The Best New Laptops of CES 2021
It’s not in Las Vegas, but the all-digital CES 2021 event has no shortage of exciting new products. A spate of new laptops have been launched this year, ranging from new work-from-home devices to high-performance new gaming laptops.
So far, the biggest laptop trends have been commercial laptops for remote workers and experimental new form factors for mobile computing. Driven by the upcoming and exciting new components from Intel, Nvidia, and AMD, laptops have never been so exciting.
Here are the ones that impress me the most with CES 2021 and the ones I can’t wait to get a full review.
Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Titanium Yoga
The ThinkPad X1 Titanium Yoga offers a couple of great things. At just 0.45 inches thick, it’s not only the thinnest ThinkPad ever made, but also the most durable thanks to the titanium lid. The combination of elements makes it one of the most stylish laptops I’ve ever held.
The 3: 2 aspect ratio also makes it a ThinkPad like no other. With the increased vertical space, this 13.5-inch screen feels so much larger than it actually is.
The only downside to the reduced size is that if you’re this thin, you’ll lose your HDMI and USB-A ports. However, the Thunderbolt-only ports are the same as what you get on competing laptops like the Dell XPS 13 or the MacBook Pro 13-inch.
On the inside, of course, are all the ThinkPad brands such as the legendary TrackPoint node and the curved keycaps. The screen should be familiar too, although it has a higher aspect ratio of 3: 2, which is another point for me in my book.
Read more about the ThinkPad X1 Titanium Yoga
HP Elite Folio
HP describes this as a “pull-forward” 2-in-1, which means the screen can be locked in a more comfortable position as a tablet. HP experimented with this design with the Specter Folio, a consumer product from a few years ago that intrigued me. The leather case and the ability to drag the screen over the keyboard worked better than it should have been.
But this time around, HP made a number of changes, all for the better. It uses a darker vegan leather, a larger screen with an aspect ratio of 3: 2, and – most interestingly – a Qualcomm Snapdragon 8cx Gen 2.ARM processors are becoming more common, especially in high-end commercial laptops like the HP Elite folio.
Read more about the HP Elite Folio
Samsung Galaxy Chromebook 2
The original Samsung Galaxy Chromebook was one of the most exciting Chromebooks announced at CES last year. It was a beautiful laptop, but not exactly practical. The 4K AMOLED screen was a battery life killer, and the $ 1,000 price tag was higher than anyone who wanted to pay for a Chromebook.
But the sequel is far more balanced. It only has a 1080p screen and the screen technology is now QLED, which is great for extending battery life. The price has also been cut to $ 699, which is still expensive, but a far more realistic price point for a premium Chromebook. The Pixelbook Go has long been the best Chromebook, but the Galaxy Chromebook 2 may have a serious chance of dethroning it.
Read more about the Samsung Galaxy Chromebook 2
Acer Predator Triton 300 SE
CES 2021 was full of exciting gaming laptops – they have interesting updates like the new Razer Blade with a 1440p 240Hz screen or the new Alienware m15 R4, which is the first notebook to support HDMI 2.1.
But these are all just minor updates. I was looking for something brand new and the gaming laptop that caught my attention was the Predator Triton 300 SE. It doesn’t look like a Predator laptop at all, let alone a gaming laptop. It uses the brand new 35 watt lower power processors from Intel. Acer has pressed these internals into a 14-inch laptop. Combined with a 120 Hz screen and RTX 3060, it represents a new era for thin and light gaming laptops.
Read more about the Acer Predator Triton 300 SE
Asus ROG Flow X13 + ROG XG Mobile
Speaking of gaming laptops, there’s still one that I can’t avoid because of its innovation. The laptop itself, dubbed the ROG Flow X13, may not look as intuitive on the surface. It’s a 13-inch 2-in-1 device that you wouldn’t normally think of a gaming laptop – and it’s not really one on its own. It only has an Nvidia GTX 1650 inside.
But when you combine that with the ROG XG Mobile, Asus’ tiny new external GPU, it turns into a powerful gaming PC. At least that’s the idea. External GPUs are nothing new, but Asus has designed the smallest external graphics case I’ve ever seen. It’s not much bigger than a book, mostly because it uses a mobile RTX 3080 instead of a desktop RTX. Asus has also developed a custom PCIe interface that connects the graphics card directly to the CPU and has twice the bandwidth of Thunderbolt. That means you won’t lose all of the performance that you paid for.
It’s a wild idea. But hey, wild ideas are what CES is about.