In some ways, 2023 was a quiet year when it came to laptops. After PC sales came off their all-time high during the peak of the pandemic, 2023 was a year of recovery. Many of the most popular lines received minor upgrades, and there were not many significant technological innovations that advanced laptops.
Still, there were five trends in 2023 that are worth looking back at and point to what’s to come in the future.
Some key lines remained largely unchanged
Manufacturers continue to make major updates to their lines every few years. Sometimes, like in 2023, things go this way that many flagship laptops only get minor upgrades.
Dell’s XPS line is a prime example. The XPS 15 and XPS 17 receive CPU and GPU upgrades in 2023, but their design remains exactly the same as we’ve seen for years. Even the webcam remains at 720p and wireless connectivity is on Wi-Fi 6, not Wi-Fi 6E, indicating that Dell wasn’t interested in pushing its biggest XPS machines this year. The new XPS 13 Plus received a minor CPU upgrade and still uses a 720p webcam and Wi-Fi 6, while the new near-budget XPS 13 design introduced in 2022 wasn’t updated at all and still uses Intel 12th Gen Runs on generation processors. Old components.
HP’s Specter line also received minor CPU updates. For example, the Specter x360 13.5 is unchanged from 2022 except for an upgrade to a 13th-generation processor. Note that HP introduced the Specter foldable PC, which is both incredibly innovative and incredibly expensive at $5,000. But otherwise, not much has changed in the Specter line.
Going through the list, Lenovo’s ThinkPad line is another example, with its flagship ThinkPad X1 Carbon hitting its 11th generation with only moderate updates from the 10th generation machine. And Microsoft’s Surface line had just two budget upgrades in the Surface Laptop Go 3 and Surface Go 4, as well as a minor spec bump in the Surface Laptop Studio 2.
We’ll see if any of these lineups receive more meaningful updates in 2024. However, so far, they are taking steps in the right direction.
Performance and battery life increased
For most users, Intel’s 13th generation CPUs offered only incremental performance and efficiency improvements compared to their 12th generation predecessors. AMD’s latest Ryzen processors are fast, but not a game-changer. Both chip makers have very fast CPUs at the high end, but these are mostly of interest to gamers and creators. For mainstream productivity users, there’s no real improvement in performance or battery life.
The same is true for GPU. Nvidia’s GeForce RTX 4000 series were certainly improvements, but the increases were only incremental compared to the RTX 3000 series. AMD was not a player at all in mobile GPUs in 2023.
Possibly the most exciting laptop CPU and GPU updates come from Apple. There’s a real bump in performance with its new M3 chips, especially at the higher end. The base M3 offers a meaningful improvement over the M2 that far exceeds what Intel achieved with its 13th generation CPUs for general users. However, the M3 Max we tested offers a huge jump over the previous generation, especially in GPU performance. Apple also increased memory capacity and performance, making the MacBook Pro 14 and 16 in the most powerful laptops manufacturers can buy today. When you take into account the line’s phenomenal battery life, this is one of the most significant advancements Apple has made in 2023.
performance got better
One trend that was great to see in 2023 was the continued improvement in displays. We looked at several Windows laptops that offered with Mini-LED displays, and while most of them didn’t demonstrate the same performance achieved in Apple’s MacBook Pro, the Lenovo Legion 9i’s Mini-LED panel was fantastic.
Additionally, we’ve seen many laptops priced at $1,000 or less come with OLED displays. The Asus Zenbook 14 OLED was our favorite affordable laptop, offering an OLED panel running at 90Hz for just $700. By 2023, you will no longer need to spend premium prices to get a great display.
Speaking of refresh rates, a significant percentage of the laptops I reviewed in 2023 ran at 90Hz or faster. Apple started this trend in 2020 with the original M1 MacBook Pros, and the industry is just beginning to catch up. Windows 11 is a more seamless experience with displays running faster than 60Hz.
Excellent laptops were more affordable
The ZenBook 14 OLED wasn’t the only laptop I reviewed that offered more value than in previous years. In fact, I’d say 2023 has redefined the midrange laptop, seeing more excellent options in the $800 to $1,200 range.
The ZenBook 14X OLED is a faster and slightly larger laptop than its sibling, starting at just $800, with a faster 45-watt Intel Core i5-13500H and a better OLED display. That’s an incredible price for a laptop that will handle the most demanding productivity workflows.
Another great option is the HP Pavilion Plus 14, which costs $850 and has the Ryzen 5 7540U and a high-resolution IPS display. Even with the upgrade to the Ryzen 7 7840U and OLED display, the laptop remains affordable at $900.
These are some of the laptops introduced in 2023 that offer better performance, display, and build quality than we usually see for under $1,000. This is probably the most important trend we see in 2023.
A mid year in laptops
More affordable laptops with excellent displays are a good trend. But otherwise, 2023 was a pretty boring year in laptop design. We haven’t seen any groundbreaking new technology that’s significantly advanced the way we use laptops.
It looks like 2024 may be a little more exciting, especially in terms of performance and efficiency with potentially more competitive Windows laptops built around Intel’s new Meteor Lake CPUs and efficient ARM processors.