The 10 Coolest New Laptops Of 2020 (So Far)

Major laptop releases from the first half of the year include new notebooks from Dell, Lenovo, HP and Apple.


The Latest In Laptops

As work and schooling has shifted to the home during the first half of 2020, demand for powerful and portable laptops has surged. PC makers such as Dell, Lenovo and HP Inc. all launched innovative new laptops in recent months that helped to meet the demand, while Apple debuted updated models for its popular MacBook Air and 13-inch MacBook Pro. Notebooks with high-performance new Intel processors, longer battery life and 2-in-1 convertible touch screens were among the major features for many of the new laptops, while support for 5G connectivity was another key theme for some of the devices.

What follows are 10 new laptops that most caught our attention during the first half of 2020.

Apple MacBook Air

With Apple‘s 2020 update for the MacBook Air, the notebook adds the Magic Keyboard design in place of the much-troubled butterfly keyboard design. The Magic Keyboard uses a scissor mechanism and offers 1 mm of key travel for improved typing comfort and a more-stable feel.

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Meanwhile, the MacBook Air maintains its tradition of portability with a starting weight of 2.8 pounds and a thickness of 0.63 of an inch. The latest MacBook Air also moves up to quad-core processors for the first time with 10th-generation Intel Core processors (up to Core i7 with a clock speed of up to 3.8GHz). That amounts to up to 2X faster performance over the previous-generation model, according to Apple.

Apple MacBook Pro, 13-inch

The latest update to the 13-inch MacBook Pro also adds the Magic Keyboard design for an improved typing experience (along with a much-requested physical escape key). The notebook offers both eighth-gen and 10th-gen Intel Core processors to choose from--up to the quad-core, 10th-gen Core i7--while Apple is promising up to 80 percent faster graphics performance via integrated Intel Iris Plus Graphics.

Perhaps an even bigger upgrade with the new 13-inch MacBook Pro is around the memory options. The notebook now offers a 32 GB RAM configuration--the first time this much RAM has been offered on a 13-inch MacBook. And Apple is also releasing configurations with 16 GB of faster memory--at 3733MHz, versus 2133MHz RAM at the lower configurations. On storage, Apple has doubled the amount offered on the entry-level model, with the starting level of storage now at 256 GB.

Dell Latitude 9510

Offered in both clamshell and 2-in-1 models, Dell‘s Latitude 9510 includes a 15-inch display with FHD resolution and slim bezels around the “InfinityEdge” screen. In terms of portability, the clamshell version has a starting weight of 3.1 pounds, while the convertible model starts at 3.3 pounds. On battery life, the notebook is seeking to stand out with up to an estimated 34 hours of battery life available on a charge.

For the notebook‘s performance, Dell offers up to 10th-generation Intel Core processors along with up to 16 GB of RAM. And on connectivity, the Latitude 9510 2-in-1 model will support 5G as of this month, with the device configurable with Qualcomm’s Snapdragon X55 Global 5G Modem.

Key AI-powered features include ExpressResponse, which assesses user preferences and taps machine learning to more quickly launch frequently used applications while also boosting application performance overall. Another major capability is ExpressCharge, which aids utilization of battery life with AI and machine learning by determining a user‘s usage patterns and bringing subtle adjustments (such as screen dimming) when the battery is low.

Dell XPS 13

For the 2020 model, the XPS 13 display is now slightly larger in size at 13.4 inches and is 25-percent brighter. Options for the XPS 13 display include UHD+ (3,840 x 2,400) resolution, along with FHD+ resolution (1,920 x 1,200), available with either a touch or non-touch screen. The latest XPS 13 has also gotten a keyboard redesign, with 9-percent larger keycaps and key travel of 1 mm, while the notebook continues to offer an “alpine white” woven-glass fiber material on the palm rest and around the keyboard. On performance, Dell‘s latest XPS 13 features 10th-gen Core processors and speedy 3733MHz RAM, with up to 32 GB of RAM available.

The XPS 13 also continues to rate well on portability, with a starting weight of 2.64 pounds and a volume of just 52.8 cubic inches--making it 13-percent smaller all-around than Apple‘s latest MacBook Pro, for instance.

HP ProBook x360 435 G7

A major focus for HP Inc. in 2020 has been on launching new SMB-focused laptops for enabling improved performance, with the ProBook G7 portfolio. HP‘s ProBook x360 435 G7 runs on AMD’s Ryzen 4000 U-series processors--up to an eight-core Ryzen chip, with Radeon graphics--along with offering up to 16 GB of RAM. The notebook features a 13.3-inch convertible touch screen and also offers strong portability with its 3.19-pound form factor.

