Best 4K laptop buyer’s guide

Helping you find the best 4K laptop for your needs, be it gaming, editing, graphic design, or general browsing

Best 4K Laptop

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This guide will help you find the best 4K laptop in 2022 for your needs. We’ve picked the absolute cream of the crop across a range of different categories, including the best 4K gaming laptop, 4K laptops for workstation and creative workflows, 2-in-1 4K laptops and others for more general usage. The prices of these machines range from the absolute high-end premium models all the way down to the most budget-friendly options available, though be advised even the cheapest 4K laptops usually aren’t that cheap in general terms.

Should I buy a 4K laptop?

There’s no doubt that the displays of 4K laptops are unmatched in terms of crispness of picture, but the honest truth is for most people a 4K screen on anything smaller than a 17-inch screen is fairly pointless. Even then, you’d probably be better off going for a 1440p laptop on a 17-inch display. There are exceptions to this however.

Gaming at 4K resolution is possible on powerful machines, but the lower FPS you’ll get even on the most highly specced laptop, or even desktop computer, means that you’ll normally have a much better experience on lower resolutions. Assuming there’s another reason why you need a 4K screen though, you can always just turn the resolution down in-game on a 4K screen. There is therefore utility in buying a 4K gaming laptop, as long as you’re going to use it for something else as well.

Creative workflows are the main reason to buy a laptop with a 4K display. If you’re a video editor working with 4K footage, it can help to be able to view said footage at its native resolution. Similarly, if you do multimedia work, graphic design, illustration, or 3D modeling, the higher resolution can help you see the detail you need on what you’re working on.

Our Top Picks

01
Gaming laptop pick
The best 4K gaming laptop which also comes with major workstation rendering power
02
Creator’s pick
The best 4K laptop for content creators on the move
03
2-in-1 pick
The best 2-in-1 4K laptop with programmable stylus and unbeatable AMOLED touchscreen

Best 4K laptops: first look

01
Gaming laptop pick
The best 4K gaming laptop which also comes with major workstation rendering power
ASUS Zephyrus S17 1 1

ASUS Zephyrus S17 (4K, 120Hz, RTX 3080)

0 /5
Editor's Rating

This ASUS Zephyrus S17 is a very high-end 4K gaming laptop, with powerful core components and a refresh rate of 120Hz, along with a great response time, meaning you can game at a high enough effective FPS to play fast-paced online shooters, whilst also enjoying the benefits of a 4K display. The 17-inch display helps to maximize your immersion in game, and also enjoy the benefits of such a high resolution display. Although this machine doesn’t quite have the color replication for color-based workflows, it definitely has the power for video rendering and other workstation software.

02
Creator’s pick
The best 4K laptop for content creators on the move
Gigabyte Aero 17 YD

Gigabyte Aero 17 YD (HDR, 60Hz, RTX 3080)

0 /5
Editor's Rating

The Gigabyte Aero 17 YD doesn’t quite match the power of the ASUS Zephyrus S17 in terms of rendering speed (though it’s still a strong performer), but it has the edge in terms of its HDR display, which cover 99% of the sRGB and 97% Adobe RGB color space, and has around 89% DCI-P3 coverage. If you don’t mind the 60Hz cap in games, then this is a superb thin and portable workstation machine.

03
2-in-1 pick
The best 2-in-1 4K laptop with programmable stylus and unbeatable AMOLED touchscreen
HP Spectre x360

HP Spectre x360 (15-inch, AMOLED)

0 /5
Editor's Rating

The HP Spectre x360 has a 2-in-1 design, meaning you can convert it between the standard laptop form factor and folding it back on itself into a tablet style device, along with touch screen and included stylus/pen. The AMOLED display that this laptop comes with has absolutely superb color replication, contrast and brightness, beyond what you’d get in a regular panel. This is a great multi-purpose device for visual artists and other creatives on the move.

04
13” pick
The best 13-inch 4K laptop for working on the move
Dell XPS 13

Dell XPS 13 (13-inch, OLED)

0 /5
Editor's Rating

Dell claims that the XPS 13 is the world’s smallest 13” laptop. Whether this is true is up for debate, but this ultra portable machine is definitely a contender. It may not be the lightest, but it’s amazingly thin, elegant, and yet feels sturdy and well made. Whether a 4K laptop for this size is worth it is questionable (though HD options are also available), but if you’ve got your heart set on a 13” 4K laptop, for general use and light creative workflows, then this is likely the pick for you.

