CES 2020: The chips, laptops, and badass gear PC enthusiasts need to know about

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Laptops galore

Most of the PCs sold today ship as laptops, not desktops, so it should come as no surprise that laptops could be found in every nook and cranny of the CES 2020 show floor. While many of the models on display were thinner, better versions of standard form factors, built to accommodate new hardware from the big-name chip vendors, we also saw a surprising amount of form factor innovation this year.

Lenovo showed off a foldable tablet of its own, a $2,500 machine dubbed the ThinkPad X1 Fold. Another oddity? The ThinkBook Plus, which plops a secondary e-ink displays to the outside of the laptop’s lid, ostensibly to help you focus. Weird. But maybe cool? But weird.

Lenovo also revealed the Yoga 5G, based around Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 8cx chip and touted as the first 5G PC, complete with a nanoSIM card slot. It promises all-day battery life, unlike the Microsoft Surface Pro X built using a Qualcomm variant, though app compatibility will still be something to watch. For gamers, there’s the Lenovo Legion Y740S, a gaming laptop with no discrete graphics, as it’s made to pair with the Legion BoostStation—Lenovo’s debut external graphics card dock.

The Acer ConceptD 7 Ezel and Ezel Pro bring a funky, yet useful dual-hinge configuration as well as even beefier hardware to our favorite content creation laptop of 2019. It can flip and rotate its display into five different modes, from traditional clamshell to tablet, and it’s touch/pen friendly as well. 

Acer also showed off the Swift 3 thin-and-light mentioned earlier, with your choice of Intel or Ryzen 4000 chips inside. 

The HP Spectre x360 15t is getting even thinner and smaller, with a battery that just won’t quit even with a 4K display in tow. The company says a special two-watt—two-watt—4K panel helps the laptop achieve up to a whopping 17 hours of endurance. Yes please! HP’s impressively sleek Elite Dragonfly business laptop, meanwhile, is getting easy-peasy device tracking thanks to Tile integration, while the HP Envy 32 is an all-in-one PC that actually kicks ass with a 4K HDR display, RTX graphics, and speakers that get loud. (It still packs a mobile processor though.)

Dell’s XPS 13, the laptop that kicked off the narrow-bezel revolution, took it to another level at CES 2020 with, well, even narrower bezels, along with a move to a 16:10 aspect ratio. The laptop also upgrades to Intel’s latest 10th-gen “Ice Lake” processors, a replaceable M.2 SSD, an infrared Windows Hello biometric camera, and an overhauled cooling design.

The ultra-premium Dell Latitude 9510 appears ready to shake things up for business types, with an ultra-compact design, 5G integration, and Dell Optimizer software that analyzes your usage patterns and tries to save you time with routine tasks. Interesting!

There’s more where those came from. The Asus Zenbook Duo takes a second stab at the company’s dual-screen concept, shrunk down and equipped with more modest hardware. Samsung’s vivid red Galaxy Chromebook is a daring bet on premium Google laptops. Dynabook, essentially the rebranded rebirth of Toshiba laptops, rolled out an ultralight rival for HP’s Elite Dragonfly, as well as a Comet Lake business laptop…with a DVD drive? That’s not something you see very often these days.

Networking and storage

Wrapping things up, we also saw some new networking and storage gear revealed at the show.

On the networking front, Linksys unveiled a pair of mesh routers based on Wi-Fi 6. Netgear, meanwhile, added 4G LTE capabilities to its wonderful Orbi mesh router, and expanded its popular Nighthawk line into mesh routing as well—though the MK62 Nighthawk Mesh WiFi 6 System ditches the series’ iconic aggressive design for a boring “black box” look in the transition.

External storage also impressed, with Samsung adding fingerprint security to the blazing-fast T-series SSDs we love and Seagate blending portable performance with pretty looks.

And to think, this bounty of gadget-y goodness was unveiled at the very start of the year. PC enthusiasts have a lot to look forward to in 2020!

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