Laptop Screens and LCD Panels: The Technical Stuff Explained

Laptop Screens and LCD Panels: The Technical Stuff Explained

If a user broke his or her laptop keyboard, he can easily go to a computer parts shop and buy an external keyboard. No problem. USB ports in a laptop may be few compared to that of a desktop PC, but if a user needs more in a laptop, an external USB port can be popped in. However, an LCD panel that is broken requires the whole laptop to be taken to a computer repair shop. That is how crucial a part laptop screens are.

Also, when buying a laptop, aside from other specifications such as memory capacity, the screen is also a very important consideration. The preferred size of the laptop can also be relative to the preferred screen size. Furthermore, there are other things to factor in when choosing the right laptop screen, including the type of backlight, screen size, and aspect ratio. These technical things need to be elaborated so buyers can be more enlightened when making the buying decision.

The Different Types of LCD Technology for Laptops

Cathode ray tubes or CRT screens are a thing of the past. The decline of CRT screens in television started in 2008 when liquid crystal display screens or LCD surpassed the annual sales of CRT units. Then the computer industry followed. LCD has beaten CRT units because LCDs are more energy efficient and are easy to dispose compared to their CRT counterparts. Because LCDs consume low energy it is the ideal screen for battery-operated devices such as laptops. LCDs also have the advantage of not using phosphors, making them not vulnerable to burn-in as opposed to plasma display technology.

But unlike CRTs, LCDs do not produce light themselves, so they need a form of backlighting so users can view visible images on the screen. Backlights do not strictly illuminate screens from the back. They can also be placed on the side of the screen to provide illumination. The backlight or the light source of an LCD panel comes in different varieties, and the two types that are mainly used for laptops are the light emitting diodes (LEDs) and Cold Cathode Fluorescent Lamps (CCFLs). In effect, LCD panels can come as LED LCD and CCFL LCD.

LED-Backlit LCD or LED LCD

LEDs use a strip or matrix instead of a tube which CCFLs use. LCDs with LED backlighting have three types. The first is the white-edge LEDs around the rim of the screen, which distributes the light equally commonly behind the screen using a special diffusion panel. Another type is the dynamic array of LEDs that can be switched on and off individually or in groups to get a modulated backlight pattern. The last type is the LED array located behind the laptop screen in which the brightness cannot be controlled individually. LED backlighting technology consumes less energy than the CCFL counterpart. It is also known to provide greater colour variety, superior brightness and contrast, and faster response to image change, and better image rendering. The dynamic "local dimming" type, due to its capability to dim certain areas on the screen, can show more vivid blacks and whites.

LED LCDs can also be super slim, with some screens having less than 0.92 centimetres thin. In RGB-LED forms, LED LCDs can provide a wider range of colours. LCDs of this type have longer life spans and produce less environmental pollution on disposal. Such LCDS are considerably cooler, allow a wider dimming range, and are generally more reliable. The finish of CCFL LCDs is available in matte or glossy kind. LED LCDS, however, are more expensive than the CCFL LCD types.


CCFLs came first before the LED variety, and they are still used by many brands of laptops. To illuminate a laptop screen, the fluorescent tube is connected to a voltage inverter board, providing power to the backlight. There are types of CCFLs called Dual Backlights or 2-CCFL that use two tubes and two pairs of inverters.

CCFLs consume more energy and, in general, produce a more washed out picture than LEDs. It is unfortunate that CCFL lamps tend to provide unequal distribution of light in an event of backlight bleed. A CCFL is placed at the bottom of the LCD panel so users viewing a pure black screen would notice that the bottom screen is lower than the top screen. Because a CCFL is considered inferior to an LED when it comes to lighting quality, users with CCFL LCD screens can have poorer viewing angles. The advantage of CCFLs over LEDs is that they are cheaper. The finish of CCFL LCDs is also available in matte or glossy kind.

Key Comparisons Between LED and CCFL

The table below shows the differences in LED and CCFL technology. The two are compared based on weight and size, cost, power and heat generation, brightness and contrast, finish, and lifespan.




