CES 2022 (opens in new tab) is upon us, and the main takeaway from the first tech show of the year is gaming laptops in 2022 are looking pretty sweet. We've got a bevvy of new processors from Intel and AMD to get excited about and we have a triumvirate of graphics chips fighting for a place in our gaming laptops too. All this while screen technologies continue to improve and cooling gets more and more of the love that it deserves.
Intel has started the year by announcing its Alder Lake CPUs are coming to laptops (opens in new tab), and given the performance on desktop, this can only be a good thing. Indeed, combining performance cores and efficient cores for the best of both worlds makes even more sense when hooked up to a battery, and I can't wait to see what sort of performance/battery life manufacturers can squeeze out of such machines.
There is a tendency to use up all that power to get a desktop-like gaming experience, and laptops are definitely impressive on this front lately. Nvidia releasing mobile RTX 3080 Ti and RTX 3070 Ti (opens in new tab) will ensure that the delta between desktops and laptops is as narrow as ever. AMD is going out without a fight either, and you can expect to see laptops packing AMD Radeon GPUs as well. Intel's Arc will also be making its way into laptops this year as well. It's going to be a busy year all right.
Those new AMD Ryzen 6000 mobile chips (opens in new tab) packing RDNA 2 GPUs shouldn't be discounted either, as that means you have a powerful CPU with decent graphics capabilities too. Sure, you're not going to worry the dedicated GPU crowd, but this actually better than the chip you'll find inside the Valve Steam Deck (opens in new tab), so it's certainly got something going for it. A super-slim laptop that can also play the odd game has been a promise for years, but we may actually see it realized soon.
That's the core technologies covered, but there are also some funky designs being shown off—from foldable screens and multi-screen machines through to some tasty material choices and interesting shifts in form factors. The silicon shortage may frustrate desktop builders a while longer, but at least there are some great laptops to look forward to.
If you're in the market for a new portable powerhouse, then be sure to check out our guide to the best gaming laptops (opens in new tab).
Top of Acer's new lineup is the Predator Triton 500 SE, which, as that SE would suggest, is a special edition take on its top-tier machine that is designed to buck the usual gaming aesthetic in favour of something you could sneak into work. It looks pretty good and when kitted about with an Intel 12th Gen CPU and GeForce RTX 3080 Ti, should be a beast when it comes to gaming.
The Helios 300 has been updated too, with a 165Hz QHD display and up to an RTX 3080, although the 3070 Ti probably makes more sense for the money. Speaking of value for money, the latest update to the Acer Nitro 5 should cement that laptop's place as the go-to value gaming laptop, with options for Intel 12th Gen and AMD Ryzen 6000 series processors and up to an RTX 3070 Ti.
The big release from Asus this year is the ROG Flow Z13, a gaming tablet that can also double as a decent gaming laptop. The 13.4-inch design might have you thinking it's going to be a bit underpowered, but Asus has squeezed a 45W Core i9 12900H in there alongside an Nvidia RTX 3050 Ti (40W) for a surprisingly capable machine. Like the Flow X13 before it though, it can also be hooked up to the XG Mobile, which means that this tiny tablet can draw on the power of an RTX 3080, provided you've got the money to make this dream a reality.
A more reasonably-priced option is the updated version of the Asus Zephyrus G14. The original G14 wowed when it was released, thanks to the awesome CPU power on offer. History looks set to repeat itself again, with the Zephyrus G14 (2022) supporting up to a Ryzen 9 6900HS with a Radeon RX 6800S handling the graphics side of things.
This all-AMD pairing means that the machine can use AMD SmartShift and SmartAcess Memory to boost performance in-game and focus on the components that need it most. The screen has been bumped to a 16:10 aspect ratio and can be kitted out with a 144Hz 1080p screen at 400 nits or a 120Hz QHD at 500 nits. You can kit it out with up to 16GB of DDR5 4800 and a PCIe 4.0 NVMe SSD as well.
Dell has updated its always-delightful XPS 13, with a minimalist design that appears to outdo Apple. The new XPS 13 Plus features a top button bar that is going to take some getting used to, as is the invisible touchpad, although the larger than normal keys could be a welcome move. It's a clean design and intriguing one, but I feel this is one you're going to want to try in person before handing over the readies.
Alienware, meanwhile, has updated its laptops to support Intel's 12th Gen CPUs as well as adding in support for DDR5 and the latest Nvidia GeForce RTX 30 series GPUs. But the machine that has caught my eye is the Alienware x14, which as the name suggests is a 14-inch machine. This is a form factor that Alienware hasn't touched for a long time, but as we've seen with the Razer Blade 14, is a great size for gaming on the go. Spec-wise you're looking at Intel 12th Gen CPU and either an RTX 3060 or Intel Arc mobile graphics. With prices starting at $1,799 it won't be the cheapest machine around, but the bit of my brain that wants this doesn't seem to be connected to the bit that cares about money.
Gigabyte has updated its Aorus 15 and Aorus 17 laptops with Intel's new Alder Lake chips and now offers up to an RTX 3080 Ti on the GPU side of things. You're looking at DDR5 support up to 4800MT/s as well as support for next-gen M.2 storage as well as Thunderbolt 4 as standard. Gigabyte is using its Windforce Infinity cooling system to help keep everything cool, and while these aren't the thinnest chassis around that extra space could see these hit serious performance numbers in use.
As well as these fundamental updates under the hood, Gigabyte has put a lot of effort into the displays of both machines. The Aorus 17 gets a 360Hz 1080p panel, while the Aorus 15 upgrades to a QHD 165Hz screen.
Like plenty of other laptop manufacturers, MSI has announced updates to plenty of its laptop lines to make use of the new Intel CPUs and Nvidia GPUs. Intel 12th Gen CPUs and GPUs up to the RTX 3080 Ti are making their way to the Stealth GS77/66, Raider GE76/66, Vector GP76/66, and Pulse GL76/66 among others. It's going to be down to the individual configurations as to which of these is the most interesting, but plenty of these machines manage to balance thin chassis with incredible power—the Stealth GS77 could well be the one to watch though.
One laptop that is sure to catch your eye from CES 2022 is the MSI Crosshair 15 Rainbow Six Extraction special edition. You're looking at an RTX 3070 paired with up to a Core i9 12900H here, which is a solid foundation for a gaming machine. It's rare to see so much yellow splashed across a chassis, although despite its naming, it makes me want to play Cyberpunk 2077 again.
There's nothing too outlandish from the snake-obsessed outfit on the laptop front, although its Razer Blade 14, 15, and 17 (opens in new tab) machines are all down to benefit from the latest CPUs from AMD and Intel. You have the option of kitting them out with up to an RTX 3080 Ti as well, which is pretty incredible in machines this thin. We'll have to wait and see if that makes sense, or they'll be held back by the airflow on offer, although I suspect the RTX 3070 Ti is probably the way to go here—it should be powerful enough for most normal gaming.
Gaming laptops have been one of the better ways of getting the latest hardware over the last twelve months and it looks like that is something that is going to continue as we head into 2022. With the war between AMD and Intel heating up in the CPU space and the potential for a three-way battle for mobile GPUs, as well as on desktop, 2022 is looking like a pivotal year for gaming laptops. Fight on.