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10 biggest CES 2019 announcements for Windows users

Look, the annual Consumer Electronics Show (CES) is never an easy thing to keep up with. With virtually every big tech brand under the sun arriving in Las Vegas with an onslaught of announcements (heck, even Apple made an appearance this year, albeit by proxy), it can prove to be a mind-melting experience just trying to take it all in.

Luckily, we've been keeping track of every big announcement for Windows fans. And all told, CES 2019 has proven to be a blockbuster year for PC brands, particularly if you're into gaming.

From VR innovations to huge gaming displays and a virtual torrent of new gaming laptops, here are our top 10 announcements for PC users from CES 2019, in no particular order.

NVIDIA brings GeForce RTX graphics to laptops

NVIDIA RTX for Laptops

NVIDIA had one of the biggest keynotes to kick off the week, revealing what gamers had been anticipating for some time: GeForce RTX 20-series graphics chips are coming to laptops.

Like their desktop counterparts, the RTX chips for laptops are based on NVIDIA's new Turing architecture. They also add support for real-time ray tracing, which heavily improves the realism of lighting in games that support it. That's in addition to cores dedicated to assisting with real-time rendering and image processing, along with an added dose of AI magic.

Gamers should be able to pick up laptops sporting RTX graphics starting January 29, when machines packing RTX 2060 (which just made its desktop debut as well), RTX 2070, and RTX 2080 graphics are expected to launch. All three should boast significant performance increases over even their desktop-class GTX predecessors, giving gamers on the go an extra chunk of horsepower.

Gaming laptops galore

With the reveal of NVIDIA's GeForce RTX 20-series graphics for notebooks, manufacturers came out of the woodwork to announce laptops sporting the new chips.

Some of the most impressive laptops on display were the Razer Blade 15 Advanced, MSI's GS75 Stealth, and the new ASUS ROG Zephyrus S GX701. Dell even got in on the game with an overhaul of its relatively affordable G5 and G7 laptops

And if you were looking for this year's oddball standout, look no further than the ASUS Mothership, a gaming behemoth that somehow combines a ton of power with a detachable form factor reminiscent of Microsoft's Surface Pro.

AMD throws down the gaming gauntlet

AMD Radeon VII

Not content to sit back while NVIDIA soaked up all of the gaming fun, AMD had a big announcement of its own: the Radeon VII.

While it doesn't support the same ray-tracing tech that has been a hot item with NVIDIA's RTX series, the Radeon VII represents the first 7nm gaming GPU to hit the market. Packed with 60 compute units running at up to 1.8GHz and 16GB of high-performance VRAM, the Radeon VII manages to achieve similar framerates as the GeForce RTX 2080 in popular games, while beating it out in some cases.

In addition, the 7nm process that the Radeon VII chip is built on allows AMD to achieve up to 25 percent more performance than its predecessors without increasing its power draw, according to the company.

Efficiency and power are the key terms here, and you'll be able to check it out for yourself soon. The Radeon VII is expected to go on sale on February 7, 2019, for $700.

Laptop stunners

While gaming laptops received the lion's share of attention this CES, there were plenty of stunning regular laptops to get excited about, as well.

LG unveiled a couple of innovative updates to its gram lineup, including the incredibly light 17-inch gram and the new 2-in-1 gram 14 – a first for the range. Huawei was dressed to impress with the new MateBook 13, which could give the MacBook Air a run for its money in the style department.

Meanwhile, Lenovo adopted some sleek styling of its own with the new Yoga S940, a traditional laptop that features tiny bezels around a stunning 4K display and Dolby Atmos support. Equally impressive was the ASUS StudioBook S, which manages to jam a 17-inch display into a 15-inch chassis.

Oh, and for fans of Dell's XPS range, you finally won: the latest XPS 13 has moved the webcam above the screen.

Intel teases 'Ice Lake' innovation

Intel CES 2019

If you were hoping to get a glimpse of what the future will hold for Intel's lineup of chips, the company didn't disappoint at CES 2019.

During its keynote this week, Intel offered a peek at its upcoming "Ice Lake" processors, detailing new features coming with the move to the 10nm chips. Perhaps the biggest change is that Ice Lake chips will include native support for Thunderbolt 3 on the system on a chip (SoC) for the first time. Also included is support for Wi-Fi 6, the next-generation 802.11ax Wi-Fi standard that is only now starting to populate the market. Additionally, Ice Lake will include Gen 11 integrated graphics and special tweaks for machine learning tasks.

Intel didn't stop there, though. The company revealed its new Project Athena initiative, which is ill-defined at the moment. According to Intel, the project is similar to its push to make "Ultrabook" a household name a few years ago, and it's using Project Athena as a rallying point to push its PC partners to develop the "future of mobile computing."

