It’s going to be a big, big year for laptops. With major announcements at CES 2022 from almost every major PC manufacturer and a tidal wave of new mobile components from AMD, Intel, and Nvidia, dozens of new laptops—from simple annual refreshes to all-new designs—are promising loads of new reasons to take your money.
From the silicon on up, just about everything is getting an upgrade with this round of announcements. Intel’s 12th Generation H-Series CPUs bring the new chip architecture of “Alder Lake” to laptops big and small, and Intel’s first Arc graphics cards should follow soon after. AMD has its new Ryzen 6000 mobile processors, which are built with the hyper-efficient 6-nanometer process, as well as new Radeon RX 6000S GPUs, which bring more powerful gaming to thin-and-light machines. And Nvidia has new high-end graphics options for laptops with the launch of its GeForce RTX 3070 Ti and 3080 Ti laptop GPUs.
But it goes way beyond processing and graphics. We’re finally seeing laptops announced with features like DDR5 memory, USB 4 and Thunderbolt 4 connectivity, and lightning-fast Wi-Fi 6E networking. And with the still freshly released Windows 11 having come to laptops only at the tail end of 2021, it feels like these new laptops are getting a complete revamp, inside and out.
We weren’t able to see all of these new laptops in person, but from upgraded familiar models to dramatic re-imaginings of personal computing, here are some of our favorite laptops from CES 2022. —Brian Westover
Acer Predator Triton 500 SE
Several Acer gaming machines had updates announced this week, and the Predator Triton 500 SE is the one we’re looking forward to the most. The sleek all-metal chassis ditches the stereotypical loud designs common to gaming machines (a welcome break from “RGB everything”), and Acer outfits the machine with screaming-fast hardware.
In a lot of ways, the Predator Triton 500 demonstrates the top echelon of hardware updates announced at CES, with top-of-the-line 12th Generation Intel Core i9 processors and Nvidia’s GeForce RTX 3080 Ti GPU, paired with 32GB of 5,200MHz LPDDR5 memory and up to 2TB of high-speed PCI Express Gen 4 SSD storage.
The display shifts to a taller 16:10 aspect ratio (which seems to be emerging as the new default on laptops this year), and adds 2,560-by-1,600-pixel resolution, ramping up to a 240Hz refresh rate and a wide-color-gamut panel with 550 nits of brightness. Nvidia G-Sync also makes it that much better for gaming. (Check out our first look at the Predator Triton 500 SE.) —BW
Asus ROG Z13 Flow
The original ROG Flow device, the X13, was a laptop with a foldable keyboard, making it a unique compact gaming convertible. The ROG Z13 Flow pushes both the design and performance further, earning it a spot here. Where the X13 was a laptop, the Z13 is a tablet first, with a detachable keyboard like the Microsoft Surface Pro’s.
That design itself isn’t new, but this is a Surface-alike for gaming. The Z13 manages to pack in a 12th Generation Intel Core i9 H-series processor, the same you’d find in a high-end gaming laptop, as well as a GeForce RTX 3050 Ti GPU. Despite this, it measures just 2.4 pounds and 0.47 inch thick.
That’s a head-turner for any gamer on the go, and the on-paper specs are unheard of at this size. A full-fledged gaming tablet? Definitely cool. (Check out our first look at the ROG Z13 Flow.) —Matthew Buzzi
Asus ROG Zephyrus G14 (2022)
Like the Z13 Flow, this is not the first iteration of the G14, but that doesn’t mean we can’t appreciate the new version. There are plenty of favorite laptop lines seeing updated models at CES 2022, but the G14 is the most interesting.
This portable 14-inch gamer (which we most recently reviewed in August 2021) is getting a larger 16:10 screen, a webcam, and the newest CPUs and GPUs from AMD. A new vapor-chamber thermal solution is allowing Asus to increase the performance but maintain the size.
Then there’s its updated party trick, an optional LED-backlit “AniMe Matrix” lid that can display GIFs and static images. This also existed before, but the new edition is more advanced, with more perforations resulting in a brighter and more nuanced picture. The overall package stands out, and we can’t wait to test this laptop for review. (Check out our first look at the 2022 Asus ROG Zephyrus G14.) —MB
Asus ZenBook 17 Fold OLED
Once upon a time, the idea of a foldable screen was just a fever dream, but ever since the turn of the decade, we’ve seen foldable devices become more prevalent. Initial attempts from other manufacturers have been marred with numerous issues, but there’s no doubting the interest in making a foldable device that, well, simply works. Asus seems up to the challenge, swinging for the fences with the Asus Zenbook 17 Fold OLED, a futuristic folding device that functions as both a 17-inch tablet and (when folded and overlaid with a keyboard) a 12.5-inch laptop.
