No doubt this was the weirdest and, in many ways, saddest CES ever. Where, in 2021, the event was all virtual, this year the convention went forward in person, but most of the companies we met with stayed home due to COVID concerns, as did we. And some companies that normally release products during CES chose to save all their announcements for later in the year, leaving this show with less news than usual.
However, in a slow year, there was even more room for the few truly innovative products to shine through. From an exciting new lineup of Intel CPUs to a leather-clad ThinkPad and a huge, wildly curved Samsung 4K display, these are the best products of CES 2022.
Best CPU: Intel’s New Alder Lake Processors
Intel famously lost the performance lead to AMD’s Ryzen processors after dominating the market for more than a decade, but the company looks to change that with its new bare-knuckle approach to pricing. At CES 2022, Intel expanded its Alder Lake family with 50 new models for desktop PC and laptops as it brings its entire portfolio under the umbrella of its new hybrid architecture.
Intel’s first salvo of Alder Lake desktop PC chips arrived in late 2021, but came as a rather limited launch of just three chips. That might not sound too impressive, but those three chips retook the lead over AMD’s Ryzen in performance and value in every price band they compete in, dominating our list of the best CPUs and unseating some more expensive competitors.
The 22 new desktop PC models build on that advantage, but Alder Lake’s sub-$200 models are perhaps the most impressive. Our Core i5-12400 review highlights Alder Lake’s exceptional blend of price and performance. At $192, this chip is just as fast at gaming as Intel’s previous-gen $549 Core i9-11900K flagship, not to mention the much more expensive AMD chips. In fact, AMD doesn’t even have a direct competitor — it abandoned the value market as it focused on producing more expensive chips to maximize the profitability of its limited production capacity. Intel also introduced its lower-tier 600-series motherboards that provide a less-expensive on-ramp to Alder Lake, further helping address pricing concerns.
Intel’s 28 new models for laptops also look impressive from afar, though we’ll have to put them through the grinder before we pass judgment. However, leaked benchmarks point to these chips being just what Intel needs as it faces brutal competition from both Apple’s M1-powered devices and AMD’s impressive Ryzen Mobile processors. Overall, Alder Lake’s potent blend of not one but two new architectures and a sorely-needed upgrade to the ‘Intel 7’ process positions the company well for the year ahead. – Paul Alcorn
Best GPU: AMD Rembrandt (Ryzen 6000)
Every time there's a new integrated graphics solution, we hope that it won't suck. This time, though, AMD might actually have something impressive. Consider this: Rembrandt has (up to) 12 Compute Units (CUs), the same as the Radeon RX 6400. It gets paired with a 128-bit DDR5 memory setup, which means DDR5-4800 would give it 50% more memory bandwidth than the previous generation Vega 8 GPUs. And then let's talk about the GPU itself.
AMD has been using Vega 8 integrated graphics for the past few years. It's not bad, per se, but it's still a far cry from being able to compete with a dedicated graphics card. When we looked at Intel's DG1, even the GTX 1050 was about 60% faster than the 5700G's Vega 8 at 1080p medium. With Rembrandt, AMD has increased the GPU core count by 50%, but that's only the beginning. Rembrandt will also clock at up to 2.4 GHz, where the 5700G topped out at 2.0 GHz. That's another 20% boost in performance. Last but certainly not least, AMD's RDNA 2 architecture should outperform the Vega GCN architecture by about 50% per core.
Put that all together and we could have an integrated graphics solution that's effectively twice as fast as the previous generation — which was already far and away the fastest IGP solution. And unlike the GeForce RTX 3050 and Radeon RX 6500 XT dedicated graphics cards that are sure to sell out and then end up at prices 50–100% higher than the nominal MSRP, AMD's Ryzen 6000 family should be readily available when it launches. Plus it will be paired with an enhanced Zen 3+ CPU architecture that will still be quite competitive. The one fly in the ointment is that DDR5 is expensive, which largely eliminates any cost advantages of integrated graphics. — Jarred Walton
Read more: AMD Unveils 6nm Ryzen 6000 ‘Rembrandt’ Chips
Best Gaming Laptop: Alienware x14
Alienware went thin with its X-series laptops last year. At CES 2022, it also made them small. The Alienware x14 wowed us with a sleek, 0.57-inch thin chassis that looks small enough to be easily carried around, despite packing in powerful 12th Gen Intel Core i7 processors and up to Nvidia GeForce RTX 3060 graphics.
