You couldn’t walk anywhere in the halls of Computex 2017 without hearing someone talking about the Asus ROG Zephyrus, and for good reason. This gaming powerhouse is the pinnacle of laptop design, with special thanks to Nvidia’s new Max-Q technology, which focuses on a thin chassis and overall efficiency. Everything about it, from its GTX 1080 GPU in a tiny body to its innovative pop-out ventilation system, turned heads. There was no ignoring it, and it deserved every bit of attention it got.
At just 0.42 inches thick, the Asus ZenBook Flip S is the thinnest 2-in-1 ever made. However, this 13-inch convertible has a lot more going for it than slim dimensions. The 2.4-pound laptop promises powerful performance with its Core i7-7500U CPU and speedy PCIe solid-state drive, and this system delivers sharp images with its optional 4K display.
The ZenBook Flip S comes with an active, pressure-sensitive stylus for drawing or scribbling notes on the screen. Best of all, the laptop is available in the same stunning royal-blue-and-gold color scheme as its sibling, the ZenBook 3.
Best Gaming Laptop: MSI GT75VR Titan
If you’re looking for raw power, MSI’s GT75VR is where you’ll find it. MSI dumped a boatload of features into a single laptop. The beast comes in three graphics varieties: Nvidia GeForce GTX 1080, Nvidia GeForce GTX 1070 or dual GTX 1070s in SLI. There’s a mechanical keyboard with per-key RGB backlighting and, for when things get heated, 12 heat pipes in the machine.
Your games will look great on the 17.3-inch, 4K 120-hertz display with High Dynamic Range. Simply put, there’s a lot in here to run your games the way they were meant to be played.
The Acer Spin 1 isn’t the first Windows 2-in-1 to sell for under $350, but its vibrant, 1080p IPS display is extraordinary for any kind of laptop in this price range. The 11.6-inch convertible also has an attractive gunmetal-gray-and-silver chassis, which makes it look like a far more expensive product. Throw in a variety of useful ports and an estimated 8 hours of battery life, and you have what looks like a really great value.
Best Innovation: Nvidia Max-Q
Gaming notebooks don’t need to be hulking beasts anymore. Nvidia’s new Max-Q design initiative — which focuses on slim, quiet and power-efficient laptops — is already bearing fruit in systems from Asus, Aorus, MSI and Clevo, with many more partners to come.
When we went hands-on with some of the devices, we were amazed not only by how sleek they were (with a GTX 1080 GPU crammed in, to boot) but how their vents didn’t roar as those on typical gaming notebooks do. Max-Q is fundamentally changing gaming laptops in a way that will make them more attractive and pleasant to use.
Best Peripheral: Aorus GTX 1070 Gaming Box
A graphics amp that can turn any Thunderbolt 3-enabled laptop into a gaming machine is the ultimate add-on. However, up until now, all the amps on the market have required consumers to spend big bucks both on the enclosure and whatever video card they put inside. About half the size of traditional graphics amps such as the Razer Core, the Aorus GTX 1070 Gaming Box comes with a compact, mini-ITX Nvidia GTX 1070 card built-in and ready to go. At an estimated cost of $599, it’s also a very strong value.