Graphics cards are selling again, and that worries me | Digital Trends

Graphics cards are selling again, and that worries me | Digital Trends

Jacob Roach / Digital Trends

GPUs are selling again. Ever since the GPU shortage, graphics cards haven’t been selling well, but a recent report from Jon Peddie Research shows that trend is changing. The report shows that GPU shipments increased by 16.8% compared to last quarter, which is a positive sign.  Still, I can’t help but feel worried about what this could mean for GPU prices.

Both AMD and Nvidia came out of the pandemic highs with new ranges of graphics cards. Nvidia set the bar with pricing higher than we’ve ever seen before, and AMD quickly followed, pricing its cards just low enough to be considered a value by comparison. That’s made the price of building a new gaming PC higher than it’s ever been.

Over the past year, however, it’s been difficult for AMD and Nvidia to keep prices propped up. AMD has cut prices on its RX 7900 XTX and RX 7900 XT, and Nvidia has followed with price cuts to the RTX 4070 and RTX 4080. The only GPU that’s gone in the opposite direction is the RTX 4090, which is likely seeing a price increase due to a recent sanction the U.S. placed on China.

RX 7900 XTX slotted into a test bench.
Jacob Roach / Digital Trends

With shipments rising again, I’m worried that Nvidia and AMD will reverse course on these pricing drops. That’s problematic considering the cards we’ve seen this generation almost universally arrived overpriced based on the performance they offer.

That’s what has driven a lot of the price drops. As you can read in our RTX 4080 review, for example, it’s a great GPU if you ignore the fact that it arrived $500 more expensive than the card it was replacing ($1,200 compared to $700 for the RTX 3080). AMD’s RX 7900 XTX — the direct competition to the RTX 4080 — drove some of the price drops with drops of its own. Both are solid cards in a vacuum, but they look downright pitiful when you consider how expensive they are.

The cards still sold, but probably not at the rate Nvidia and AMD were expecting. As Jon Peddie wrote in the report: “All through the last three quarters, add-in boards sold, not at normal volumes, and albeit with complaints about prices, but sold, nonetheless.”

There’s another critical factor at play here, though, which basically guarantees that GPU prices won’t fall any further.

Nvidia has reportedly stopped production of the RTX 4070 Ti and RTX 4080 in order to make room for a rumored Super refresh that’s supposedly arriving at CES 2024 in January. If these Super cards are real, the last several months of lowered prices were likely aimed at clearing the way for them to arrive at the same list prices.

The RTX 4080 logo on a pink background.
Jacob Roach / Digital Trends

It’s great that GPU shipments are improving, but it could mean that prices creep back up overall. It looks like desktop GPUs are driving this increase, too. the report shows that shipments increased overall by 16.8% compared to last quarter, but desktop graphics cards increased by 37.4% compared to last quarter. Desktop GPUs are the driving factor here.

That doesn’t mean that graphics cards will start going above list price, though. The main worry here is that the lowered prices we’ve seen over the past several months will disappear and GPUs will go back up to list price. It’s important to keep a longer historical context in mind. The report says that, although GPU shipments are up for the quarter, they’re still down 5.1% compared to the same point last year.

Peddie sees this as more of a correction, writing, “This bounce back … is being overpraised, when it largely reflects a cleaning out and straightening up of the distribution channel.” I would be remiss to omit Peddie’s warning about these reports, too: “The mistake is the constant search for sensationalism. It’s fatiguing.”

At the risk of diving into sensationalism, the biggest risk right now is that GPUs will go back up to list price, not that we’ll suddenly be in another situation of GPUs selling for two or three times what they’re worth. That’s still cause for concern when the pricing corrections we’ve seen on several GPUs are at risk of disappearing.

Editors’ Recommendations






This is the best Lenovo gaming PC you can buy | Digital Trends

This is the best Lenovo gaming PC you can buy | Digital Trends

Jacob Roach / Digital Trends

Lenovo’s Legion series is known for its solid lineup of gaming notebooks, but it also includes gaming tower PCs. With an elegant design and standard-size components, the Legion Tower 7i is currently the best Lenovo gaming PC you can buy. In our testing, we concluded it delivers strong performance alongside an appealing and subtle design.

Unlike most prebuilt gaming desktops, it comes with a standard mid-tower chassis. This allows for comprehensive upgrades in the future, meaning you can easily swap out or add parts if or when required. All the parts installed inside the Tower 7i are standard, including the motherboard and power supply.

