Looking for one of the best laptops for watching movies? A laptop is much more than a device for work these days, and many people use one of the best laptops for streaming and media instead of a television.
But while there are dedicated business laptops and as laptops for gaming, we don't tend to see brands specifically market their products as laptops for watching movies. This can make it hard to choose the best laptop for streaming, but our reviewers have tested many devices from the best brands, measuring their screens against standard benchmarks and actually sitting down to watch movies on them to see how they perform in practice.
Below, we round up our picks of the best. We've looked for laptops with at least FHD resolution, and ideally 4K for crisp detail, and we've also been sure to pay attention to the speakers too. We've also taken into consideration battery life and value in order to make suggestions for different needs and budgets. With that in mind, here's our pick of the best laptops for watching movies.
With all these factors in mind, we present the best laptops for watching movies available today. For more options, see our picks of the best laptops for programming and the best laptops for music production.
The quick list
We'll start with a quick overview of our top picks as the best laptops for watching movies overall. You can jump down our full evaluations of each laptop for streaming at the bottom of the guide.
Best Windows option
The best Windows laptop for watching movies
This impressive Windows laptop boasts a stunning OLED screen and quality Harman Kardon for an outstanding audiovisual combo. And it has the power and features to make a great device for creatives too.
The best MacBook for watching movies
We rate the 2021 MacBook Pro 16 as the best Apple option since it has a larger 16-inch screen. Apple has a newer 2023 model, but we think it makes more sense to look for a deal on this model if you don't need the latest specs.
Best larger laptop
The best laptop for watching movies on a larger screen
We've already recommended two 16-inch laptops, but if you want an even larger screen for a more immersive experience, the Dell XPS 17 is gorgeous. The picture is outstanding thanks to 4K resolution, HDR support and 500 nits brightness.
The best laptops for streaming and watching movies in full
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The best Windows laptop for streaming
Running Windows 11, this Asus laptop comes with a gorgeous 16:10 OLED display. At 16 inches in diameter, it's a great size for watching movies while the 4K (3840 x 2400) resolution provides crisp detail.
Our reviewer found the benefits of OLED technology apparent in dark blacks and vivid brights. With 550 nits of peak brightness, the screen can handle use in bright environments, including outdoors, and, perhaps most notably for a laptop for steaming, the twin speakers by Harman Kardon produce very decent, rich sound.
This is a great laptop for work too, especially for artists, designers and photo editors. Our tests show colour accuracy to be superb, and a dedicated dial can help speed up your workflow in creative software. The downside is that this laptop isn't cheap, and for many people not working in creative spheres, these features are overkill and aren't necessary if you really just want a laptop for watching movies.
We found battery life to be pretty average too, delivering just over six hours of mixed use in our tests, although since this is a larger laptop, you probably won't be using it a lot on the road. However, if you're looking for the best picture quality for streaming on a Windows laptop, we can't not put this laptop first. See our Asus ProArt Studiobook 16 OLED review for more details.
The best MacBook for watching movies
Apple knows its audience, and MacBooks are generally great for watching movies. But the MacBook Pro 16-inch (2021) is our top pick from the current line-up. For starters, it has the largest screen on a MacBook at 16.2-inches. And this is not just any screen, but a market-leading Liquid Retina XDR MiniLED that supports HDR and a 120Hz refresh rate, and can achieve deep blacks and bright whites.
Resolution is 3456 x 2234 which is just a few pixels away from 4K (3840 × 2160). And most notably, its clever backlight technology can generate a massive 1,600 nits of peak HDR brightness, which we found to work wonderfully for avoiding the distraction that can be caused by glare.
The speakers are impressive, providing stereo spatial positioning and a great sense of balance, and battery life is superb: Apple promises around 14 hours of web browsing from one charge, but our reviewer achieved close to 17. This isn't just one of the best laptops for watching movies, but also one of the most powerful laptops on the market as a whole – in fact as well as watch movies, you could use this to edit movies.
Again, this means it could be overkill if you're not going to use the laptop for demanding work. This is why we've chosen this model rather than the newer 2023 MacBook 16. The newer version has a more powerful processor but offers little difference when it comes to watching films, and this 2021 model is now coming in for more discounts now. For more details, read our full MacBook Pro 16-inch review.
The best laptop for watching movies on a larger screen
Sixteen inches is fine for most people, but if you want an even larger screen, the 17-inch display of the Dell XPS 17 is a great laptop for watching movies. It scores highly on picture quality, thanks to an InfinityEdge touch display that supports HDR, and Dolby Vision and at the highest configuration, 4K+ resolution of 3,840 x 2,400. The 0.65% anti-reflective coating and 500 nits brightness helps to minimise reflections in bright environments. And overall, this display offers excellent picture quality, sharp details and vibrant colours.
The two 2.5W stereo speakers deliver decent quality sound too, which is certainly loud enough to watch films. On the downside, battery life is decidedly average: our reviewer managed five hours and 45 minutes of mixed use on a single charge. For more details, see our Dell XPS 17 9710 review.
The best 2-in-1 laptop for watching movies
If you spend all day working hard at a laptop, using the same device to stream movies may not feel like the best way to switch off. That's why some people prefer a more neutral screen like a tablet, which is easier to position on a sideboard or bedside table, and won't tempt you to minimise your movie window and start replying to emails during the film.
If that sounds like you, then bear in mind that you don't need to buy a separate tablet. You could just go for a 2-in-1 laptop, which consists of a tablet and detachable keyboard, giving you the best of both worlds. And our favourite right now is the Surface Laptop Studio.
