1440p High Refresh Gaming Laptops Are Here!

1440p High Refresh Gaming Laptops Are Here!
10 min read
26 November 2020

1440p high refresh screens  for laptops are finally here,   both in 15-inch and 17 inch sizes. XMG have  sent both their Neo 15 and Neo 17 gaming   laptops to me to test these panels out,  so let’s get straight into some testing   results and gaming benchmarks to find out  if these panels are worth considering.

Response time test

These are the response time  results for the 15-inch panel. 1440p High Refresh Gaming Laptops Are Here!  The key takeaway is that we’re looking at a  7.45ms average grey-to-grey response time. 1440p High Refresh Gaming Laptops Are Here!The 17-inch panel was slightly  faster at 7.09ms on average,   though results can vary a bit even  between two screens of the same model,   so it’s hard to say if the 17 inch  will always be a little ahead. 1440p High Refresh Gaming Laptops Are Here!These results aren’t too bad when we look at  how they compare against other high refresh   1080p panels. For a 165Hz panel, ideally we want  to see a response time of 6.06ms for transitions   to occur within the refresh window. We’re not too  far off this, and some transitions were faster,   but regardless I didn’t notice any  ghosting while actually playing games.

Brightness test

1440p High Refresh Gaming Laptops Are Here!The 15-inch panel was a little brighter,  but both are easily able to pass 300 nits   at 100% brightness, which I think is a  decent result for a gaming panel. Sure,   not as good as some of the 500 nit options  out there, but most gaming laptops I’ve   tested are closer to the 300 point, so  these are above average in brightness.

Contrast test

1440p High Refresh Gaming Laptops Are Here!The contrast ratio was a little better on  the 15-inch screen too, but both values are   still within the ranges that I’ve typically  seen with previous 1080p laptop screens.

Color gamut test

1440p High Refresh Gaming Laptops Are Here!I’ve measured color gamuts too, and  the 15 inch was a little better again,   granted results can vary a bit even  between panels of the same model.   These are still decent results for a gaming  laptop and fine for some content creation too.

Backlight bleed

1440p High Refresh Gaming Laptops Are Here!Backlight bleed wasn’t too bad with either  panel, but this is always going to vary between   units when it comes to backlit screens, pretty  similar to the 1080p and 4K IPS options anyway. 1440p High Refresh Gaming Laptops Are Here!

Battery life

The 1440p screen might use a little more  power and affect battery life, but without   two laptops the same with only the panel  difference it’s difficult to measure properly.

15” vs 17”

So in terms of measurements, the 15-inch  panel was slightly better in most regards,   the exception being response time, where  the 17 inch was a little faster. The   differences weren’t too big though, and  the scores coming out of both of them are   pretty similar to what we’ve had available in  1080p options, perhaps even a little better.

Gaming benchmarks

Now let’s have a look at how well games actually  run at 1440p. I’ve tested out the larger 17” model   which has an 8 core Intel i7 CPU and full powered  Nvidia RTX 2070 Super graphics, no Max-Q here.