It also looks elegant with subtle curving around the edges, a sandblasted finish, and a tempered glass side panel so you can show off your internals. While our review unit didn’t include any RGB fans, the retail unit comes with a total of six RGB fans, along with RGB lighting for the Legion logo on the front and the GPU.

Lenovo Legion Tower 7i gaming PC sitting on a table.
Jacob Roach / Digital Trends

Thanks to the perforated front panel, the case gets plenty of airflow. There’s a 360mm AiO liquid cooler on the front that pulls in fresh air and keeps the CPU well under limits, while two 120mm fans are placed on top and one in the rear to exhaust hot air.

The Legion Tower 7i offers some of the best performance thanks to the top-of-the-line hardware offerings from Intel and Nvidia. Lenovo has notably bumped up the processor class to Intel’s Core i9 series, andit’s paired with an RTX 4080 graphics card. Currently, you can only configure this machine with the Intel Core i9-13900KF processor, with 32GB of DDR5-5600 memory and a 1TB NVMe SSD. Other important components include an 850-watt power supply, 2.5G Ethernet, Wi-Fi 6E, and Bluetooth 5.1 support.

Inside the Lenovo Legion Tower 7i.
Jacob Roach / Digital Trends / Digital Trends

In terms of performance, the Legion Tower 7i is exceptional. The Core i9-13900KF is one of the most powerful processors on the market today, which was evident in our benchmark testing. However, there is a concern that restricts the performance of the CPU– the out-of-the-box memory speeds. Thankfully, there’s an easy fix where all you need to do is head into the BIOS and switch to the correct frequencies.

CPU cooler on the Lenovo Legion Tower 7i.
Jacob Roach / Digital Trends / Digital Trends

On top of that, you get the full potential of Nvidia’s RTX 4080 graphics. It might not be as powerful as the 4090, but it is still a 4K capable GPU, with Cyberpunk 2077 averaging above 60 frames per second (fps) at 4K with everything maxed out. Additionally, you get all the benefits of DLSS, including the latest generation that offers impressive frame generation technologies. Essentially, you have all the power at your disposal to play almost any AAA gaming title at the highest graphics settings.

While all of this costs close to $3,200, it is important to know that a similarly configured desktop from Alienware is going to cost you at least $600 more. On the other hand, there’s the MSI Aegis RS 13, which is close to $300 cheaper, but comes with a lower-tier processor. Lenovo also offers the Legion Tower 5i, which starts at $799 and is available in various configurations, including with Intel’s 13th-gen desktop processors paired with RTX 30 and 40 series GPUs. If you prefer AMD, then there’s also the Legion Tower 5 series.

Editors’ Recommendations






This Lenovo 2-in-1 laptop is discounted from $860 to $500 | Digital Trends

This Lenovo 2-in-1 laptop is discounted from $860 to $500 | Digital Trends

Lenovo

Lenovo continues its reign of offering some of the best laptop deals at the moment with the Lenovo Yoga 6 13-inch AMD model down to $600 from $860. A saving of 30% or $260 sounds pretty great although it’s always good to be a little cautious of Lenovo’s overly optimistic estimated value system. Still, what we do know for sure is that $600 for a stylish 2-in-1 laptop is a pretty sweet deal. If that immediately sounds like your kind of thing then hit the buy button otherwise, take a look below at what else we have to say about it.

Why you should buy the Lenovo Yoga 6

Lenovo is one of the best laptop brands out there with that reputation particularly extending to its 2-in-1 range. This particular model has an AMD Ryzen 5 7530U processor along with 8GB of memory and 512GB of SSD storage. As with the other best 2-in-1 laptops, it also has a great touchscreen. The display is a 13.3-inch WUXGA IPS panel with 1920 x 1200 resolution, 100% sRGB color, and 300 nits of brightness.

Above the display is a full HD IR Hybrid webcam with dual microphones and a privacy shutter. The Lenovo Yoga 6 13-inch AMD also comes with a Lenovo digital pen so you can be more accurate with your movements on screen while the backlit keyboard has a fingerprint reader for added security.

Adding to the useful features, the Lenovo Yoga 6 13-inch AMD also promises an all-day battery life like the best laptops along with rapid charge technology. There’s also support for Dolby Vision and Dolby Atmos so you get vibrant colors and great audio, whether you’re watching a movie or calling someone. Combined with the laptop’s 360-degree hinge, it’s perfectly versatile for work or pleasure. Think of it as the ideal addition if you can’t decide if you need a tablet or a laptop.

