CES 2019 saw an explosion of new laptops. Thanks to Nvidia’s RTX GPU launch, there were over 40 new gaming laptops alone, not to mention all the premium, midtier and budget systems in the 2-in-1, business and workstation categories on the show floor. It's a truly exciting start to the year.
The team of writers and editors at Laptop Mag ran the gauntlet, meeting with every company, evaluating every laptop we could find. After seeing and touching so many machines, some notebooks commanded our attention. We saw a laptop that wasn't a laptop...or a desktop; a notebook that uses AI to manage power settings; and a system that’s gotten a redesign that was two years in the making.
Hands down, this is looking like a great year for mobile computing, no matter the category. So without further adieu, here are the absolute best laptops that CES 2019 had to offer.
Credit: David McNew/AFP/Getty
Is it a laptop? Is it a desktop? I don't know and frankly, I don't care. However you want to define Asus Mothership, one thing's for sure –– it's stone-cold awesome. The Mothership looks like an imposing gaming laptop, but then the lid folds into a keyboard and everything starts going left but in a good way. From there, you can detach the keyboard, turning the system into a de facto all-in-one. And once you get over the trippy design, you get to enjoy the unbridled power of the Intel Core i9 CPU processor and the Nvidia RTX 2080 GPU. It's a wild take on the gaming laptop/desktop that I really dig. – Sherri L. Smith
Lenovo is gunning for the top spot on the laptop food chain with the Yoga S940. It's got a 0.48-inch slim aluminum chassis with a 13.9-inch panel (configurable up to 4K HDR) that wraps around the display, embodying the gorgeous design of a Samsung Galaxy smartphone. And even though it has superthin bezels, Lenovo found a home for the webcam on the top bezel by carving out an outward notch, which also gave room for an IR camera to enable Windows Hello. Did I mention this baby has two up-firing Dolby Atmos speakers? Oh yeah, Lenovo isn't playing around. - Rami Tabari
Lenovo is taking a big risk with the new ThinkPad X1 Yoga, the first ThinkPad made of aluminum. Steering away from the carbon-fiber chassis the popular business line is known for, the ThinkPad X1 Yoga is a fresh take on an iconic design. The X1 Yoga's metal chassis is 17 percent smaller than last year's model, thanks to its slimmer display bezels. The result is a 14-inch laptop with the footprint of a 13-inch machine. Lenovo complemented the new design with a handful of security features, including a sliding webcam cover and an ePrivacy display, which reduces viewing angles and protects your sensitive files from prying eyes. These are all welcome additions to the X1 Yoga, but I'm really excited about its improved speakers, which sounded outstanding in our demo. – Phillip Tracy
Imagine walking up to a sleek business laptop and it sensing your presence and logging you in without you having to do anything. That's just one of the great things about the Dell Latitude 7400 2-in-1, which represents a rebirth of Dell’s Latitude brand to commemorate its 25th anniversary. This 2-in-1 is also amazingly compact for a 14-inch laptop and it promises top-notch Whiskey Lake performance along with cutting-edge cooling technologies. Think Kevlar-like fans and space-age gel normally found on a NASA probe. Add ExpressCharge technology, gigabit LTE and up to 24 hours of rated battery life, and you have a business system that should put the competition on notice. – Mark Spoonauer
Dell is making sure that you never have to deal with thick bezels or a cheaply made design ever again. By introducing the G5 15, you can get an affordable gaming laptop that looks almost as good as an Alienware. It has barely there bezels, a four-zone RGB-lit keyboard and lighter and thinner than most budget gaming notebooks. If the G5 15 retains the battery life from the previous generation, Dell will have no competition in the sub-$1,000 gaming market. And if you decide to go past $1,000, Dell is bringing the full weight of RTX GPUs and a 4K OLED display to this design. - Rami Tabari
The new king of gaming laptops is here, and it's got a swanky new look and a whole lot of power to spare. Sporting a redesign two years in the making, the Alienware Area-51 is absolutely stunning. It even has skinny bezels to complete the new look. It’s also being dubbed the company's first true desktop replacement. And there's good reason. The CPU, GPU, RAM and storage can be swapped out and upgraded. But with a Intel Core i9, up to 64GB of RAM and an Nvidia GeForce RTX GPU, you won't have to upgrade for a long time. – Sherri L. Smith
Gamers do whatever they can to squeak out any extra performance from their rig, but with Gigabyte's Azure AI software, they don't have to worry about that. Available on Gigabytes' Aero 15 and Aorus 15 gaming laptops, the software detects what programs are being used and contacts the Microsoft Azure cloud to automatically allocate GPU and CPU resources accordingly. So, for example, the Aero 15 will crank up GPU performance when you play games, then increase CPU performance when you switch over to another program, like Photoshop. Gigabyte claims its laptops can achieve up to 30 percent higher performance with the Azure AI feature turned on. – Phillip Tracy Credit: Gigabyte
Asus' first-ever workstation is a sight to behold with beastly specs. Not only can you configure the StudioBook with both an Intel Xeon CPU and Nvidia Quadro graphics, Asus managed to cram a 17-inch display into a 15-inch chassis. So this is one MacBook Pro killer that's made to travel at just 5.3 pounds. Other standout features include a screen that covers 97 percent of the DCI-P color gamut (great for creative pros), support for the latest Wi-Fi 6 standard and up to 4TB of SSD storage. The ability to summon a calculator directly on the touchpad is a nice touch, too. – Mark Spoonauer
Best Accessory: Asus ROG Ranger RGB Backpack
RGB lighting can now be found on gaming mice, keyboards and even headphones, but that isn't enough. Asus is putting colorful LEDs into its backpacks. The lighting system is called Auro, and it's coming to the upcoming ROG Ranger backpack. The 20-liter bag features a glowing Asus ROG mask logo, which can be adjusted to seven different lighting profiles and has an ambient sensor that adjusts brightness levels based on lighting conditions. A remote built into the shoulder strap lets you turn the light on and off or switch between profiles. Oh, and don't worry, your 17-inch ROG machine can easily slide into the ROG Ranger's dedicated laptop slot. – Phillip Tracy Credit: Laptop Mag
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Sherri L. Smith has been cranking out product reviews for Laptopmag.com since 2011. In that time, she's reviewed more than her share of laptops, tablets, smartphones and everything in between. The resident gamer and audio junkie, Sherri was previously a managing editor for Black Web 2.0 and contributed to BET.Com and Popgadget.