CES 2019 is underway, and just like every CES before it, this one has also seen its fair share of crazy. Laptops have been an important part of every CES, and CES 2019 is no different. Every company that deals in laptops – from Asus to Dell, from MSI to Lenovo and even Samsung -- has come out with at least one product, that’s making headlines. For some or the other reason.
Gaming laptops have been the cream of the crop at CES 2019. But some cool ultraportable laptops have been announced as well. Here are five top-picks in the laptop category that have made headlines at CES 2019:
Asus got busy at CES 2019, and how. The Taiwanese major had a flurry of (gaming) laptops to announce from its well-known Republic of Gamers or ROG range: from the ROG Zephyrus S GX701, ROG G703, and ROG Zephyrus S GX531 to updated versions of the ROG Strix SCAR II and ROG Strix Hero II with next-generation Nvidia GeForce RTX graphics. But the real star of the show was the ROG Mothership GZ700, a high-end gaming laptop that’s being (rightly) referred to in tech circuits as a Surface Pro for gamers.
The ROG Mothership is a 17.3-inch gaming laptop with a Surface-style pop-out kickstand, and a detachable keyboard. The thing may sound and look insane but there’s a method to its madness. Something that only hardcore gamers (should they ever be looking to game on a laptop) will relate to. Unlike conventional gaming laptops, the ROG Mothership seats up vertically when in use, which makes it much easier to vent heat: which should (at least in theory) entail in a relatively cooler gaming experience.
A cool head is what you’ll need while playing a graphics intensive game on the ROG Mothership, because that’s what this thing has been designed for (at least in terms of gaming laptop standards).
Picture this: the Asus ROG Mothership has a 17.3-inch 1080p display with a 144Hz refresh rate, 3ms response time, and Nvidia’s G-Sync support, Nvidia’s RTX 2080 GPU and Intel’s Core i9-8950HK processor with up to 64GB of DDR4 RAM, and HyperDrive Extreme storage with three NVMe SSDs (RAID 0 Array). Connectivity options include USB Type-C based Thunderbolt 3 port, standard USB Type-C port, four USB Type-A ports, HDMI, Ethernet, SD card slot, Ethernet port and dual 280W charging ports.
The ROG Mothership will launch sometime in Q1 2019 with price and exact configurations to be announced closer to launch.
As powerful and as innovative as the ROG Mothership is, it is still a laptop at heart even though folks at Asus may go to great lengths to claim otherwise. Dell, meanwhile, has come up with something that’s a lot more ambitious in this regard. Enter, the Dell Alienware Area-51m. The Alienware Area-51m is a laptop so high-end, it wants to replace your desktop rig. The Alienware Area-51m is probably the only laptop in its class that lets you selectively upgrade both the GPU and the CPU so you can swap them at will. Now or several years down the line.
Not that it skimps on hardware. The Alienware Area-51m is a high-end gaming laptop with desktop-class Intel 9th Gen CPUs up to a Core i9-9900K and Nvidia GeForce RTX GPUs up to a GeForce RTX 2080 with 8GB of GDDR6 RAM. Just like a desktop rig, the Alieware Area-51m uses a socketed Intel Z390 motherboard, and the GPU on-board isn’t soldered onto it. The laptop ships with four RAM slots which can accommodate up to 64GB of DDR4 RAM and will be available in storage configurations ranging from hybrid to PCIe M.2 SSDs to RAID 0.
Elsewhere, the Alienware Area-51m comes with a 17.3-inch 1080p IPS display with the maxed-out version including a 144Hz refresh rate, Tobii Eye Tracking and Nvidia’s G-Sync. Connectivity options include three Type-A USB 3.1 ports, a Type-C Thunderbolt 3 port, HDMI 2.0, Mini-DisplayPort 1.4, Gigabit Ethernet, and Alienware Graphics Amplifier port.
The Alienware Area-51m will be available for buying from January 29 for a starting price of $2,549 (which roughly translates to Rs. 1,77,000).