Making use of a crease-able display and a unique hinge, the gorgeous 4:3 OLED touch screen folds to an ultraportable, easy-to-carry device that’s as slim as a sheet of A4-size photocopier paper. Unfolded, you can expect a full-fat 17-inch display that works as tablet or a laptop with a wireless keyboard. It’s equipped with a 12th Generation Intel processor, up to 16GB of DDR5 RAM, and up to 1TB of storage.
The screen, which features the deep blacks and brilliant colors you’d expect from an OLED device, is both VESA DisplayHDR 500 True Black certified and Pantone-validated, which means image quality is top-notch. Couple that with a Dolby Atmos-supported quad-speaker system, a Bluetooth keyboard, and Asus Wi-Fi Master Premium, which Asus claims will provide greater Wi-Fi signal range and stability, and you got a piece of tech that feels like the future.
But when does the future arrive? And for how much? Asus didn’t share any pricing or even a release window, but we’re impressed with what we’ve seen so far. Bleeding-edge tech is what drives innovation, and while we don’t know if Asus will be able to deliver, the Fold is setting the standard for the foldable of the future. (Read more about the Asus Zenbook 17 Fold OLED.) —Zackery Cuevas
With the x15 and x17 last year, Alienware made its flagship m15 and m17 gaming laptops thinner and sleeker. They do look better, but we didn’t find the moderate decrease in thickness particularly worth some performance loss, and since the X-Series models were actually a touch heavier, they didn’t really make the laptops any more portable.
(Photo: Molly Flores)
Enter the x14. A thinner, sleeker redesign fits a compact 14-inch chassis much better than a 15- or 17-inch system, so this pairing has piqued our interest. The 0.57-inch-thick, 3.96-pound chassis is a much more portable prospect. In our hands-on time, the x14 felt totable—easy to tuck under our arms, or throw in a bag—while still sporting the sci-fi style.
The resizing helps the X-Series design ethos make much more sense, at least on paper, and its 12th Generation Core i7 processors and up to GeForce RTX 3060 GPU should guarantee a plenty capable machine. (Check out our first look at the Alienware x14.) —MB
Dell XPS 13 Plus
This one should be self-explanatory, with one look at the design. While the XPS 13 Plus may not function too differently from the laptops of today, it looks like it has come from the future, like some kind of Laptop Terminator.
(Photo: Molly Flores)
The touchpad is seamlessly blended with the wrist-rest strip, the larger keys are flush with one another and run edge-to-edge on the laptop, and the function and media-key row has been swapped for backlit touch buttons.
Any one of these changes may have caught your eye, but the combined effect is quite striking—the XPS 13 Plus looks like it jumped out of a sci-fi set. Add to that a higher-wattage CPU than the standard XPS for boosted performance, and this is one cool laptop. (Check out our first look at the XPS 13 Plus.) —MB
HP Elite Dragonfly Chromebook
Chromebooks have been a distinct but clearly defined part of the laptop world for years now, but the new HP Elite Dragonfly Chromebook still manages to shake things up with some “world’s first” features. With both consumer and enterprise versions of the Dragonfly Chromebook coming this spring, the new 13-inch version has a 2-in-1 design with pen support. But that’s far from the most interesting thing about this Chrome-powered laptop.
There are two firsts on the Dragonfly Chromebook. One is a haptic trackpad, which provides more tactile feedback than a basic click, thanks to tiny piezo-electric motors that give you a better sense of button presses and gestures. It’s a very cool feature to bring to a Chrome laptop, but it’s not the big one.
That would be the introduction of Intel’s first Chrome-specific version of vPro, a collection of standards and support features that have become indispensable to businesses managing lots of employee machines. Intel has only just introduced the new Chrome vPro option, and it’s tied to an as-yet-unspecified Intel processor. But for business users considering a move to Chromebooks, it’s a huge selling point. (It’s also likely limited to the Enterprise model.)
Aside from that, these are pretty well-appointed machines, offering Intel processing that meets the standards for Intel’s Evo platform, which means it will offer better-than-average responsiveness, 9-plus hours of battery life, near-instant wake from sleep, fast charging, and at least Wi-Fi 6 networking (Wi-Fi 6E, in this case) and Thunderbolt 4 connectivity. With up to 32GB of memory and 128GB, 256GB, and 512GB SSD options, that’s pretty well-appointed. While those specs are fairly common for laptops, it’s new territory for Chromebooks.
