Large laptops are now more practical than they used to be and have recently become more common. But which is the better choice?
Between 15-inch and 17-inch laptops, gamers and programmers typically need more space than casual users, but they’re not the entire target market.
I’ll discuss which of these two sizes is the better choice, how their components can differ, and when it might be better to have a larger or smaller screen.
Choosing Between 15 and 17-Inch Laptops
I’ll discuss several factors you should look at when deciding between a 17-inch or 15-inch laptop.
I’m mainly here to discuss screen size, so let’s start. This isn’t a contest for anyone who wants more space: get a 17-inch laptop.
The larger screen will generally look better, but it’ll also weigh more and typically cost more, so be prepared to spend more money!
If a 17-inch laptop isn’t big enough, you’ll likely need to purchase an external monitor. This will give you better visibility and let you keep more tabs open simultaneously.
Ensure your laptop has enough RAM to support both displays, especially if creating games or running 3D models.
NOTE: The difference between 15-inch and 17-inch laptops isn’t exactly two inches. It’s closer to 1.7 since the display sizes are 15.6 and 17.3 inches, respectively.
Resolution and Refresh Rate
Display size is important, but it should be balanced with other features like your screen resolution. In a word, it’s how clear the image is on your laptop.
Look at laptops with at least a 1920x1080p (Full HD) resolution. This advice holds whether you need a gaming or business laptop.
Gamers should also focus on the refresh rate, which is how often a gaming laptop can produce a new image. I suggest looking at gaming laptops with 60Hz refresh rates or higher.
This is more important if you’re playing games than browsing, but all laptops need a good cooling system. It’s vital to keep your device cool to reduce the risks of hardware failure.
You’ll likely find a 17-inch laptop with a better cooling system than a 15-inch one. That’s because bigger laptops have more space under the hood.
Manufacturers use that extra space to fit more high-performance components, like extra RAM and beefier graphics cards.
However, those stronger parts generate more power and heat, so larger laptops need a better cooling system to compensate.
A powerful laptop will need better battery life, but all that power can take a toll on your laptop’s battery; this is especially true with gaming laptops.
This is especially true with 17-inch laptops, which can fit more high-performance components and a larger battery. Unfortunately, that doesn’t translate to long battery life.
A 17-inch laptop typically won’t last long unplugged because its parts need more juice to run. If battery life is important to you, get a 15-inch laptop.
Fortunately, neither 17-inch nor 15-inch laptops have an edge over the other regarding the graphics card. Similar components can be found in the market whether you’re looking at larger or smaller models.
This also applies to RAM; a 17-inch laptop won’t have more RAM than its 15-inch counterpart because it depends on your hardware configuration.
If you need additional RAM, some laptop sellers can install extra RAM at an added cost.
What About in a Gaming Laptop?
It’s a similar story if you’re shopping for a new gaming laptop, but ensure the laptops you’re looking at have discrete GPUs for smooth, high-speed gaming.
Answering this will mainly depend on the person you’re asking. As you’d expect, most laptops are designed to be portable, but 17-inch laptops are almost desktop replacements.
Someone buying a 17-inch laptop isn’t likely to move it around much unless they have to. In comparison, smaller laptops are much easier to carry around.
If you need portability, a 15-inch device is preferable to a larger laptop. I suggest getting a smaller device to save yourself from shoulder pain.
Performance is important, but you should also consider your laptop’s toughness. 17 and 15-inch laptops don’t differ here.
You can find sturdy devices in either form factor, but note that sturdier laptops usually weigh more, whether they have a magnesium or aluminum chassis.
Anyone who’s an admitted klutz or needs a more rugged device should get a laptop with a metal chassis, but prepare for the added weight!
As always, consider your budget before thinking of your laptop’s screen size! If you’re concerned about the price-to-performance ratio, I recommend getting a 15-inch device.
Because they have bigger displays and are usually crammed with more features, 17-inch rigs are usually more expensive, especially gaming laptops.
If you can spare the cash, get a 17-inch device, but ensure you need one first.
Here I’ll discuss which screen size is the better choice depending on how you use it.
Desk workers and other mobile professionals will probably need a comfortable keyboard more than a larger screen, but that also depends on your line of work.
A 15-inch laptop will better serve professionals who frequently move between floors for meetings. The smaller screen and reduced weight will be easier to carry.
However, creative professionals and game developers will probably need a powerful laptop with a bigger screen or, at minimum, an improved aspect ratio like 16:10.
Having more screen real estate will be helpful when making advertisements and graphic designs.
Depending on the aspect ratio, it can also improve your workflow by displaying more on-screen information simultaneously.