There's a bit less RGB this time around, but those are the sacrifices you make for the sake of miniaturization. Other specs include up to 32GB of LPDDR5 RAM, up to 2TB of storage and a 144 Hz, 1080p display with Nvidia G-Sync.
This is also the first gaming notebook we've seen that charges entirely over USB Type-C. It's CES. How's that for the future? — Andrew E. Freedman
Read more: Alienware's x14 Is its Thinnest Laptop Ever, Uses 12th Gen Intel
Best Productivity Laptop: Lenovo ThinkPad Z Series
The look and feel of a ThinkPad is a tradition that harks back to its days as part of IBM. But with its new Z series, Lenovo is modernizing the line into something that acts like a ThinkPad, but with a bit more panache.
Both the Z13 and Z16 are using AMD's latest Ryzen Pro processors (including an exclusive Ryzen 7z chip on the Z13). Lenovo is going with new, bolder designs with black vegan leather or a silver aluminum option (Look, it's still a ThinkPad). And Lenovo is even adding functionality to the TrackPoint nub, providing some settings in a menu when you double-tap it. With a haptic touchpad that doubles as buttons for the TrackPoint, the laptops look and feel a bit more modern than other ThinkPads, while the keyboard feels as excellent as ever.
Sure, Lenovo showed some other cool stuff at CES, like an ultrawide laptop with a secondary display. But this total reimagining of a classic has us excited for what a ThinkPad can be. — Andrew E. Freedman
Read more: Lenovo's ThinkPad Z13 Includes an Exclusive AMD Ryzen Processor
Best Gaming PC: HP Omen 45L
Despite the introduction of some new desktop CPUs from Intel and entry-level GPUs from both Nvidia and AMD, CES 2022 was not much of a desktop show on the prebuilt side. The one real standout is the HP Omen 45L, in which HP made a noticeably larger desktop than its previous efforts to fit a new cooling solution atop the case.
Specifically, the "Cryo Chamber" is where the 240 mm radiator lives, separate from the rest of the case. There's a gap between the chamber and the rest of the internals to bring in fresh air from outside the case and into the cooler. That gap can also double as a handle.
HP's using mostly standardized parts, going up to an Intel Core i9-12900K and an Nvidia GeForce RTX 3000 as well as a configuration with a Ryzen 7 5800X and up to an RTX 3090, as well as plenty of configure-to-order options. All of that makes this the type of desktop that can feel similar to one you built yourself, and one that's easier to upgrade later. — Andrew E. Freedman
Best Headset: Asus Delta S Animate
Asus’ AniMe Matrix display tech has always been a uniquely impressive flex, even if it’s so far been limited to laptops. The dot matrix display it uses may only be able to give off white light, but the customization it offers otherwise easily beats RGB, letting you display not just your own pixelated images, but also animations. What makes the Delta S Animate so exciting is that it takes that tech and brings it to peripherals for the first time, plus adds in functionality to match.
The Delta S was already one of the best headsets when we reviewed it earlier this year, with comfortable D-shaped earcups and crystal clear 50mm neodymium drivers. But the Animate’s AniMe Matrix display not only gives it some much needed flair to compete with RGB headsets in the age of streaming, but can also react to sound and in-game activity. We’re talking about playing waveform patterns or even a short “K.O.” animation when you land a killstreak. That’s something not available on the laptops with AniMe Matrix displays, and it shows a commitment from Asus to truly expand what this tech is capable of, and tune it for each device it shows up in.
It’s that sort of in-game interactivity and thoughtful expansion that takes what could be a gimmick and brings it up to a genuinely useful tool. Whether it’s to gloat to a streaming audience or to show off your company’s logo on a conference call, there’s a lot of fun to be had with a dot matrix display on your head. It’s encouraging to see AniMe Matrix getting strong support after its sporadic prior adoption, which gives the Delta S Animate points as a sign of AniMe Matrix glory to come. Attach it to an already-winning headset design, and you’ve got the best pair of cans at this year’s CES. – Michelle Ehrhardt
Best Keyboard: Asus ROG Strix Flare II Animate
Much like the Asus Delta S Animate, the ROG Strix Flare II Animate sees the AniMe Matrix display coming to peripherals for the first time. But unlike with the Delta S Animate, you can actually see the AniMe Matrix effects when using the keyboard. Add in hot-swappable switches, dedicated media keys, double shot PBT keycaps and plenty of swanky per-key RGB lighting, and you’ve easily got the best keyboard from this year’s CES.