HP Pro c640 Chromebook Enterprise

With the Pro c640 Chromebook Enterprise, HP has debuted its first-ever Pro series Chromebook. The company is touting the notebook as the “world‘s thinnest 14-inch business Chromebook” with a thickness of 0.65 of an inch. The device also weighs 3.3 pounds and features a durable aluminum exterior, with a 180-degree hinge for laying the device flat. On security, the Pro c640 Chromebook Enterprise includes a built-in webcam shutter, an optional built-in fingerprint reader and the Chrome Enterprise upgrade. Other notable features include a wide-angle webcam, Bang & Olufsen speakers, 10th-gen Intel Core processors, up to 12 hours of battery life and fast-charging capabilities. On ports, the notebook stands out by including a HDMI port and two USB-A ports--even in spite of its thin form factor--along with two USB-C ports.

Lenovo Flex 5G

One of the most prominent 5G-capable PCs to be announced this year so far is Lenovo‘s Flex 5G, which includes 5G support as a default capability. With the inclusion of the Qualcomm Snapdragon 8cx platform, which includes a 5G modem, the notebook is “designed around 5G,” said Christian Teismann, senior vice president for worldwide commercial business at Lenovo. That has included ensuring strong battery life--up to 24 hours on a charge--for the Flex 5G even with the high-speed mobile connectivity, he said. The notebook sports a 14-inch FHD display with 300 nits of brightness, and offers solid portability with a weight of 2.86 pounds and a thickness of 0.58 of an inch.

Lenovo ThinkBook Plus

Last year, Lenovo launched a new notebook brand, the ThinkBook, with key attributes of the business-focused ThinkPad line combined with a more consumer-friendly design aesthetic. This year, Lenovo has showcased the next evolution of the series with a brand-new model, the ThinkBook Plus. The notebook differentiates with the inclusion of a 10.8-inch E Ink display on the top cover--which can be used for taking notes or sketching with a digital stylus, as well as for getting emails and notifications. For the main display, the ThinkBook Plus features a 13.3-inch FHD screen with 300 nits of brightness, while the notebook‘s chassis is made from anodized aluminum. The ThinkBook Plus offers 10th-gen Intel Core processors, up to Core i7--and remains highly portable with a starting weight of 3.08 pounds and a thickness of 0.68 of an inch.

Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon, 8th Gen

Ever-popular with business users, the ThinkPad X1 Carbon has gotten improvements for its eighth-generation model including a new display option. The new option for the 14-inch display offers 500 nits of brightness, an FHD touch screen and the Privacy Guard integrated privacy screen. Lenovo is providing several other choices for the display as well, among them a 500-nit 4K non-touch screen. The eighth-gen X1 Carbon also offers an enhanced keyboard, with the inclusion of keys for unified communications, along with 10th-generation Intel Core processors, Dolby Atmos speakers and up to 18.5 hours of battery life. Meanwhile, the ThinkPad X1 Carbon maintains its signature durability and portability, with a weight of 2.4 pounds and thickness of 0.58 of an inch.

Microsoft Surface Book 3

Like the previous Surface Book, the Surface Book 3 features two sizes for its display--13.5 inches and 15 inches. The Surface Book 3 continues the unique design of allowing the display to be fully detached from the keyboard base; the display can then be used as a tablet, but can also be flipped around and re-attached facing the other direction. The notebook‘s display includes Microsoft’s vibrant PixelSense display technology with high resolution of 267 pixels per inch (3,000 x 2,000) on the 13.5-inch model and 260 ppi (3,240 x 2,160) on the 15-inch version.

The Surface Book 3 offers choices of quad-core, 10th-gen Intel Core processors (Core i5 or Core i7) up to the Core i7-1065G7 (clock speed of up to 3.9GHz). For the 15-inch model, that works out to a performance gain of 50-percent compared to the Surface Book 2. The Surface Book 3 is also configurable with double the RAM--32 GB--and offers “the fastest SSD we have ever shipped,” as well, Microsoft said.

On graphics, the Surface Book 3 adds options to go up to the Nvidia GeForce GTX 1650 with Max-Q on the 13.5-inch model and up to the Nvidia Quadro RTX 3000 with Max-Q on the 15-inch model.