Finally, the technology exists to let you do all your mobile computing at full internet speeds equal to or, in many cases, faster than you can at home or at work. That’s due to 5G technology, and it’s slowly rolling out to laptops.
For now, most always-connected laptops still sport 4G LTE connections, and it will take some time for more laptops to make use of the latest in 5G goodness. In the meantime, here’s a list of the best 5G laptops available so far — or coming soon.
The best 5G laptops at a glance:
- HP Elite Dragonfly G2
- Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Nano
- Dell Latitude 9510 2-in-1
- Lenovo X1 Titanium Yoga
- Acer 5G Spin 7
We loved HP’s newest business laptop, the Elite Dragonfly, for being a perfectly sized 2-in-1 companion laptop for today’s savvy road warrior. Great battery life and tons of security make it a go-to, 5G-enabled laptop for anyone wanting to do their work on the road. It’s one of the sleekest business laptops we’ve ever used.
The second generation of the laptop maintains all that was great about the first generation but utilizes more sustainable materials (germane to this story) and adds in Qualcomm X55 5G modem support. The only downside is that you’ll have to wait a little while to use it on a 5G network — or at all — as the 5G modem configuration isn’t expected to ship until June. We’ve included it on the list because it’s available today, and it’s the most compelling business laptop around.
Also updated from the previous generation is the CPU, which will now be based on Intel’s 10th-gen platform. Remaining the same are the 13.3-inch 4K and Full HD display options, up to 16GB of RAM, and up to 2TB of PCIe storage.
Lenovo has been playing around with the ThinkPad form factor, making larger, more powerful versions like the ThinkPad X1 Extreme, 2-in-1s like the ThinkPad X12 Detachable, and even bendable laptops like the Lenovo ThinkPad x1 Fold. Now it’s gone small, making the lightest and tiniest ThinkPad ever in the ThinkPad X1 Nano.
This is a surprisingly fast and long-lasting entry into the 13-inch laptop category, and it competes well with the best there is, the Dell XPS 13. As usual, it’s ruggedly built and sports the conservative yet unique ThinkPad look and feel — and yet it’s just 1.99 pounds, the lightest ThinkPad around and one of the lightest laptops you’ll find, period.
We loved this laptop, and made it an Editor’s Choice over other 5G alternatives from Lenovo, like the Lenovo Flex 5G. That’s for good reason — and of course 5G connectivity is an option or it wouldn’t be on this list.
While 5G came to the Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra, iPhone 12 Pro, and many other mainstream phones in 2020, in the laptop world, 5G coverage has been mostly restricted to high-end business laptops. A great example is the Dell Latitude 9510 2-in-1, a high-class flagship with 5G service.
Dell’s Latitude 9510 2-in-1 is first and foremost a business-class laptop that’s meant to appeal to anyone who needs a machine that can last for more than a full day of work on a single charge of the battery. It will be available in both clamshell and 360-degree convertible 2-in-1 formats, and it’s the latter that will first get 5G support via a Qualcomm X55 5G modem that will be available soon.
It’s a beautiful device, meant for the traveling businessperson who’s looking to take their work on the go. We mentioned battery life, which is a key factor for the mobile worker, and the Latitude 9510 has built-in artificial intelligence that monitors user activity and works to improve battery life. It’s also touted by Dell as the smallest, lightest ultra-premium business PC at just 3.2 pounds.
The Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Titanium Yoga breaks completely with the ThinkPad’s history of sleek black chassis with red accents. This time around Lenovo has built the lid out of titanium, and the rest of the chassis is a silver magnesium-aluminum alloy that gives the laptop a distinct look in this class.
It’s also up to date with a 3:2 aspect ratio display that provides for more vertical space and thus greater productivity. Toss in 11th-gen Intel Tiger Lake CPUs, and you have a modern laptop that should appeal to today’s demanding productivity users. The convertible 2-in-1 is also impressively light at 2.5 pounds.
The ThinkPad X1 Titanium Yoga will get 5G support in March 2021, so you may want to hold off on purchasing a model today.
The Acer 5G Spin 7 is the company’s first based on an ARM processor, specifically Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 8cx Gen 2 5G Compute Platform. That’s a long-winded way of saying that the Spin 7 not only sports the latest ARM processor available for Windows 10, but it also supports 5G connectivity.
You should get incredible battery life out of the 5G device thanks to the inherent efficiencies of the Snapdragon 8cx Gen 2 CPU, as well as good productivity performance. You’ll also enjoy active pen support and the usual four 2-in-1 modes — clamshell, tent, media, and tablet.
The 5G Spin 7 is also available today with 5G turned on, making it an attractive alternative to some of the laptops on our list that aren’t quite ready to capitalize on 5G speeds.
How to choose a 5G laptop
Picking a 5G laptop isn’t really all that different from picking any other laptop. First, you’ll want to consider your chosen form factor — clamshell or 2-in-1. Then, you’ll want to pick a platform. Do you want the highest performance with good but not necessarily great battery life? Then you’ll want to pick an Intel laptop with an 11th-gen Tiger Lake CPU (we’re not aware yet of any AMD-based 5G laptops). Or, are you willing to compromise on performance in lieu of the best battery life? In that case, Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 8cx Gen 2 is the platform of choice.
In either case, you’ll be using Qualcomm’s X55 5G modem. Your on-the-go internet performance will therefore be similar regardless of which laptop you purchase, making your decision a little easier.
Another choice that will increasingly become available is between a business-oriented laptop like the Dell Latitude 9510 2-in-1 or a consumer-oriented machine like the Acer 5G Spin 7. Most likely, you’ll find the consumer version lighter on software aimed at business users and at a lower price. But if you’re a company looking to outfit a mobile workforce, then the choice is a lot more clear — you’ll want the machine that will integrate with your enterprise management system and provide the utmost in security and manageability. Again, this isn’t a 5G-specific decision, but enough laptops are being released that support a 5G connection that it’s become an important consideration.
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