Does Your Laptop Pass the One-Finger Lift Test, and Does It Matter?

There are various way to assess the quality of a laptop, but one method you may not be familiar with is the one-finger lift test. Some laptop reviewers do this test, and it turns out it can reveal a lot.

How to Do the One-Finger Test

Doing the test is quick and simple. First, put your laptop down on an even, steady surface, such as a desktop.

Next, with the laptop lid closed, use the tip of your finger to open the lid.

A man lifting a laptop lid with one finger in the middle of the lid.
Sydney Louw Butler / How-To Geek

If the whole laptop lifts instead of the lid opening, it’s failed the test. Likewise, if the laptop slides backward or moves from its position, it fails this test.

A laptop opened with one finger.
Sydney Louw Butler / How-To Geek

What Does This Test Tell Us?

Whether a laptop passes or fails this test can tell us a few things about what’s going on under the hood and even what sort of effort went into its design. It’s not exactly a scientific test, but it’s quick and easy when assessing a laptop and can have real-world consequences for your user experience.

To boil it down to the essentials, if a laptop fails this test, it means its weight distribution is all towards the rear of the laptop, with the front half filled with lighter components and air. The first implication is purely practical—we often need to open laptops with just one hand. It is less than ideal if it slides off your lap or your desk when you try to do so.

It’s also important if you’re the kind of person that’s actually going to use your laptop on your lap or another non-level surface, since the laptop’s tendency will be to slide backward if it’s back-heavy. This test also tells you something about how well the hinge is engineered. A good laptop hinge is stiff enough not to flop around, while offering enough give for a satisfying motion. If your laptop passes the one-finger test then it’s more likely that the hinge, which is often the weak point in budget laptops, has had some decent attention from the designers.

Finally, this test could tell you something about the quality of the screen lid itself. If you put your finger exactly in the middle of the screen and apply smooth pressure to open it, the screen lid should not warp or wobble. Both hinges should offer the same resistance as well. If you need to use two hands, one on each corner of the screen, to open the laptop without it bending, that could be a sign that the machine is overall not the best quality.

Does This Test Really Matter?

Just like the laptop deck flex test, there are some assumptions built into this way of quickly assessing a laptop’s build quality that might not really translate into actual build quality differences—at least not in areas where it matters. However, there is something to be said for the experience of operating a laptop, and having a laptop that can open smoothly using a single finger does translate into a laptop that feels more premium and pleasant to use. Personally, ever since I saw the test performed on Jarrod’s Tech, I’ve always done the one-figner test to get a feel for a laptop’s build quality. Whether this is a useful test is something only you can decide whether you care about.


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