When the AniMe Matrix display first started showing up on Asus gear, it was on the back of laptops, so this keyboard actually makes for the first AniMe Matrix device where you can see the impressively customizable dot matrix display when using it. Fittingly, Asus is expanding its functionality to let it display system information like brightness and battery level, plus reminders like mail notifications and date or time.
Keyboards with screens aren’t exactly rare, but since this is an AniMe Matrix display, it’s a screen that can also show custom pixelated images and animations. Stickers are now a thing of the past.
What makes this keyboard truly exciting, though, is that it has high-end specs to match its fancy display, easing any concerns that it’s selling on a gimmick. On top of its high-quality materials and dedicated media keys, it also uses Asus’ own NX switches and comes with a detachable wrist rest with its own RGB light strip on the front. On the inside, it packs sound dampening foam, plus it’s got USB 2.0 passthrough and an 8,000 Hz polling rate.
In other words, this keyboard’s got just about all the functionality you could need on top of its unique “Animate” style. – Michelle Ehrhardt
Best PC Case: CyberpowerPC Kinetic Series
At CES, eye-catching PC cases–especially motorized ones–are typically the kind of thing we'd expect from InWin, or maybe Razer. But Cyberpower has stepped into that role this year with its Kinetic Series, a case that features 18 motorized triangular vents up front that react degree by degree to internal temperatures, adjusting to allow more airflow to your cool air-loving components.
We’re still a little concerned about how loud the motors will be as the case front adjusts to changing thermals, and the company says it’s still fine-tuning those details. But we love the idea, the mid-century meets modern aesthetic, and the expected $249 price doesn’t sound too bad either for such an eye-catching, airflow-focused chassis. CyberpowerPC says the Kinetic Series should go on sale sometime in the third quarter of 2022. – Matt Safford
Best Power Supply: Asus ROG Loki 1200W SFX-L
Compact Mini-ITX cases/builds with large graphics cards have been big this year. And with the recent announcement of the 3090 Ti, that’s not likely to stop anytime soon. So what do you do if you need a tiny PSU that’s ready to deliver enough juice for all your high-end components? You call on Asus’ SFX and SFX-L ROG Loki lineup, which now tops out at an incredible 1200W with the Asus ROG Loki 1200W SFX-L.
Not only do you get a Thor-level amount of wattage in a small package with this tiny PSU, but Asus throws in an Aura Sync-compatible RGB fan, a 16-pin PCIe Gen 5.0 power cable and a generous decade-long warranty. The only thing here that really invokes its trickster-god namesake? While the power supply is rated for 10 years of juice use, Asus only covers the RGBs in the fan for three years. So if your compact PC loses some of its RGB goodness sometime after 2025, you’ll have to register your complaints with Odin. – Matt Safford
Best Monitor: Samsung Odyssey Ark
Every CES there’s that one gadget that either sounds amazing or bonkers insane, and this year Samsung has taken the winning cup. Samsung’s Odyssey Ark monitor is a 55-Inch curved goliath that uses a height-adjustable stand to mount either horizontally or vertically. Although little is known about this dreadnought of a monitor, we do know the display is 4K at 165 Hz with a 1ms response, an aspect ratio of 16:9 and a 1000R curve. It’s also confirmed the Odyssey Ark has LED lights at the back and bottom and will have a wireless controller with a dial interface to access the on-screen display.
Samsung says in horizontal/landscape mode that the Odyssey Ark would “[provide] a new gaming experience” and benefits multi-window productivity. Dolby Atmos 2.2.2 will also be supported to take advantage of the monitor's two subwoofers and six surround sound speakers. But key details, such as the monitor's full specs, features, the inclusion of HDR support, or having true HDMI 2.1 ports,has yet to be announced. But we're sure to find out more soon, because Samsung's Odyssey Ark monitor is scheduled to go on sale in the United States during the second half of this year. –Isaac Rouse