The company also teased a new hybrid CPU it is working on, which combines high-powered cores with several low-powered cores to more efficiently handle computing tasks. The end result is a set of smaller chips living on the smallest motherboard Intel has created, which the company hopes will eventually find its way into innovative dual-screen devices and more.

Oh, and if you're looking for more near-term initiatives, Intel is set to bring its 9th Gen Core processors to laptops during the second quarter of 2019. Ice Lake, meanwhile, is expected to arrive toward the end of 2019, as long as delays don't get in the way.

Alienware stuffs desktop parts in a monster laptop

Alienware Area-51m

Area 51m (Image credit: Dell)

We've already covered the cavalcade of gaming laptops that marched through CES 2019, but Dell's latest Alienware monster deserves its own spot. The new Alienware Area-51m is what you'd get if you stuffed a desktop PC into a laptop chassis.

The goal with the Area-51m was to make absolutely everything user-upgradable, and Dell set out designing the laptop with that in mind. Inside, you'll find desktop-class processors and NVIDIA's latest RTX graphics for laptops, both of which can be upgraded. And that's not all; the RAM and storage drives can be swapped out, and Dell constructed the PC in a way that makes it easy to do just that, with smart labeling and easily accessible parts.

Aside from its impressive components, the Area-51m just looks plain cool. Dell says that it was designed using a new "Industrial" design language, and it sports clean lines and neat lighting effects. So long as you're OK with what is bound to be terrible battery life, a chunky exterior, and the Area-51m's decidedly beefy 8.51-pound weight, it's quite intriguing.

The Alienware Area-51m is expected to launch on January 29 for $2,550.

Massive gaming displays

HP Emperium

When is a monitor just a TV by another name? That's a question that was sure to pop into many a mind when looking at HP's new Omen X Emperium display, a 65-inch gaming monitor with a matching soundbar.

The massive display checks all of the boxes gamers will care about: 144Hz, G-Sync, 4K, and HDR. Whether you're gaming or checking out the latest episodes of your favorite shows on Netflix, the Omen X Emperium X can, at least on paper, fit the bill.

Oh, and there's one more thing: HP designed a matching soundbar for the Omen X Emperium. Locking in just below the display, the soundbar packs three stereo amps at 120 watts, along with Low-Frequency Array tech that HP says should eliminate the need for a separate subwoofer.

Just don't expect this thing to come cheap. HP is expected to launch the Omen X Emperium in February for a whopping $5,000.

Dell brings your phone into VR

Dell Mobile Connect VR

While it had a lot of hardware to show off at CES, Dell has also been busy tweaking its software. The highlight from the show is Dell Mobile Connect, which will soon let you interact with your phone in VR. And we're not talking just responding to notifications.

Dell Mobile Connect in VR will let you interact with your whole phone UI. That means, if you're grinding away with a particularly tough game in VR but need to take a break to check Twitter or send a text, there's no need to pull your headset off. Rather, Dell Mobile Connect will let you bring up your full phone UI on screen and interact with any apps just as you would holding your phone.

Dell isn't giving any indication as to when the next version of Dell Mobile Connect with this VR wizardry will be available, but it should be coming "soon."

Lenovo makes a cheaper Surface Studio

Lenovo Yoga A940

One of the biggest barriers to entry for Microsoft's impressively sleek Surface Studio is its price. But as long as you're not a Microsoft hardware diehard, Lenovo may now have an alternative: the Yoga A940.

There are two main things that make the Yoga A940 an incredibly intriguing alternative to the Surface Studio. First, its price: the PC starts at $2,350, which undercuts the Surface Studio by $1,150. Second, the Yoga A940 comes sporting a full desktop-class Intel Core i7-8700 processor, which is a big step up from the laptop-class processor in the Surface Studio.

Available with a 27-inch Dolby Vision-capable display in either QHD or 4K options, the Yoga A940 packs a similar rotating arm mechanism as the Surface Studio. That allows artists to lower the display into position for drafting or sketching with an included pen. And while the AMD Radeon RX 560 graphics won't blow the pants off of any games, it is perfectly viable for creative applications.

One of the other little tidbits that make the A940 interesting is the Lenovo Precision Dial, a Surface Dial-like device that can be plugged into either the right or left side of the display and can be used to toggle settings in apps, scroll, and much more. As a little bonus, the side of the A940 has a dedicated Qi charging pad for your phone and a holder for the pen.

The Lenovo Yoga A940 is expected to hit stores in March.

HTC debuts exciting innovations for Vive

HTC Vive Pro Eye

HTC Vive Pro Eye (Image credit: Windows Central)

Lastly, HTC had a couple of new and interesting products to show off that should get VR fans salivating.