Packed with more features than you’d expect at this price, the Lenovo Yoga 6 13-inch AMD is normally $860 at Lenovo. Right now, you can buy it for $600 so you save $260 off the regular price. A great 2-in-1 laptop for many different purposes, check out this doorbuster deal before it ends very soon.

Editors’ Recommendations






Intel says AMD’s Ryzen 7000 is snake oil | Digital Trends

Intel says AMD’s Ryzen 7000 is snake oil | Digital Trends

Intel

In what is one of the most bizarrely aggressive pieces of marketing material I’ve seen, Intel is comparing AMD’s Ryzen 7000 mobile chips to snake oil. Over the weekend, Intel posted its Core Truths playbook, which lays out how AMD’s mobile processor naming scheme misleads customers.

There’s an element of truth to that, which I’ll get to in a moment, but first, the playbook. Intel starts with claiming that there’s a “long history of selling half-truths to unsuspecting customers” alongside images of a snake oil salesman and a suspicious used car seller. This sets up a comparison between the Ryzen 5 7520U and the Core i5-1335U. Intel’s chip is 83% faster, according to the presentation, due to the older architecture that AMD’s part uses.

AMD's 2023 naming scheme for mobile processors.
AMD

Intel has a point here. Last year, AMD changed its mobile naming convention, which obfuscated underpowered parts using an older architecture. Instead of matching architecture with generation, as Intel and AMD have done for years, AMD now says all of its mobile processors are part of the latest Ryzen 7000 generation regardless of the architecture they use.

Now, the third number in the name shows the architecture the CPU uses. For example, the Ryzen 5 7640U uses the Zen 4 architecture, while the Ryzen 5 7520U uses the Zen 2 architecture. It’s clear how this can be misleading when a chip using an older architecture is shown alongside the latest generation of CPUs.

It’s a little ironic coming from Intel, though. This was a few years ago, but it’s hard to forget that Intel sat behind its 14nm node introduced with Skylake on desktop for years, making incremental performance improvements with each generation that followed.

Some of that still applies today. Intel just released its 14th-gen processors for desktop, which are basically rebranded versions of its 13th-gen Raptor Lake processors. There are some performance improvements, but they aren’t very large. Similarly, we’re about to get 14th-gen Meteor Lake processors for laptops, but we aren’t seeing those chips on desktop, creating a mismatch for what “14th-gen” means for Intel across its product stack.

An Acer Aspire 3 laptop listing at Best Buy.
Digital Trends

Still, Intel’s shuffling with naming shouldn’t distract from AMD’s fault here. The Ryzen 7000 naming scheme is confusing on mobile, and it can mislead buyers into buying a processor that’s older than what the name implies. There are laptops using these chips, too. For instance, the Ryzen 7 7520U is featured in the Acer Aspire 3, which is an affordable laptop

.

Thankfully, AMD’s chips aren’t available in a ton of laptops, at least not compared to Intel. Otherwise, the naming scheme would be a much bigger issue.

Intel’s playbook holds some truth, even if it is a little aggressive. Regardless, it’s proof that it’s always important to read up on a product your interested in buying, no matter if it comes from AMD or Intel.

Editors’ Recommendations






Need a new laptop? Microsoft Surface Laptop 5 is $400 off | Digital Trends

Need a new laptop? Microsoft Surface Laptop 5 is $400 off | Digital Trends

Mark Coppock / Digital Trends

If you’ve been waiting for great laptop deals on the Microsoft Surface Laptop 5 range, you’re in luck. Best Buy currently has $400 off the Microsoft Surface Laptop 5 so you can buy it for $900 instead of $1,300. A great option for students who want to look stylish or anyone who wants a laptop a little different from the rest, here’s a deeper look at what to expect before you buy it.

Why you should buy the Microsoft Surface Laptop 5

The Microsoft Surface Laptop 5 is a pretty sleek option even if Microsoft has yet to break the best laptop brands world. It has an Intel Evo Platform Core i5 processor paired up with 8GB of memory and 512GB of SSD storage. Those are all the essentials you could need from this kind of laptop.