The best 4K laptop in 2022

01
Gaming laptop pick
ASUS Zephyrus S17 1 1

ASUS Zephyrus S17 (4K, 120Hz, RTX 3080)

CPU

Intel Core i9 11900H

Graphics

Nvidia GeForce RTX 3080 (100-140W)

RAM

32GB

Storage

1TB SSD

Screen Size

17.3”

Max Refresh Rate

120Hz

02
Creator’s pick
Gigabyte Aero 17 YD

Gigabyte Aero 17 YD (HDR, 60Hz, RTX 3080)

CPU

Intel Core i9-11980HK

Graphics

Nvidia RTX 3080 (100-140W)

RAM

32GB

Storage

512GB SSD + 1TB SSD

Screen Size

17.3”

Max Refresh Rate

60Hz

03
2-in-1 pick
HP Spectre x360

HP Spectre x360 (15-inch, AMOLED)

CPU

Intel Core i7-8565U / i7-10750H

Graphics

Nvidia GeForce MX150 GPU / GTX 1650 Ti

RAM

16GB or higher

Storage

1TB SSD

Screen Size

15.6”

Max Refresh Rate

60Hz

04
13” pick
Dell XPS 13

Dell XPS 13 (13-inch, OLED)

CPU

Intel Core i7-1185G7

Graphics

Intel Iris Xe

RAM

16GB or higher

Storage

512GB SSD or higher

Screen Size

13.4”

Max Refresh Rate

60Hz

In-depth Review

01
Gaming laptop pick
ASUS Zephyrus S17 1 1

ASUS Zephyrus S17 (4K, 120Hz, RTX 3080)

CPU

Intel Core i9 11900H

Graphics

Nvidia GeForce RTX 3080 (100-140W)

RAM

32GB

Storage

1TB SSD

Screen Size

17.3”

Max Refresh Rate

120Hz

Pros

great FPS performance in games

superb content rendering performance

excellent response time

good peak brightness & contrast

nice optomechanical keyboard & trackpad

raised keyboard improves coolin

slimline and portable for such a powerful laptop

good software with detailed fan controls

Cons

expensive

No MUX switch

color gamut not sufficient for sRGB color work

No G-Sync or FreeSync

webcam and microphone could be better

The ASUS Zephyrus S17 is a very powerful 4K laptop that is perfect for both gamers and video editors, thanks to its high TGP 100-140W Nvidia RTX 3080 (16GB VRAM) graphics card and Intel Core i9-11900K CPU, which make short work of any game or rendering workflow. You will certainly struggle to find a gaming laptop of any kind with better FPS performance than this beast. The main disappointment is a lack of MUX switch with which to turn off Optimus and improve performance even further, but this can still be accomplished by connecting to an external monitor.

The raisable keyboard design of the Zephyrus S17 is supposed to both improve the typing angle for your hands (which takes a bit of getting used to but is effective) and also allows greater airflow to improve cooling and reduce thermal throttling on the performance of the core components. This latter feature is apparently reasonably effective, and it’s good to see increasing ingenuity in laptop design. The standard of both the optomechanical keyboard and the trackpad is also good.

The 120Hz refresh rate is more than enough for the majority of gamers, particularly when playing single-player titles, and even for competitive fast-paced online gaming it will do the job. This is helped even further by the near 5ms grey-to-grey response time (at least when overdrive is enabled as standard), which is quick enough that there won’t be any ghosting at all at this refresh rate, and is pretty excellent considering higher resolution displays tend to be a lot slower in this area. Unfortunately though, neither FreeSync nor G-Sync are supported.

Color replication on the display is respectable but slightly disappointing for a 4K screen. At 95% sRGB coverage it’s not quite suitable for any color accurate work, but is definitely above what you’d need for gaming on. The peak brightness of the Zephyrus S17 is however quite impressive, and the contrast is decent too.

Considering the size of this gaming laptop, and the power of its core components, it is remarkably slim and lightweight: coming in at around 6.21lb / 2.82kg, though this is without the typically hefty power brick. Battery life is respectable if not amazing at around 5 hours of non-gaming usage. The onboard software is good, giving nice granular control of fan speed. The webcam and mic aren’t of the best quality, though not the worst we’ve seen either.