It comes with an 14.4-inch PixelSense touchscreen with a high refresh rate of up to 120Hz and a QHD resolution of 2400 x 1600. Our reviewer was particularly impressed with the in-built speakers (two mini subwoofers and two tweeters) which produce a rich, full-bodied sound. He achieved brightness of 505 nits, and battery life was strong too, consistently providing 12 hours of viewing on a single charge, even with the refresh rate turned up to the max.
Note though, that cinephiles may have an issue with the 3:2 aspect ratio, which is taller than the normal 16:9 ratio, making widescreen movies a little more letterboxed than on standard screens. For more details, see our Surface Laptop Studio review.
The best Chromebook for watching movies
You don't need Windows or macOS to watch movies or stream on your laptop. So if you really want to save some money, you may be better off getting a Chromebook instead. If that idea appeals to you, the HP Chromebook x2 11 is our top recommendation right now. Not only is it a 2-in-1 device, but it comes with a fantastic IPS touchscreen, with 2K (2160 x 1440) resolution. Surprisingly for a device this affordable, it even comes with Bang & Olufsen speakers, although our reviewer felt these lacked depth.
Battery life is strong, though: our reviewer watched Netflix for 11 hours 10 minutes on a single charge. And while 400 nits of brightness is the lowest in our group, it's still not bad at all. So all in all, the x2 11 delivers a pretty solid movie-viewing experience. Note though that, like Microsoft Surface Laptop Studio, the aspect ratio is 3:2, which isn't the best for watching widescreen movies.
More generally, a Chromebook comes with many limitations compared with a Windows or Apple device. So if you're not sure if this type of computer is right for you, first read our guide to laptop vs Chromebook. Meanwhile, for more details on this specific Chromebook, see our HP Chromebook x2 11 review.
The best MacBook for watching movies on the move
Big screens are great for movie watching, but they do mean the laptop has too be big too. So if you want to watch movies on a MacBook, but prefer one that's small, light and portable, the MacBook Air (M2, 2022) is an excellent choice.
It's Liquid Retina IPS display may be smaller than most, at 13.6 inches in diameter, but it's still a good enough size to enjoy movies on. And with a UHD+ resolution of 2,560 x 1,664 and 500 nits of brightness, the picture quality is tremendous.
The four-speaker sound system, featuring two tweeters and two woofers, provides a solid slab of immersive audio, with support for Spatial Audio and Dolby Atmos. Battery life is fantastic – our reviewer looped a 1080p video for 16 hours. And you can get up to 2TB of storage, which should be plenty enough for your downloaded movie collection.
Our only niggle is that the 1080p webcam dips down in a visible notch that obscures some of the menu bar at the top of the screen. But in practice, we found that didn't really interfere with our enjoyment of films on this device. For more details, see our MacBook Air (M2, 2022) review.
The best gaming laptop for watching movies
If you want a laptop for gaming, but want to have a great movie watching experience too, then the Razer Blade 17 is our top recommendation.
Whether you're playing a game or enjoying a film, the huge 17.3-inch touchscreen display delivers excellent results. The 4K resolution means you get incredible picture detail, and while the top-end 240Hz refresh rate is mainly aimed at gamers, it makes movies look amazing too. The four tweeters and four subwoofers power excellent stereo sound and support THX spatial audio too.
On the downside, this laptop is very expensive, especially at its highest configurations. Plus, it's so powerful that battery life is pretty limited: our reviewer managed around three hours and 12 minutes of general web browsing. But if you want both top-class gaming and high-quality movie watching then those are compromises you may be willing to make. For more details, read our Razer Blade 17 review.
What is the best laptop for watching movies?
The best laptop for streaming and watching movies for you will depend to some extent on what else you want to use it for. After all, few people use a laptop only for watching films. This is why we've also evaluate the devices above for other day-to-day functions like web surfing, social media, productivity tasks and more intensive design work.
Budget will obviously play a role in your decision, but so will portability. Watching movies can be more enjoyable on a larger screen, and so larger laptops like the MacBook Pro 16 and Dell XPS 17 feature in high positions in our list above. But, while these are great if you're going to be using them at home or in an office most of the time, they may not be the best choice for you if you regularly travel with your laptop or use it in different locations on the go. In that case, you may prefer a small, lighter laptop for streaming, like the 13-inch MacBook Air.
What should I consider when choosing the best laptop for streaming?
One of the most important things in a laptop for watching films and TV is a premium display. You'll want a minimum of Full HD and, ideally, 4K if your budget allows. You'll also want a high level of screen brightness for when you're watching outside in the sun.
Additionally, you'll want strong audio capabilities, which isn't always a given. (Unfortunately, we've tested laptops with excellent high-res screens that are let down by dismal, tiny speakers, so the two things don't necessarily go together.)
You'll also want a fast processor because you don't want your viewing experience marred by stuttering and crashes, although most decent laptops should be able to handle streaming these days, and download/steaming quality also depends on the speed on your internet connection. Battery life is important too, for when you're watching movies on a long journey, or in a hotel room that's short on power points. A decent-sized internal SSD is also useful to ensure you have space to store large video files.
How we chose the best laptops for watching movies
When we reviewed the laptops above, our tech experts put them through a series of benchmark tests to measure their performance in several areas, including screen brightness and colour accuracy and battery life. We also tested the laptops for a range of tasks including general work and browsing plus more graphically demanding creative work as well as watching movies.
We've aimed to include a range of devices to suit different needs, including more portable devices and laptops that can serve for other purposes as well as streaming. You might also want to see our guides to the best laptops for graphic design and the best laptops for video editing.