Even more of a highlight is the 13.5-inch PixelSense touchscreen. Looking good and offering a great resolution of 2,256 x 1,504, its 3:2 aspect ratio stands out from the crowd. As a touchscreen, you can always choose to be more hands-on with your work too if you prefer that over using conventional controls. The screen also has Dolby Vision IQ support for better visuals while there’s Dolby Atmos support for the speakers so it’s a good system for streaming movies on.

The Microsoft Surface Laptop 5 is also focused on portability as demonstrated by its 18 hour battery life, super sleek design, and lightweight build. It’s that laptop you can take to class or a coffee shop without worrying about it taking up too much room in your bag. Not needing the charger so often is a huge advantage too.

Available in a variety of colors at this price, the Microsoft Surface Laptop 5 is suitably personal to you. It’s neat to be able to veer away from the standard black exterior that we usually see from laptops with the Microsoft Surface Laptop 5 feeling like it’s rivalling the likes of Apple’s range in terms of style. Speed wise, it won’t compete with most of the best laptops but as a general all-rounder, it’s still pretty appealing.

Usually priced at $1,300, you can currently buy the Microsoft Surface Laptop 5 for $900 at Best Buy. A considerable saving of $400, this could be the perfect gift for a loved one this holiday season. Check it out now before the deal ends very soon.

Editors’ Recommendations






Alienware Gaming Laptop with an RTX 4090 is $700 off Today | Digital Trends

Alienware Gaming Laptop with an RTX 4090 is $700 off Today | Digital Trends

Digital Trends

One of the best gaming laptop deals comes, predictably, from Dell. Today, you can buy the Alienware m16 gaming laptop for $2,800 thereby saving $700 off the usual price of $3,500. A high-end gaming laptop, this is one that will prove to be a fantastic investment for your gaming future. If you’re keen to learn more, take a look below at what we have to say about it or simply hit the buy button to get straight to the specs and making a purchase.

Why you should buy the Alienware m16 gaming laptop

Alienware is responsible for many of the best gaming laptops with a penchant for offering high-end hardware. This particular model boasts a 13th-generation Intel Core i9 processor teamed up with a huge 32GB of memory and 2TB of SSD storage. Continuing its powerhouse reputation, it also has an Nvidia GeForce RTX 4090 graphics card with 16GB of dedicated VRAM. That’s a fantastic set of specs to ensure that you won’t have any trouble playing the latest games for a long time to come. If you’re looking ahead and want to make sure you can play games in style for a while to come, this is the solution for you. It won’t become out of date any time soon.

The Alienware m16 gaming laptop also has a great display with a 16-inch QHD+ panel with 2560 x 1600 resolution, 240Hz refresh rate, 2ms response time, and 100% DCI-P3 support. Alongside that is Nvidia G-Sync + DDS support to ensure your games will always look fantastic. Above it is a full HD IR camera for taking video calls or recording reaction videos.

You might notice that Alienware isn’t listed among the best laptop brands but that’s because these days, it’s part of Dell, so you’re getting a ton of reliability here. The Alienware m16 gaming laptop uses Alienware Cryo-tech, an advanced cooling technology, to keep things ticking along nicely. There are also four fans with ultra-thin fan blades while seven heat pipes keep the internal temperature regulated. You also get exceptional audio thanks to Dolby Atmos support while even the keyboard is great thanks to being an Alienware M Series 1-Zone AlienFX keyboard.

Packed with all the features possible to make gamers excited, the Alienware m16 gaming laptop is currently down to $2,800 from $3,500 at Dell. A considerable saving of $700, this is your chance to grab a fantastically high-end laptop for less. Check it out now before it sells out.

Editors’ Recommendations






Last Chance to Get the Dell XPS 17 Laptop at $500 Off | Digital Trends

Last Chance to Get the Dell XPS 17 Laptop at $500 Off | Digital Trends

Mark Coppock / Digital Trends

If you want to buy a thin and light laptop but don’t want to go for something like the MacBook Air, which is both expensive and puts you into the Apple ecosystem, the Dell XPS lineup is a great alternative. The XPS laptops are Dell’s answer to the need for thin laptops that aren’t from Apple, and, even better, there are a lot more configurations and sizes you can pick from. While this XPS 17 is bigger than a MacBook Air, there’s a great deal on it from Dell that brings it down to $1,699 from $2,199, which is a significant $500 discount and well worth grabbing if you want a thin and light laptop with a large screen.

