When you think about what most people use their laptops for, it’s movies and music.
Yeah, you can work and study on your laptop. You can also use it to play games. But the majority of your time in front of a laptop is spent within sites like Youtube, Netflix, Hulu, etc. You’re watching videos, movies, listening to music, or browsing social media.
On that note, we decided to come up with an article that answers the question- “what’s the best laptop for movies?”. A lot of people out there are looking for laptops specifically to consume content, whether it be at home or during travel (planes, hotels, etc.).
Modern laptops have excellent battery life compared to laptops from just 4 or 5 years ago.
Plus, they are a lot slimmer and lighter compared to laptops from older generations, without compromising on storage size. This means you can carry a giant collection of movies and music with you wherever you go.
Display technology has also improved to the point where laptops are actually a viable way to enjoy your favorite movies without compromising on the viewing experience.
We chose the Apple MacBook Air as our go-to movie viewing machine for people who want a compact, yet powerful laptop for movies.
Not only is the new MacBook Air an excellent laptop for movies thanks to its 2560 x 1600 Retina display, it’s also an excellent device for students and creative professionals.
The M1 processor makes this laptop perform better than even the previous-generation MacBook Pro while consuming a fraction of the power (and since it’s fanless, you get 0 noise).
Here is our list of 7 best laptop for watching movies and listening to music:
- Apple MacBook Air
- Dell XPS 9310 2-in-1
- HP Envy 17t-cg
- HP Spectre x360
- ASUS ZenBook Flip S
- Acer Swift 3 SF314-42-R9YN
- Acer Aspire 5 A515-56-363A
Apple MacBook Air
If you’re a movie buff, this is one of the best laptops you can purchase. In fact, any new Apple MacBook is an excellent choice for watching or streaming movies because they have Retina displays.
We know how good these displays are, and it’s not just the resolution. Retina displays have extremely vibrant and accurate colors, along with brilliant viewing angles which makes them a perfect choice for group movie sessions with friends or family.
The 13-inch display might seem a little on the smaller side at first, but it’s also what makes this MacBook so portable. Even with its machined aluminum alloy chassis and medium-sized lithium polymer battery, this laptop weighs under 3lbs which is just astonishing.
Even plastic laptops of similar size aren’t as lightweight, and this is a relatively fast mobile device thanks to the custom SoC that Apple cooked up.
The M1 chip has some insane processing power and rips through any workload you throw at it, whether its video/ photo editing or 3D rendering. Rest assured, you can do way more on this laptop than just watch movies.
It is very well built and has one of the best trackpads if not THE best trackpad in the entire laptop industry. The speakers sound amazing too, and that’s the only sound you will hear since there are no fans in this laptop. It is passively cooled.
- Apple Retina 13” IPS display with a resolution of 2560 x 1600, and True Tone technology which auto-adjusts the white point based on the color temperature of your environment
- Apple M1 SoC packs 8 CPU cores, 7 GPU cores, a neutral engine, and a custom I/O system
- 8GB unified memory system
- 256GB PCIe NVMe SSD
- Up to 18 hours of battery life with light usage
- Fanless cooling system, so zero noise
- Excellent trackpad
- Excellent speaker system
- Excellent keyboard
- Feels fast and responsive, applications open instantly, and waking up your laptop takes no more than a fraction of a second
- Enhanced security for all your data
- Incredible webcam and microphone, plus video conferences are made better with the image signal processor built into M1
- You cannot upgrade the RAM
- You don’t get a whole lot of options when it comes to ports
Note: For those among you who don’t mind spending a little extra cash for a larger battery and faster performance, there’s the Pro version of the MacBook. It also comes with a Touch Bar and has active cooling to sustain higher clock speeds on the M1 processor.
Dell XPS 9310 2-in-1
Simply put, this is what you should get instead of the Apple MacBook if you’re more interested in sticking with the Microsoft Windows/ PC ecosystem.
