Matte vs Glossy Screen – Which Should I Choose?

What is the difference between matte and glossy screens and which one should you choose? Here's the ultimate guide to help you make the best decision.

Answer:

While matte screen coating effectively reduces reflections, it also makes the image quality slightly more dull and hazy. Glossy monitors, on the other hand, have a more vibrant and intense picture quality but a very reflective screen.

Since neither coating is flawless, the choice mostly depends on personal preference.

The type of screen coating plays a big role when you’re looking for a new PC monitor or a laptop. Besides the effect of the screen surface on the image quality itself, ambient lighting is a crucial factor to take into account as well.

Glossy screen coating allows for more vivid colors and expressive contrast, but under heavy sunlight reflection or too bright room lighting, it can become mirror-like and not very pleasant to use.

The matte finish monitors, on the other hand, include an anti-glare treatment, which eliminates the issue with reflections. However, image quality is more grainy and less clear.

matte display laptop

Other benefits of matte-coated monitors are that dust is less visible, and they’re better for your eyes as you don’t have to look through the reflections like you would with glossy displays.

Matte vs Glossy – Which Should You Choose?

In the end, the disadvantages of both options can be neglected depending on what kind of environment you’ll be watching the screen in.

For instance, if you’re looking for a laptop for outdoors, a matte screen laptop is the obvious choice, whereas if you spend most of your computer time in a dim-lit room, you will benefit more from a glossy screen.

In the picture below, note the difference between glossy (left) and matte (right) screen coating under the sunlight reflection.

glossy vs matte screen

The Middle-Ground Option

As none of the screen coating types are perfect, manufacturers are working on improving them. So far, there are certain semi-glossy and light matte screen finishes that deliver an in-between and more balanced result. All of these are essentially matte coatings, but with lesser light diffusion and thinner layers.

AU Optronics developed a semi-glossy coating for their VA panels, which features only 13-18% haze value as opposed to the regular 25%. This low-haze matte surface makes for a considerably less grainy image, but it’s also a bit more reflective than the usual matte finish.

Samsung also has its own ‘very light matte’ surface that they featured on some of their latest curved VA panel monitors. These offer an 18% haze value as opposed to the usual 24-28%. The result is pretty much the same as it’s with the semi-glossy surfaces and some of LG’s AH-IPS panel models.

In the end, you’re back where you’ve started. The panels with the lighter matte surface may preserve image quality more than the common matte finish does, but not as effectively as glossy ones.

You’ll also find glossy screens with anti-glare (low 1-4% haze) or anti-reflective treatments. These are a bit less reflective than the standard glossy screens, but still not nearly as efficient at mitigating glare as matte coatings.

When it comes to matte vs. glossy surfaces for gaming, the matte is a more obvious choice, particularly for competitive gaming.

In fact, most gaming monitors feature a matte finish. You certainly don’t want your reflection to be in the way of shooting your opponents!

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Rob Shafer
Rob Shafer

Rob is a software engineer with a Bachelor’s degree from the University of Denver. He now works full-time managing DisplayNinja while coding his own projects on the side.