Why you should buy the Dell XPS 17

This configuration of the Dell XPS 17 has a lot of standout features, the most interesting of which is likely the inclusion of the RTX 4050 graphics card. While the XPS 17 is not really meant as a thin gaming laptop, the fact that it includes an entry-level GPU means you can certainly get a bit of gaming out of it, although don’t expect to be playing the latest AAA games. More importantly, it comes with a mid-to-high end 13th Gen Intel Core i7-13700H processor, which will easily handle most productivity and day-to-day tasks without an issue, and you might even be able to get some editing done.

The screen is 17 inches big and runs an FHD+ resolution, which is perfectly fine for this price tag and size of the screen, while the 500nits of peak brightness means you can essentially use this anywhere there isn’t direct sunlight. The 16GB of DDR5 RAM also gives you a lot of leeway when having open apps and tabs on your computer, so it’s a great quality-of-life addition. As for storage, you get 512GB which should be more than enough for most folks, even when taking gaming into account since you’ll mostly be playing smaller casual and indie games.

All in all, the Dell XPS 17 is a versatile thin, and light laptop that doesn’t require you to enter Apple’s ecosystem, and for the $1,699 price tag from Dell, it’s a lot cheaper too. If that doesn’t tickle your fancy, then check out some of these other excellent laptop deals for alternatives.

Editors’ Recommendations






Will the Vision Pro replace the Mac? Apple has to be careful | Digital Trends

Will the Vision Pro replace the Mac? Apple has to be careful | Digital Trends

The Vision Pro headset is poised to be one of the most significant products Apple has introduced in years, and it has the potential to launch a new era of success for the company. But at the same time, there’s a risk that it could end up cannibalizing the Mac line by giving plenty of people something that could replace their computer altogether.

That means Apple has got to be very careful with how it handles the Vision Pro. It no doubt wants as many people to buy it as possible, but it wants that to happen without having to sacrifice sales of its other devices. How on earth is it going to do that?

The Mac killer?

Apple

Right from the word go, Apple has been busy hyping the Vision Pro’s capabilities. The company calls it a “spatial computer,” suggesting we need to completely reimagine what a computer is in the first place. The product’s sky-high $3,500 price tag and abundance of high-end materials and technologies give it an undeniably premium feel, far beyond what we’ve seen from even the best VR headsets.

At the same time, Apple has claimed that the Vision Pro will be able to do a host of tasks you’d normally perform with a laptop or desktop computer, from gaming and video calling to writing documents and browsing photos.

To be clear, Apple didn’t explicitly put the Vision Pro and the Mac head-to-head during its reveal event, nor has it ever said you can go ahead and ditch your Mac. But the comparison is obvious if you look at what both products can do. And that’s obviously what Meta is trying to do with the Quest Pro.

The risk, then, is of users asking why they need to bother with a Mac. If the Vision Pro can do 99% of what a Mac can, why not just get the headset? Of course, things are a little more complicated than that.

The ‘buy them all’ ecosystem

Apple CEO Tim Cook standing in front of four Vision Pro headsets.
Apple

Apple is an ecosystem company, and that means all of the devices it makes fit perfectly together. Like every other business, Apple wants you to buy as many of its products as you can, but the way Apple has crafted its ecosystem makes that a much more tempting prospect than it is with many of its rivals, since everything clicks together seamlessly.

If the Vision Pro lives up to its promises, it might blur the boundaries of those products. Sure, it’s expensive, but you can pump the latest MacBook Pro so full of extras that it costs a whopping $7,199 — double the price of the Vision Pro. If you’re prepared to spend that much — and if the Vision Pro does everything the MacBook does and more — getting a headset instead isn’t such a leap.

Yet, despite the similar abilities, it seems to me that Apple is trying very hard to make sure you don’t forsake the Mac for a Vision Pro, or vice versa. To me, the term “spatial computer” implies something separate from a regular computer, and Apple has explained the ways you can use the two products together. In reality, they can do many of the same things, of course, but Apple doesn’t want you to ditch one for the other just because of that inconvenient fact. It wants you to see them as complementary.

Remember when Apple said the iPad can replace a PC? The company hasn’t done that with the Vision Pro, and I think that’s simply because it wants you to buy a Vision Pro and a Mac. And right now, there are some very strong reasons why you might not want to ditch your Mac for a headset anyway.