Most of you reading this article have been using a PC since your childhood, and are familiar with the Windows OS. It’s not a surprise, Windows is wildly more popular than Mac OS and it isn’t even a contest.
There are things the Dell does better than even the MacBook. For starters, this is a 2-in-1 laptop with a touchscreen. And it’s equipped with 4 times the memory (32GB on this Dell vs just 8GB on the MacBook).
Now, we are aware that the memory systems of both these laptops are designed differently and hence shouldn’t be compared directly. It’s apples to oranges, but they do give us an insight into the kind of performance you can expect.
The Dell will perform better in everything from Photoshop to Lightroom and Premiere Pro. It will also beat the Mac in 3D renders and animation, thanks to the Intel 11th generation I7 processor paired with this massive pool of high-speed LPDDR4x RAM.
You also get twice the storage of the Mac at 512GB. Granted, it costs more. But you are only gaining things here, without sacrificing on anything that makes MacBooks so awesome.
The XPS is a lean, tough machine made from premium materials like machined aluminum and Gorilla Glass. The trackpad is glass-covered and simply the best trackpad of any Windows laptop.
The FHD+ touchscreen is protected by Gorilla Glass for scratch resistance. The speakers sound meaty and don’t lose clarity on the high end, perfect for everything from action movies to games.
- Intel Tiger Lake quad-core processor with really good single-core performance, paired with the best integrated graphics Intel has ever designed (Xe)
- A massive 32GB of high-speed 4267MHz LPDDR4x RAM makes this light laptop feel like a racecar, no matter how many applications you’re using simultaneously
- Superfast storage, 512GB NVMe SSD
- 13.4” FHD+ (1920 x 1200) 16:10 aspect ratio touch display, IPS panel protected by Gorilla Glass
- Two in one, 360° rotating hinge so you can use this laptop in tablet mode, tent mode, and regular mode
- Killer AX1650 network adapter (Wi-Fi 6 and Bluetooth 5.1)
- All-day battery life
- Machined aluminum-magnesium alloy chassis with a carbon fiber palm rest and glass-covered trackpad
- Thunderbolt 4 with Power Delivery and Display Port functionality, Micro SD card reader
- Some units have an issue where the trackpad double-clicks, this is a manufacturing flaw and you should contact support if your laptop has this problem
- The sub-par webcam Dell strapped onto this otherwise excellent laptop feels like a mistake
Note: There is a 4K UHD+ version of this laptop. Not only is the display 4K but it’s also OLED, as opposed to IPS. OLED has better colors, brightness, viewing angles, and pixel response times compared to IPS. You also get a 2TB SSD which lets you store all your movies and music internally, that way you don’t have to rely on streaming services/ internet.
HP Envy 17t-cg
The only 17” laptop on this list, which also makes it the largest and heaviest of them all. There used to be a time when 17” laptops were considered normal. And a larger screen does have it benefits.
For movies, you get a bigger picture which lets you see more details and things in the background that you’d otherwise miss on a smaller display.
The larger screen also makes it an excellent choice for productivity software such as Blender, Photoshop, Lightroom, etc.
And the screen size isn’t the only awesome thing about this laptop, we should also mention the fact that the screen is 4K. One of the only laptops where you can actually notice the benefits of a UHD resolution.
Everything about this laptop screams quality- the quad-speaker setup, the machined aluminum chassis, the elegant styling, the narrow bezel screen, etc.
Even the I/O is superior to other thin & light laptops, you actually get HDMI output and USB Type-A. Most other laptops this slim don’t bother with such ports and expect you to buy a dozen adapters instead.
