The 6 best laptops for watching movies in 2024

The Dell XPS 13, open on a table in front of a window.
Digital Trends

Buying the best laptop for watching movies is a slightly different process than simply picking your budget and snapping up a device from one of the best laptop brands. Watching movies doesn’t tend to strain your hardware in the conventional sense given most of us are streaming content which takes off the pressure. However, you do still need a great screen to enjoy what’s being shown. That means a large screen for your needs but it also means a high refresh rate to cut back on motion blur issues, a high resolution such as a QHD or 4K screen, along with an OLED panel to provide you with gorgeous picture quality. That’s a lot of expectations from one laptop and your budget may not stretch to all of those features. That’s where we come in.

Below, we’ve picked out all the best laptops for watching movies, bearing in mind different budgets, requirements, and whether you need your laptop to be great at other things too. Not everyone wants to use a huge 18-inch laptop for watching movies but also, not everyone wants to be restricted to a 13-inch panel either. We get that and we’ve picked out a wide breadth of the best laptops for watching movies so there’s something for every need here. Have a think about what your budget is then take a look below at what we’ve highlighted. Whichever one you go for, you’ll be delighted as we’ve only picked the very best.

The best laptops for watching movies in 2024

  • Buy the new

    if you want a great 4K screen

  • Buy the new

    if you want a lightweight laptop with a great screen.

  • Buy the

    if you want a good screen on a tight budget.

  • Buy the

    if you want a huge viewing screen.

  • Buy the

    if you want the optimal Apple TV experience.

  • Buy the

    if you want a highly flexible display.

New Dell XPS 16

Best 4K screen laptop

Dell XPS 16 sitting on desktop with flowers.
Dell
Pros Cons
Cool media bar Expensive
Fantastic screen No dedicated GPU

The latest laptop from Dell, the Dell XPS 16 builds upon the success of previous XPS models and is quite the powerhouse for more than just watching movies. For movies, it’s near flawless thanks to it having a 16.3-inch OLED UHD+ screen with a 3840 x 2400 resolution. If you’ve been reading up on OLED technology, you’ll know why we rave about it so much for watching movies. Such panels have self-lit pixels meaning they all work independently of each other to provide you with the best image. That means you can have incredibly deep blacks on one part of the scene while still enjoying vibrant colors on a different part of the same image. The Dell XPS 16 also uses an anti-reflective screen so it won’t be an issue to watch a movie on a train or somewhere else where the lighting conditions can change frequently. The screen offers up to 120Hz variable refresh rate so there’s no need to worry about motion blur issues, while there’s Dolby Vision support to further enhance the picture quality.

The Dell XPS 16 is crafted with machined (CNC) aluminum and Gorilla Glass 3 so it’s strong yet lightweight meaning it’s perfect for taking around with you to keep up with your viewing. It also has a row of touch function buttons so you can easily control your media from the keyboard rather than needing to use the touchpad. Promising up to 12 hours of streaming, the laptop will last you for the longest of journeys before you need to find a power source.

Appreciating that great visuals aren’t the only thing you need, the Dell XPS 16 also offers Dolby Atmos sound with the 10W quad speakers providing 360-degree spatial sound to ensure a more immersive experience. Tuned by multi-Grammy Award-winning producer, Jack Joseph Puig, you get louder sound and deeper bass to enjoy your movies or TV shows.

Specifications
CPU/RAM Intel Core Ultra 7/16GB
GPU Intel Arc
Storage 512GB SSD
Display 16.3-inch OLED UHD+ 3840 x 2400

New Dell XPS 13

Best lightweight laptop

The Dell XPS 13 in front of a window.
Luke Larsen / Digital Trends
Pros Cons
Highly portable Relatively small screen
Media buttons QHD rather than 4K

For a highly portable option, check out the Dell XPS 13. It’s incredibly lightweight and portable thanks to offering ‘only’ a 13-inch screen. Said screen is a 13.4-inch QHD+ screen with a 2560 x 1600 resolution so it still looks great. It might not be the largest display but with such a sharp resolution, it’s perfect for solo viewing in style. The screen has a refresh rate of 120Hz so it can handle fast-moving action while there are anti-reflective properties and 500 nits of brightness so you won’t have to worry about relying on optimal lighting conditions to enjoy the show. The laptop weighs just 2.6 pounds thanks to being crafted with lightweight machined (CNC) aluminum so you can easily pick it up and take it around with you.

Like the new Dell XPS 16, the new Dell XPS 13 has a set of media keys on the keyboard so you can quickly adjust the volume and perform other media-related tasks without needing to rely on the touchpad. There’s up to 13 hours of viewing between charges so it should handle the largest of viewing sessions without an issue. The screen also has Dolby Vision support for extra vibrant colors and there’s Eyesore technology for cutting down on blue light emissions without affecting picture quality. The sound quality is enhanced by 360-degree spatial sound with Dolby Atmos and Waves MaxxAudio to provide you with a great listening experience.

