4 good reasons you should NOT buy a touchscreen laptop (and 2 reasons you should)

Buying a laptop these days is a process that usually has a lot of questions involved. Does it have the newest hardware and will it put up with my workload? How much storage does it have? Does it have a touchscreen? Regarding the final question, there is an ongoing debate over whether or not touchscreens are worth buying on Windows 10 laptops. We're not talking about 2-in-1s with detachable keyboards like the Surface Pro — we're talking laptops, whether convertible or notebook, like the Dell XPS 15. To help you decide, here are four reasons why you shouldn't buy a laptop with a touchscreen, and two reasons you should.

Why you shouldn't buy a touchscreen laptop

Here's the first part of the argument.,

Touchscreens drain batteries faster

Touchscreens come with a whole other set of processing jobs for the hardware inside your PC, mainly due to the touch panel constantly checking to see if any of your digits are touching the display. The difference in battery life can be quite drastic, sometimes cutting out up to hours of life.

Laptops are meant to be used on the go, and if you think you'll often use yours while traveling, commuting, or in the field, consider staying away from a touchscreen. You never know when you'll need an extra few minutes (or hours) of battery life.

See the laptops with the best battery life

Touchscreens are more expensive

Since you need a special display with a touch panel built into it, expect to pay more overall for a laptop. Many manufacturers will also offer the touchscreen in a higher resolution, further upping the price.

If you're searching for the best laptop for the lowest price, avoiding a touchscreen can save you a few hundred dollars.

Touchscreens make laptops heavier

Dell XPS 13 (Image credit: Windows Central)

That extra technology baked into the display takes up space and will usually make the laptop heavier. The difference in weight is often in mere grams, but part of the allure of a laptop is how light it is.

The difference in the Dell XPS 13 (opens in new tab), for example, is about 0.2 pounds. That's really not a lot, but in a laptop that already weighs under three pounds, it is noticeable.

Touchscreens are harder to see in direct light

Using a touchscreen in the dark or in a room with dim lighting won't cause many problems, but have you ever tried using one in direct light? Since most touchscreens have a glossy finish (the alternative is a matte finish, which is much better in the sun but not often used on touchscreens), fingerprints, smears, and smudges show up in a major way.

Using a PC in places other than a desk is really what laptops are all about, so you'll no doubt encounter some sun or direct light. If a dirty phone screen or smudged eyewear already drive you nuts, consider whether you want to be cleaning another display.

Why you should buy a touchscreen laptop

On the flipside, we have some good reasons why you should pay a little bit extra for a notebook with touch.

Touchscreens add versatility

In the case of a standard notebook — a laptop that doesn't convert into tablet, stand, and tent modes — it's not as easy to use a touchscreen. You have to reach over a perfectly usable keyboard and touchpad, and the whole operation is a bit awkward with the bottom portion of the laptop in the way.

A convertible laptop, however, lets you rotate the display around so that the touchscreen is front and center. Lenovo's ThinkPad X1 Yoga is a laptop designed with business productivity in mind, but it can also be turned into a tablet for watching TV and movies, reading books, or swiping through social media sites. Many apps available for Windows 10 are designed with touch in mind, and Windows 10's tablet mode is really half the fun of the OS.

See the best convertible laptops

Touchscreens add pen options

The 2-in-1 Surface Pro is a prime example of what a laptop with a pen can achieve, but something like the HP Spectre x360 is not far behind, albeit in a convertible form. You have a standard laptop for typing and productivity, but you can also flip the display around and use the impressive HP pen.

Many Lenovo laptops also feature an active stylus, and while they don't deliver quite the same experience as a full-fledged pen, they still do a great job of making you believe that you're writing or drawing on real paper. If you like the idea of jotting down notes or quickly annotating documents, a touchscreen combined with a pen and Windows Ink is something to behold.

Do you use a laptop with a touchscreen?

Which side of the debate are you on? Do you prefer a laptop with a touch display or one without? Let us know! Also, be sure to check out our Laptop Buyer's Guide for way more information about what laptops currently reign supreme.

