4k laptops have terrible battery life — these 3K laptops last all day

4K laptops offer incredibly sharp resolution and often boast bright and vivid displays, but that comes at the cost of great battery life, that’s where 3K laptops come in.

No one is searching for 3K laptops, they are the forgotten children of the laptop display world, but people are missing out. These high-resolution displays still offer an incredibly sharp image with high pixels-per-inch; Apple’s top MacBook Pro models and many other premium laptops opt for this resolution and once you get to the battery life section of any 4K or 3K laptop review you’ll see why.

Every laptop on this list boasts over 10 hours of battery life, with the top option coming in at an astounding 18 hours and 56 minutes. That’s about 9.5 hours more than the longest-lasting 4K laptop that we’ve ever tested, the HP Envy 16 (9:21), which is an outlier itself, beating its nearest 4K competition by about 2 hours. 

If you are looking for a laptop with a sharp display, but are willing to let that 4K number go, take a look at these 3K laptops and enjoy an extra 3-12 hours of battery life.

(Image credit: Laptop Mag)

The undisputed champion of 3K laptop battery life is the MacBook Pro 16 2023, which lasted a mind-boggling 18 hours and 56 minutes in our testing. To put that in perspective, the average for a premium laptop in our battery life test is currently 10 hours and 2 minutes, which includes many full HD (1920 x 1080) laptops. If the MacBook Pro 16 can’t last you through a work day you need to reexamine your work/life balance. 

Needless to say, the excellent 3K mini-LED display and battery life are just part of the package that led the MacBook Pro 16 to a 4.5 out of 5-star rating and an Editor’s Choice award. The MacBook Pro 16’s performance is similarly otherworldly with a score on our synthetic Geekbench 5.4 test (15,044) that more than doubled the average (6,977) and easily bested competitors like the Dell XPS 17 (13,714) or Asus ZenBook Pro 16X OLED (11,974). Our real-world Handbrake video transcoding test was an even more decisive victory at 3 minutes and 59 seconds to convert a 4K video to 1080p. That was more than twice as fast as the average (8:48), and shaved minutes off the time of the Pro 16X (5:51) and XPS 17 (6:40).

Add onto that an excellent six-speaker setup with spatial audio, a responsive keyboard, a massive trackpad, a solid collection of ports, and passable gaming performance for the first time in years from a Mac and this is the 3K laptop to beat. Starting at $2,499 it’s not cheap, but it’s worth it.

See our full MacBook Pro 16 2023 review. 

(Image credit: Future)

Don’t worry Windows fans, this is the last MacBook, but you can’t argue with the minor miracle that Apple has pulled off with the battery life on these 3K laptops. Even the 14-inch MacBook Pro crossed the 14-hour mark in our battery test while offering a sharper image thanks to its identical resolution on the smaller display.

I won’t take up any more of your time on this one as beyond the battery life you can just take everything that I said above about the MacBook Pro 16 and map it onto a smaller 14-inch chassis. That saves you 1.3 pounds (4.8 vs. 3.5 pounds) and $500 off the starting price of $1,999 for the MacBook Pro 14. 

See our full MacBook Pro 14 review.

(Image credit: Future)

10 hours and 30 minutes

The Dell Inspiron 16 Plus gives you a 16-inch, 16:10, 3K display and a discrete RTX 30-series GPU while still outlasting the premium laptop average with 10 hours and 30 minutes during our battery testing. It also costs hundreds less than its MacBook competitors above at right around $1,600 for a well-specced model.

Performance with its Intel Core i7-12700H CPU impressed our reviewer who battle-tested the laptop during CES 2023. Juggling dozens of Google Chrome tabs with YouTube videos, press releases, and Google Docs open while also exporting hundreds of photos was no match for the Inspiron 16 Plus. It can even handle video production duties, finishing our Handbrake video transcoding test in 5 minutes and 49 seconds.

While it’s not a gaming laptop it will handle some casual 1080p gaming just fine, delivering 52 frames per second in our Borderlands 2 test and 58fps in Grand Theft Auto V. When you’re ready to switch back to productivity mode the excellent Chiclet keyboard won’t slow you down and the large 3.1 x 4.5-inch touchpad will let you navigate around that 3K display with ease.

See our full Dell Inspiron 16 Plus review. 

(Image credit: Future)

This 2-in-1 comes in at an easily portable 3 pounds and despite its gorgeous 13.5-inch OLED touchscreen display, it still managed to last 10 hours and 12 minutes in our testing. 

Now it’s important to note that the Spectre x360 13.5 isn’t going toe-to-toe on performance with the other laptops that we’ve covered so far, this is a productivity-focused laptop with a beautiful OLED display. Don’t plan on gaming or video editing, but it should handle photo editing just fine and the included stylus with built-in slot may even come in handy there. If you share my lack of freehand drawing skills then you can still appreciate the stylus for taking notes or signing documents.

The Spectre is certainly the most striking of the laptops that we’ve covered so far, with the dark Nightfall finish combined with the brass accents and diagonal-cut rear corners it’s a laptop that will stand out in a coffee shop or meeting room. Its 360-degree hinge is solidly built and lets you easily flip it into a presentation or tent mode depending on your needs.  

See our full HP Spectre x360 13.5 review. 

(Image credit: Laptop Mag)

Alright, 2.8K, but trust me when you see the rest of the Lenogo Yoga 9i Gen 8s display specs you are going to understand why I’m forgiving that slight discrepancy. This 90Hz OLED display blew our reviewer away with its unbelievable 142.1% DCI-P3 color gamut. To say that’s not in the same ballpark as the competition doesn’t do it justice, it’s in another galaxy. 

The durable 2-in-1 offers MIL-STD-810H certification against drops, moisture, pressure, temperature, shock, dust, and more. So don’t worry about dragging this 3.1-pound laptop around with you on any adventure, it’s ready. That includes the 360-degree hinge, which our reviewer said remained well-supported and firm in every configuration.

Lenovo went with Intel’s Core i7-1360P processor here and it gives you a solid blend of performance, while also obviously delivering solid efficiency. Like the Spectre, you aren’t going to turn to this for gaming or video creation, but it’ll churn through productivity and web-based tasks with ease. It also gets a helping hand from its incredibly fast SSD, hitting 1,669MBps, well beyond the 1,311MBps premium average.

While it may not quite hit the resolution of the others on this list, the Yoga 9i Gen 8 has the most breathtaking display of them all, so if you are looking for the best-looking display while staying above 10 hours of battery life, it’s an excellent choice.

See our full Lenovo Yoga 9i Gen 8 review.

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