The Stand-Out Laptops of CES 2021

Illustration for article titled The Stand-Out Laptops of CES 2021

Image: Joanna Neliu/Gizmodo, MSI, Acer, Asus, HP, Lenovo, Razer

It was definitely strange not being able to hold, type on, or touch the brand new laptop screens at CES as we would have in pre-covid times. There’s only so much you can tell about a product you only see or read about online, so that tangibility is an absolute necessity to figuring out what a laptop is all about. (Some benchmarking would be nice, too.) Yet as we saw, it’s entirely possible to stand out with just a hardware spec list, new features, or an interesting design.

All the below laptops did just that. While this is not an exhaustive list of every laptop announced at CES 2021, these are a few that piqued our interest. Plenty of other gadgets caught our eyes, too, from wearables to TVs, and everything cool and just plain weird in between.

Asus ROG Flow X13 Ultra Slim

Asus hit us with a bit of a surprise this year: None of its new or refreshed gaming laptops will come with an Intel processor, save for one. Every other model will have one of the new processors in AMD’s 5000-series.

But in the spirit of last year’s CES, and its success with the Zephyrus G14 from its ROG lineup of gaming laptops (which also had an AMD processor), this year Asus merged two different laptop worlds together to create the unique 2-in-1 ROG Flow X13 Ultra Slim.

The 360-degree hinges let the touchscreen display fold completely backward to use the gaming laptop in tablet mode, yet you still get the combined power of AMD’s new Ryzen 9 5980HS CPU alongside Nvidia’s GTX 1650 GPU regardless of what mode you use it in. Currently, the laptop comes bundled with the impressive RTX 3080 inside Asus’ XG Mobile eGPU too.

It seems like Asus has designed this laptop for both the frequent and infrequent gamers who use their gaming laptops for other tasks, too. Gamers are artists, bookworms, students, teachers, etc., and a laptop that can literally morph itself to suit any working scenario is appealing.

But while this laptop is definitely a stand-out that I would love to get my hands on, I hope Asus decides to at least sell it separately from the XG Mobile. The two together cost a whopping $3,000.

Acer Predator Triton 300 SE

I can’t get enough of the Predator Triton 300 SE’s new design. It’s all grown up now, decked out in a gray-silver that is both subdued and professional while also being bright and inviting. But it’s packed with power underneath the hood. This is Acer’s flagship gaming laptop, and it did not go light on the specs.

Sporting a new 11th-gen Intel Core i7 H35-series Special Edition processor and an Nvidia RTX 3060, Acer did much more than stuff this laptop with new components. The all-metal chassis is thinner and lighter, just 0.7 inches thin and weighing 3.75 pounds. The battery life is substantially better, according to Acer, and there’s a 14-inch FHD IPS display with a 144Hz refresh rate, which is a solid choice for someone who’s looking for a laptop for work that can also handle a variety of games.

It starts at $1,400, which makes me nod my head slowly and say, “Not bad, not bad.”

Dell Alienware m17 R4

Power and a stupid-fast fresh rate are basically synonymous with Dell’s refreshed Alienware m17 R4. It’s the first Alienware gaming laptop with a 360 Hz, 17.3-inch, 1080p display, HDMI 2.1 support, and Nvidia’s new RTX 30-series cards.

To support the new GPUs, Dell has opted for Intel’s Core i7-10870H, and the Core i9-10980HK is also an option. They’ve got the core count and the performance that gamers would expect from a beastly laptop like this. (Although I would like to see one with a new AMD Ryzen 5000-series chip, too.)

The m17 R4 is also getting slightly faster DRAM at 2933 MHz, and up to 4TB of storage so you can upload lots of games the size of Call of Duty: Modern Warfare.

HP Envy 14

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