The laptop looks to make some important strides in 2022, with advances in everything from CPUs to displays to sustainability leading the way. One might even say that 2022 will be the year of the laptop given how dramatic the changes might be. And the timing couldn’t be more perfect, as millions of hybrid worker split their time between home and work offices.
In this guide, we’ll cover some of the more important advances coming to laptops in 2022, along with a handful of new machines that have already been announced and should start arriving over the next couple of months. If you’re in the market for a laptop, then your choices are looking spectacular indeed.
Key laptop trends for 2022
Major CPU and GPU upgrades on the way
Apple dominated 2021 in the processor wars, rolling the M1 Pro and Max as a follow-on to 2020’s M1. These ARM-based CPUs with loads of big.LITTLE (or high-performance and high-efficiency) cores – up to 10 CPU cores and 32 GPU cores in the top-end M1 Max – are the fastest CPUs you can buy in a laptop today.
They churn through demanding creative tasks, making the MacBook Pro 14 and MacBook Pro 16 two of the most powerful laptops available for creative professionals. And rumor has it that the 2022 MacBook Air could sport an all-new M2 chip that promises to make it among the fastest thin and light laptops on the market.
But Intel and AMD have been hard at work in coming up with answers. There’s no doubt that 2022 will mark the most dramatic change in laptop processor performance in quite some time.
We’ll start with Intel’s new 12th-gen Alder Lake CPUs, its own hybrid design that utilizes a mix of “Performance,” or P-cores, and “Efficiency,” or E-cores, to balance performance with battery life. The 12th-gen lineup includes versions aimed at thin and light laptops with six total cores up to the top-end Core i9-12900HK with 14 cores (6P and 8E). In early benchmarks, the 14-core i9-12900HK has performed extremely well, beating every other mobile CPU in the field including Apple’s M1 Max in certain tests.
We won’t know exactly how Alder Lake performs across the board in laptops until production machines start hitting the market. Until then, we can look forward to the best Intel laptop performance ever and likely improved battery life as well.
Intel will also roll out its new Arc Alchemist discrete GPU for laptops. The GPU will provide 4GB of video RAM, memory bandwidth of 112GB/s, and a 14Gbps clock speed.
Overall, performance will likely rival that of Nvidia’s GeForce RTX 3050, an entry-level discrete GPU that features in high-end productivity laptops and entry-level gaming machines. Although not competitive with Nvidia’s fastest chips, Arc Alchemist will be a real step above Intel’s Iris Xe integrated graphics.
AMD will be rolling out its next generation of Ryzen processors, the 6000 series, in 2022. Based on the Zen 3+ architecture, Ryzen 6000 promises some improvement in the already excellent CPU performance of the Ryzen 5000 line. The line retains a traditional design, with between four cores and eight threads and eight cores and 16 threads and promises up to a 1.3x performance improvement over the previous generation.
But more exciting are improvements to GPU performance. AMD will be utilizing its RDNA 2 graphics architecture in its integrated Radeon graphics. According to AMD, the new chips will provide 70% better performance than competing integrated graphics. Graphics could be 2.1x as fast as the Ryzen 5000.
Continued display improvements
2021 was a great year for laptop displays. We saw the continued rollout of OLED, QLED, and mini-LED technologies, with OLED and QLED in particular hitting lower price points than ever before. Even IPS displays saw improvements, with enhanced colors and contrast and faster refresh rates on productivity machines.
We should see more of the same in 2022 – much more.
Many of the new machines announced at CES utilize OLED displays, with the technology being at least an option on the majority of midrange and premium laptops we’ve seen so far.
And resolutions are varied, with more than just Full HD and 4K but also sizes in between like 2.5K and 2.8K displays.
That offers higher resolution than Full HD to go with improved battery life over 4K.
We should also see more QLED displays hit the market, and of course Apple will continue to push out its mini-LED panels.
These displays will continue to push the envelope in terms of dynamic and accurate color, deep contrast, and high brightness, giving both productivity users and creative professionals superior displays to work with.
Another important development will be the continued dominance of taller 16:10 and 3:2 aspect ratio displays. The days of 16:9 are coming to a close, and outside of gaming laptops virtually every new machine introduced at CES utilizes the taller panels. That means better productivity and smaller bezels, fitting larger displays into smaller chassis.