Recommended by Our Editors
Throw in the 2-in-1 design, an optional touchscreen, a rechargeable pen with magnetic attachment, and fine touches like four Bang & Olufsen speakers, and it just keeps getting better. The laptop’s 5MP webcam has a simple, one-click security shutter, there’s a fingerprint sensor for secure login, and optional 4G/5G mobile broadband for go-anywhere connectivity. (Check out our first look at the HP Elite Dragonfly Chromebook.) —BW
Lenovo ThinkBook Plus Gen 3
While dual-screen laptops aren’t new to the scene, we’ve never seen one quite as practical as the Lenovo ThinkBook Plus Gen 3—a 17-inch laptop with an 8-inch screen built right into its chassis. Lenovo’s objective with the ThinkBook Plus Gen 3 is a simple one: Boil down the two-screen workstation into one versatile laptop.
(Photo: Raffi Paul)
Poised as a productivity powerhouse, the ThinkBook Plus Gen 3 internals come with the latest and greatest, including Intel 12th Generation processors, up to 32GB of DDR5 RAM, and 2TB of storage. And this all comes with a surprisingly reasonable $1,399 price tag.
You might think that because the second screen is built right into the chassis, that you’d sacrifice keyboard space, but the implementation is impressive. The second screen takes the place of the number pad but can be used for so much more. Display documents, take notes, mirror your smartphone, and quick-launch applications right from the smaller screen. You can even use it as a traditional tablet for zooming in on light content creation work in programs like Adobe Lightroom and Adobe Photoshop.
Productivity uses aside, the 3K 120Hz ultra-wide screen and ultra-thin bezels offer plenty of screen real estate for both work and play, and the FHD infrared camera, integrated digital pen, and Dolby Atmos speaker system complete an already impressive package. As our work continues to shift from the office to the home, the ThinkBook Plus Gen 3 feels like a natural step forward, combining an affordable price and pragmatic design to create one of the most appealing laptops we saw at CES 2022. (Check out our first look at the Lenovo ThinkBook Plus Gen 3.) —ZC
Lenovo ThinkPad Z Series
The Lenovo ThinkPad Z line is the latest newcomer in Lenovo’s line of business machines, but don’t expect the usual black, boxy standard-issue Lenovo laptop here. The new ThinkPad Z13 and Z16 models reimagine the ThinkPad in some pretty radical ways, from a luxe design that uses polished metal and even leather, to its sustainable materials: the polished metal is mostly recycled, the “leather” is vegan leather (aka, recycled plastic), and even the power adapter and packaging are made from recycled and biodegradable materials.
(Photo: Raffi Paul)
That would be enough to grab our attention, but the new Z series also has an impressively forward-thinking design that goes beyond just including the latest chips. Sure, the chips are there—the ThinkPad Z is outfitted with AMD processors, like the Z13’s AMD Ryzen Pro U-Series CPUs and the Z16’s eight-core AMD Ryzen R9 Pro and optional AMD Radeon RX 6500M discrete GPU. But they also get big storage, up to 32GB of RAM, and an all-day battery. The 16-inch model even has a 4K OLED display option.
You get ThinkPad mainstays, like the TrackPoint, but it’s been revamped, with a new double-tap function that brings up a quick menu of productivity settings, like tweaking camera and mic settings or starting dictation for notes. The webcam gets a boost, too, with full HD resolution, IR functionality for facial recognition, and a pair of mics and Dolby Voice for clearer speaking during calls.
It’s a bit of a departure from Lenovo’s usual approach to business laptops, and from the environmentally-friendly materials to the premium design and features, the ThinkPad Z is one of the most interesting things Lenovo has announced this year. (Check out our first look at the Lenovo ThinkPad Z.) —ZC
MSI GS77 Stealth
The MSI GS77 Stealth gets a full complement of new hardware, like Intel Core i9 processing and Nvidia’s GeForce RTX 3080 Ti GPU, but this understated gaming powerhouse goes well beyond a basic spec bump. From the display to the touchpad to the internal cooling, MSI is outfitting the GS77 Stealth with the best tech available.
First off, the specs on this system are awesome, with the top configuration boasting a 12th Generation Intel Core i9-12900H processor, Nvidia RTX 3080 Ti graphics, up to 32GB of RAM, and as much as 1TB SSD storage. That’s an impressive spec list on its own. But MSI is stepping things up with a new cooling approach. Sure, the dual cooling fans and six heat pipes will do a lot to manage heat buildup, but MSI also added a new phase-change cooling pad—literally a patch that transitions to liquid metal for enhanced cooling at higher temperatures.
Combine these big changes with small tweaks like a new hinge design, larger keys, and a taller touch pad, and it’s easy to see why we’re looking forward to testing the new machine. (Check out our first look at the MSI GS77 Stealth.) —BW
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