In most cases, the best resolution for a 15 inch laptop is 1080p (1920 x 1080), but this is dependent on factors discussed below.
If you want a 15-inch laptop, the top resolution that it is likely to support will be Full HD or 1080p.
Choosing the resolution can make the difference between a comfortable set up and one you dread using.
A good general rule is whether you’re editing photos or videos, playing high-end games or just using productivity software you want a resolution determined primarily by the distance you sit from the screen, that allows you to see clearly without OS scaling.
The Effect of Pixel Pitch on Resolution
To state the obvious, screens with the highest resolution give you the sharpest images, but that is dependent on the size of the screen.
That’s because a smaller screen at the same resolution as a larger one will have a smaller pixel pitch, and a smaller pixel pitch equals a sharper image.
Larger screens tend to look sharper because the resolution has been upscaled proportionally more than the size of the screen.
This means that the pixel pitch will be smaller on the 27 inch monitor in this example, and it will therefore give much sharper images.
If the example 27-inch monitor is also at 1080p, then the individual pixels (or groups of aligned pixels) will have to be larger to accomodate the extra screen real-estate, potentially making the image fuzzier than if it was viewed at the same resolution on a smaller monitor.
So, a higher resolution ensures better details which in turn makes readability better. This is especially important if you are going to stare at the screen for hours at length, as most of us do these days.
Viewing Distance for a 15-Inch Laptop
How far you’re sitting from your laptop has a big impact on what the image looks like and how much detail you’re able to make out.
In general, the closer you are, the more detail you can see, with eye strain becoming a problem the further back you go, neeeding a decrease in resolution to compensate.
If you sit around 3.2 feet (96 cm) from the laptop, you’re best off going with a 1080p resolution of 1920×1080.
If you sit between 2.3 feet and 3.2 feet (70 cm to 96 cm) from your laptop, a QHD resolution of 2560×1440, is a good choice.
If you sit between 1.2 feet and 2.3 feet (37 cm to 70 cm) from your laptop, you’re probably safe with a UHD 4K resolution of 3840×2160, although it may be difficult to find a 15.6-inch laptop that will support this format.
Although the way that you use your screen is important, whether for gaming, word processing or photography, viewing distance is the most important characteristic when determining the ideal resolution.
The Best Gaming Resolution for a 15.6-Inch Laptop
For gaming, you ideally want a higher resolution like 1440p. That way you will be able to have a cinematic experience and you will also be able to move a reasonable distance from the screen, so that field of view is not obstructed.
Increasing the distance will also give you a better view of the field which is crucial when playing FPS games and those where you need to be right in the heart of the action.
You want to make sure that the field of view is at least 30 degrees for a good experience, 40 degrees if you want to make it even better.
The Best Resolution for Photo Editing on a 15-Inch Laptop
PPI, or pixels per inch is a more important characteristic that outright resolution for photo editing. This is the distance between two pixels and is also referred to as pixel density. When the pixel density is high, the details are fine and the image is sharp.
When you are looking at the resolution primarily for photo editing, you must also factor in the color gamut of the display.
You ideally want the screen to display a high percentage sRGB gamut, so that your photos will accurately show the colors as they would if printed. But if you are looking to edit photos or videos professionally, you want to raise the bar and go for an Adobe RGB monitor to plug into your laptop, which contains a much wider gamut of colors than sRGB.
The Ideal 15.6-Inch Laptop Resolution for Office Work
When you are doing office work on a smaller laptop, your biggest priority is going to be the legibility of the content on the screen. When you are using multiple programs, as is often the case, you don’t want to be limited.
A 15.6-inch laptop gives you a more restricted view and means that it is difficult to use multiple apps at the same time because the screen size cannot accommodate it.
The only possible exception is if you set the resolution to Full HD (1920×1080), when you might then gain just enough screen real-estate to view two documents side-by-side.