Weight and Size

Lighter and thinner

Heavier and thicker


More expensive

Cost effective; cheaper

Power and Heat Generation

Lower heat generation and power consumption

Higher heat generation and power consumption

Brightness and Contrast

More vivid contrast and higher brightness

Lower brightness and contrast


Matte and glossy

Matte and glossy



Lasts longer than a CCFL

The table above can be a quick reference for buyers. Clearly, LED-backlit LCDs have greater advantages over the CCFL types, except in price.

Aspect Ratio

Simply put, aspect ratio is the proportional relationship between the width and height of the screen. Aspect ratio is commonly expressed as X:Y, where X is the width and Y is the height. There are four different aspect ratios: 4:3, 5:4, 16:9, and 16:10.


The 4:3 aspect ratio is for standard definition, which can also be expressed as 1.33:1. This means that the screen is going to provide the viewer a picture that is three units tall and four units wide. Screens with this type of aspect ratio is not common these days


Also an extremely rare 5:4 aspect ratio which can be expressed as 1.25.1. This aspect ratio used to be common among desktop screens but rare in notebooks. Today, however, 5:4 is not a common aspect ratio for laptops.


The 16:10 aspect ratio that can also be expressed as 1.66.1 is the most common aspect ratio in laptop screens. Since it is relatively tall than another laptop LCD panel aspect ratio, it provide better viewing especially in movie watching.


Also goes by the figure 1.77:1, the 16:9 aspect ratio is becoming more popular these days. It is the standard for HD TVs, and is significantly wider than it is tall. Manufacturers these days are favouring this type of laptop screen because it is easier to produce.

Screen Size and Corresponding Resolution

Each screen size has one, two, and sometimes three corresponding resolutions. This is particularly important in viewing images, text, or anything on the screen. If the screen is large and it has lower resolution, the usability of the screen is paralysed. Below are the common screen sizes—categorised in two most common aspect ratio, 16:10 and 16:9—and their corresponding resolutions:

For 16:10 screens:

  • 12.1" with 1280x800 resolution
  • 13.3" with 1280x800 or 1440x900 resolution
  • 14.1" with 1280x800 or 1440x900 resolution
  • 15.4" with 1280x800, 1440x900, 1680x1050, or 1920x1200 resolution
  • 17.0" with 1440x900, 1680x1050, or 1920x1200 resolution

For 16:9 screens:

  • 11.1" with 1366x768 resolution
  • 13.1" with 1366x768 resolution
  • 15.6" with 1366x768 resolution
  • 16.0" with 1366x768 or 1920x1080 resolution
  • 16.4" with 1600x900 or 1920x1080 resolution
18.4" with 1680x945 or 1920x1080 resolution

Buying Laptop Screens and LCD Panels on eBay

eBay offers a variety of laptop screens and LCD panels. It is also your one-stop shop for all your computer needs. The website lists a wide selection of both LED LCD and CCFL LCD. From the most common aspect ratios to the rarest, you can find them on eBay. You can also choose from different screen sizes on the website.

A direct search by typing the keywords such as "14.1 inches LCD panel" or "LED-backlit LCD screen" into the search bar is the easiest way to find a laptop screen or LCD panel. If you are new to the site, it is easy to find your way to options that can filter your search based on your preferred features. It is recommended to buy from top-rated sellers because they tend to respond quicker and provide better customer experience. There are top sellers that even offer free shipping. You can get the best deals on eBay if you know how to carefully choose the laptop screen or LCD panel as well as the seller.


Laptop screens and LCD panels are an important consideration when buying a laptop because, depending on the type, a laptop screen or LCD panel provides the level of quality laptop users require. Laptops have an LCD screen, and such type of screen can come as either an LED-backlit LCD or a CCFL LCD. While the CFFL variety uses a tube to light the LCD, the LED uses strips of light-emitting diode.

When comparing and contrasting the two different types of LCD backlight, the LED is the superior type in general. It is lighter and thinner than its CCFL counterpart. It also has lower heat generation and power consumption. It is brighter and has more vivid contrast than CCFL. The only downside of LED LCD is that it is more expensive than the other type of LCD. Furthermore, the most common aspect ratios for a laptop screen are 16:10 or 16:9. There are different sizes of laptop screens or LCD panels, and each can have one or more corresponding resolutions. Knowing what type, aspect ratio, or size of an LCD panel or laptop screen that is best for the needs helps buyers come to a right buying decision.

Have something to share, create your own guide... Write a guide
Explore more guides
Choose a template