 list. We saw a maximum brightness of 441 nits when testing the 13-inch panel in this fast, long-lasting MacBook Pro. While its butterfly-style key switches are a bit controversial, its strong speakers and tried-and-true design are indisputably great.
Read our MacBook Pro 13-inch review