Let’s start out with Shadow of the Tomb Raider.1440p High Refresh Gaming Laptops Are Here!  I’ve tested all setting levels with the lowest   down the bottom and highest towards the top.  I’ve got the 1440p results in the red bars,   and the 1080p results above in the purple  bars. We can see that the difference between   them is only minor at the lower setting  levels, but then at the higher presets   which are presumably more GPU bound we see  bigger gaps. We’re still able to surpass 60   FPS at 1440p with the highest setting preset,  however the 1080p result is almost 40% faster. 1440p High Refresh Gaming Laptops Are Here!Watch Dogs Legion was hitting 60 FPS with the  ultra setting preset at 1080p, which was again   about 40% faster than the 1440p result underneath.  Even the 1% low performance from 1080p was ahead   of the average FPS at 1440p, but still 1440p was  definitely more playable stepping down a setting   level or two. While neither of these resolutions  are making full use of the 165Hz refresh rate,   the fact that we can still boost the resolution  to 1440p is useful for making the image appear   sharper, which is still a benefit even in games  like this that don’t need high FPS to play well. 1440p High Refresh Gaming Laptops Are Here!I’ve tested CS:GO as an eSports title  to try and get an idea of what games   are able to fully utilize the higher refresh  rate even at 1440p, and this one certainly   delivered. Even with all settings maxed  out, the 1440p test was surpassing 200 FPS,   though the 1080p frame rate was about 37% faster,  a similar margin to the other games tested. 1440p High Refresh Gaming Laptops Are Here!Fortnite is another game that can hit high frame  rates pretty easily, and the medium setting preset   was able to push the average frame rate above  the refresh rate of the panel at 1440p. It was   still playing well even with epic settings though,  1440p looks nicer in my opinion and the frame rate   is still usable. This time the 1080p result was  around 55% higher in average frame rate though,   so more performance is lost in 1440p here  compared to the previously tested games. 1440p High Refresh Gaming Laptops Are Here!Rainbow Six Siege was similar, in  that the 1080p performance was 54%   ahead of the 1440p result with the highest  ultra setting preset. Regardless though,   at 1440p max settings we’re still at  150 FPS, so it should be possible to   get some nice use out of the combination  of higher resolution and high refresh rate. 1440p High Refresh Gaming Laptops Are Here!Control is fairly resource heavy, so it’s no  surprise that 1080p at max settings was again   around 56% faster when compared to 1440p. I  thought the game still played well at 1440p,   medium settings gets us above 60 FPS and  I don’t think this game needs a super   high frame rate to play, however we’ve  also got the option of DLSS in this one. 1440p High Refresh Gaming Laptops Are Here!With DLSS enabled, even max settings at 1440p is  now above 80 FPS and more than playable without   issue while still looking quite good. Control  is of course an example of a DLSS implementation   that works well, this will vary by game but  I think it’s a good example of a technology   that can be used to further boost frame rate at  1440p even if you have a system with lower specs.

So as we’ve just seen, it will really depend on  the specific game and how resource heavy it is   as to whether or not you can run it at 1440p.  The 2070 Super I’ve got definitely seems pretty   capable though, which you’d expect from a higher  end option. It will be interesting to see how   lower specced laptops perform at 1440p once I  get more for testing that have these screens.

These screens have almost 78% more  pixels when compared to a 1080p screen,   which does make the image look a little sharper,  but yeah you also need more horsepower to power   that in games. The higher 4K resolution does  look a bit nicer still, but you need even more   power for a good experience. Basically a  top of the line laptop, so I think 1440p   is a good middle ground, and I’m surprised it’s  taken this long for us to have them in laptops.

GPU more useful in future

In many games, at 1080p we often don’t see too  much improvement with higher graphics options,   you start seeing diminishing returns at  higher levels as the CPU is often still   very important. This should start  to shift a bit at 1440p though,   especially at higher setting levels, as  higher tier GPUs can get put to work.

Which 1440p size should you pick? PPI compared

Personally, at these sizes, I think the 17-inch  1440p screen makes more sense. With a 1080p 17-inch screen I could often notice the pixels, even  when not sitting particularly close, and that   hasn’t been the case with 1440p, and this is just  something I’ve noticed less often when using a 15-inch laptop. That could just be me though, I just  haven’t personally really noticed the pixels at   1080p in most cases, but that said even at 1440p  the image did look noticeably sharper, and either   way I think it’s great to have options. Those that  do want 1440p at 15 inches now have that choice.

Windows scaling

By default, Windows set the resolution scaling  to 150%, and I thought this looked fine,   but 125% lets me fit more on the  screen without being too small.

Pricing and availability

In terms of pricing, XMG have advised that the  1440p panels will be the same price as the 1080p   240Hz options, so it’s good that we’re not seeing  a massive price hike. In terms of availability,   the 17” panel should be some time around  January next year, while the 15 inch is   supposed to be late November, so very soon.  I haven’t yet heard when other companies like   ASUS or MSI for instance will start using  these, but definitely expect it to happen.

Wait for next gen GPUs?

I wouldn’t be too surprised if we have  announcements of next gen GPUs early next year,   so it might be worth waiting before you  pull the trigger and get a 1440p laptop,   as more graphics power is definitely going to be   useful there. 

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JT 1.4K
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