The trend in 16:10 gaming laptops over CES 2023 shows we're finally evolving

Acer Nitro 16 in use with its 16:10 panel making life easier for everyone.
(Image credit: Acer)

Alright, what's with these funky 16:10 gaming laptop screen ratios at CES 2023? I swear every other gaming laptop announcement over the past couple of days has been slapped with a WQXGA or WUXGA display specification. But what does it mean? To the unaffiliated, it may look like a string of letters equating to no more than marketing gibberish. But the 16:10 aspect ratio these precious acronyms represent is very much sought after in the world of productivity. When it comes to gaming though, it's been seen as a point of contention.

In case you're wondering, an aspect ratio represents a panel's width relative to its height. WUXGA stands for Wide Ultra Extended Graphics Array and comes in at 1920x1200 pixel resolution. WQXGA means Wide Quad Extended Graphics Array, in 2560x1600 res. Why the X stands for extended, we don't know. What we do know is that these are becoming a standard aspect ratio for the higher end laptops, and gaming manufacturers are catching on.

So far this year, both Acer and Asus have hit us with high-end 16:10 gaming laptops, backed by RTX 40-series mobile GPUs. Case in point, this year's Asus Zephyrus gaming laptop lineup offers 16:10 Nebula panels as an option, and Acer's recently announced Predator Helios 16 and 18, and Nitro 16 gaming laptops will all see their panel's vertically stretched, too. 

Plenty of other manufacturers are expected to follow suit, though whether these will be well received is another matter. So why is it happening?

Dictated in large part by the scale of the HDTV market setting a 16:9 standard, real time monitor statistics show that boring old 1080p is still very much dominant. Slip into any online tech forum thread about the 16:10 ratio, however, and you'll see droves of gamers both embracing and condemning it for a different reasons.

As I discovered a while back in speaking to an expert on the subject, a more expansive screen could level up your gaming potential. Though it makes sense why some gamers are hard pressed to adopt 16:10. It's one of those suited to certain kinds of games. RTS players, city builders and the like are going to be well pleased with more gaming laptops touting the 16:10 ratio, as it'll let them see more of the map and keep an eye out for invaders on your North and South borders.

Screen queens

(Image credit: Future)

Best gaming monitor: Pixel-perfect panels for your PC
Best high refresh rate monitor: Screaming quick screens
Best 4K monitor for gaming: When only high-res will do
Best 4K TV for gaming: Big-screen 4K PC gaming

Those more into shooters are likely to shrug at the idea, since only a wider screen would deliver a better field of view—online shooters don't even allow wider FOV because it creates an unfair advantage, in fact, so why would 16:10 help? Well it wouldn't, but it's not just gamers using gaming laptops now is it?

Business people, coders, and productivity nerds, on the other hand, see 16:10 in a more resoundingly positive light. You'll hear them cry out in glee the second you present them with a slightly taller panel than they're used to. Just being able to see a few more lines of code is indispensable when you haven't got the ability to swivel your laptop screen into portrait mode.

My guess is we're seeing a boom in the adoption of 16:10 in gaming since people are using their machines for more than just productivity or gaming alone. As we move into an age where gaming grows ever more popular, more people want to switch back and forth between gaming and productivity tasks. And while some may not like it, PC gaming is no longer some exclusive club.

With gaming laptops adopting the productivity panels of preference in, that fact is doubly underlined. Now we can really get some multitasking done. Embracing something practical that's outside of the standard? We seem to be evolving. I dub this new evolution of man: Homo Visio, or something.

Katie Wickens
Hardware Writer

Screw sports, Katie would rather watch Intel, AMD and Nvidia go at it. Having been obsessed with computers and graphics for three long decades, she took Game Art and Design up to Masters level at uni, and has been demystifying tech and science—rather sarcastically—for three years since. She can be found admiring AI advancements, scrambling for scintillating Raspberry Pi projects, preaching cybersecurity awareness, sighing over semiconductors, and gawping at the latest GPU upgrades. She's been heading the PCG Steam Deck content hike, while waiting patiently for her chance to upload her consciousness into the cloud.