- 4K UHD IPS display, 17” of screen real estate with solid colors and viewing angles. Perfect for everything from watching movies to working in Photoshop
- Intel’s latest and greatest- the Core i7-1165G7 quad-core with hyperthreading. Tiger Lake brings both IPC and clock improvements over Ice Lake while also introducing the new Xe graphics core
- A solid 16GB of dual-channel DDR4 RAM
- 512GB NVMe SSD + 1TB HDD, this is something you don’t see on many laptops. It gives you a balance of high-speed storage for frequently used programs and files, as well as plenty of mass storage for movies/ games
- NVIDIA MX450 dedicated graphics processor with 2GB of GDDR5 VRAM
- Excellent audio quality
- Top-notch keyboard and trackpad
- With its 17” screen and weight of roughly 6lbs, this laptop isn’t very portable compared to modern thin & lights
- HP should have included a higher capacity battery for a laptop of this size
HP Spectre x360
For those who want a 15-inch touch notebook for movies and creative applications (drawing, animation) this is a perfect choice.
The Spectre x360 is expensive, and it’s a tier above the Envy lineup in terms of build quality. Just like the Envy x360 laptops, the Spectre x360 models are 2-in-1s which means you get a 360° hinge with a touchscreen.
And the machined metal chassis is even more intricate in the Spectre laptops. You have diamond-cut edges and exquisite golden accents on parts like the hinges.
This Spectre x360 is packing a 10th generation i7 which has plenty of performance for everything from movies to games.
You also get an NVIDIA MX330 2GB GDDR5 dedicated graphics card for GPU acceleration in Photoshop and video encoding.
- Superb 15.6” IPS 4K touch display
- 2-in-1 design for versatility and convenience of use across various environments
- Intel 10th generation Ice Lake i7 processor
- NVIDIA GeForce MX330 2GB GDDR5 graphics
- Stylus included in the box
- Has a fingerprint reader
- IR webcam for Windows Hello facial recognition
- Wi-Fi 6
- Has USB Type-C (Thunderbolt 3), Micro SD, and even USB Type-A
- Fingerprint reader not built into the power button as it should be on every modern laptop
- Chin and forehead bezels are a bit too thick, and the trackpad could have been a little taller
ASUS ZenBook Flip S
ZenBooks are designed for people who want sleek, stylish, well-built Windows laptops that are on par with MacBooks in terms of feel and finish.
They also pack some serious hardware underneath the hood to match up with the looks. Today, we’re reviewing one excellent 2-in-1 laptop from the ZenBook lineup, called the Flip S. Get it? It flips…
This laptop has an Intel 11th generation processor which at the time of writing this article is one of the best laptop CPUs you can get.
In terms of IPC and clock speed, it is a step ahead of the previous Ice Lake chips (10th gen).
You get way better performance in applications like Maya, Blender, 3ds Max, Photoshop, Premiere Pro, etc.
And in games, you see a lot more FPS thanks to the Intel Xe graphics which is a step above Iris Plus.
- 13.3” 4k UHD OLED display- honestly, one of the best laptop displays ever
- Intel Core i7 1165G7 processor, 4 cores and 8 threads of Tiger Lake muscle paired with Intel’s exceptional Xe integrated graphics
- 16GB LPDDR4x RAM
- Large 1TB PCIe NVMe SSD for all your movies and music, not to mention games
- TPM 2.0 security chip encrypts all your data
- Innovative trackpad design with a built-in touch-based Numpad
- Excellent backlit keyboard with ample key travel and crisp, linear feedback from each keypress
- 360° ErgoLift hinge for a better typing experience
- Thunderbolt 4 via Type-C, Wi-Fi 6, USB Type-A
- Comes with ASUS Pen
- The fan can get quite loud at times
- Battery life can drop off like a rock if you do anything that strains the processor (gaming, rendering, encoding, etc.)
Acer Swift 3 SF314-42-R9YN
Now, we don’t believe you need a particularly fast laptop if you just want to watch some movies on Netflix with your buddies.
However, you do need one with a halfway decent display if you don’t want to spend your movie hours complaining about the lack of detail. Now, it is common knowledge that 1080p is the bare minimum resolution for a movie laptop.