See our Laptop Buyer's Guide

Cale Hunt
Senior Editor, Laptop Reviews

Cale Hunt is formerly a Senior Editor at Windows Central. He focuses mainly on laptop reviews, news, and accessory coverage. He's been reviewing laptops and accessories full-time since 2016, with hundreds of reviews published for Windows Central. He is an avid PC gamer and multi-platform user, and spends most of his time either tinkering with or writing about tech.

  • hello. I have the Lenovo yoga 720 with the GeForce gtx inside and particularly love writing on it. I agree with all points listed, although TBH my previous laptop (MacBook pro from 2012) was heavier than this one so the Lenovo yoga 720 is "heavy" but definitely easier to carry than my previous computer.
    also, is there a reason why touchscreens are glossy?
  • I think the question comes down to whether the laptop flips/detaches into a tab or not. if it can't, the benifits of the touchscreen are vastly outweighed by the cons, and these 4 reasons cover those cons pretty well.  again, having a laptop that turns into a tab, makes all the cons worth it. so overall, if you buy a touchscreen buy a convertible. a touchscreen clamshell laotop isn't worth it. and yeah I use a convertible. Asus flipbook tp301ua
  • My Yoga 2 Pro flips, but I rarely flip it. I typically use it as a regular laptop, but even in its laptop configuration I use touch all the time. I used it even in this article with my thumb at the side of the screen to scroll through the article. I also use it to quickly zoom into things. In my opnion it is totally worth it even in a typical laptop configuration.
  • Same goes for me. Btw, my work laptop is not touch, and I constantly find myself reaching for the screen and wondering why the scroll isnt working :/  
  • of course it is useful to have touch even on a non flip laptop. I think the main con is the price. I scroll, pull out the notification panel etc when in laptop mode too. but if I were on a budget and had to pick between better specs or a touchscreen on a clamshell, I'd go for better specs. I think price is the main factor here.    or we could  think from the other end 😅 flipbooks are pretty common and available now. we should all just get flipbooks if we want to use it for day to day tasks.
  • I think battery-life is also an argument. See the XPS 15 for example: The non touch version has a FHD screen whilst the touch-version also has a UHD screen which is definitely impacting the battery life.   Also not to mention glossy vs. matte.
  • Hi! I have a Dell Inspiron 15 5558 with a touchscreen. This one doesn't really help much as it doesn't support pen and my laptop isn't convertible. I usually keep it disabled as there's always someone poking around my screen and doing stuff. I only enable it when I really wanted to play around and do things (inking) with the touchscreen. 😑
  • IMO, if the laptop doesn't have a detachable screen or flips then the touch screen really isn't that great. But even a tablet is not that great because tablet mode on W10 kinda sucks.
  • I love the touchscreen on my laptop. I will never buy one without touchscreen again. Browsing with touchscreen on the couch is just so much better.
  • Hang on, if touchscreens can really chew through hours of battery life, surely there should be a nice physical switch to turn them on/off? I love having a touchscreen on my laptop, but I'd be happy to turn it off sometimes if it saves power.
  • It's about 20min to an hour in a lot of cases. It really depends on screen res/size etc..
  • My dell 13 5000 2 in 1 still gets close to 10 hrs battery life...so big deal if the screen does eat up battery.
  • This makes me think.. we can't we turn off the touchscreen hardware to save battery? It would be great if I could tell my laptop "i'm about to do several hours of mouse and keyboard work only, save battery".
  • It sucks when you don't have it. But it's great to be able to use touch on a laptop. As for my gaming rig tower. My 24" full HD monitor is just fine without touch.
  • I prefer non-touch laptops.
  • Was going to get the X1 Yoga (dislike the glossy screen though) but found the Evarlast book for mindmapping so X1 Carbon it is :D
  • I would NEVER go back to a non-touch laptop, even if I never used it tablet mode. The ability to scroll and zoom via touch is the perfect add-on to mouse and keyboard. Just like some things are best done with a keyboard (typing, using arrow keys to step through items one at a time), some with mouse (selecting groups of items, clicking in very precise areas like between letters in a word or small checkboxes), some are best done with a touchscreen (scrolling, zooming, touching buttons). Also, the ability to use Ink, even if only occasionally, for annotation, signing a contract, etc., that's all lost with a laptop. Did you ever try signing a name with a mouse? Blech.
