This past year was a decent one for anybody looking to pick up a notebook.
The availability of good parts helped that along with Intel’s 8th generation of processors offering up enough power for most consumer applications and graphics cards – particularly those of the Nvidia Max-Q variety – offering up oodles of performance in a thin form factor.
And that segues nicely into the trends we saw this year. Manufacturers are getting notebooks to a point where they seem impossibly thin. We are – as our top five will allude to – massive fans of this and we hope that this thin and light trend continues in 2019.
But enough blabbering, which were our favourite notebooks of the year?
MacBook Air (2018)
Apple waited until right at the end of the year to announce this one but we have to include it. That’s not because we’re unabashed Apple fan boys but rather because the firm knocks it out of the park with its notebooks time and time again.
The MacBook Air 2018 sports an Intel 8th generation processor, up to 16GB RAM and up to 1.5TB of storage. The display is a 13.3 inch Retina affair and the whole package is (recycled) wrapped in aluminium.
The notebook features Touch ID which is secured by Apple’s own T2 chip.
The pricing is also not bad considering what you get for your money. There are better notebooks but if you need a simple machine that doesn’t skimp on power the MBA 2018 is a good consideration.
Acer Predator Helios 500
Acer’s Predator is the bulkiest laptop in our top of the year. Granted, the notebook has to be as bulky as it is to deal with the thermals it kicks out.
Inside is an overclockable Intel Core i9-8950HK running at 2.9GHz, this is paired with 32GB of DDR4 RAM and an Nvidia GeForce GTX 1070.
We weren’t fans of the 4K display the Helios 500 ships with but there is an iteration with a 144Hz display and a full HD resolution that we think would make for a better machine overall.
Our grievances aside, this is – objectively – a good notebook. It’s powerful enough to run the latest gaming titles, it can edit Full HD video footage without breaking a sweat and it manages to keep cool while doing all of this. It’s also pricey but you get what you pay for and what you get is a mighty fine gaming machine.
Dell XPS 13 (2018)
It’s not destined for gaming greatness but all you have to do is use the new Dell XPS 13 2018 to understand you’re dealing with something special.
Under the hood the latest iteration of the Dell XPS 13 is pretty standard. There’s an 8th generation Intel Core processor, DDR4 memory and the familiar, impossibly thin look of the beast.
The body is smaller and at 1.21kg it’s light as feather.
What makes the XPS 13 so great however is the sum of its parts. The keyboard is responsive and tactical and the display always feels perfect no matter what environment you’re working in.
The ports have received a change this year with USB Type A and HDMI port being replaced by a USB C, Thunderbolt and headphone jack. The SD card reader remains.
Overall the Dell XPS remains as one of the best notebooks for those who need to get work done.
Gigabyte Aero 15W V8
High-end gaming notebooks were in danger of becoming very similar but manufacturers – who are far smarter than us – saw this and figured they’d start including standout features in their notebooks to differentiate themselves.
To our mind the second best example of that is Gigabyte’s Aero 15W V8 aka the Aero 15X.
It’s thin, it packs an Intel Core i7-8750H running at 2.9GHz, an Nvidia GeForce GTX 1060, 16GB of RAM, and 512GB of SSD storage. The real star of the show however is the 144Hz display.
Thanks to the aforementioned internals, the Aero 15W games like a champion and it remains cool while it does that, unfortunately some silly design choices keep this from being the best notebook of the year but it was a close call.
The battery will keep you going for hours and the Pantone calibrated display means the Aero 15W is great for content creators.
There’s little that disappointed us with the Aero 15W and we’re excited to see what Gigabyte does in the future.
MSI GS65 Stealth
On the surface the MSI GS65 Stealth and Aero 15W are the same notebook but there are small differences that just push MSI to the top.
The first one of those differences is in the outward appearance. The GS65 is impossibly thin while still housing SSD storage, an 8th Generation Intel Core i7 processor, an Nvidia GeForce GTX 1070 GPU and a 15.6inch, 144Hz display.
This is all expertly cooled and the sum of the parts is the best gaming experience we’ve had on a notebook this year.
The experience is amplified when you realise how small and light the notebook is.
We’re not sure what MSI can do to build on this in 2019 but we sure are excited. Perhaps next year we’ll be talking about a gaming PC in a MacBook Air form factor. Now that would be something.
[Imnage – CC 0 Pixabay]