Ultimately the biggest reason you might not want to buy this laptop is the cost, though if you can afford it, this is both the best 4K gaming laptop money can buy AND a very powerful rendering machine.

02
Creator’s pick
Gigabyte Aero 17 YD

Gigabyte Aero 17 YD (HDR, 60Hz, RTX 3080)

CPU

Intel Core i9-11980HK

Graphics

Nvidia RTX 3080 (100-140W)

RAM

32GB

Storage

512GB SSD + 1TB SSD

Screen Size

17.3”

Max Refresh Rate

60Hz

Pros

great content rendering performance

great FPS performance in games

top-notch color replication

great brightness & contrast

15.6” OLED version also available

thin and portable despite large display

Cons

60Hz caps at 60fps for gaming

poor speakers

poor webcam & annoying placement

only one USB-C port

The Gigabyte Aero 17 YD comes with another high TGP (100-140W) RTX 3080 graphics card and a powerful Intel Core i9-11980HK processor, which both make mincemeat of any rendering workflow or 3D modeling exercise. Although with a maximum refresh rate of 60Hz you won’t be able to enjoy games at a frame rate larger than 60fps, if you don’t mind this cap, the Gigabyte Aero 17 YD also still produces strong in-game performance as you’d expect with these core components.

Even with all this power, the 17-inch HDR display on this premium machine is still the highlight. sRGB coverage and AdobeRGB coverage are around 99% and 96% respectively, which is sufficient for any color-accurate work in these two spaces. The 89% DCI-P3 gamut coverage is also good, if not quite up there for accurate professional work in this space. Peak brightness and contrast ratio are also both great as you’d expect from an HDR screen.

These stats can all be pushed further with the OLED version of the Gigabyte Aero, though this limits you to a 15.6” screen size. On balance we prefer the additional screen space when editing, compared to the extra lush colors of the OLED display, but if you find 17-inch gaming laptops too big for your needs, then the Gigabyte Aero 15 OLED version may be more your cup of tea. That being said, the Gigabyte Aero 17 YD is actually pretty thin and portable, considering its dimensions, and particularly considering the amount of power it has under the bonnet.

In terms of the other features, the biggest disappointment for the Gigabyte Aero 17 YD is probably the speakers, which are poor – slightly below average of even gaming laptop standards – and this is not ideal for content creators, even if most of the time you’d be using headphones anyway to listen to audio. The webcam is similarly poor for a creator’s laptop, about average for a gaming one, and is annoyingly placed on the body of the laptop for an under-chin angle. The internal mic also leaves something to be desired. Although generally the ports and sockets of this machine are pretty good, we would have liked to have seen an additional USB-C port added.

All-in-all though, this is a top-notch 4K laptop for creative workflows.

03
2-in-1 pick
HP Spectre x360

HP Spectre x360 (15-inch, AMOLED)

CPU

Intel Core i7-8565U / i7-10750H

Graphics

Nvidia GeForce MX150 GPU / GTX 1650 Ti

RAM

16GB or higher

Storage

1TB SSD

Screen Size

15.6”

Max Refresh Rate

60Hz

Pros

AMOLED display has unbeatable colors, contrast, and brightness

looks great

nice membrane keyboard

comes with programmable stylus pen

respectable battery life considering the AMOLED display

relatively affordable for an AMOLED

Cons

only a single USB-A port

no webcam on 15” version

might be a bit large for some as a tablet

2-in-1 laptops like the HP Spectre x360 are our device of choice when it comes to those looking for touchscreen functionality, as they offer all the free form touchscreen advantages of a tablet, including the ability of artists to illustrate on them using a stylus pen, whilst retaining all the conventional functionality of a laptop.

There are different configurations of this laptop available on both the HP website and from retailers such as Best Buy, and which you go with depends on your needs. If you’re purely a graphical illustrator and won’t be interested in much processor-heavy rendering workflows, then the base Intel Core i7-8565U CPU model with Nvidia GeForce MX150 graphics card is possibly right for you. If you want a bit more oomph then we’d suggest the i7-10750H with GTX 1650 Ti instead, though this still will only be capable of fairly lightly demanding workflows.

In terms of the other specs we’d recommend going with the 1TB SSD upgrade which you can get on the HP website. The 16GB standard RAM is fine enough, but you’d be better going with the 32GB option in our opinion which can be found on some retailers, to maximise web browsing and workflow functionality.

