Edge of Innovation

CES 2017: The best desktops, laptops and mini PCs

Dean Evans Technology Writer Twitter

CES 2017 might have been dominated by big TVs, VR headsets and autonomous cars, but computing still had the capacity to wow. Don’t just think new form factors. This year’s machines will offer more power and performance thanks to a full range of 7th Generation Intel Core processors.

You’ll find a 7th Gen processor inside the new HP Sprout Pro G2, an update to the original HP Sprout. Finished in matt black, this clever AIO Windows PC combines a 23.8-inch HD touchscreen, a 21.3-inch touch pad, an active stylus and a built-in 3D scanner.

If the Sprout is too big, then the ASUS VivoPC X is the opposite. This compact desktop PC might look small, but it packs a surprising (4K and VR-capable) punch. Inside you’ll find a 7th Generation Intel Core i5 processor, M.2 SATA SSD and an NVIDIA GTX 1060 graphics card. It doesn’t skimp on connectivity either, boasting four USB 3.1 jacks, two USB 2.0 ports, a pair of HDMI slots, plus a DisplayPort.

The VivoPC X wasn’t the smallest PC on show at CES. Intel refreshed its Next Unit of Computing (NUC) mini PCs with a new darker chassis and 7th Gen i3, i5 and i7 processors. The i5 and i7 versions also include the new Iris Plus graphics chipset and will work with HDD-boosting Intel Optane technology.

Smaller still was Intel’s Compute Card, a computing solution that crams an Intel SoC, memory, storage and wireless connectivity into a shell no bigger than a credit card. Think of it as a Compute Stick for the Internet of Things, teeny technology designed for future devices like interactive refrigerators, smart kiosks and security cameras.

If you need a machine you can carry around with you, then CES 2017 spoilt you for choice. Acer refreshed its Aspire V Nitro laptops, upgrading its 15- and 17-inch models with Core i7-7700HQ processors, Tobii eye-tracking tech and NVIDIA GeForce 1060/1050 GPUs.

ASUSPro B9440 CES 2017
The ASUSPro B9440 claims to be the ‘world’s lightest business notebook.’

ASUS, meanwhile, staked its claim for the ‘world’s lightest business notebook’ with the launch of the ASUSPro B9440. This 12.6-inch wide ultrabook portable comes with a 7th Gen i5 or i7 processor inside, weighs less than a kilogram and boasts a battery life of over 10 hours. The secret? A lightweight chassis made from magnesium alloy.

The LG Gram 14 could argue that it’s lighter, but its plastic construction is nowhere near as stylish. Nor does it feel like a 2017 laptop. For the best blend of Windows 10 performance and functionality, look no further than the new Dell XPS 13 2 in 1. This reinvents Dell’s award-winning laptop to allow the InfintyEdge display to fold back into tablet mode. A new Intel Y-Series processor provides a good balance between performance and battery life.

Of course, not all PCs run Windows. Samsung and Google unveiled the good-looking Chromebook Plus and Chromebook Pro at CES 2017, the latter using an Intel Core M3 processor. Both machines come with a 2400×1600 resolution display, 4GB of RAM and 32GB of internal storage.

Dell XPS 27 CES 2017
The new Dell XPS 27 features 10 speakers for the ultimate in PC audio.

These Chromebooks weren’t the only machines that dared to be different. The new 4K Dell XPS 27, for example, is an All In One PC kitted out with ten speakers. These include: four full-range drivers, two tweeters, two passive radiators and a pair of down-firing full-range speakers.

That said, Razer arguably upped the wow factor at CES 2017 with Project Valerie, the world’s first triple screened 4K laptop. Unfold the extra 17.3-inch displays and this experimental laptop becomes an immersive 12K gaming rig (or an OTT business machine). Proof that, as far an innovation is concerned, computers can continue to surprise and delight.

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