Deliberate positioning

Apple Vision Pro being worn by a person while using a keyboard.
Apple

As things stand, the Vision Pro can only really replace a Mac in theory, and even then, only in certain limited scenarios. If you want to watch movies, work with multiple displays, or conduct video calls, then it might make sense on the surface. But would you pay $3,500 just to do that? A cheap MacBook would be just as capable.

And what about if you render videos? Or play the best Mac games with a mouse and keyboard? Or work with data-heavy mathematical models? In those cases (and many more), chances you’re going to need a Mac.

Apple has also decided to launch its high-end, high-price headset first while keeping the rumored cheaper model back for another time. That could be a very deliberate ploy to ensure the Vision Pro doesn’t impact Mac sales too heavily by establishing it as a premium device way above what most Macs cost. After all, you can buy a Mac mini for $599 — you can’t say that about the Vision Pro. When the cheaper headset launches, though, that differentiation could be much harder to enforce.

I’ve got no doubt that the Vision Pro is going to be an incredible device, and maybe it could replace a Mac for for some people. But if Apple is going to turn it into the company’s next big thing, it’ll have to convince a lot of people that it’s not only better than their existing tech, but can replace it entirely. Based on what we’ve seen so far, that’s unlikely to happen until the cheaper Vision Pro sees the light of day.

Editors’ Recommendations






How the M3 Max compares to the most powerful Windows laptops | Digital Trends

How the M3 Max compares to the most powerful Windows laptops | Digital Trends

Luke Larsen / Digital Trends

Apple’s M3 Max is an incredibly powerful chip, significantly increasing Apple Silicon’s CPU and GPU performance. It’s gotten a ton of press, but is it necessarily faster than the fastest Windows laptops?

To find out, we pitted it against the Lenovo Legion 9i, a gaming laptop equipped with the ultrafast Intel Core i9-13980HX and Nvidia GeForce RTX 4090, and the Asus ROG Strix Scar 17 with the AMD Ryzen 9 7945HX and the RTX 4090. We can’t compare the MacBook Pro 14 with the M3 Max directly to the Lenovo and Asus in that many benchmarks, particularly gaming, due to limits in testing and cross-platform compatibility. But we could compare enough to get an idea of how these various chips stack up against each other.

A brief look at architectures

The Apple M3 Max is an ARM-based system on a chip (SoC) currently at the high end of Apple Silicon’s lineup. It represents the first chips made using a 3nm process and redesigned GPU architecture. On the CPU side, Apple increased the speed of its performance cores by 15% and its efficiency cores by 30% over the M2. Overall, Apple is promising a 20% to 25% improvement in performance. On the GPU side, Dynamic Caching is one technology that speeds up a variety of GPU processes, while gamers will benefit from mesh shading and hardware-accelerated ray tracing.

The M3 Max has up to 16 CPU cores and 40 GPU cores with up to 400GB/s memory bandwidth. That’s mated with up to 128GB of RAM, a boost from a maximum of 96GB. We reviewed the MacBook Pro 14 with the 16-core CPU/40-core GPU M3 Max.

The Intel Core i9-13980HX is a 55-watt processor with 24 cores (eight Performance cores and 16 Efficient cores) and 32 threads. The Performance cores run at up to 5.60GHz while the Efficient cores run at up to 4.0GHz. It stands at the top of the Intel mobile Raptor Lake lineup and focuses on providing high clock speeds and more cores for performance gains over its 12th-gen predecessor.

The AMD Ryzen 9 7945HX is a 55-watt CPU with 16 cores and 32 threads running at up to 5.4GHz. It’s at the top of AMD’s mobile CPU lineup and based on the company’s Zen 4 architecture. It can ramp up to 75 watts and even higher clock speeds, promising incredibly fast performance.

The Nvidia GeForce RTX 4090 is the fastest mobile GPU available today, utilizing an array of new technologies such as Shader Execution Reordering and DLSS 3 to provide potent gaming performance. It can also speed up various tasks in creative, design, and engineering applications, making it a popular choice in high-end performance-oriented laptops.

Synthetic benchmarks

Asus ROG Strix Scar 17 sitting on a table.
Jacob Roach / Digital Trends

In the Geekbench 6 synthetic benchmark, which runs through a litany of CPU-intensive processes, the M3 Max is the fastest laptop CPU we’ve tested. The Core i9-13980HX does well, but it can’t keep up. I’ve included several other laptops to give an idea of the significant increase in performance represented by Apple’s fastest mobile chip.

