Laptops — both productivity and gaming machines — made great strides in 2018. Some got thinner, others packed more power and there was more choice at more price points than ever before. I expect 2019 to be an exciting machine for notebooks on both fronts, so it’s time to make some predictions (and, perhaps, wishes) about what we may possibly see next year.
New Graphics Cards
Nvidia’s 10-series is on the way out for desktops, and it’s about time a mobile version of those chips come to laptops. With the current generation, most of the chips are on par with their desktop counterpart, which could point to some ray-tracing RTX cards coming to mobile. In recent weeks, we’ve seen some alleged Geekbench specs leak for an RTX 2060 (both with and without Max-Q design) and an RTX 2070 with Max-Q design. An October report suggested the possibility of everything from an RTX 2050 up to an RTX 2080 Max-Q.
Whiskey Lake H
Most high-end gaming laptops are running on Intel’s Coffee Lake-H CPUs. But Whiskey Lake is here, and we haven’t seen the overclockable chips for mobile yet. It wouldn’t be surprising to see H-series Whiskey Lake to power upcoming gaming laptops. But there’s also the possibility Intel skips to 9th Gen chips for branding purposes to match desktops and gives the CPUs a new name.
We got a taste of dual screens this year with the Lenovo Yoga Book C930, but there’s surely more to come. Asus’ Project Precog, a dual-screen laptop with built-in AI debuted at Computex, so maybe this is the year we’ll see it hit production. And while we never saw Microsoft’s Andromeda tablet, there have been rumors that the company may bring it to market in a larger size.
AMD Makes a Bigger Play
AMD may hit the shelves in more laptops this year. We’re waiting on the company’s Picasso chips with integrated Radeon graphics to better compete with Intel’s latest, and Microsoft is rumored to use one for an upcoming Surface. That makes it sound like AMD may be prepared to butt heads with Intel more than it has in previous years, where it has shown up largely in unnamed laptops on shelves at big box retailers. But even if it does make a splash, it still has a big fight to put up against Intel, which is entrenched in entry-level, productivity and gaming notebooks.
We can’t stick to 1080p forever. Many high-end gaming and performance laptops offer 4K display options, but you can’t go above 60 fps. Maybe that didn’t matter before, but if we get GPUs that can legitimately play at 4K, we need faster panels. So I hope to see high-refresh-rate 4K displays in 2019.
People care about what their laptops looks like. If you take it with you, it’s an accessory, and if you leave it on your desk, well, you still care what it looks like. There were great strides in 2018, like the black and gold MSI GS65 Stealth in gaming and the super-sleek Huawei MateBook X Pro for productivity.
Expect some new designs as companies continue to streamline their looks and make them more acceptable to the masses. I expect some gaming devices to be toned down a bit (though RGB isn’t going anywhere), and for mainstream laptops to adopt some more premium trappings in order to lure users. And there have been rumors of Microsoft’s Surface lineup getting a full-scale redesign in 2019, and that lineup has guided the industry before.
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Andrew E. Freedman is a senior editor at Tom's Hardware focusing on laptops, desktops and gaming. He also keeps up with the latest news. A lover of all things gaming and tech, his previous work has shown up in Tom's Guide, Laptop Mag, Kotaku, PCMag and Complex, among others. Follow him on Twitter: @FreedmanAE