As a laptop, the Dell XPS 13 is also a good workhorse that will keep you happy throughout the working day. Neat details like a backlit keyboard with a fingerprint reader and a haptic touchpad all add to the classiness. It’s a delightful laptop to use in every way but we truly appreciate the screen quality for catching up on great movies.

Specifications
CPU/RAM Intel Core Ultra 7/16GB
GPU Intel Arc
Storage 512GB SSD
Display 13.4-inch QHD+ 2560 x 1600

Dell XPS 13

Best budget laptop

The Dell XPS 13, open on a table in front of a window.
Digital Trends
Pros Cons
Very well priced Not the best screen
Highly portable Uses older hardware

The Dell XPS 13 has recently been replaced with a newer model but we’re still fans of this older revision, especially while it’s much more affordable than ever before. It makes it a prime candidate for anyone who wants a great laptop for watching movies but who also doesn’t want to spend too much. That’s thanks to its exceptional 13.4-inch full HD+ screen with 1920 x 1200. While it might not be as vibrant as an OLED panel or as crisp as a QHD or 4K resolution screen, it still looks great. It has anti-glare properties while there’s 500 nits of brightness so it can handle variable lighting conditions.

Thanks to the slightly older but still more than competent screen, the Dell XPS 13 easily maintains a 12-hour battery life when streaming via the Netflix app. That’s quite remarkable on a laptop in this price range and a huge selling point. It also has larger-than-average internal speakers which means deeper bass and louder audio. The laptop is made with machined (CNC) aluminum so it’s lightweight yet feels robust, so it’s the perfect laptop for watching movies on your commute.

In terms of hardware, it’s a couple of steps behind the competition with a 12th-generation Intel Core i5 processor and only 8GB of memory and 256GB of SSD storage. Still, for watching movies, the screen is what counts and that looks pretty great. A backlit keyboard looks good too while the overall laptop is a good bet for some simple work on the move.

Specifications
CPU/RAM 12th generation Intel Core i5/8GB
GPU Intel Iris Xe
Storage 256GB SSD
Display 13.4-inch full HD+ 1920 x 1200

Alienware m18 gaming laptop

Best huge screen for watching movies

The Alienware m18 gaming laptop.
Alienware
Pros Cons
Huge QHD+ screen Bulky build
Good for gaming as well as movies No dedicated media features

Many of the best gaming laptops have exceptional screens that lend themselves to watching movies as well as gaming. That’s certainly the case with the Alienware m18 gaming laptop. It has a huge 18-inch QHD+ screen which offers a 2560 x 1600 resolution along with a 165Hz refresh rate. It’s the latest laptop screen around which means it won’t be the most portable but it’s ideal as a desktop replacement. In the past, monitors weren’t this large so it’s perfect for solo viewing as well as sharing the screen with someone sitting nearby. It offers 100% DCI-P3 color while there’s Dolby Vision support to help ensure whatever you’re watching looks great here.

Elsewhere, the Alienware m18 gaming laptop is a pretty competent laptop for players. Its AMD Ryzen 7 series processor, 16GB of memory and GeForce RTX 4060 all ensure you can easily play the latest games in between your movie-watching sessions. It also looks pretty cool with AlienFX lighting zones which can be programmed with up to 16.8 million distinct colors. It’s likely you’ll disable this while watching a movie but such lighting effects can add to the immersive experience of watching a film while staying cosy at home. At all times, Alienware Cryo-tech technology ensures that your laptop stays cool no matter how demanding things get.

There’s also Dolby Atmos support from the stereo speakers so there’s more immersive sound as you watch, with many of the major streaming services supporting the technology. Given the size of the Alienware m18 gaming laptop, it’ll be excessive for some people but if you want a strong desktop replacement, this is it.

Specifications
CPU/RAM AMD Ryzen 7 7745HX/16GB
GPU Nvidia GeForce RTX 4060
Storage 1TB SSD
Display 18-inch QHD+ 2560 x 1600

Apple MacBook Air M3

Best for Apple TV

The M3 MacBook Air in front of a window.
Luke Larsen / Digital Trends
Pros Cons
Apple TV fully integrated macOS won’t suit everyone
Very sleek and lightweight

Apple TV+ is somewhat confusingly named as there’s also the Apple TV streaming device, but if you sign up for it, you’ll soon forgive its strange naming conventions. Apple TV+ is the home of many award-winning and Oscar-nominated movies made through Apple Studios. While you can access the service through your browser on a Windows laptop, using a MacBook makes it much simpler. That means the Apple MacBook Air with M3 chip is a great entry point to your Apple TV+ journey. If you’re a big fan of what Apple TV+ has to offer, you’ll appreciate how streamlined it makes the process.