The results are more mixed in the Cinebench R24 benchmark, which tests both the CPU and GPU rendering a complex image. The Core i9-19380HX was faster in the multi-core test, but slower in the single-core test, showing the brute strength of the chip’s 24 CPU cores. The RTX 4090 was also incredibly fast in the GPU test, almost double that of the M3 Max.

We didn’t test the ROG Strix Scar 17 in the latest versions of these benchmarks and so its results aren’t included here. But it’s likely to be competitive with the Legion 9i.

Geekebench 6
single / multi
Cinebench R24
single-core
Cinebench R24
multi-core
Cinebench R24
GPU
MacBook Pro
(M3 Max)
3,174 / 21,137 139 1522 12765
Lenovo Legion 9i
(Core i9-19380HX/RTX 4090)
2,959 / 17,367 125 1665 23212
MacBook Pro
(M2 Max)
2,668 / 14,422 121 1032 5592
iMac
(M3)
3,075 / 11,994 140 657 3728
Dell XPS 15
(Core i7-13700H/RTX 4070)
2,448 / 12,367 87 647 8601

Real-life benchmarks

Cyberpunk 2077 running on the Lenovo Legion 9i.
Jacob Roach / Digital Trends

Adobe’s Premiere Pro is an excellent example of the kind of applications that appeal to the creator market that Apple is targeting with the MacBook Pro. It’s an intensive application that benefits from a fast CPU and GPU and tons of RAM.

The PugetBench Premiere Pro benchmark runs in a live version of Premiere Pro and therefore provides a legitimate indication of a real-world laptop’s performance. The latest version tests a variety of video encoding, decoding, and GPU-accelerated effects to provide a realistic and comprehensive idea of real-world performance.

The ROG Strix Scar 17 scored the fastest result we’ve seen in this benchmark, with an overall score of 928. The M3 Max is in second place in our database at 889, while the Legion 9i comes in at third at 838. By comparison, the Dell XPS 17 with a Core i7-13700H and an RTX 4070 scored 568, while the MacBook Pro 14 with the M1 Pro managed just 467.

These results are most impressive for the M3 Max given the sheer brute force of the RTX 4090 in the other two machines. Clearly, Apple has optimized the M3 Max to speed up precisely the kinds of tasks that will keep professional creators working efficiently.

The M3 Max is a beast, and so are the others, but …

The keyboard of the MacBook Pro 14-inch on a wood surface.
Luke Larsen / Digital Trends

There’s an elephant in the room in all these comparisons, which is that the MacBook Pro is completely unlike the Legion 9i and ROG Strix Scar 17 in terms of product category. It’s not a loud, thick, gaming laptop. It’s not meant to be purchased exclusively for gaming, which is why I focused more on the synthetic and content creation benchmarks. Obviously, the extra power of the RTX 4090 is going to produce much faster frame rates in games, but as we’ve seen, that doesn’t always result in better performance in the kinds of things the MacBook Pro is for.

And suffice it to say that these two gaming laptops are thick, heavy, and get atrocious battery life. They’re fantastic choices for gamers looking for the ultimate gaming portable gaming experience — but these aren’t real competitors to the MacBook Pro. And I guess that’s the real thing that doing this comparison showed me.

The M3 Max really is a game-changer. We’ll have to wait and see what Intel, AMD, Nvidia, and laptop manufacturers are able to do next year, but in the meantime, the M3 Max MacBook Pro remains in a class of its own.

Editors’ Recommendations






These were the laptop trends that dominated 2023 | Digital Trends

These were the laptop trends that dominated 2023 | Digital Trends

In some ways, 2023 was a quiet year when it came to laptops. After coming off the high of PC sales during the peak of the pandemic, 2023 was the year of the correction. Many of the most popular lines received minor upgrades, and there weren’t many significant technological innovations that pushed laptops forward.

Even so, there were five trends in 2023 that are worth looking back on and that point toward what’s coming in the future.

Some prominent lines remained largely unchanged

Mark Coppock / Digital Trends

Manufacturers tend to perform major updates to their lines every few years. Sometimes, as in 2023, things line up in such a way that a number of prominent laptops receive only minor upgrades.