But what about display type? After all, resolution is just one part of the equation. It doesn’t matter viewing angles turn everything into a washed-out mess if you aren’t facing the display head-on.
Or if the colors are washed out to begin with, which is the case with most TN panels.
The Swift 3 packs an IPS display, and a pretty decent one at that. It also packs an excellent processor in the AMD Ryzen 4700U octacore.
- AMD Ryzen 7 4700U 8-core processor (no SMT)
- Radeon integrated graphics with 7 CUs
- 8GB DDR4 RAM
- 14” FHD IPS narrow-bezel display
- Full-size backlit keyboard
- Fingerprint reader
- Only 0.63” thick and 2.65lbs in weight
- The most premium laptop you can find at this price point, with a chassis made from an aluminum-magnesium alloy
- Wi-Fi 6
- No Ethernet port
- No power delivery via Type-C
Acer Aspire 5 A515-56-363A
Want to go even cheaper than the Swift 3? Well, there’s the Aspire 5 A515 with its more than adequate 11th gen Core i3 processor and 4GB of DDR4 memory.
This isn’t something we’d recommend for people who want a work laptop since its limited RAM and storage are a hindrance in applications like Photoshop or Premiere Pro.
But if you just want to watch movies and browse the web, this laptop will more than suffice. It will even handle some light work in MS Office like spreadsheets, articles, presentations, etc.
You can use it for editing photos and videos, provided you’re a casual user and aren’t working with large files.
The storage is limited to just 128GB by default, although you can upgrade that in the future with a different M.2 SSD.
- Tiger Lake core i3 processor with 2 cores and 4 threads, 4.1Ghz max turbo
- Xe graphics with 48 execution units
- 4GB DDR4 RAM
- 128GB NVMe SSD (way better than eMMC storage)
- Sleek and light design (just 0.7” thick)
- 15.6” FHD IPS narrow-bezel display
- Wi-Fi 6. And USB Type-C gives you all the connectivity you need
- HDMI output for connecting an external monitor
- Poor audio quality
- Windows 10 ships in S-mode (Can be manually changed to normal mode)
How To Select The Best Laptop For Movies
The thing of utmost importance in any laptop that you purchase primarily for watching movies, is of course the display. Both display resolution and type mattery.
Remember to get one that at least 1080p and it shouldn’t be TN. Unless you’re for some reason into washed-out colors and terrible viewing angles.
Next, you want to make sure your display is the right size for you. Some people want a portable laptop that they can carry around the school campus/ dorm, so a screen size of 13 to 14 inches is ideal.
Others who don’t do a lot of traveling and work from home might want a larger screen size, something like 15.6” or even 17”.
If you want a laptop for watching movies while traveling, you want to go small and light.
If you want a laptop to supplement the TV and watch movies with friends or family, a 17 incher is where it’s at.
As for processing power, just make sure it isn’t an ancient dual-core and you will be good to go. Pretty much any modern i3 is good enough for watching movies, even 4K movies with HDR.
You don’t need dedicated graphics unless you do a lot of ripping and encoding in which case that GPU acceleration can come in handy.
Audio quality isn’t a huge concern unless you are going to watch a lot of your movies without external speakers/ headphones.
Frequently Asked Questions
We hope this article gave you some insight into what to look for while purchasing a laptop for movies. Our top pick is the Apple MacBook Air, but you should pick based on your own requirements.
If you feel more comfortable with Windows, check out the Dell XPS 9310. It is sleek, well-built, and fast. Plus, the trackpad and keyboard on that Dell are pretty much equivalent or even better than what you’ll get on a MacBook.
If you’re more of a budget-conscious buyer, there are some nice options for you. Like the Acer Swift 3 and Aspire 5, both back FHD IPS screens and have decent processing power for everything from movies to casual video and photo editing.
And if screen size is your biggest priority, there’s the HP Envy 17t-cg.