Streaming movies and TV shows all the time? A laptop with a good display and powerful speakers is the ideal content consumption platform for when you’re on the go. And today we’ve compiled a list of the top 7 laptops for streaming content from sites such as Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime, etc.
Our top pick for the best movie/ streaming laptop is the Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Extreme. It has one of the best 4k IPS displays, and supports Dolby Vision HDR 500. Read on to learn more about the X1 Extreme and other laptops that we chose. Also, check our laptop buying guide to know more.
Here is the list of 7 best laptops for streaming and watching movies:
A display that is color accurate to the point where you can do professional photo editing work on it, and bright enough to shine through even in broad daylight.
The Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Extreme is what you get when you design a business laptop for creative professionals who want the best performance without compromising on display quality or portability.
It supports the Dolby Vision HDR 500 standard which means you can enjoy 4k Blue Ray HDR content from external sources like a disk.
It can also stream HDR content from Netflix and Amazon Prime, although both sites still have mostly non-HDR content.
HDR means your display can dynamically adjust brightness in different parts of the screen. Light sources and shadows will appear much more realistic and you get images with more punch to them. Images will have a wider range of colors and highlights look brighter.
Of course, you can’t enjoy HDR content unless you have a HDR capable display, which is why the ThinkPad X1 Extreme gets our recommendation for serious movie fans who also own 4k Blue Ray media at home.
The MacBook Air has always been an excellent streaming/ movie laptop. It has an excellent Retina display, loud and clear speakers, great battery life, and a snappy processor- pretty much everything you could ask for from a streaming machine.
The only downside we can think of is the small 13.3 inch display which isn’t ideal if you want to share content with your buddies.
But if you just need a machine onto which you can stream and download movies for viewing at home or while travelling, this is ideal. It doesn’t take up much space, has an excellent keyboard so you can use it for work.
And the speakers ensure that you listen to every song and line of dialogue with utmost clarity. We chose the 512GB model because it has just the right amount of storage for people who want to keep movies and songs locally, on their laptop(comes in handy if you’ve got bad internet).
If you want the best laptop for movies but are on a strict budget, this little Acer is the ideal choice.
It has a decent 1080p IPS display which doesn’t compare to the high end IPS panels on more expensive laptops like the Razer Blade or Dell XPS. Still, it’s more than enough for casual movie streamers who just want a basic, no-frills device.
The battery life is not super high, but you can easily browse the web for a couple hours and watch 2 to 3 movies on a single charge.
The keyboard is also not bad for the price, and the build quality feels tough enough to sustain a few knocks and light drops. It has a good CPU in the 10th generation Intel Ice Lake Core i5-1035G1 and general responsiveness is there thanks to a 256GB NVMe SSD.
Honestly, the processor and graphics seem a bit overkill for a content streaming laptop.
Because unless you’re the one creating content, you don’t need a Core i9-10980HK and RTX 2080 Super Max-Q graphics.
This is the kind of muscle that allows you to play the latest games in 4k and stream them to Twitch at high bitrates simultaneously.
However, the beefy specifications also include a superb X-Rite Pantone certified 15 inch OLED 4K panel which boasts a Delta E under 2.
Plus, it meets the VESA Display HDR 400 standard. So you can watch 4k HDR content on this machine (or play AAA games like Shadow of the Tomb Raider with HDR enabled).
And if you’re a creative professional making content for Youtube or editing photo/ video for a company, this is a dream machine.
It is a slightly older model with a 8th generation Intel processor and just a 1080p display. But this is a really good machine purely in terms of features and build quality.
For instance, the display isn’t spectacularly high in terms of resolution, but it has really good color accuracy.
And the bezels are very thin, which gives it a very sleek and non-distracting look that feels more immersive if you’re watching movies.
The processor is an 8th generation Intel chip. But it is an i7, so there will be no trouble in terms of performance.
Even if you’re gaming or creating content on this machine. Its only downside is the relatively small 256GB NVMe SSD, but this can be remedied with a quick storage drive swap.
You also won’t get 802.11ax Wi-Fi but you can purchase an AX200 adapter and solve that issue.
Another budget contender, this is designed to go up against Acer’s highly popular Aspire 5 lineup. Plastic body and a slower processor aside, this is actually a pretty decent thin and light machine.
Its FHD IPS display won’t blow you away. But the color accuracy and viewing angles are good enough for watching your favorite Hollywood blockbuster on a weekend.
