The Best Laptops of CES 2022

The Best Laptops of CES 2022

From folding PCs to dual-screen devices and ultra-thin gaming rigs, these are the best laptops at CES 2022.

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Lenovo ThinkBook Plus
Photo: Sam Rutherford/Gizmodo

With the three major chipmakers launching new processors and graphics cards for laptops, CES 2022 was poised to be a huge event for PCs. Now that the dust has settled on the event, we’re pleased to say it exceeded our expectations. Laptop makers came to play this year, showing off interesting new devices that are more than just conventional clamshell laptops with slightly upgraded internals.

The best laptops we saw at CES can be neatly filed into two groups: those you’ll actually consider purchasing, and more ambitious (and sometimes downright bizarre) devices that embrace some of the latest technologies.

What they all share are the latest chips from AMD, Intel, and Nvidia. Intel’s 12th-gen Core H-series mobile CPUs and AMD’s Ryzen 6000 chips promise more power and greater efficiency for upcoming ultra-slim and high-end laptops, while Nvidia’s new RTX 3080 Ti will bring better graphics and higher frame rates to the next batch of gaming rigs.

We’ve filtered out the boring rehashes and silly concepts to give you our picks of the best laptops at CES 2022.

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Asus ROG Flow Z13

Asus ROG Flow Z13

Asus ROG Flow Z13
Image: Asus

Asus figured out how to turn a Microsoft Surface Pro into a powerful gaming rig, so yeah, the ROG Flow Z13 earns our top stop. Most impressive is that this 13.4-inch tablet can be outfitted with the latest 12th-gen Intel Core i9-12900H processor and an Nvidia RTX 3050 Ti GPU—a rather remarkable feat for a 2.2-pound, 0.47-inch tablet. These high-end components make the 13-inch slate not only capable of running demanding workloads but also of playing modern games at respectable graphics settings.

Even then, Asus gives you the option to wield more power. When connected via a proprietary PCIe 3.0 x8 port to Asus’s XG Mobile eGPU, the portable tablet shape-shifts into a beastly gaming rig with the power of an Nvidia RTX 3080 GPU or AMD’s newly revealed Radeon RX 6850M XT GPU—two of the most capable mobile chips around. It means you can crank things up to Ultra for the best image quality or get enough frame rates to actually take advantage of your new 360Hz monitor.

Asus ROG Flow Z13
Image: Sam Rutherford/Gizmodo

You’ll need a keyboard to play, so it’s nice of Asus to include a magnetic one with per-key RGB lighting and 1.7mm of key travel. Of course, you could also connect to a different Bluetooth keyboard or use one of the tablet’s USB-A ports to go wired. Display options are also generous and include a 1080p display at 120Hz or a 4K IPS panel at 60Hz, each with a 16:10 aspect ratio.

This is a dream device for mobile gamers, and it will sadly stay that way for most folks. We don’t know how much the ROG Flow Z13 will cost, but the XG Mobile eGPU alone goes for $1,500, so yay, another toy for the 1%.

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3 / 9

Alienware x14

Alienware x14

Alienware x14
Photo: Sam Rutherford/Gizmodo

Alienware’s new X-series portable gaming laptops have gained another member at CES 2022, and it’s the slimmest one yet. Alienware’s x14—the company’s first 14-inch laptop in years—is a stunningly sleek gaming system with some powerful components.

Packed inside the compact frame, which weighs about 4 pounds and measures just 0.57 inches thick, are up to a 12th-gen Intel Core i7-12900H CPU, Nvidia GeForce RTX 3060 graphics, a 2TB M.2 SSD, and 32GB of (soldered) GDDR5-5200MHz RAM. It might not play demanding games at Ultra settings with these specs, but the x14 has enough power to run even the newest titles at decent frame rates on its 1080p, 144Hz Nvidia G-Sync display.

We gave the Alienware x15 a lukewarm review, so we hope the x14 addresses some of its problems; if it does, it might just give the Razer Blade 14 a run for its money. We’ll find out soon—the Alienware x14 will be available early this year at a starting price of $1,799 in the U.S.

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4 / 9

Dell XPS 13 Plus

Dell XPS 13 Plus

Dell XPS 13 Plus
Photo: Sam Rutherford/Gizmodo

Dell made a new version of arguably the most important Windows PC of the past decade and the early reception has been…mixed. Still, there is no denying that the XPS 13 Plus is a daring evolution of the XPS 13.

This modern take on the ultra-thin laptop trades analog inputs for digital ones, swapping the standard function key row with capacitive buttons and replacing a traditional palm rest with a glass sheet on top of which is a haptic touchpad. The “zero lattice” keyboard was also redesigned to span from one edge of the deck to the other, removing the gaps between the sharply angled keys.

These changes result in a sleeker, more refined appearance, but some (myself included) worry they could compromise the experience. We’ll reserve our judgment until we go hands on with the device, but some changes, like dropping the headphone jack, will be hard to look past.

On the flip side, the XPS 13 Plus also brings some nice enhancements, like improved quad speakers, 12th-gen Intel P-series (at 28W, up from 12W), and an OLED display option. We can’t tell yet whether the XPS 13 Plus will supplant its successful sibling as the best PC around, or if it will damage the brand—and that, at the very least, has us eager to try it out.