Even IPS displays will gain improvements. Colors will continue to get wider and more accurate, and contrast will improve, with better brightness along for the ride. IPS displays tend to get better battery life than the more exotic technologies, meaning that there will be less of a sacrifice in display quality to retain better longevity.
In addition, we’ll see more non-gaming displays with higher than 60Hz refresh rates.
Already, we’re seeing a number of laptops introduced with 90Hz and 120Hz displays, which will provide smoother animations and on-screen action that will make productivity work more enjoyable.
And gaming laptops will continue to push the envelope, with refresh rates exceeding 300Hz for utterly tear-free gaming.
A more niche improvement is the introduction of improved touch display technology. Lenovo is at the forefront here, with several of its newest laptops introducing new touch displays that promise enhanced responsiveness and precision.
Finally, Asus is introduced Dual Spec displays in some of its gaming laptops, such as the upcoming ROG Zephyrus Duo 16. This dual-screen gaming machine will sport a primary display that can switch between 1080p at 240Hz and 4K at 120Hz depending on the game, allowing for either the fastest refresh rate or the highest resolution. The ROG Zephyrus Duo 16 will also use a QHD mini-LED display as its secondary panel, meaning that Apple isn’t the only company to use the screen technology.
Speaking of Displays
Haptic touchpads make their debut in Windows laptops
Apple has been using haptic touchpads for several generations in its MacBook line, with tiny motors that simulate the presses of physical buttons. That provides a number of advantages, including enhanced precision, the ability to tap anywhere on the touchpad to engage a “button” press, and fewer moving parts for fewer long-term problems.
Windows laptops have been slow to adopt the same technology, but that’s changing. Already for 2022 we see haptic touchpads in the Dell XPS 13 Plus and the Lenovo ThinkPad Z13 and Z16, and there are more laptops on the way. It will take some time before physical touchpads disappear, but at least at the high end, we expect to see more haptic touchpads make their way to Windows laptops in 2022.
Full HD webcams become more common
It seems like a small improvement, but we’re going to see many more laptops sporting 1080p rather than 720p webcams.
Those will be accompanied by technology to improve lighting, make you look better by smoothing wrinkles and removing blemishes, and face tracking technology to keep you in frame.
This will make videoconferencing, which is so important to hybrid workers, a more pleasant and productive experience.
Another trend that started making headway in 2021 and that we expect to greatly expand in 2022 is sustainability. Manufacturers are making tremendous efforts to use recycled material in their laptops, both in the packaging materials and in the laptops themselves.
Last year was mostly using simpler packaging materials made of recycled materials, including ocean plastics. Some manufacturers, such as HP, used recycled materials in some minor components like keyboard keycaps and other plastic parts.
In 2022, we’re going to see more laptops with recycled metals used in the chassis themselves. Some laptops will likely approach 50% or more of their overall makeup being from recycled materials. While there’s a great deal of work to be done in making sustainable laptops, meaning those that can be upgraded and used for longer periods of time, using recycled materials in more easily repaired laptops will be an important trend in 2022.
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Best Laptops of 2022: Early Standouts
The following are a number of fascinating laptops that were introduced at CES 2022 and should be making their way to the market over the next few months. All of them utilize Intel 12th-gen or AMD Ryzen 6000 CPUs, and they offer a host of improvements over 2021 models.
Lenovo ThinkPad Z13 and Z16
The Lenovo ThinkPad Z is a brand-new addition to the ThinkPad lineup, incorporating a new “progressive” design that stands out against the line’s iconic aesthetic as sleeker and more modern.
The new machines are powered by AMD instead of the typical Intel chips, in this case up to an exclusive AMD Ryzen Pro 6860Z that should provide both outstanding performance and manageability.
Both laptops are built around 16:10 displays, 13.3-inches and 16-inches, with high-resolution and OLED options.
The laptops use 120mm haptic touchpads, among the first Windows machines to make the switch, and they’re constructed of either recycled aluminum (Z13 and Z16) or recycled vegan leather (plastic, Z13). Color options include grey and black.
