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The best laptops: Ultrabooks, budget PCs, 2-in-1s, and more

The best laptops today are basking in the glow of Intel’s 8th-gen Core CPUs, which at last bring quad-core performance to mainstream machines. The only thing missing is Oprah shouting, “and you get an 8th-gen quad-core laptop!”

There’s plenty of good news with this new generation. Our favorite convertible laptop, HP’s Spectre x360 13, stepped out with a quad-core 8th gen chip while maintaining its diminutive size. It’s really the total package. 

Intel’s 8th-gen Kaby Lake CPUs are so pervasive now that our new favorite 2-in-1, Lenovo’s Miix 520, features it, too. Yup: Believe or not, but if you want the best Surface Pro, it’s made not made by Microsoft today.

The good news for Microsoft is it still holds the lead in our luxury laptop category, with the newly anointed Surface Book 2 as our top pick.

What’s crazy is there’s more to come. We’re currently in the middle of testing Dell’s 8th-gen-fortified XPS 13, which promises more performance in an even smaller package.

We haven’t even seen Intel’s new Core H-series parts: 8th-generation, quad-core Core i5 and Core i7 chips, married with what AMD calls the Radeon RX Vega M GPU. That’s right: discrete graphics on a mobile chip, thanks to a surprise partnership between the two longtime rivals. Intel has yet to commit to a ship date more specific than Q1 2018, but as of this writing, the clock is ticking louder.

Not to be outdone, AMD announced everything at CES except the kitchen sink, seemingly, including its own mobile chip, also with Vega in the name. Ryzen Vega Mobile promises high frame-rate AAA gaming in compact form factors, using an RX 580 GPU with its own memory. AMD promises we’ll see these chips sometime in 2018.

While we wait for these new chips to come out, there’s still plenty to love among current models. We have new picks for a faster budget gaming laptop  (Dell’s Inspiron 15 7000 Gaming Laptop, currently about $980 on dell.com) and a portable gaming laptop (Gigabyte’s Aero 15X, currently $2,199 on Amazon) with good battery life.

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