Pretty much all the latest MacBooks have great screens. With this model, you get a 13.6-inch Liquid Retina display with True Tone. For everyone else, that means it has a higher pixel density than regular LCD screens which gives the display a paper-like effect with much improved brightness and color over other LCD screens. It also has high brightness of up to 500 nits. Adding to the potential is True Tone. The technology means that the color and brightness of your screen match the ambient light around you so you always get an optimal experience. It means the MacBook Air with M3 will look great in your living room as well as your bedroom or on the train. There’s also P3 wide color which gives you a more accurate and vivid range of colors while watching a movie.

The laptop is small enough to fit in your bag while being light enough to take anywhere you need to. Up to 18 hours of battery life will save you from needing to grab the charger all the time as well. Great audio is available here too with support for Spatial Audio and Dolby Atmos, so there’s immersive sound at all times.

Specifications
CPU/RAM 8-core CPU m3/8GB
GPU 8-core GPU
Storage 256GB SSD
Display 13.6-inch Liquid Retina display with True Tone

HP Spectre x360

Best flexible display for watching movies

HP Spectre x360 16 2024 front view showing media mode.
Mark Coppock / Digital Trends
Pros Cons
2-in-1 display is useful Relatively small screen
Sleek design

The latest HP Spectre x360 uses the similarly new Intel Core Ultra 5 125H processor so it’s pretty speedy, while including 16GB of memory and 512GB of SSD storage. So far, so standard. However, the highlight here is its gorgeous screen which is designed to be as flexible as possible. It has a 14-inch 2.8K OLED screen with 2880 x 1800. Self-lit pixels are always a delight as it means you can enjoy deep blacks and vibrant colors all at once for a truly beautiful image. There’s more to it than that though as the screen uses edge-to-edge glass so there are no bezels to be distracted by. HDR 400 support means even better colors while there’s up to 120Hz variable refresh rate so motion blur won’t be a problem. Anti-reflective properties further help matters so this is a laptop that can be used in many different scenarios.

Teamed up with the great screen are some well-placed speakers. There are top-firing tweeters on either side along with two front-firing woofers so that audio always sounds clear and immersive. DTS:X Ultra is included here with the quad speakers tuned by Poly Studio and additionally offering HP Audio Boost.

As a 2-in-1 laptop, you can move the HP Spectre x360 into different configurations with the best one being presentation mode so that the laptop can be placed at a great angle for watching a movie. It’s a huge advantage for movie lovers so you don’t feel like you have to awkwardly place the laptop for an extended period of time.

Specifications
CPU/RAM Intel Core Ultra 5/16GB
GPU Intel Arc
Storage 512GB SSD
Display 14-inch 2.8K 2880 x 1880 OLED

How we chose these laptops for watching movies

Buying a laptop is a big investment. Even the cheapest laptop featured here is still $599 so it’s important to buy the right one for you. We considered which laptops were best for watching movies based on several criteria. Crucially, these are all criteria that we’d think about before buying a laptop for ourselves as we know how important good technology is for wellbeing.

For watching movies, arguably the most important thing to consider is the screen quality. Not all laptop screens are alike. We’ve featured a full HD screen as one of our picks but a QHD or 4K screen is better if you can afford it. Effectively, the more pixels on the screen, the better the image looks. 4K is the dream here but it does cost a fair bit. Also, you need to consider the type of panel used. Most laptops use a typical LCD panel but some use an OLED panel. OLED means that each pixel on the screen lights up independently of the others so you can have one small section of the deepest blacks right next to some incredibly vibrant colors. Combined with a 4K display the results are as good as some of the best TVs around.

It’s also worth looking for additional display features like a high refresh rate. The refresh rate dictates how quickly the picture refreshes on screen which is crucial for eliminating motion blur when watching something that is moving fast. That goes for action movies but also sports and games. Features like support for Dolby Vision or additional color potential all add up too. A bigger screen is great too but it’s not vital if you plan on watching solo while close to the laptop anyhow. A better quality one is typically more important. Besides screen quality, check out the audio side of the laptop. Dolby Atmos is a must-have with more premium laptops but also spatial audio is great for immersive sound. The more speakers the better too.

Once you’ve covered those essentials, we come to the neat bonuses. Some laptops like the Dell XPS 16 has a media bar so you can easily adjust volume and other settings without needing to do anything more than tap a button or two. It’s not vital but for avid movie watching it’s pretty useful. Also, a 2-in-1 laptop is great for adjusting the laptop so that it’s positioned just how you need it. Again, not vital but it saves some awkwardness if you can never get the right angle.

Strong battery life is also frequently useful if you’re watching a lot of movies. Look for at least 12 hours to save you from needing to grab the charger too often.

Finally, you’re buying a laptop so you want it to work well as a laptop as well as for watching movies. Check the specs and aim for something that will help you achieve your goals when you’re not relaxing and watching a movie or TV show. It’s good to have a laptop that can serve many purposes and, generally, one with a good screen for movies will also be pretty powerful elsewhere.

This article is managed and created separately from the Digital Trends Editorial team.

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