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Acer Swift X
The Acer Swift X stands out as the first laptop to ship with Intel’s Arc Alchemist discrete GPU.
Two sizes will be available, 14-inch and 16-inch, and both will be powered by Intel 12th-gen CPUs with LPDDR5 RAM and PCIe 4.0 support.
The 14-inch model will be available with Nvidia RTX 3050 Ti graphics, while the 16-inch model will be equipped with Intel’s discrete chip.
Display options including 16:10 2K (2,240 x 1,400) IPS on the 14-inch and 16:10 WQXGA (2,560 x 1,600) IPS panels.
The overall design remains similar with sleeker and more modern lines and much smaller display bezels. The laptops are fashioned from aluminum and utilize the latest ports and wireless connectivity, including Wi-Fi 6E and Thunderbolt 4.
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Lenovo Yoga 9i
Lenovo’s Yoga line, which represents the company’s high-end consumer convertible 2-in-1 range, has received a complete aesthetic makeover. The lines have all been rounded, giving the Yoga a smoother and more elegant look. And edge-to-edge keyboard is on board, with a new row of one-click function keys along the right-hand side, anchored by a fingerprint reader on the bottom.
Intel 12th-gen CPUs, LPDDR5 RAM, and PCIe 4.0 are on hand for the ultimate performance. Lenovo has partnered with Bowers and Wilkins to introduce the first-ever audio system designed by that brand. The audio system is integrated into the Yoga 9i’s rotating soundbar that provides optimal sound no mater which 2-in-1 mode is in use.
A Full HD webcam provides higher resolution and facial recognition via an infrared sensor. Connectivity is fully up-to-date with Wi-Fi 6E and Thunderbolt 4.
Dell XPS 13 Plus
Perhaps the most potentially controversial laptop on this list is the Dell XPS 13 Plus, which takes the tried and true design of perhaps the best 13-inch laptop on the market, the XPS 13, and turns it on its ear. Gone is the carbon and glass fiber of the mainstream machine, in place of an all-aluminum chassis that’s less of a standout.
However, there are new technology and more design changes on board, some of it implemented to allow Dell to optimize the thermal design to accommodate the full-speed 28-watt Intel 12th-gen CPUs that the XPS 13 Plus will utilize (along with LPDDR5 RAM and PCIe 4.0).
A row of touch function keys replaces the physical version, and the 3.5mm audio jack has been removed.
The keyboard is now an edge-to-edge version with larger, flatter keycaps that retain the 1mm of travel of the XPS 13 and still feel quite good. Most striking is the haptic touchpad that’s invisible on the palm rest, giving the interior of the laptop a clean and distinctive look that helps make up for the loss of the fiber layer. It’s a colder and sleeker design with some changes that are sure to cause contention, but it proves that Dell understands that laptop makers need to innovate or die.
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Asus ZenBook 17 Fold
Much more of a niche or maybe even prototype laptop, the Asus ZenBook 17 Fold is the most unique machine on this list.
It’s built around a 17-inch display that folds (natch) into what’s essentially a 13-inch laptop.
A keyboard cover slides into place over the bottom portion and is secured magnetically, giving it the look and feel of a traditional clamshell.
But remove the keyboard and fold it open and you’re using a very large 17-inch tablet.9.
There are some kinks to work out, like a dimple down the middle where the display folds in two, but Asus anticipates fixing them before the machine ships. Inside are Intel CPUs of an unspecified generation, but given the trend should be Intel 12th-gen processors. The machine is very thick and heavy when folded, basically the same as two 13-inch laptops.
Lenovo ThinkBook Plus Gen 3
Lenovo’s ThinkBook Plus has been an interesting device since its inception, adding on a second display in the form of an e-ink panel on the lid of the first two generations.
The ThinkBook Plus Gen 3 model goes in a completely different direction, adding an 8-inch color display embedded in the palm rest of a much larger laptop.
How large? Well, the primary display comes in at 17.3 inches in a 21:10 aspect ratio and 3K resolution, with a 91% screen-to-body ratio thanks to some very small bezels.
The secondary display is useful for a number of tasks, from duplicating part of the primary display to taking notes to running apps and utilities.