The first is the HTC Vive Cosmos, a new VR headset that features inside-out tracking. That means, at least with the Vive Cosmos, you'll no longer have to set up base stations around your room. Instead, the Vive Cosmos can track your position and movement using cameras mounted on the headset itself.

The goal with the Vive Cosmos, HTC said, was to create a headset that could be used almost anywhere. And while the company didn't explicitly say so, that statement left speculation open that the headset could eventually work with a phone instead of requiring a gaming PC.

The other big announcement HTC had ready was the Vive Pro Eye, which takes a Vive Pro headset and adds "foveated rendering." Essentially, this is a revamped Vive Pro that sports a number of sensors inside to track your eyes.

Foveated rendering is a graphics trick that allows your PC to draw what you're looking at in high quality, freeing up more resources by ramping down the quality on what you're not looking at. That technique could allow lower-powered graphics cards to run intense experiences, while more capable graphics cards could make what you're seeing look even better. With the eye-tracking sensors, developers can also create experiences that track exactly what you're looking at and respond accordingly.

There's no release date set for either the Vive Pro Eye or Vive Cosmos just yet, but the Cosmos is expected to get a price and release date later in 2019.

Dan Thorp-Lancaster is the Editor in Chief for Windows Central. He began working with Windows Central as a news writer in 2014 and is obsessed with tech of all sorts. You can follow Dan on Twitter @DthorpL and Instagram @heyitsdtl. Got a hot tip? Send it to daniel.thorp-lancaster@futurenet.com.

