Alienware Area-51m. Photograph from The Verge
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From svelte notebooks to a Surface Pro on steroids, here are the best laptops of CES 2019

The just-concluded Consumer Electronics Show had a lot to offer. Here are the five we, uhm, lapped up. 
Anton Chua | Jan 11 2019

For gadget geeks, there’s nothing like a good ol’ Consumer Electronics Show to start the year. CES 2019 has had a lot of love for laptop enthusiasts in particular, with everything from shiny and svelte ultrabooks, to powerful gaming laptops, and even innovative new designs to go around.

Here’s a line-up of some of the best laptops we saw at CES 2019.

1. ASUS ROG Mothership GZ700​

ASUS is really pushing the limits of the phrase “desktop replacement” with their latest high-end offering, the ROG Mothership. A giant 17” tablet? Weighing in at a rather massive 10.4 pounds (4.7kg)? Due to its keyboard dock and kickstand, many outlets have referred to the ASUS ROG Mothership as a “Surface Pro on steroids.” However, that weight and bulk factor make it closer to a portable all-in-one PC.

That said, armed with a high-end 6-core i9-8950HK, an RTX 2080, and a 144Hz G-Sync display, the ROG Mothership prepares a compelling argument for its existence. Being able to take your high-end gaming on the go, without compromise, is certainly something to consider.

 

 2. HP Spectre x360 15

The HP Spectre x360 series has always been one of the best thin-and-light laptops you can buy, with excellent specs, tremendously premium build quality, and long battery life. The latest 15-inch Spectre x360 isn’t much of an upgrade either externally or internally, but now comes with the very first OLED display we’ve ever seen on a 15-inch laptop. Previous devices with OLED screens have been in the 13-14” range.

Could this be an indicator for more laptops with OLED displays coming to the mainstream market? We certainly hope so.

 

3. Samsung Notebook Odyssey

Samsung hasn’t been pushing their laptop lineup for a long time now; the last time we remember them having an appreciable presence was with their Series 5, 7, and 9 laptops back in 2012, during the early days of Ultrabooks.

Lately, though, they’ve been reinvigorating their laptop division, with the latest entries out of CES being the Samsung Notebook 9 Pro, for creators, and the inexpensive Notebook Flash. What interests us, however, is the gaming laptop that they also announced along with the rest.

Launched under their Odyssey sub-brand, which includes previous Pascal-powered gaming laptops as well as their excellent Windows Mixed Reality VR headset, the new Samsung Odyssey Notebook is a powerful 15.6” gaming laptop with a high-end Intel hexa-core CPU and an RTX 2080. It also comes equipped with a 144Hz G-Sync display, and unique gaming performance profiles known as Odyssey Modes, which allow users to tune the laptop’s performance depending on usage cases.

All of this is wrapped up in an attractive metallic chassis that really shrinks the bezels and footprint down to something that’s a lot smaller than you’d expect for a 15.6” gaming laptop. It also tips the scales at just 2.4kg, which is relatively light for a top-tier gaming laptop.

 

4. Alienware Area-51m

It’s fairly common knowledge that laptops aren’t all that upgradeable. For the most part, you can only change the RAM and HDD or M.2 SSDs in the average laptop. Some more enterprising users could try changing the MXM GPU modules in older custom gaming laptops, but these are more the exception, not the rule.

With the Alienware Area-51m, that changes dramatically. This crazy-powerful (and crazy-expensive) gaming laptop is armed with desktop-class CPUs like the hexa-core i7 8700 and the octa-core i7 9700K depending on the configuration, and you can even go all the way up to the top-tier i9-9900K if you need more power. This makes it an excellent choice for content creators, who need all the CPU power they can get.

What’s more, these CPUs are user-replaceable – you can get any Intel CPU off the shelf that works with the Z370 chipset, and drop it right into the Area-51m like you would a gaming desktop.

Right now on the Alienware configurator page, GPU configurations are disappointingly last-gen, ranging from the GTX 1070 to the 1080, but this part too is upgradeable, though you’ll need to use proprietary (and expensive) Dell modules to swap the GPU. Here’s to hoping that they’ll have support for the mobile GPU upgrades for a long time.

 

5. ASUS StudioBook S

Windows workstation-class laptops have had an undeserved reputation for being big and heavy compared to the sleek, MacBook Pros that look like they were designed with alien technology. In recent generations, though, this has changed significantly with beautiful offerings like the Dell XPS series and the ASUS ZenBook Pro.

Now we have the ASUS StudioBook S to welcome to the family, and my goodness is it a sight to see. It stuffs a gorgeous 17” display that accommodates 97% of the DCI-P3 standard, with color calibration and Pantone validation, into a frame that you’d normally see on a 15” laptop. +

It also features the powerful Intel Xeon E-2176M and the pro-level nVIDIA Quadro P3200 GPU, as well as Wi-Fi 6. It even has a little numpad on the touchpad, called the NumberPad, that allows for a full-size touchpad on the laptop without having to compress the keyboard.

And it just looks so darn good while doing all this.