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If you’ve been thinking about buying a new laptop this year, CES 2022 is the best place to start shopping. Nearly every major manufacturer will announce a slate of new and/or improved notebooks at the show this year. With the announcement of new mobile processors and graphics cards, you can expect a lot of machines are going to get some big performance gains this year. We’ll be looking at laptops coming out of the show all week and highlighting some of the best laptops of CES 2022. Come back throughout the week, as we’ll be adding more machines as we get to see more and more of what the show has to offer.
Acer Swift X
After years of rumors and a teased announcement last year, Intel’s long-awaited Arc graphics cards are finally coming, and Acer announced that the 16-inch model of its 2022 Swift X will be the first laptop to include it. Normally when I hear discrete GPU, my mind runs to gaming, but the Swift X is a creative-focused productivity laptop. At just 3.4 pounds it’s pretty light, but features some strong specs, including 12th-Gen Intel processors, up to 16GB of DDR5 RAM, and 1TB of storage. According to Cnet, the Arc graphics card in the Swift X may deliver comparable performance to Nvidia’s 3050 GPUs. It is also one of a handful of laptops we’re seeing with a tall, 16:10 display (2,560 x 1,600p).
If you like the sound of the Swift X, but don’t want to be an early adopter, Acer will also make a 14-inch model with 12th Gen Intel processors and an Nvidia 3050 graphics card.
Dell XPS Plus
The Dell XPS line has been the default Windows notebook for power-hungry Windows laptops fans for the last few years. In 2022, Dell hopes to take things to the next level with the Dell XPS Plus, a more powerful, feature-rich design with a row of LED buttons instead of function keys, a haptic forcepad rather than a traditional trackpad, and a very flat, flashy “zero-lattice” keyboard. The XPS Plus features the more powerful 28W versions of Intel’s 12th-Gen processors, providing a performance boost over the conventional XPS, which is still in the mix.
Gaming laptops are great… Until you actually need to carry them. Most are significantly heavier than work-focused designs, even when they purport to be “thin and light.” Dell’s new X14 laptop, a smaller take on the X15/X17, is a rare exception. It’s 4 pounds, which is not ultrabook-light but good for a gaming laptop, and just 0.57 inches thick. The top configuration will feature an Intel 12th-Gen Core i7-12900H processor and an Nvidia 3060 GPU, plus 32GB of RAM and 2TB of NvME storage. While there are certainly some compromises there in terms of power, this seems enticing for anyone who wishes they could get an actual gaming laptop, rather than a “desktop replacement” just portable enough to lug around on trips.
Asus ROG Flow Z13
Asus Republic of Gamers’ Flow X13 is one of the weirdest, most interesting gaming laptop designs in recent memory. It was a small, thin gaming laptop that came with an external GPU that allowed you to carry the laptop around as you pleased, then come home and get powerful gaming performance. In 2022, the Flow Z13 doubles down on the idea of an ultralight core computer with an heavy-duty external gaming dock. The gaming laptop is now a powerful 13-inch tablet with a built-in kickstand and detachable keyboard that supports the same Asus ROG’s XG mobile GPU as the X13. With 12th-gen Intel processors, an Nvidia 3050 Ti GPU, up to 16GB DDR5, and an upgradable SSD, moving to a tablet doesn’t necessarily mean giving up on power, even in portable mode. It’s an incredibly bold idea and I’m excited to see more.
TCL Book 14 Go
In the US, TCL is best known for its low-to-mid-range TVs, which are among the best sub-$1000 sets around. TCL also makes other things, though, including Android phones and, now, laptops. The company’s first, the TCL Book 14 Go, doesn’t have especially impressive specs: It has a sub-1080p display, uses a Snapdragon 7c chipset, and offers just 4GB of RAM. That said, it is only $350. I’m always interested when a company takes a shot at getting into a new category, and TCL has found ways to make less expensive designs work for them in the past, so Book 14 Go is on my radar as an ultra-cheap, netbook-grade choice.