CES is the time of year when we expect to see new, blazing-fast CPUs and laptops that incorporate these new chips. This year's show did not disappoint, as Intel took the wraps off of Kaby Lake-G: a high-wattage mobile processor with AMD's Radeon Vega GPU inside. Business laptops finally got an upgrade to Intel 8th Gen Core processors, while AMD announced plans to release a Ryzen Pro Mobile chip for commercial notebooks later this year.
At this year's show, vendors focused on beauty, not just power and speed. Dell equipped both of its new XPS laptops with high-end displays, while Asus released a 4K OLED monitor that you can take on the road. MSI's new GE63 Raider RGB Edition has its most striking feature on the back of its lid, in the form of LED lights.
These are the best laptops, accessories and software of CES 2018.
Best Laptop: Dell XPS 13 9370
The best clamshell-style laptop just got even better. For 2018, Dell gave the XPS 13 a makeover, providing a slimmer chassis, lighter weight and stunning new rose-gold-and-white color scheme. The eye-popping, optional 4K display is extremely sharp, bright and vibrant; an even narrower screen bezel helps enhance the experience. On the inside, a new dual-fan cooling system allows the 8th Gen Core-powered laptop to offer better sustained performance than competitors. Though the new XPS 13 is part of Dell's CES lineup, we already had a chance to review the system a few days before the show, and it earned 4.5 stars out of 5 and an Editors' Choice award. — Avram Piltch Credit: Laptop MORE: Dell XPS 13 9370 (2018) Review: Still Our Favorite Laptop
Best 2-in-1: Dell XPS 15 2-in-1
One of two laptops we've seen that takes advantage of Intel's new 8th Gen Core CPUs with Radeon (aka Kaby Lake-G), the XPS 15 2-in-1 is an impressive system. Not only is this convertible slim, but it's ready for both creative work and light gaming. The display — especially the 4K option — appeared masterful in our first impressions, and the Maglev keyboard is an interesting way of getting more key travel, though it will take some serious getting used to. Toss in some great software, like Dell's awesome new Mobile Connect, and it's hard to ignore this mix of power and ingenuity. — Andrew E. Freedman Credit: Laptop MORE: Dell Launches XPS 15 2-in-1 with Radeon Graphics
Editors' Choice: HP Envy x2
Microsoft's Surface Pro finally has some real competition. The HP Envy x2 not only comes with the accessories that Microsoft charges extra for — the keyboard and pen — but also offers always-on connectivity via optional LTE and Modern Standby mode in Windows 10. The 12.3-inch full-HD screen is colorful and crisp, and the keyboard itself offers a comfortable amount of travel. If you'd rather have something with even longer battery life, HP's upcoming Envy x2 with Qualcomm's Snapdragon chip promises up to 20 hours of juice (compared with 15 hours for the Intel model) and a kickstand that's more adjustable. — Mark Spoonauer Credit: Laptop MORE: HP Unveils Always-Connected Envy x2 to Fight Surface Pro
Best Detachable: Lenovo Miix 630
Lenovo was late to the party when it announced its Snapdragon-based Windows 10 laptop, but the wait seems worth it. The 12.3-inch display is great, and while the metal keyboard takes some getting used to, the folio case felt the most premium of any we've seen so far. Travelers will have lots of LTE options at their disposal, including for both eSIM and Nano SIM, and the hinge is flexible enough to make the device lap-friendly in most situations. — Andrew E. Freedman Credit: Laptop MORE: Lenovo Miix 630 Is a Fetching Snapdragon 2-in-1
Best Business Laptop: Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon
Lenovo gave the ThinkPad X1 Carbon a makeover this year, and its redesigned appearance is hard to ignore. The new blacked-out ThinkPad logo and X1 moniker (to show that you have the latest and greatest) immediately piqued our interest, but the incredibly bright and vibrant Dolby Vision HDR display option is what really turned our heads. The X1 Carbon also includes Intel's 8th Gen CPUs and a new innovative side-docking solution that will give business users a lot of port options. — Andrew E. Freedman Credit: Laptop MORE: Lenovo Makes Over ThinkPad X1 Carbon, Tablet and Yoga
Best Budget Gaming Laptop: Acer Nitro 5
It's hard to say no to a sub-$1,000 gaming laptop, especially one as good-looking as the Acer Nitro 5. Priced at $799, the notebook delivers a solid AMD processor and graphics, coupled with a full-HD display — all in a stylish faux-carbon-fiber chassis with some striking red accents. Customizable with up to 32 GB of RAM, a 2 TB HDD and a 512 GB SSD, the Nitro 5 could be the best deal of 2018. — Sherri L. Smith Credit: Laptop MORE: Acer Ignites Nitro 5 Notebook for Cost-Conscious Gamers
Best Gaming Laptop Overall: MSI GE63 Raider RGB Edition
MSI made a simple decision with the GE63 Raider RGB Edition: It took a great laptop and made it really, really pretty. The new Raider lets you customize lights with 24 million colors not only on its keyboard but also on the lid, allowing you to create a laptop design that's uniquely your own. The Raider's GTX 1060 and 1070 GPU options will provide plenty of power, and we're looking forward to the performance from what we suspect may be an 8th Gen Intel Core i7 H-series CPU (even if MSI wouldn't confirm that for us). With MSI's Dragon Center gaming software getting a makeover, even your settings will look amazing. — Andrew E. Freedman Credit: Laptop MORE: MSI's New Laptop Includes a 24-Million-Color Light Show
Best Software: Dell Mobile Connect
Dell Mobile Connect is a prime example of an existing concept that someone finally got right. While other companies have launched apps that let you access your smartphone via your computer, Mobile Connect gives you full access to all of your apps if you're an Android-phone owner (sorry, iPhone faithful), thanks to screen mirroring. Throw in instant connection via Direct Wi-Fi, and you've got a winner. But the real revelation was the ability to call a Lyft from a Dell XPS 13. — Sherri L. Smith Credit: Dell MORE: Dell Mobile Connect Bridges the Gap Between Laptops and Phones
Best Concept: Razer Project Linda
I was never a big lap-dock fan, but Razer has made me a believer. Pairing its Razer Phone with a laptop dock similar in design to the Blade Stealth, Project Linda offers a pretty, full-HD panel paired with an Android OS capable of doing light video editing, playing games and handling a reasonable amount of multitasking. The keyboard even has full RGB Chroma lighting! Project Linda continues Razer's time-honored tradition of introducing tech that's both weird and wonderful at CES. While some concepts never see the light of day in their initial forms, I'm rooting for Project Linda to buck the trend. — Sherri L. Smith Credit: Razer MORE: Razer Project Linda Seeks to Reinvent the Lap Dock
Best Accessory: Asus ProArt PQ22UC
Carrying a portable monitor on your next business trip could make your hotel room feel more like your office. However, most portable monitors aren't good enough to use when you're at home. The ProArt PQ22UC, on the other hand, is so sharp and colorful that you may want to use it as your primary display all the time. This 21.6-inch monitor has a 4K resolution and an OLED panel that reproduces 99 percent of the DCI-P3 color gamut — the same one that many professional movie-makers use. And, at just 2.6 pounds, this monitor could be particularly useful for on-the-go creative professionals. — Avram Piltch Credit: Laptop MORE: This 4K OLED Monitor Is Completely Portable and Absolutely Stunning