Top 10 bezel-less laptops for Late 2017
More content, less bezel. 2017 has been the year of not just hardware advancements, but aesthetics as well. Laptops that could offer more immersive experiences due to narrow bezels were suddenly being preferred over conventional designs. In this article, we will take a look at some of the laptops that have managed to lure buyers by virtue of their nearly bezel-less displays.
Laptops are no longer defined just as portable computers to be be lugged around. Just like smartphones, modern laptops have evolved to define the user. As such, the aesthetics of a laptop are suddenly being given equal attention to their internals. One definite trend that we have observed over the past year is the propensity for OEMs to reduce bezels surrounding the display. Reduced bezels offer a few advantages: one, either the excess space is trimmed and the laptop becomes more compract, or and two, the user gets more screen real estate to play with and the internals stay the same. 2017 saw a slew of laptops launching with narrow to almost no bezels. In this article, we will explore some that have caught our attention by virtue of their almost bezel-less displays and are worth a purchase decision. Let's take a look at a few of them below in no specific order.
Dell XPS 13 and XPS 15
The XPS series from Dell needs no introduction. Both the XPS 13 and XPS 15 are performance powerhouses and come with multiple configurable options to suit most budgets. The standout feature of the XPS line has been what Dell refers to as the 'InfinityEdge' display. In fact, the XPS 13 started the whole trend of trimming down the bezels rather than up-sizing the display, making the phrase "13-inch notebook in an 11-inch frame" a very successful marketing ploy. The XPS 13 features up to a QHD+ display while the XPS 15 offers up to an UHD panel. Both displays do a good job of engrossing the user in the content with their brilliant sRGB and Adobe RGB spectrum coverage. Although the displays are great, the major gripe has been the placement of the webcam in the bottom bezel as there is virtually no space to accommodate it at the top due to thin bezels. If you can excuse the obvious design flaw, the XPS displays are some of the best options available for content creators and consumers on the go.
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HP Spectre x360
If the awkward webcam placement of the XPS series is putting you off, consider the HP Spectre x360. The latest iteration comes with a spec bump to the latest Intel Core i7-8550U CPU with the NVIDIA GeForce MX150 providing some much needed GPU horsepower. Display options are available in FHD and 4K with bezels measuring less than 5 mm on both left and right sides. HP calls it a 'virtually borderless micro-edge display'. Despite the thin bezels, HP retained the webcam in its original spot, which should please a lot of buyers. A great build quality and the ability to transform into multiple modes combined with capable internals make the Spectre x360 a no-brainer for anyone looking for a combination of aesthetics and performance.
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Lenovo Yoga 920
Compared to both the Dell XPS 13 2-in-1 and the HP Spectre x360, the Lenovo Yoga 920 comes across as being marginally thicker. But those on the lookout for an overall well-built convertible with thin bezels will find a lot to like in the refreshed Lenovo offering. The notebook's display comes in FHD and 4K variants and now supports Lenovo's Active Stylus, which means a better inking experience with Windows Ink. However, the glossy panel lends to a reflective surface when used outdoors and the average brightness rating of just 280 nits means that using the laptop outdoors will not be an ideal experience. Still, the upgraded internals, thin bezels around the display, and improved IO connectivity should mean that the Yoga 920 can be a worthy consideration.
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Huawei MateBook X
Huawei silenced the critics when it launched the MateBook X. And it did a great job at that, so much so, that the MateBook X is often referred to as the MacBook of the Windows world. Indubitably, it takes a lot of cues from the MacBook's design principles. The notebook features a 3:2 format display with a resolution of 2160 x 1440 with a excellent brightness of 395 nits, which makes it great for outdoor viewing. The glossy panel, however, can be highly reflective in bright light. Huawei has created a new cooling system, called the MEPCM, for cooling the Intel Core i5-7200U CPU powering this unit, negating the need for a fan. While the notebook does a good job at regular office work and some light photo editing workflows, the passive cooling system cannot sustain higher loads resulting in throttling. Still, if sleekness is the main purchase criteria, there is little to fault in the MateBook X.
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Asus VivoBook S15 S510UA
The Asus VivoBook S15 S510UA seeks to offer a compelling ZenBook or XPS alternative without cutting too many corners. The notebook features a NanoEdge FHD display (Asus-speak for narrow bezels) and weighs just 1.6 kg. The notebook looks premium even though it leans more towards the budget-mainstream category. Despite the slim profile, there was no perceived throttling issues with the Core i5-7200U CPU and the notebook managed to stay cool even under load. The only criticism we had in our review was the mediocre build quality and shorter battery life compared to some of its more expensive counterparts. However, the VivoBook S15 remains an excellent value proposition for those looking to go bezel-less on a budget. We will soon be reviewing the successor to the S510UA, the S510UN, which features 8th gen Intel processors and an NVIDIA GeForce MX150 GPU.
