Buying a laptop has traditionally meant juggling price, graphics performance, weight and battery life. You want a powerful gaming laptop with good battery life? Sorry about that six-pound weight, bro. Looking for a lightweight, inexpensive laptop to take to events? Forget about playing games or editing video.
CES 2018 marks a turning point, however. With the arrival of Intel’s eighth-generation Core with RX Vega M graphics and recent models with NVIDIA’s shrunk-down Max-Q graphics, owning a powerful laptop no longer means sacrificing your back in order to do more than two hours of gaming. At the same time, you won’t need to pay a fortune for a lightweight model that’s also a decent gaming machine.
To be sure, the trend started in late 2016 with the arrival of powerful, lightweight laptops like the Razer Blade that used mobile versions of NVIDIA’s GTX 10-series chips. That trend has accelerated rapidly, however, with recent tech from both AMD and NVIDIA.
Archrivals Intel and AMD announced their surprising team-up late last year. Intel’s eighth-generation, Core H series microprocessors integrate a custom AMD graphics chip, GDDR 5 memory and the CPU all onto one chipset via Intel’s Embedded Multi-Die Interconnect Bridge (EMIB).
The resulting silicon frees up about three square inches of space, yet with speed a hair better than NVIDIA’s GTX 1050 mobile card (perhaps around the level of the GTX 1050 Ti) in the laptop GL configuration. GH chips suitable for small desktops or larger laptops can run a bit faster than NVIDIA’s 1060 Max-Q, Intel claims. The latter has enough power for VR, and to prove it, Intel unveiled Hades Canyon, the world’s smallest VR NUC, during its CES 2018 keynote.
Perhaps more importantly, Intel claims the chipset consumes a lot less power than current offerings with similar performance. The entire GL package, with a Core i7 8706G CPU, RX Vega M graphics and GDDR5 memory, sips just 65 watts, while NVIDIA’s GTX 1060 Max-Q chip uses about the same without counting the CPU.
HP’s new $1,360 Spectre x360 15 convertible (above), unveiled at CES 2018, is the first PC to exploit the tech. Even with the weight premium of a 2-in-1 shell and 4K touchscreen, it has a slim 19.8mm profile and weighs just 4.6 pounds. Yet according to Intel and AMD, it should deliver graphics performance somewhere between dedicated NVIDIA GTX 1050 and 1060 graphics — …read more