It isn’t slow by any means, don’t let the cheap price fool you. This VivoBook is comparable to a lower end Apple MacBook Air in terms of speed, in fact it surpasses most MacBook Air configurations because of the superior cooling capacity.
The Intel 10th generation Ice Lake Core i5 quad core is plenty for your average user. It can do spreadsheets, video/ photo editing, light gaming, and much more.
A display with 100% Adobe RGB coverage and Delta-E under 2 is perfect for content creation. But it is also excellent for content consumption, like watching 4k Blue Ray movies on the go.
The MSI Creator 15 was designed to meet the demanding requirements of professional artists, but the very same traits make it a great choice for anyone who wants the best streaming laptop.
It packs a 8 core Intel 10th generation processor and NVIDIA RTX 2060 graphics, so you know this laptop can excel in workloads that involve 3D design or rendering.
It is also a great laptop for light gaming and pretty much functions as your all-in-one media powerhouse thanks to a massive 1TB NVMe storage drive.
There is 32GB of RAM, so you can rest assured this laptop will run smoothly for at least another 4 to 5 years.
The best streaming laptop doesn’t have to be super high end like many of the machines we’ve listed in our article.
You need to purchase a laptop which balances performance, display quality, portability, battery life, and sound quality while staying within your budget.
And there are some cheap options from Acer, Dell, HP, ASUS, etc. which all come in under 700 dollars and deliver a good 1080p IPS display along with SSD storage.
The most important thing in a streaming laptop is of course its display, since you’ll use it primarily to consume multimedia content such as movies and music videos.
If your display is under 1080p resolution, it won’t function well as a movie laptop. And a TN panel won’t do you any favors either, especially in an age where even the most basic home laptops pack FHD IPS panels.
IPS vs TN
IPS has superior color accuracy, vibrance, and viewing angles compared to TN.
The main advantage TN has over IPS is cost.
And its pixels react faster so there is less smearing, which comes in handy if you’re in need of a high refresh rate gaming display.
But for movies which run at 25 to 30fps you don’t want high refresh rate or super fast pixel response times.
You want a color accurate display with good brightness and viewing angles.
Good built-in audio is a must have for any laptop you purchase with the intent of viewing movies on it.
It doesn’t have to be some fancy 5.1 setup, even a basic 2 speaker stereo setup can work wonders.
If you want good audio, check out Apple, Dell, and Lenovo. Premium laptops tend to have better audio, with the exception of business oriented machines.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q. Do I need a 4k laptop for movies?
A. It definitely helps if you have a 4k display that you can take with you on the go, packaged into a laptop. Images look incredibly sharp and you’re able to see every little detail. However, at anything below 15 inches we believe 4k is a waste. It is more expensive, runs down your battery faster, and simply doesn’t make enough of a difference on really small screens.
So if you can afford it, get a 4k laptop, preferably one that has at least a 15 inch screen. Some of the larger 16 inch gaming/ studio laptops also work great for movies but you’ll have to sacrifice some portability in exchange for a larger display.
Q. OLED or IPS?
A. A properly designed and calibrated IPS panel can rival most run of the mill OLEDs in terms of color accuracy. Where OLEDs win out is there superior color vibrancy which makes images pop out, OLEDs also tend to be brighter than the average IPS. And they have better blacks since pixels actually turn off when black color is displayed.
However, there is a very small selection of OLED laptops on the market and most of them are quite expensive. Targeted towards prosumers and creative professionals, OLED laptops are a niche and you should get them only if you want the absolute best viewing experience irrespective of price. Battery life is also a concern with OLED laptops.
Q. Apart from display type, speakers, and screen size, what else should I consider?
A. Battery life, since you’ll typically be using your laptop away from the desk or wall. In the bedroom, while travelling, or out on a camping trip. You want a laptop that lasts at least 7 hours while watching movies. This way, you can also sneak in some web browsing and work in between movies.
We hope this article provided you with the information you need to purchase your streaming laptop.
What is the best laptop for streaming/ movies? The answer varies for each individual. Some like bigger screens and don’t mind 1080p resolution. Some want a movie laptop that doubles as a workstation PC.
The Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Extreme is the ultimate combination of power, portability, screen quality, and battery life. While it doesn’t look very stylish and is essentially a business machine, the hardware is so good we couldn’t help but crown this laptop as our number 1 choice.
It has one of the best displays we’ve ever seen on a Windows machine and is built really well. There are plenty of ports so you can connect external displays, and the Dolby Vision HDR 500 display lets you enjoy 4k HDR content.