Onto the main event: the AMOLED display of the HP Spectre x360 is quite simply the nicest display you will find on a 2-in-1 laptop in this price range, and indeed, the best of any 4K laptop on this page. As with all OLED technology, the contrast ratio and peak brightness are superb, with the inkiest of blacks and around 500 nits peak brightness. The color gamut covers 100% of the sRGB space and 97% of AdobeRGB, which is superb and definitely permits color-accurate work in these two spaces.

The HP Active Pen with two programmable buttons is included along with the laptop, and is a great addition for artists. We would have liked to have seen more than a single USB-A port given its utility for creatives, but this is a relatively minor complaint. There is no webcam, which may put some off, and ultimately a 15.6” screen tablet might be a bit too large for some, but all that aside this is a great 4K laptop for artists.

04
13” pick
Dell XPS 13

Dell XPS 13 (13-inch, OLED)

CPU

Intel Core i7-1185G7

Graphics

Intel Iris Xe

RAM

16GB or higher

Storage

512GB SSD or higher

Screen Size

13.4”

Max Refresh Rate

60Hz

Pros

superb sRGB color replication

great contrast and peak brightness

runs quiet

impressively thin

terrific build quality

nice keyboard & trackpad

fast microSD reader

Cons

speakers don’t compare to the MacBook

battery life could be better for 4K version

fairly expensive

The Dell XPS 13 is a major challenger of the Apple MacBook Air’s throne for the best high-quality ultraportable notebook laptop. This isn’t designed to be a gaming machine, but a premium general use and light workstation laptop, for office workers, writers, and creatives who don’t need a lot of rendering power in their workflows. For the model we’re reviewing here, the laptop comes with a Intel Core i7-1185G7 CPU and Intel Iris Xe graphics, both of which do the job.

The 16:10 display gives you a bit of extra headroom on what is overall a small screen. Bezels are also pleasingly thin, maximizing the screen space you do have. Contrast and brightness are both great on this machine, and you get superb color gamut in the sRGB space, specifically getting: 100% sRGB, 80% Adobe RGB and 80% DCI-P3 coverage.

Build quality on this machine is top-notch, and it’s genuinely impressive how sturdy the Dell XPS 13 feels despite being so thin. The membrane keyboard is a pleasure to type on, being both comfortable and satisfyingly clicky, and the trackpad is also pleasingly responsive and accurate. Fan noise is also kept to a minimum, making this the ideal working laptop when on public transport or a quiet study area. The microSD card reader it comes with is another welcome feature, particularly one that runs as fast and efficiently as this one. Unfortunately, probably the biggest disappointment with the XPS 13 is the speakers: these are better than your typical gaming laptop effort certainly, and can get quite loud, but they don’t match up to the great quality of the MacBook’s in terms of audio quality and bass replication.

In a similar vein, although the 1080p version of the XPS 13 has a great battery life of around 15 hours in non-strenuous usage, the 4K display option we’re looking at here today doesn’t compare as favourably, coming in closer to 7 hours. This isn’t terrible, but it’s a few hours below what we would have liked. The 1080p webcam does have InfraRed technology but is merely adequate in terms of quality, along with the internal mic.

Beside these points though, the only real downside of this 4K laptop is the price, which isn’t terrible for a 4K display compared to the other options here, but considering the small size of the machine and its relatively lightly powered CPU & GPU, might be a bit steep for some. Then again, compared to a MacBook it doesn’t seem unreasonable.

Final Word

We hope this guide has helped you make the choice as to which is the best 4K laptop for you in 2022. If you’re interested in gaming laptops specifically, regardless of resolution, do be sure to check out our best gaming laptop page, or alternatively have a look at some of our other gaming laptop guides based on different price points, under Custom Gaming PC > Gaming Laptop in the top menu bar.

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The Author Who Worked On This Article

Technology Writer
at
WePC
From halcyon days playing Sonic 2 on the Megadrive, to trying to work out how to make the ‘TOASTY!’ man appear on Mortal Kombat 3, many of Aaron’s fondest childhood memories are associated with gaming. He regrets nothing. First getting into PC gaming through exposure to text game Drug Lord 2.0 and then the original Half Life, Aaron has been a PC gamer ever since. A practical need to squeeze the most out of his machine turned into a genuine interest in the technology of PC hardware, a passion which fuels his desire to always be up to date on the latest tech news.

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