Today we're testing a monitor, but it's not the usual way to monitor. We look at a laptop display more because it's very interesting – it's one of the few OLED laptop screens out there. By testing this display, we can learn a lot about how OLED could be suitable for PC displays and how it compares to the LCD panels that we have been using for some time.
The laptop we have on hand is the new Gigabyte Aero 15 OLED, a mobile workstation designed for developers who pack a lot of great hardware. Our test device was delivered with a Core i7-9750H processor and GeForce RTX 2070 Max-Q graphics. However, the same laptop can be upgraded to a Core i9-9980HK and RTX 2080 Max-Q. You also get common high-end specs, including up to 32 GB RAM and 512 GB SSDs.
However, this will not be a full review of the laptop. We have already treated the RTX 2070 Max-Q and the Core i7-9750H separately. So if you are interested in their performance, read these reviews. This article will be a complete investigation and analysis of this remarkable OLED display.
If you are not very familiar with OLED technology, we cannot blame you. It is extremely unusual for an OLED to be paired with a PC. There have been a few laptops and monitors dealing with OLED over the years, but until now the technology has largely been transferred to high-end televisions like LG and a wide range of premium smartphones. In 2019, OLED is making a leap onto PCs with a new 15.6-inch OLED display for laptops and some interesting professional OLED monitors for developers.
OLED is fundamentally different from LCD. Instead of letting a white backlight shine through liquid crystals to form colors like in an LCD, OLED pixels emit their own light, so that they act as backlight and crystal at the same time. This has significant advantages: OLEDs can have much higher contrast ratios, better viewing angles, better HDR performance, better color performance and, in some situations, lower power consumption because each pixel can be controlled individually. The main disadvantage at the moment is image storage, which we will discuss in more detail later.
The OLED panel used on this laptop is a brand new offering from the Samsung AMOLED division. A 15.6-inch 4K 60 Hz panel with VESA DisplayHDR 400 True Black certification – indicating that we're getting real HDR performance – and 100% DCI-P3 coverage. Not 90%, not 95%, but 100% DCI-P3 coverage, which is difficult to achieve with LCD technology.
Brightness, narrowing ratio, viewing angle
OLED screens work differently from LCDs because they often have a brightness limiter that controls the brightness of the display based on the average image level of the displayed content. In contrast, LCDs in SDR mode can normally have the same brightness regardless of whether they display a 100% white window or a 1% white window.
This new laptop OLED doesn't suffer much from brightness restrictions. While a full white window was displayed, the panel could easily reach 390 nits of brightness, which is higher than that of most popular laptop LCDs. This increases to over 470 nits when the APL drops to 10% or less. This difference between high and low APL brightness is not too serious and should go largely unnoticed during use, which is good news.
The contrast ratio is of course impressive. This is because OLED panels are completely turned off when black content is displayed, so the contrast ratio is practically infinite. This gives OLEDs significantly deeper black tones than LCDs. Because the black tones are so deep and the contrast ratio is so high, the colors will burst. OLEDs do not suffer from backlight bleeding or IPS glow problems that otherwise occur with LCD panels. To display dark content like this one episode in the last season of Game of Thrones, there's no better display than an OLED.
OLEDs also have excellent viewing angles, better than IPS and significantly better than TN LCDs. Basically, there is no shift in brightness or color when you look at this display at acute angles to the point where you can basically see everything perfectly from any reasonable angle. This helps a lot when creating content: you don't have to sit on a “sweet spot” to see accurate colors because the colors are accurate from most angles.
The screen has a glossy surface, but can handle reflections well, so you should be able to use it comfortably with backlight. It also helps that the brightness the screen can reach is quite high, which you need to some extent with a laptop display.
Color accuracy, panel performance
Gigabyte claims that the display is factory calibrated to a DeltaE below 1.0 and is X-Rite Pantone certified. There are several modes available, a specific Pantone mode and a standard mode. However, we have found that the standard standard is the most accurate.
If you measure the OLED of the Aero 15 with sRGB, the performance is immediately ready for use. The only little sucker we have is that the grayscale CCT average of 6157 is a bit warm for general use and the gamma curve at the bottom is a little too high, but a DeltaE average of 1.98 is better than with a typical laptop display and with some minor changes to CCT are perfect for content creation.
Standard color performance
It's better than that for saturation sweeps, with a DeltaE average of just 1.36, which is very close to the 1.0 metric rated by Gigabyte. This increases slightly to 1.78 in ColorChecker, but is generally great for content creators who need to work with the sRGB color space.
The factory calibrated Aero 15 is just as suitable for working with a wide range of colors and does not require any profile switching or settings, since the correct ICC profile is already pre-installed. The grayscale performance is identical to the sRGB mode, while the saturation performance is slightly better with a DeltaE average of 1.31, which in turn is perfect for color-accurate work. A ColorChecker DeltaE below 1.7 is fantastic again.
After unpacking, the covered DCI-P3 color space was somewhat disappointing at only 95.6%. It's a little funny to say that disappointing here is that most LCDs can only reach 96% at best, but Gigabyte said 100% coverage and it falls a little short … or does it?