30 Comments
  • I guess nothing for Windows on Arm, or the Snapdragon 8cx yet.
  • I'm betting that was because either A) the excitement has died down on doing anything significant on Arm because the OS just has way too many issues giving us the same or better experience that we enjoy on Intel or B) Intel has gotten serious about getting their architecture down to a competitive level with Arm. I don't think most people are willing to compromise features/performance at this point. I'll bet it's now a race to see whether MS gets the OS to work well (AND be able to morph the UI to fit the form factor it's installed) first or whether Intel beats Qualcomm, etc., at their game.
  • Windows on ARM was DOA. I don't expect to hear another word about it.
  • While the first generation chipsets are not yet up to par with most people's expectations for performance (given the price point at which they are sold), I will wait and see what the Snapdragon 8CX brings. At least it's lighting a fire under Intel's caboose and making them compete more (see Intel's big-little copycat)
  • WOA seems to be moving at the lightning pace of Hololens, Cortana, Microsoft's home automation efforts, etc. In other words, announce amazing stuff, throw something out delayed/late (but with lots of promise), slow investment to a trickle, let others get an insurmountable lead, kill it and explain there no way they could compete... besides, cloud revenue.
  • Um, Hololens is doing very well. Microsoft just signed a $480M contract with the US Army for HoloLens last month. How's Vive and Sony VR doing in consumer space? What about enterprise/business/actual usage?
  • That's true on the military purchase, and I had forgot about that, but before that they had only sold 'thousands' of units since 2015 and they've had the exact same version for over 3 years.
  • Sorry, @Dusteater, but you're very wrong about this and clearly misinformed on the topic/history/what's to come (that's my job, btw to tell you those things). Everyone recognizes this is a slow-burn rather than an explosion, just like 2-in-1s. 3 chips announcements in 18 months and five laptops with new tech is not trivial, not to mention the work being done on the software end. We just announced last week Firefox for ARM is available.
  • I expect you are wrong.
  • ARM in AR, MR and IOT (for cashier, drone, vending machine, machines in arcade center, water meter, etc) sector is still a very viable business tho...
  • It's not the right audience, WOA doesn't excite a lot of people. CES is all about bigger, smaller and sexier. Longer battery life is important to real world consumers, but a laptop that's slower than the one you already own doesn't make the right kind of headlines at an event like this. Especially if you don't have a product close to shipping.
  • Yeah I felt CES 2019 was a rather sad commentary on the very so called "mobile laptops" Intel is speaking about in their Project Athena vision. Lots of gaming laptops... lots of "regular" laptops... hardly any innovations in 2-in-1s, eSim, ACPC, WoA. Maybe all that is supposed to happen at the Qualcomm event from now on? But wow "mobile computing" was almost as absent this year as Cortana was last year... other than some vague notion of Intel's Project Athena. Was hoping we'd see a whole slew of leather-clad 2-in-1s copycatting the HP Spectre Folio. Or some hint that an 8cx device is in the works by one of the bigs. Or how about some smaller versions of 2-in-1s to rival the Surface Go? I guess this just shows that hardly anyone believes Windows can do anything right in mobile anymore and have gone back to the old-school drawing board with gaming laptops and clamshells.
  • Ugh. Leather-clad anything is just horrid. And, sorry, but I have zero interest in a gaming laptop, regardless of how powerful or "cool looking". There's just no universe where I find my self with the time or inclination to be gaming anywhere other than at home...on a PC that I can easily upgrade. In fact, since I've been using Surface Pro devices for 4 years, I'll never go back to a traditional laptop.
  • " I guess this just shows that hardly anyone believes Windows can do anything right in mobile anymore and have gone back to the old-school drawing board with gaming laptops and clamshells."
    Or that GTX series and the 40 laptops it launched on was the focus for many companies due to competition/first to market, vs. anything new for productivity, which is better suited for smaller events. I've been doing CES for years. The fact some of you are spinning this negatively is hilarious to me. I've never seen this much "PC" at CES and compared to phones it was a landslide. I get it's easy to moan in comments especially when not at the show, but let's just say the Android Central team didn't have much to do. Meanwhile, we have something like 15 videos.
  • I’m happy for you that you got to go to the big show. You’re special. And get a gold star. Happy? ;0) But seriously. Speaking as someone who works in IT, and as an enthusiast, from the coverage I saw, on this site, and others, beyond the LG gram 14 and that Samsung pen device announced pre-CES there wasn’t a lot of innovation in 2 in 1s. Certainly no small form factor devices... ie Surface Go clones. We actually saw the opposite. Laptops getting BIGGER screens. Even giant thick gaming powerhouses with funky cantilever action! I’m happy for the gamer “kids” out there who now have some crazy new gaming toys to consider... although some are way out of the price range of most them... but in the enterprise where are some OEM manufactured windows tablet options to give to my field techs and front line workers? Where are more OEM made LTE options to give to my traveling folks? Just how long will it take to see eSim? Project Athena was about all I heard on that front. And that’s just TALK at this point. Would like to have seen more action. it’s not like 2 in 1s are still in their infancy state. I don’t know. From what I saw reported by you folks in the press that went leads me to write off 2019 as a year dedicated to gamers! Think we’ll be holding on to our laptops for another year while we wait for better options hopefully on 2020.
  • QUALCOMM 8cx is not due until at least July/August, likely the fall. Way too early for hardware announcements.
  • Dan, with MS' record with non-delivery after announcements it would always be too early. Either that or MS could get off its bum and actually do something relevant in mobile. Reems of patents are fine, but they mean diddly squat in the world experienced outside here in the real world.
  • Does the Lenovo"studio" have thunderbolt for eGpu compatibility?
  • It has Thunderbolt 3 according to the linked article.
  • Some notable stuff but overall feels like a let down for Windows
  • False. You mean "They didn't announce something I want to buy". There hasn't been this much focus on PC at CES for years. There was just so much announced. Lenovo and ASUS alone had ten laptops/updates/new announcements.
  • Dan could you be any more apologetic? The stuff you mentioned is evolutionary, not revolutionary. The once-great MS gave us sweet F A.
  • Wow. New Lenovo and ASUS Windows 10 laptops. For a market that has been shrinking for the last 8 years. I realize this is "Windows Central", but come on. If Windows laptops were The Big News at CES 2019, then CES 2019 was a bust.
  • On that Radeon VII announcement: "60 computer units?" They're not called "computer units," haha. It's just "compute units." "Efficiency and power are the key terms here" They really aren't. While 7nm DOES bring the advantage of better performance at the same power, these are NOT efficient cards. They are still fully expected to be worse at power consumption than the RTX 2080, its direct competitor (in price and performance) from Nvidia. There is improved performance from these cards because they DID NOT aim to produce a more efficient card than the Vega 64 it is slotting above.
  • No Windows Phone?
  • Lol, I wouldn't have expected that (even though I'm clinging to my Lumia 950), but an Andromeda crumb would have been nice.
  • Wow, what a huge gaming focus. That's super cool.
  • The biggest announcement for my money is the set of announcements that were not made. No andromeda, no unicorns, no mobile telephony. MS has once again been gazumped on the folding phone thingy even by an upstart Chinese company that developed a foldable with its own resources and running an elementary android version. Can it be that MS, with its HUUUUGE market cap cannot beat a minnow to market? There is a serious problem at MS and it seems like a rotting fish …. and we all know that the fish rots from the head. Just what the hell is wrong at Microsoft?
  • Okay, seriously I was ROFL at this one. A minnow beating them to market. You're so right. It was embarrassing enough to watch MS' butt get kicked in Web during all those late Gates, early Ballmer years. Now we're just watching a repeat butt-kicking in mobile.
  • You missed the biggest news, AMD's Zen 2 chiplet, beats Intel's high end 9900k. In plain English this is likely AMD's mid-range like-for-like chip that's running about half the power running at stock. Intel is in a world of trouble this year when Ryzen 3 drops and that will eclipses the Vega 7 announcement.