It was a great year for gaming laptops in 2018. Not only did we see the once bulky monster machines shrink down to a size that can finally be called portable, but prices also plummeted for laptops with a 144Hz display and support for Nvidia’s G-sync technology. Looking at the early signs, it looks like 2019 could be even bigger.
From educated guesses to the odd rumour floating about internet forums, we’ve rounded up the most most realistic predictions of what to expect to see from new gaming laptop releases in 2019.
1) More affordable portable powerhouses
Gaming laptops have built up a reputation for being back-breaking behemoths, but in 2018 we saw a number of machines rocking ultra lightweight forms and scaling down the weight to just over 2kg. This was possible thanks to a number of breakthroughs in technology.
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Nvidia’s Max-Q design graphics cards, for example, allowed laptops to fit high-powered GPUs in slender frames. This meant that you no longer needed to have a hulking laptop crushing your lap in order to play Full HD games at 60fps.
The new trend of slimming down the screen bezel also helped to reduce laptop sizes considerably, while new methods of heat dissipation such as the Razer Blade 15’s vapor chamber and cutting-edge thermal materials meant manufacturers didn’t need to fit in huge turbines to prevent meltdowns.
However, these slimline designs were usually reserved only for premium products. Budget laptops such as the Dell G3 and G5 are still a little too chunky. Hopefully, 2018 will see a change to that, with more affordable gaming laptops benefiting from the same technology that the likes of the Razer Blade 15 did.
2) Laptops with ray tracing
The end of 2018 saw Nvidia’s 20 Series graphics cards hit the market. With the power of these GPUs, users are able to play select games with the revolutionary ray-tracing, which simulates more authentic light physics in video games for substantially improved visuals.
Sadly, these graphics cards are only compatible with desktop computers, but history – and a few rumours on the internet – suggest mobile versions of the GPUs will soon arrive so laptop users can join in on the fun. Wccftech reports that there will be several mobile graphics card releases including a RTX 2080 Max-Q.
That said, since these mobile graphics cards have not been officially revealed by Nvidia, it’s impossible to know whether they will actually feature ray tracing and even if they do, it’s likely that they won’t replicate the same impressive results as the desktop equivalents. These cards will still be exciting if they come without ray tracing though, as they’ll likely be able to play games in 4K with a buttery smooth performance.
When can we expect to see confirmation of the laptop iterations of the 20 Series graphics cards? If they truly do exist, we expect to see some sort of announcement from Nvidia at the CES trade show in January 2019.
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3) Cheap 10-Series laptops
Fancy a high-performing gaming laptop at a low price? You may just be able to get your hands on one in 2019. The potential arrival of gaming laptops with 20 Series graphics cards will likely see a price cut for portable powerhouses rocking the likes of a GTX 1070 or 1080 GPU.
Currently, you’ve got to spend close to £2000 to get a laptop that can run modern AAA games in Full HD at 60fps. Hopefully you’ll get at least a few hundred quid knocked off that price in 12 months time.
And then factor in the fact that gaming laptops with 144Hz displays are becoming more affordable by the month, and you could soon buy a very powerful machine for relatively little money.
4) Laptops with 9th Generation Intel Processors
It was only a few months ago when Whiskey Lake processors arrived, allowing laptops to run the power of 8th Gen Intel Core CPUs. Since then, Intel has released its 9th Generation desktop consumer processors, once again leaving laptops in the dust.
The good news is that it’s almost a certainty that laptops will be treated to a 9th Gen Intel Core upgrade some time in 2019. The bad news? You’ll probably have to wait until the second half of the year before laptops start launching with the super-speedy CPU installed.
But while it’s always exciting to have a device rocking all the latest technology, if our review of the Intel Core i9-9900K is anything to go by, you’ll probably not see a huge jump in performance for gaming with the 9th Gen mobile GPU. If you really want to crank up those frame rates, it’s the graphics card that you should be more invested in.
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5) Gaming without a graphics card
One day, you won’t need a graphics card to play AAA games on a laptop. Sounds crazy, right? Yet Google proved that with Project Stream in October 2018.
Google invited select people to try out its Project Stream beta last year, allowing people to play Assassin’s Creed: Odyssey via a web browser. Since you’re streaming the game from Google’s server, there’s no need to install the game or have high-powered hardware at your disposal. All you need is an internet connection with greater speeds than 25Mbps.
With the beta ending in January 2019, Google is clearly planning something, whether that be a games console or a streaming service that allows people to play blockbuster games without a graphics card. Such a service would be a dramatic change to the future of gaming laptops, making the hardware virtually redundant.
That said, we don’t expect such technology to be readily available in 2019, but we wouldn’t rule out more experiments of the same kind at some point in the year.
6) 5G laptops
Yes, 5G is coming to laptops – that’s official. Intel confirmed as much during Computex 2018, while revealing it’s already working with Acer, Asus, Microsoft, Dell, HP, and Lenovo to enable high-speed internet access on the go.
But despite EE and OnePlus officially revealing that select smartphones will be getting 5G as soon as 2019, few are hopeful that laptops will be treated to the technology within the same time frame. Plus, it’s going to take a long time to get the country’s infrastructure ready for 5G to make it worthwhile.
To hammer down hopes even further, it’s unlikely that gaming laptops will be the first computers to have 5G integrated since they’re not the most portable devices. That said, it would certainly be useful to be able to whip out your gaming laptop in Starbucks for a few rounds of Fortnite.
What new changes are you expecting to see for gaming laptops in 2019? Let us know @TrustedReviews on Twitter.