It’s a design Lenovo borrowed from Asus, which has been adding secondary displays to laptops for a few years now.
The ThinkBook Plus Gen 3 will be powered by Intel 12th-gen H-series CPUs, and so it should provide some serious horsepower. Up to 32GB of LPDDR5 RAM and PCIe 4.0 help out on the performance front, and should make the ThinkBook Plus Gen 3 a fast and capable – if very large – laptop.
Asus ROG Flow Z13
The Asus ROG Flow Z13 stands out by melding a detachable tablet form factor with gaming components. It equips up to a 12th-gen Intel Core i9-12900H, which is the fastest Intel chip currently slated for laptops, and you can choose an Nvidia GeForce RTX 3050 Ti to go with up to 32GB of LPDDR5 RAM. That’s a ton of power packed inside the body of a tablet.
Some thermal tricks help keep these components cool. First, there’s liquid metal cooling for the processor, and two fans help keep the heat down. Opening the kickstand – which functions much like the ones on Microsoft’s Surface Pro tablets – exposes additional airflow.
Two displays are available for the ROG Flow Z13, a 4K display at 60Hz or a Full HD panel at 120Hz. Gamers will likely choose the latter. Both displays use OLED technology and so should provide an awesome viewing experience.
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Asus ROG Zephyrus Duo 16
The Asus ROG Zephyrus Duo 16 is the company’s most innovative gaming laptop, incorporating a second mini-LED display that sits below the primary display and provides a host of additional functionality.
And the primary display uses new Dual Spec technology that allows it to run at either 4K at 120Hz or 1080p at 240Hz. That provides gamers with the option between high resolution and ultrafast refresh rates.
The ROG Zephyrus Duo 16 also utilizes the most powerful components available anytime soon, including an AMD Ryzen 9 6980X CPU and an Nvidia GeForce RTX 3080 Ti GPU.
It’s an aggressive package that should provide the ultimate in gaming performance.
There’s nothing simple about the ROG Zephyrus Duo 16. It pushes the envelope in a number of ways, and represents one of the more intriguing new laptops of 2022.
Asus ZenBook 14X OLED Space Edition
The Asus ZenBook 14X OLED Space Edition takes a great 14-inch laptop, the ZenBook 14X OLED, and updates it for 2022 and beyond.
It’s receiving Intel 12th-gen CPUs, LPDDR5 RAM, and PCIe 4.0, making it a stronger performer. And, its chassis has been bulked up to be even more sturdy than the original model. It now meets the U.S. Space Systems Command certification standards, even better than the military specs that other Asus laptops are designed to meet.
But even more important is the new design, which gives the laptop a space-age look.
The chassis is adorned with various design elements that are space-inspired, giving it a truly unique aesthetic. And there’s a new ZenVision display on the lid that can show the laptop’s status, the time, or a graphic when the display is closed.
HP Elite Dragonfly Chromebook
Windows laptops aren’t the only ones to receive significant updates for 2022. Chromebooks will also be more advanced, and there’s no better example than the HP Elite Dragonfly Chromebook.
This is perhaps the most advanced Chrome OS laptop ever, and for a few significant reasons.
First, it will incorporate Intel’s 12th-gen CPUs, which will make the lightweight Chrome OS operating system fly. Up to 32GB of LPDDR5 RAM can be configured, along with up to 2TB of PCIe 4.0 SSD. That’s an insane amount of RAM and storage for a Chromebook.
But in addition, the Elite Dragonfly Chromebook will be a convertible 2-in-1 fashioned around a 3,000 x 2,000 OLED display in the productivity-friendly 3:2 aspect ratio. It will also incorporate a haptic touchpad, and a 5MP webcam for advance videoconferencing. It will be the Chromebook that sets the standard for 2022.
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Lots more to come
That’s just a short list of what we can expect from laptops in 2022, and they all come at the very beginning of the year. We’ll see more advancements as the year goes on, with all manufacturers bringing their primary lineups up-to-date with the latest from Intel, AMD, and Apple.
If you’re looking to buy a laptop anytime soon, then 2022 is your year. You’ll have a veritable cornucopia of excellent laptop options.
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