Dell’s XPS line is an important example. The XPS 15 and XPS 17 received CPU and GPU upgrades in 2023, but their designs remained exactly the same as we’ve seen for several years now. Even the webcam remains at 720p and the wireless connectivity is at Wi-Fi 6, not Wi-Fi 6E, demonstrating that Dell wasn’t interested in pushing their largest XPS machines forward this year. The newer XPS 13 Plus received minor CPU upgrades 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 runs Intel 12th-gen processors with older components.

HP’s Spectre line also received minor CPU updates. The Spectre x360 13.5, for example, is unchanged from 2022 except for an upgrade to 13th-gen processors. Note that HP did introduce the Spectre Foldable PC, which is incredibly innovative and incredibly expensive at $5,000. But otherwise, the Spectre line hasn’t changed much.

HP Spectre x360 13.5 front angled view showing display and keyboard deck.
HP Spectre x360 13.5 Mark Coppock / Digital Trends

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-gen machine. And Microsoft’s Surface line had just two budget upgrades in the Surface Laptop Go 3 and Surface Go 4, along with a minor spec bump to the Surface Laptop Studio 2.

We’ll see if any of these lineups receive more meaningful updates in 2024. So far, though, they’re treading water.

Performance and battery life increases were incremental

Screenshot showing Apple Silicon M3 processor range.
Apple

For most users, Intel’s 13th-gen CPUs offered only incremental performance and efficiency improvements over their 12th-gen predecessors. AMD’s latest Ryzen processors are fast, but not game-changers. Both chipmakers have very fast CPUs at the high end, but that’s mostly of interest to gamers and creators. For mainstream productivity users, there’s been no real discernable improvement in either performance or battery life.

The same held true for GPUs. Nvidia’s GeForce RTX 4000 series were improvements for sure, but the increase over the RTX 3000 series was only incremental. AMD wasn’t much of a player at all in mobile GPUs in 2023.

Probably the most exciting laptop CPU and GPU update came from Apple. Its new M3 chips are a real jump in performance, particularly at the high end. The base M3 offers a meaningful improvement over the M2 that’s greater for typical users than Intel achieved with its 13th-gen CPUs. However, the M3 Max we tested provides a massive jump over the previous generation, particularly in GPU performance. Apple also increased memory capacity and performance, making the MacBook Pro 14 and 16 among the most powerful laptops creators can buy today. When you factor in the line’s phenomenal battery life, Apple made the most significant advances in 2023.

Displays kept getting better

Lenovo Legion 9i front view showing RGB lighting.
Lenovo Legion 9i Jacob Roach / Digital Trends

One trend in 2023 that was great to see was a continued improvement in displays. We saw several Windows laptops introduced with Mini-LED displays, and while most of them didn’t demonstrate the same performance as Apple achieved in its MacBook Pros, the Lenovo Legion 9i‘s mini-LED panel was spectacular.

In addition, we saw OLED displays make their way to several laptops priced at $1,000 or less. The Asus Zenbook 14 OLED was our favorite affordable laptop, offering an OLED panel running at 90Hz for just $700. As of 2023, you no longer have 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 the trend in 2020 with the original M1 MacBook Pros, and the industry has just started to catch up. Windows 11 is a much smoother experience with a display that runs faster than 60Hz.

Excellent laptops were more affordable

Asus Zenbook 14X OLED front angled view showing display and keyboard.
Asus ZenBook 14X OLED Mark Coppock / Digital Trends

The Zenbook 14 OLED wasn’t the only laptop I reviewed that offered more value than we’ve seen in previous years. In fact, I’d say that 2023 redefined the midrange laptop, with more excellent options showing up 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 fast 45-watt Intel Core i5-13500H and a superior 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, costing $850 and boasting a Ryzen 5 7540U and a high-resolution IPS display. Even when upgraded to a Ryzen 7 7840U and an OLED display, the laptop remains affordable at $900.

Those are just a few of the laptops introduced in 2023 that offer better performance, displays, and built quality than we usually see for less than $1,000. It’s perhaps the most important trend we saw in 2023.

A middling year in laptops

More affordable laptops with excellent displays is a nice trend. But otherwise, 2023 was a pretty boring year in laptop design. We didn’t see any groundbreaking new technologies that significantly advanced how we use laptops.

It’s looking like 2024 might be a little more exciting, especially in terms of  performance and efficiency with Intel’s new Meteor Lake CPUs and potentially more competitive Windows laptops built around efficient ARM processors.

Editors’ Recommendations