When calibrating this display, we were able to increase the entire color gamut of both sRGB and DCI-P3 modes so that it is exactly at the limit. Gigabyte appears to be somewhat conservative. Here you can see that we get 99.5% DCI-P3 coverage, 99.8% sRGB coverage and an impressive 93.5% Adobe RGB coverage on the same display. The entire color gamut is almost 150% sRGB, which is elite.
If you combine all of this with excellent calibration performance, you can safely say that this Aero 15 OLED display is the best performing screen we've tested for color accuracy, especially in a laptop form factor.
The uniformity is also pretty good. Since every single pixel emits light, it is difficult to make everything uniform, but Samsung has done an excellent job here. Almost the entire screen falls below a DeltaE of 2.0 relative to the center. Only the top left corner of our device deviates slightly, which we could not notice under most circumstances during general use.
Although this is not a big problem when creating content, players will be happy about the response times here: I measured consistent times between 1.6 and 1.7 ms, which is frankly a bit slow compared to the best LG OLEDs -Televers that can pass faster than 1.0 ms. But that blows every LCD out of the water. Even LCDs with a rating of "1 ms" often correspond to 3 ms in practice. So this is another area where OLED dominates the LCD.
While response times are fantastic, the limited refresh rate of 60 Hz prevents the display from being the best for gaming. For laptop hardware, it is difficult to run a 4K display at 60 FPS in the latest titles, and although this display looks fantastic at a lower 1080p resolution that gives you excellent performance, we think gamers are overall better suited for fast 144 Hz 1080p laptop that is more in the target area for this type of performance. We can't wait to see 120 Hz OLEDs in laptops. This is the best of both worlds for gamers.
In terms of HDR performance, you only get true HDR performance in a laptop with an OLED display, simply because you can't build a full array local dimming backlight into this form factor. OLED with a DisplayHDR True Black rating is the right way to go.
We were actually surprised that this OLED could only pass the DisplayHDR 400 True Black certification and not the highest DisplayHDR 500 True Black certification available for OLEDs. Our device was able to achieve a sustained brightness of 400 nits and a peak of well over 500 nits, which is required for True Black 500. In addition, we achieved a peak of 580 nits with a 10% window and up to 600 nits in smaller windows. A full screen flash of 400 nits should also be enough for DisplayHDR 500 True Black. Anyway, it's just a sticker on the box, this is a super impressive display.
Basically, this is one of the best HDR displays for PCs on the market. It's crazy.
If you look at the HDR checklist, you'll see that it meets all the key metrics for real HDR performance. We get a high peak brightness of 600 nits, which looks even brighter with an OLED due to its deep black tones. There is a local dimming per pixel that is better than any current LCD display, even with FALD backlighting. And then there's a huge range that is wider than most of the displays out there. Basically, this is one of the best HDR displays for PCs on the market. It's crazy.
We watched an HDR video on this laptop and watched it on a LG OLED TV at the same time. The experience was very similar. The LG OLED has a slight edge as it can get a little lighter, but ultimately the quality of this OLED for HDR videos blew us away. It is miles before the next LCD.
HDR games are impressive too, although at 60 Hz, it's probably not the best laptop for full-time games. There is no better laptop to get an idea of what a real HDR experience looks like.
Summary: Image storage as much as possible
The only disadvantage of this OLED panel is one that stays somewhat in the air: the image retention. OLEDs have come a long way in this department, but it is unclear how this particular Samsung AMOLED will cope with long usage times with static content. We know that branding LG's OLED TVs takes a long time, for example. However, the technology used there differs slightly from the AMOLED from Samsung.
One of the main reasons why we haven't seen any more OLED PC monitors is image storage. On a television, this is not as bad a problem as most of the content you view, whether it is movies, television, or games. They are generally very dynamic. If static content is present, it can be a small logo that changes with other channels. However, PC use has a static taskbar, often static navigation bars in apps and large areas of static content. This is a scenario that tends to burn in.
At the moment we just don't know how this panel will stand the test of time. Smartphones can also contain a lot of static content, and the latest models seem to work quite well, often with Samsung AMOLED technology. However, using Windows 10 is a step up and doesn't have the same limitations as Android. Therefore, you should keep this in mind. We don't want to say that it will definitely burn in over time, but there is a possibility that you may be aware of this before buying.
Overcome this risk and this is the best laptop display on the market. There is no competitor that comes close, and we see excellence in areas such as contrast ratio, color performance, gamut, response times, and HDR capabilities. Even areas where OLED can have problems, such as B. the brightness, are extremely impressive.
This display also blows away most desktop PC monitors, so we really hope we can find a way to get more OLED displays to work than monitors.
We barely touched the actual laptop, but it's as good as Gigabyte's Aero 15 series in general, which is very good. Excellent performance, good compact design, great keyboard and the cooling system look quieter than the last generation. Oh, and yes, this OLED display.
As expected, the Gigabyte Aero 15 OLED is very expensive. Our configured test device will bring you $ 2,499 back, which is $ 500 more than the non-OLED model. However, this is the price you have to pay for killer technology. A basic model with OLED display and GTX 1660 Ti costs from $ 1,699.