Samsung and gaming laptops somehow don’t connect. That’s not to say that Samsung hasn’t been making them. It’s just that none of them has stood out from the crowd, and there’s a sizeable crowd when you’re talking about gaming laptops. Samsung wants to change that perception this year with its Notebook Odyssey laptop. The Notebook Odyssey is its most powerful gaming laptop yet and even though the company has launched several noteworthy laptops like the Notebook 9 Pro and the Note 9 Flash, the Odyssey is in a class of its own. It’s not every day Samsung comes out with a gaming rig after all.
The Notebook Odyssey isn’t as crazy as the ROG Mothership nor is it even remotely modular as the Area-51m but the sheer fact that Samsung is making it means, you can expect it to be a relatively more mainstream product. For casual gamers as well as for non-gamers. Samsung is yet to announce pricing for the Notebook Odyssey though, but you can expect it to be priced in line with premiere competition when it goes on sale in early 2019 probably in more markets than the ROG Mothership and the Area-51m.
Hardware specs include: a 15.6-inch 1080p display with a 144Hz refresh rate and Nvidia G-Sync, Intel's 8th Gen Core i7 processor and Nvidia’s top-of-the-line GeForce RTX 2080 GPU with 16GB of RAM and 256GB SSD and 1TB HDD. Connectivity options include a USB Type-C port, three Type-A USB 3.0 ports, one HDMI port, and an Ethernet port. The laptop also comes with stereo speakers with support for Dolby Atmos.
While not as crazy as the ROG Mothership, Asus’ new ZenBook S13 is crazy in its own way. The ZenBook S13 is claimed to offer the world’s slimmest display bezel. The path to get there is rather unconventional though. The ZenBook S13 has a notch, but it is unlike the notches you see in smartphones these days. Asus has taken the ‘standard’ display notch and reversed it: picture the iPhone X notch and turn it upside down: that’s the Asus ZenBook S13 for you. The notch is home to the webcam, but the setup allows Asus to slim down the bezels on all sides and because it has hidden the bottom bezel behind the keyboard, the whole thing looks like all screen and no bezel. In short, it sounds very immersive, at least on paper, with a whopping 97 per cent of screen-to-body ratio.
The ZenBook S13 is a 13.9-inch laptop but because the bezels on either side measure just 2.7mm, it would seem way more compact than regular 13-inch laptops.
Paper slim laptops like the Asus ZenBook S13 are expected to pack integrated graphics, but the ZenBook S13 packs a discrete Nvidia GeForce MX150 GPU: it is the world’s thinnest laptop with discrete graphics, according to Asus. This means you will be able to play demanding games on it without compromising on portability and ease of use.
The panel in the case of the Asus ZenBook S13 is 1080p. It is powered by eighth Gen Intel processors with up to 16GB of RAM, and up to 1TB of PCIe SSD storage. Connectivity options include: two USB-C ports, one USB-A port, and a micro-SD card reader. There’s also a fingerprint reader on-board the device for biometric authentication.
Pricing and availability specifics of the Asus ZenBook S13 haven’t been announced yet.
The Dell XPS line-up needs no introduction. It is the go-to ultraportable notebook line-up that even purists vouch for, for its heady concoction of good looks and good all-round performance including outstanding battery life. The XPS line-up isn’t dedicated to gaming (although it is open to it should you’re aware of its limits) rather it is a productivity centric device and those who’ve been invested into it, know exactly what they’re getting into. But there’s one thing that has been a bone of contention across the board for XPS buyers: the webcam. Dell has failed to get it right (in placement) until CES 2019 happened.
At CES 2019, Dell launched an updated 2019 version of its 13-inch XPS 13 notebook, and even though the new one boasts of upgraded hardware, it is the upgraded webcam positioning that is that talk of town. Unlike previous models that shipped with the webcam below the screen, the new XPS 13 moves the webcam to where it belongs: right at the top. Finally. There’s small catch though, in that you do not get Windows Hello support with the webcam anymore, but that’s small price you’ll pay for everything else that the laptop will bring to the table.
The new XPS 13 is now available for buying with newer Intel 8th Gen Whiskey Lake processors in i3, i5, and i7 configuration, a new white color, and Dolby Vision, for 900$.