WINNER – Tie! Different jobs will call for different kinds of laptops, and neither side is ultimately better.
Gaming laptops are a great example of larger screens being better, especially if you want to be immersed in-game while playing.
If you’re going to play games on your laptop, I recommend picking up a larger screen. You can find smaller gaming laptops with 15-inch screens or desktop PC replacements with 17-inch screens.
Anyone gaming on the go should pick up a 15-inch rig, but a bigger display is better for most people. Remember to tweak the screen resolution for better visuals!
There’s also the question of whether you’re playing AAA games or slower and more deliberate titles like a relaxing city-building or farming game.
Why Does the Game Matter?
The games you run are also important because they can determine your gaming laptop choice. If you’re a fan of slower-paced cozy titles, you can safely play those on a smaller device.
But if you’re an FPS or open-world aficionado who wants the most immersive experience, a 17-inch device would be better.
WINNER – The 17-inch laptop! A bigger gaming laptop is usually preferable for gaming, but it also depends on what you’re playing.
For Casual Browsing
We’ve covered business and gaming laptops, but not everyone will be exclusively gaming or working.
Much of the laptop market is dedicated to people browsing the internet, streaming videos, and maybe playing lighter video games.
If that sounds like you, you can stick with a 15-inch rig instead. A 17-inch device’s larger display may be tempting at first, but it can quickly get overwhelming.
Conversely, a 15-inch laptop’s large enough to give a great viewing and browsing experience but is still portable.
This is convenient because you won’t have trouble carrying it to and from your desk to your dining table and other locations.
WINNER – 15-inch laptops! They’re just right for browsing and streaming videos.
A student’s choice of hardware is the difference between stiff shoulders and more comfortable school life. Larger laptops usually have better cooling but are harder to carry.
Following this, if you’re a student, you should prioritize portability over a bigger screen because you’ll be carrying your laptop around everywhere.
If you can, get a slimmer laptop with quiet cooling so your fans won’t kick in during lectures or at the library.
WINNER – 15-inch laptops. Big enough to fit in a backpack but not too heavy!
Programming is as much about reading as writing code, meaning a large screen will greatly benefit. I suggest getting a 17-inch laptop.
Seeing more info without switching tabs or disrupting your workflow should also help you get through the day quicker!
If you’re a programmer, you’ll probably want to go further than a 15 or 17-inch laptop and plug into an external monitor instead, or even get multiple monitors.
Multiple larger screens will always beat out only one, even if you have a top-of-the-line laptop.
WINNER – The 17-inch laptop. Seeing more info at once is a huge plus for programmers.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Learn more about choosing among larger laptops and how to make the best choice here.
What’s the Most Popular Laptop Size?
Screen size should always be on your mind when looking for a new laptop since it’ll determine other things like how much money you’ll need to save. Between 17 and 15 inches, the 15-inch laptop is the more popular form factor.
It’s ideal whether you’re using it for gaming, casual, or professional use, and many manufacturers cram high-performance parts into these laptops.
You’ll also find similar features in 17 and 15-inch laptops; they usually only differ in price.
Are Large Screen Laptops Better for Your Eyes?
Constantly staring at a laptop screen won’t do your eyes any favor, but let’s say you’ve got the budget and are shopping for a laptop with a better screen.
Unfortunately, a big-screen laptop won’t reduce the chances of getting eye strain or headaches during work. The screen’s type is more important than size.
I recommend looking at IPS panel laptops or OLED if you have the budget. OLED technology has improved recently, but remember to turn the brightness down.
What’s the Best Laptop Size for Games?
Most gamers will say, “Just get a gaming PC,” but not everyone has enough room. Before you purchase a gaming laptop, decide on the size first.
Most people assume that a bigger screen will provide a better gaming experience, and they’re generally right! A 17-inch laptop is better for gaming.
Note that some gamers don’t need a bigger laptop for their games, especially if they’re playing less immersive games.
The main difference between 15 and 17-inch laptops is the screen size! However, the display size is one of several factors you should consider when looking for a new device.
Your laptop’s resolution should match its screen and other internals, like RAM and GPU. However, remember that performance usually goes hand-in-hand with cost.
If you’re still having trouble choosing between a 17 and 15-inch laptop, follow the quick guide below to make the best choice.
Get a 15-Inch Laptop If:
- It would be best if you stay mobile
- You don’t mind having a more compact monitor
- You’re playing games that don’t need a larger display
Get a 17-Inch Laptop If:
- You’ll stay rooted at your desk
- You like laptops with bigger screens
- You want to purchase a desktop-replacement laptop