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2024 Tech Trends: Looking ahead and what to expect

Rise of Arm-powered Windows laptops

5. More varied laptop offerings than ever before

Can you believe high-performance Windows on Arm-based laptops will soon be upon us? Qualcomm thinks its new Snapdragon X Elite will have the processing chops to do just that. (Image source: Qualcomm)

The laptop market is rife with variety and showcasing innovations such as large foldable screens (ASUS ZenBook 17 Fold), bringing 3D screens to life without glasses (ASUS ProArt Studiobook 16 3D), full dual screens (Lenovo Yoga Book 9i), and even a detachable gaming laptop (ASUS ROG Z Flow 13). However, 2024 will possibly see a different trend with more Arm-powered laptops making headway thanks to Qualcomm Snapdragon processors running Windows 11.

But isn't that the same brand powering your top Android phones? Qualcomm designed Snapdragon 8cx Compute Platform processors to take on Intel in 2018 with the main premise being always connected and always-on, just like your smartphone. Early previews were promising, but Windows 10 was holding it back with limitations attached to it. Fortunately, Windows 11 fixed several of these concerns, including support to run un-modified 64-bit Windows applications and Microsoft has actively stepped up to support Arm-native application development and porting.

As the software front is increasingly evolving to be Arm-processor friendly, AMD and NVIDIA have now thrown in their support to develop Arm-based processors to run Windows, but specifically take aim at Apple. While this could take sometime to manifest into actual products, Qualcomm is ahead of the game with three past iterations of the Snapdragon Compute platform processors, partner wins who've delivered laptops (albeit very few made it to Singapore), and more importantly, a more powerful fourth edition dubbed the Snapdragon Elite X that's coming later this year in 2024.

Intel's Core Ultra processor based systems have launched and will soon be available locally, but what you should pay close attention to are the purported performance and power efficiency advantage. The Core Ultra boasts 11% performance uplift and 25% power savings over its current Raptor Lake (13th Gen Core) sibling in terms of top-line stats. Meanwhile, the upcoming Snapdragon Elite X boasts double the performance of Intel Raptor Lake at low power draw and over 60% less power draw at Intel's peak performance (even when using the H-series 13th Gen Core). Certainly we've to take all marketing figures with a pinch of salt and consider what tests represent these figures. But if you flatten all this out, the Snapdragon Elite X is likely going to be more power efficient than Intel's shiniest Core Ultra processor and that's going to make their vast advances for Meteor Lake (used on the Core Ultra) look a little flat.

Intel of course has the enormous advantage of manufacturing its own processors, a far more robust supply chain to keep the PC ecosystem oiled and more. We don't expect Qualcomm to pull the rug underneath Intel, but they can probably deliver the dent that will keep Intel awake at night since more will join the Arm race soon.

(Image source: Google)

If that's not all, don't forget that Chromebooks are getting official support for up to 10 years starting from this year, which means you've yet another strong contender for the productivity and entertainment if you are choosing a laptop to fulfil these needs.

That said, we realise there's way too much to consider when buying a new laptop, so here's a quick branch of consideration and buying advise:-

  • If you are entrenched in the Mac ecosystem and prefer not to rock the boat ==> Stick to purchasing a Macbook. Here's our essential Mac Buying Guide to help you narrow down the exact model that best suits you.
  • If you prefer simplicity in management, lower costs and mostly dabble with internet-based applications (e.g. G Suite or Google Workspace) and services (Netflix, AWS desktop, etc.), Chromebooks are an interesting alternative as you don't require very powerful laptops and starting prices are low. However, don't skimp too much and ensure you get a laptop with at least 8GB of RAM for decent usage.
  • For those who peg application versatility, compatibility and the desire to play a variety of games (ensure that your notebook features a decent GPU), a Windows based laptop is your ideal path. For further reading, check out what connectivity options are useful when getting a new laptop, and the practical considerations to look out for when shopping for one.

Have a Happy 2024 and look out for more developments and impactful stories on our site! -- Team HWZ.

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