  • I love the touchscreen!  I have a convertible (HP Spectre x/360).  Battery life is getting long enough now that it shouldn't be a deterrent.  I use it 80% in laptop mode but would miss it if I lost that 20%.  Plus I can pinch zoom in laptop mode.  I use very few apps - NextGen Reader is about all.  It would be nice if there was enough demand for Windows apps so that more would be developed.  All the good apps I use are on my iPhone (with the one exception of NextGen Reader).
  • I love touch screens but here's another reason to not get one...Ghost touches. My wife's Dell is plaqued by them so the only way to make the 2-in-1 usable is to disable the functionality.
  • I could not live without a touchscreen laptop nowadays. :D
  • I use it religiously for work as a touchscreen, the lighting software Im running has a really user friendly touch screen interface that makes controlling my scenes a whole lot easier. I will also occasionally use the touch screen when playing some games as well, or getting a movie running while I'm lying in bed.
  • I will NEVER buy a non touch device again.  It's where EVERYTHING is heading...well besides the antique MacOS.  My new desktop all in one will be 27" and touch as well.  I use touch ALOT...Its horrible using computers without touch now.
  • when using a laptop on your lap, a touchscreen makes much more sense. your hands are just so close to the screen that its a chore to reach down for the trackpad.   Battery life is indeed a concern, but I think the digitizer in the touchscreen takes a negligible amount of power. Rather than the touchscreen per se, I think the battery drain is due to the higher resolutions of the screens they generally come with.
  • I originally wanted a touch-screen dell xps 15, but ended up with a macbook now, since I need sketch which only runs on mac sadly. Whilst there is hackintosh, I did not want to do it since the software I would be running was expensive enough to be kinda bummed out if hackintosh would stop working for some reason. Another factor was that I can always quite effortlessly install windows on the macbook and just use it as a windows machine should the need for macintosh be gone at some point. Though it is quite fun to switch between OSes from time to time :D
  • I'm a pro designer and i got an ASUS touch laptop recently. i don't regret it but i have seen some discomfort. if the laptop is not a 2 in 1 or with foldable screen, using touch gets hard and your arm starts to feel pain. because you have to keep your hand in air. also the touch is not 3d like the touch on surface devices. so it's not pressure sensetive. this results in recieving not so much different images from using a mouse. i can only enjoy it while browsing. and when i want to make someones jaw touch the soil on the ground:) anyway as far as I know its more reasonable to buy a normal laptop with a pressure sensetive touchscreen like wacom tablets. if you don't mind the arm, i think win 10 touch is very great and relaxing. I love it to this moment.
  • My touchscreen devices are an 8" Winodws 10 tablet (Acer Iconia W$) and two Chromebooks (CBs). CBs are needing it more since they can now run Android apps that are set up for touch versus mouse & keyboard. One CB only lays flat, the other is a convertible. With both in laptop mode though, when I reach for the screen, it is like I am zeroing in on a target. If I am using the Win tablet or the convertible folded over, like a 'normal' tablet, I don't have that issue. Holding it in my hand just seems more natural for touching and swiping that aiming for a spot on a laptop screen on a desk. Speaking of swiping, it is much handier than a mouse when you're swiping in from the edges such as opening the Notification Center.
  • No. Touchscreen on a laptop is definitely not something I'd want. Our fingers are just too greasy for any type of touchscreen. I can easily wipe a phone of fingerprints oils, it's not so easy to do it on a tablet and especially on a laptop. I would prefer to clean my laptop's screen (glossy) once every few months instead of once every few hours. I think touchscreen itself as a tech is doomed. Sooner or later it should be replaced with some sort of hand, finger, eye tracking solution.