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Samsung Notebook 9
The Samsung Notebook 9 takes the award for being one of the most underrated ultrabooks of 2017, overshadowed by the XPSs, Spectres, and Yogas. The Notebook 9 comes in 13 and 15-inch variants. The 13-inch Notebook 9 comes with the option of having an Intel Core i5-7200U with 8 GB RAM or the Intel Core i7-7500U with 16 GB RAM. The 13-inch variant is exceptionally light at just 820 g and the display affords very thin bezels. While the display itself is pretty good, it lacks touchscreen options. There is also no Thunderbolt 3 and the battery life is on the lower side. These downsides do not, however, affect the top notch experience provided by the Notebook 9 in any manner. If you are willing to hold out a tad little longer, Samsung will soon be launching the updated Notebook 9 series in a range of configurations that address some of the deficits of the previous generation while still offering a thin chassis and a near bezel-less display.
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Gigabyte Aero 15
The Gigabyte Aero 15 was chosen as the best performing multimedia notebook in our 2017 top 10 multimedia notebook comparison. Apart from class leading performance, the Aero 15 and its more powerful sibling, the Aero 15X, also boast of slim form factors with bezel-less displays. The FHD display is vivid and comes pre-calibrated for Pantone standards for accurate colors. The only gripe we had with the display was the slow response time. The notebook is swift, offers noiseless operation for the most part, and also affords decent battery life for the components it houses. If a powerful multimedia notebook that also has the looks to flaunt is what you're looking at, the Gigabyte Aero 15 series should be high on your shopping list.
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Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon
Business notebooks are generally perceived to be thick and not as suave as their consumer counterparts but the Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon seeks to change this notion. Available in WQHD and FHD displays, the ThinkPad X1 Carbon comes across as a sturdy notebook that not only means business but also has some aesthetic sense. The bezels are pretty narrow for a ThinkPad and the whole system is very light at just 1.1 kg. Performance does not disappoint at the intended loads and the device is equipped with ports of every kind to minimize addon dongles. The famed ThinkPad keyboard is also present, which should please veteran followers of the brand. The only gripe we had with the ThinkPad X1 Carbon is that the WWAN needs to be configured before purchase and cannot be added later on — this means no LTE unless you ask for it. That apart, the ThinkPad X1 Carbon complements business use with well-rounded aesthetics and most importantly, thin bezels.
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LG Gram 15
While some companies went for laptops that were as compact as possible, the LG Gram 15 turned heads for its unbelievably light weight and a nearly bezel-less display. The Gram is available in 13.3, 14 and 15.6-inch variants and weighs just over 2 pounds (for the 15.6-inch version). The Gram 15 earned praise for packing fairly powerful internals in an ultra-compact chassis but many reviewers noted that the build quality of the chassis was not really up to the mark. Despite the slim chassis, most connectivity options are included and you also get a typical work day's worth of battery life. LG has also announced an upgrade to the Gram line of ultrabooks featuring the latest 8th generation Intel Core processors and a more durable magnesium alloy body.
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HP EliteBook x360 1020 G2
HP's EliteBook series comprise the company's business line of notebooks and the latest EliteBook x360 1020 G2 is a very capable performer in this segment. The notebook is inspired by the Spectre x360-like convertible form factor and while it has quite a lot of things going for it, one of the biggest draws happens to be its screen. The almost bezel-less touch display comes in a choice regular FHD and UHD panels, with the option of also having an FHD 700-nit 120 Hz option. The Intel Core i7-7600U CPU keeps it abreast of most tasks and the notebook is MIL-STD certified to take a good beating. We observed fairly consistent CPU performance and are glad that the audio output is well balanced, which makes for a good movie watching experience, especially in tablet mode. The HP EliteBook x360 1020 G2 makes a good purchase option for the mainstream business consumer looking for a capable business notebook with looks to match.
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Notebook design trends have more or less remained stagnant over the past decade. While the convertible form factor can be thought of as a radical shift in design, the last couple of years saw incorporation of bezel-less displays much like smartphones. A bezel-less display draws the user into the content without distractions and allows OEMs to incorporate larger displays in smaller chassis. 2017 has seen many OEMs incorporating bezel-less displays and the list above is a only a handful of such laptops launched this year. We will surely see this trend continue well into 2018 and beyond, with OEMs trying to outclass each other with higher screen-to-body ratios. No longer a notebook is a function of just its internals; aesthetics also play an important role and the laptops in this list seem to drive home this fact.