CES is always a big show for laptops, as every manufacturer rolls out some new-and-improved version of their mobile workstations, and there’s usually a lot to talk about. This year is different only because there’s even more to talk about than usual. With the advent of Qualcomm’s “Always Connected” PCs, the new alliance between Nvidia and AMD, and the inclusion of brand-new mobile graphics solutions, this year’s crop of laptops is even more crowded than it was last year. Luckily, we’ve waded through the show floor to sort the best from the rest. Here they are, the best laptops of CES 2018.
All right, it should come as no surprise to find the Dell XPS 13 on this list, given that it’s been one of our favorite laptops each year as Dell continues to refine the simple, straightforward, and elegant laptop. The new XPS 13 features an updated color scheme and refreshed internals. The exterior comes in the typical aluminum-and-black carbon-fiber design that Dell has popularized over the last couple years, but the new color scheme remixes the existing rose gold version by including a bright white interior made from Gore thermal insulation, or woven glass. The new look is accompanied by a hardware refresh including the latest 8th-generation Intel Core processors.
Read our Dell XPS 13 hands-on review
The new HP Spectre x360, a quick and capable 2-in-1, will feature some interesting new hardware. Not only does the standard model feature Nvidia’s MX150 graphics chip, but the higher-end model packs the Intel Core i7-8705G, with built-in Radeon Vega GL graphics. We have yet to see exactly how well the new onboard graphics will perform, but it’s certainly a welcome addition –and an improvement over the previously included Intel HD Graphics, which barely kept up with even the most rudimentary games. This laptop is one to watch.
The second XPS entry on this list is the larger, and more flexible, sibling of the XPS 13. The Dell XPS 15 2-in-1 is a 15-inch laptop that can pull double duty as a tablet by just flipping the keyboard around. Inside, it features an 8th-generation Intel Core i7-8705G processor with onboard Radeon Vega M GL graphics, between 8GB and 32GB of RAM, and up to a 1TB PCIe SSD. The XPS 15 2-in-1 also comes with two available display options, a plain-old 1080p display or a QHD model.
Read our Dell XPS 15 2-in-1 hands-on review
Other offerings on this list might feature fully loaded 8th-generation processors with included Radeon graphics, but there’s one thing they might not have: 20 hours of battery life. That’s where the Lenovo Miix 630 comes in. Powered by Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 835 processor, the Always-Connected laptop is designed with mobility in mind. It’s available in configurations featuring 4GB of RAM or 8GB of RAM, and between 64GB and 256GB of SSD storage space.
Read our Lenovo Miix 630 hands-on review
Don’t be fooled by the Samsung Notebook 9 Pen’s name — it’s a laptop, but the Pen is a big part of its identity. This thing is essentially an updated version of the Samsung Notebook 9 with an extra trick up its sleeve — the S pen from the Samsung Note 8 smart phone. The inclusion of the pen, which tucks away securely inside the laptop’s chassis, sets the Notebook 9 Pen apart from its competitors on this list. Inside that simple silver chassis, you’ll find an 8th-generation Intel Core i7 processor, up to 16GB of RAM, and 512GB of storage space.
Another intriguing 2-in-1 we saw this year at CES was the Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Yoga. It’s simple and elegant like we’d expect from a ThinkPad, but this one features a number of upgrades over the previous versions and doubles down on the 2-in-1 form factor. It features an 8th-generation Intel Core processor, up to an i7, along with up to 1TB of PCIe storage space and up to 16GB of RAM. The X1 Yoga also boasts a brand-new stylus that expands its utility as a tablet. That versatility comes at a cost though — the ThinkPad X1 Yoga will start at $1,889, making it a bit of an investment. But during our time with it, the Yoga was consistently impressive.
Speaking of high-end 2-in-1s, Acer’s Switch 7 Black Edition is another interesting take on the classic 2-in-1. Featuring a tablet body that can detach from the soft-touch-clad keyboard case, the Switch 7 comes standard with a Wacom EMR-powered stylus that features 4,096 levels of pressure sensitivity. The Switch 7 Black Edition also features an 8th-generation Intel Core i7 processor, Nvidia MX150 graphics chip, 16GB of RAM, and a 512GB SSD. The Switch 7 Black Edition starts at $1,700.
A blast from the past, the Lenovo ThinkPad T480s is a laptop modeled on the classic ThinkPads of yore that packs a modern twist — and of course modern internals. The classic black design features a cherry-red TouchPoint nub in the center of the keyboard, which itself features iconic ThinkPad design. To the touch, it feels just as snappy and quick as it ever did, and the refreshed hardware makes this laptop a joy to use.
Like most of the other offerings on this list, the Lenovo ThinkPad T480S features an 8th-generation Intel Core i7 processor, but also offers up to 24GB of RAM and includes an Nvidia MX150 graphics chip. The graphical functionality here is particularly impressive considering the ThinkPad’s size — it weighs in at just 2.9 pounds and it’s just .7-inches thick. Starting at $1,229, it’s an attractive option for anyone looking for a reliable midrange model with a bit of retro style.
Not to be mistaken for the Acer Switch 7, the Acer Swift 7 is another laptop you should keep on your radar in the coming year. The Swift 7 might not feature a Qualcomm Snapdragon CPU, but it does come packing built-in 4G LTE connectivity and a 7th-generation Intel Core i7 processor, along with 8GB of RAM, 256GB of storage space, and a silky smooth touchscreen. The display maxes out at 1080p, but that modest resolution helps keep the Swift 7 afloat for a manufacturer-estimated 10 hours on a single charge. The Acer Swift 7 starts at $1,700.
Another one of Qualcomm’s Always Connected laptops, the HP Envy X2 is a 2-in-1 built around a Snapdragon 835 processor that reportedly offers around 20 hours of battery life on a single charge. The sleek, robust 2-in-1 features a case that doubles as a keyboard and kickstand, along with 8GB of RAM and up to 256GB of SSD storage space. Like all of Qualcomm’s Always Connected laptops, the HP Envy X2 comes standard with LTE connectivity built right in.
Read our HP Envy X2 hands-on review
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