If you follow the laptop market or are just considering a purchase this year, you have a lot to look forward to in the next 11 months. From groundbreakingly-thin laptops to always-connected 2-in-1s to the most powerful mobile gaming rigs ever made, 2018 is going to be an epic year for mobile computing.
Based on our experience viewing laptops at CES and on our knowledge of what's ahead, these are the most-anticipated laptops of 2018 (so far).
Dell's new XPS 15 2-in-1 is both a beauty and a beast. It features the gorgeous, carbon fiber chassis we're seen on the clamshell XPS 15, along with a brand new Intel Kaby Lake-G processor that promises superior graphics performance. Kaby Lake-G is the first processor to integrate an Intel processor with AMD's integrated Radeon Vega graphics. According to Dell, the processor should provide 3D speeds equivalent to what you get on an Nvidia GTX 1050 discrete chip. The XPS 15 2-in-1 also provides an eye-popping 1080p or 4K display and a Thunderbolt 3 port for charging and connecting to high-speed peripherals. It will launch this spring for a $1,299 starting price.
If we someday get a laptop that's thin enough to slide between molecules, the new Swift 7 will have been a major stepon the way there. When it launches later this year, the 13-inch laptop will have a thickness of just 0.35 inches, the least we've ever seen on a laptop. The Swift 7 also weighs just 2.5 pounds and sports a Core i7 Y series CPU, 8GB of RAM, a 1080p screen and a 256GB SSD. Considering that you can find laptops with better components for the Swift 7's $1,699 price you're definitely paying for the thinness.
Starting at $799 and due this spring, the Miix 630 will be one of the first laptops to use Qualcomm's Snapdragon 835 CPU instead of an Intel or AMD chip. Using such a low-power processor allows the Miix to last up to 20 hours on a charge while maintaining constant network connectivitywith an integrated 4G modem. It will even download your email and updates while it's asleep.
Due out in the second quarter of this year for an undisclosed price, the GE3 Raider RGB edition has a an eye-popping light show, complete with an vibrant keyboard and two customizable light strips on the back of the lid. On the inside, this beauty has a GTX 1060 or 1070 GPU and an Intel Core i7 CPU with a model number that MSI would not disclose. Because of the secrecy, we think that this laptop will have one of Intel's upcoming, 8th Generation H-series processors. The 15.6-inch laptop will come with your choice of 1080 or 4K panels, along with a comfy Steele Series keyboard and a brand new version of MSI's Dragon Center control software.
Lenovo ThinkPad T480
The ThinkPad T470 was one of our favorite laptops of 2017 and its successor, the T480, should provide significantly better performance thanks to its 8th Gen Core series processor. Because Intel 8th Gen Core i5 and Core i7 CPUs double the number of cores from two to four, they can be as much as 92 percent faster than the dual-core, 7th Gen chips. The T480 retains the same design and 3.5-pound chassis from its predecessor, along with its world-class keyboard, hot-swappable battery, MIL-SPEC durability and plethora of ports. The laptop also adds a physical shutter you can slide over the webcam. It should ship within the next few weeks for a starting price of $999.
One of the lightest laptops on the market, the ZenBook 13 UX331UAL tips the scales at a mere 2.17 pounds. Inside its sleek aluminum chassis, you'll find an Intel 8th Gen CPU, 16GB of RAM, a 1TB PCIe SSD and nearly 14 hours of endurance. The laptopis a slim 0.54 inches thick, but finds space for two USB Type-A ports, a USB Type-C port, HDMI and a microSD card reader. Despite its light weight, the ZenBook 13 UX331UAL felt anything but flimsy when we handled it at CES 2018.
Today, there's no MacBook that's in the Goldilocks Zone for mainstream consumers. The MacBook (12-inch) is too small and underpowered. The MacBook Pro 13 and 15 are expensive and more powerful than many people need. And the MacBook Air is a dinosaur, filled with outdated components. According to a hot rumor, Apple plans to release a new 13-inch MacBook in the second half of 2018, which will replace today's ancient MacBook Air. There's no word yet about whether this laptop will be branded as an "Air," but we expect it to just be the "MacBook 13-inch." Whatever it's called, this new laptop could be just the ticket for everyday people who can't afford a MacBook Pro 13-inch but still need a solid entertainment and productivity experience. Image is of the current MacBook Air 13-inch.
Available with either an Intel processor or one of Qualcomm's low-power Snapdragons, the Envy x2 is a detachable 2-in-1 with a focus on long battery life and constant connectivity. On either model, you'll get support for Windows 10's Connected Modern Standbymode, which lets your computer download emails while it sleeps and wake in under a second. Both versions of the Envy x2 have bright, 12.3-inch screens with 1080p resolution and attractive keyboards that have a solid 1.3mm of travel. The Envy x2 will also come standard with both a keyboard and an active stylus.
The upcoming X1 Carbon is just as thin and light as last year's model (2.49 pounds), but it adds a Dolby Vision HDR color for much more vibrant images. The Carbon is also one of the first ThinkPads to support Modern, Connected Standby so it can download your emails and updates even while you sleep. The X1 Carbon will start at $1,709 when it launches within the next few weeks.
Dell isn't the only company jumping on the Kaby Lake-G bandwago. HP's update Spectre x360 15-inch will also utilize Intel's latest and greatest mobile CPU to provide plenty of power for creative work or light gaming. Starting at $1,369 when it launches in March, the new Spectre x360 15-inch will also have numeric keypad to help number crunchers get more done. A sharp 4K display, Thunderbolt 3 port and a bundled-stylus round out the impressive package.
Surface Pro (2018)
Microsoft hasn't announced a successor to last year's Surface Pro, but there's little doubt that the company will update its flagship tablet in 2018.One of the best detachables, the Surface Pro features a 12.3-inch, 2736 x 1824 display, a gorgeous aluminum design and fantastic pen support. However, now that the Surface Book is running Intel's quad-core, 8th Gen Core i5 and Core i7 CPUs, the Surface Pro will have to follow suit. Upgrading from 7th to 8th Gen CPUs provides a performance boost that's as high as 92 percent, depending on the application. Perhaps Microsoft will also add a USB Type-C port, just like it has on the Surface Book 2. Image above is the current Surface Pro.
So far, we only know about three Windows 10 laptops with Qualcomm's Snapdragon 835 chip inside: the Lenovo Miix 630, the HP Envy x2 and Asus's NovaGo. While the other two Qualcomm-powered laptops are detachables, the NovaGo is a 13-inch convertible with a screen that bends back 360 degrees. It promises up to 22 hours of battery and the ability to download emails and other updates while it's asleep. A Gigabit LTE modem comes standard. The NovaGo is also extremely thin and light, measuring just 0.6 inches thick and tipping the scales at only 3.1 pounds. Expect it to ship later this spring for $599.
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