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5 / 9

Asus ZenBook 17 Fold OLED

Asus ZenBook 17 Fold OLED

Asus ZenBook 17 Fold OLED
Image: Asus

In case you weren’t convinced of Asus’s madness after seeing the Flow Z13, ZenBook 14X OLED Space Edition, or Zephyrus Duo 16, let me introduce you to the ZenBook 17 Fold OLED, the world’s first foldable PC with a 17-inch display.

Asus calls it a laptop but it’s really a jumbo-sized tablet that can fold in half to take on the shape of a paper-filled notebook. This way, you can save space on your desk or easily slide it into a backpack. The strange form factor also gives you more ways to use the tablet. For example, you can fold one panel 90 degrees and then use the included detachable keyboard to enter laptop mode, or you can prop the ZenBook on its kickstand and gaze at its 17.3-inch, 2.5K (2560 x 1920) OLED touchscreen.

Powering the ZenBook are 12th-gen Intel Core i7 U-series processors, up to 16GB of RAM, and up to 1TB of storage. Asus didn’t give battery life estimates, but we’d be surprised if it stayed powered for longer than a few hours. We also don’t know how much it will cost, but a conservative guess says easily four figures given the nascent foldable display technology.

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6 / 9

Lenovo ThinkBook Plus

Lenovo ThinkBook Plus

Lenovo ThinkBook Plus
Photo: Sam Rutherford/Gizmodo

While you might have predicted the arrival of more foldable PCs and dual-screen laptops, I bet you didn’t see the ThinkBook Plus coming. If there was one laptop that split crowds down the middle more than any other, it was Lenovo’s wacky ultra-wide laptop with a secondary 8-inch panel embedded next to the keyboard.

Lenovo typically keeps its business products buttoned up, but it seems like some engineers got bored during lockdown and wanted to have some fun. The resulting laptop is one of the oddest things shown at CES—a 17.3-inch laptop with an extra-wide 21:10 display and what is essentially an 8-inch tablet positioned vertically to the right of the keyboard.

The thing looks bonkers, but Lenovo came up with some compelling reasons for such awkwardness. The company says you can comfortably use two or even three windows side by side on the main screen and use the tablet to launch new apps or house more static content. And content creators can drop a toolbar down to the tablet while using the primary panel for editing.

As handy as some of these uses sound, the ThinkBook Plus will still only appeal to a special (probably right-handed) customer—one who doesn’t mind a ridiculously wide chassis or a frustratingly offset keyboard.

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7 / 9

Asus ZenBook 14X OLED Space Edition

Asus ZenBook 14X OLED Space Edition

Asus ZenBook 14X OLED Space Edition
Image: Asus

Asus clearly aimed for the stars this CES, and it made a stop somewhere in space along the way. One of the most visually striking laptops I’ve seen in a long time, the ZenBook 14X OLED Space Edition was made to commemorate the 25th anniversary of Asus’s laptops—the P6300 and P6100—reaching orbit on the Soviet Union-built Mir space station.

It does so with a unique design on the lid and deck that contain various nods to the space age. The dots on the lid, for example, are morse code for the Latin “ad astra per aspera” (meaning “through hardships to the stars”) while the etchings represent the Mir station and the arced lines symbolize a space capsule.

Drawing even more attention is a tiny 3.5-inch OLED panel offset on the right side of the lid. Inspired by the spaceship’s data sheet, this ZenVision panel lets you display a customizable message, be that a word, animation, or static image (not unlike the dot-matrix grid on the Zephyrus G14). And since that wasn’t otherworldly enough, this laptop passed U.S. Space Systems Command Standard SMC-S-016A durability standards for good measure.

The ZenBook 14X OLED Space Edition stood out for its design, but the specs are nothing to scoff at, either. It has a 14-inch, 2880 x 1800 OLED display at 90Hz with 550 nits of peak brightness, and is powered by up to a 12th-gen Intel Core i9 H-series CPU with Iris Xe graphics, up to 32GB of DDR5 RAM, and up to a 1TB PCIe 4.0 NVMe M.2 SSD.

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8 / 9

Lenovo ThinkPad Z13 and Z16

Lenovo ThinkPad Z13 and Z16

Lenovo ThinkPad Z13 and Z16
Photo: Sam Rutherford/Gizmodo

While not the most exciting products at CES, the ThinkPad Z13 and Z16, much like the XPS 13 Plus, are daring ones. Where the new X1 Carbon is a modernization of the ThinkPad brand, the ThinkPad Z13 reimagines it by adopting elements from Lenovo’s consumer notebooks.

Along with Bronze and Arctic Gray color options, the Z13 and Z16 can be configured with black vegan leather (aka soft plastic) covering the lid. Brushed metal edges give them a luxurious appeal, and the webcam notch—which houses a 1080p IPS camera—looks stripped straight from the Yoga 9i.

On the deck is a 4.7-inch haptic touchpad on an all-glass palm rest (more XPS vibes) instead of the soft-touch you might remember from your old ThinkPad. If anything survived from that legacy design it’s the divisive red rubber Trackpoint nub nestled in the center of the keyboard.

Beyond the design, the ThinkPad Z13 and Z16 stand out for their use of AMD’s new Ryzen 6000 Pro chips and the mobile RDNA 2-based graphics. The ThinkPad Z13 and Z16 will launch in May starting at $1,549 and $2,099, respectively.

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