Clues in Windows 11 suggest Microsoft’s big AI feature for 24H2 update will be for Snapdragon X Elite laptops only

Windows 11’s incoming linchpin feature for the 24H2 update, which is theoretically AI Explorer, might be exclusive to ARM laptops only – if a fresh clue dug up in Microsoft’s desktop OS means anything.

On X (formerly Twitter), a regular leaker on the subject of Microsoft, Albacore, made the revelation that they’d found the hardware requirements for AI Explorer baked into the code for Windows 11 preview build 26100 (which is supposedly the RTM version of the 24H2 update).

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Those system requirements call for 16GB of RAM (not a surprise), a system drive of at least 225GB (that’s total size, as opposed to free space), and an ARM processor (very definitely a surprise).

In fact, these requirements stipulate an ARM CPU and specifically a Snapdragon X Elite NPU.

What this means, in theory, is that AI Explorer is designed to run only on Snapdragon X Elite laptops (the Qualcomm SoC is ARM-based, in case you didn’t guess). This further means that if you have an AMD or Intel (x86) processor in your laptop or desktop PC, then you won’t get AI Explorer.


Analysis: Exploring all the possibilities

This is a pretty huge deal because AI Explorer is – as far as we can discern from the rumor mill – the key feature for AI PCs, and the most important step forward in terms of using AI with Windows 11 in the 24H2 update. It pretty much sounds like the ‘wow’ moment for Copilot’s capabilities, allowing natural language searches to find anything on the PC (“Find me that document which has all the settings for my TV”).

Therefore, for it to be only happening on ARM-based PCs, and not Intel or AMD devices, is a different kind of ‘wow’ moment we guess. A ‘wow, wait a minute – I don’t get this?’ moment, more to the point.

We should stress that we need to be very cautious going by leaks, especially clues that have been dug up deep within the workings of the OS. We don’t know this is happening for sure, by any means – this is just a suggestion.

Qualcomm Snapdragon X Elite

(Image credit: Qualcomm)

So, what are the chances of it happening? Well, it seems unlikely that Microsoft would put a hard limit on its best feature happening outside of ARM devices. While the company is clearly placing a lot of weight on the Snapdragon X Elite, and ramping up Windows in ARM in general with AI PCs, surely excluding Intel and AMD PCs from the fun would be going too far… right?

What we might entertain is the possibility that initially, AI Explorer might be just for Snapdragon X Elite laptops – and later, it’ll get a broader rollout to Windows 11 devices of all kinds, including those without ARM CPUs.

A limited exclusive, if you will, and the key point why this might be necessary is the NPU, as the Snapdragon X Elite has a much faster Neural Processing Unit – which accelerates AI workloads. It’s possible that current-gen chips, with their much weaker NPUs that don’t meet the requirement of 45 TOPS (trillions of operations per second, a measurement of power in relation to AI tasks), simply aren’t up to the job of running AI Explorer. Or at least, running it fast enough to be impressive.

The Snapdragon X Elite boasts an NPU with 45 TOPS, and so this might be why AI Explorer will be for systems with this SoC only – just to begin with. Then, when Intel’s Lunar Lake chips – boasting 45 TOPS – or AMD’s Strix Point (at a similar level), arrive later this year, those mobile ranges will be good to go with AI Explorer. So, Microsoft will open up things more at that point.

This is pure guesswork, of course. There’s also another potential benefit for Microsoft – it’ll give folks another reason to pick up a Snapdragon X Elite-toting laptop when they emerge, in theory in June (though AI Explorer itself won’t arrive until 24H2 features are dropped, likely in September, it should be noted).

Microsoft’s own Surface Pro 10 and Surface Laptop 6 are such AI PCs that’ll use that Snapdragon chip, of course. (As a side note, we can presume these devices will have an entry-level floor of 16GB RAM and 256GB of storage – given the other requirements floated above – and that’d be interesting in itself).

Microsoft is on a big push to get Windows on ARM truly off the ground, after all, so this could all be part of that strategy. However, surely the requirement for ARM to drive AI Explorer would be a temporary one if it happens – and Intel plus AMD CPUs would join the party eventually? Well, time will tell, but there’s certainly no reason why they shouldn’t with the next-gen laptop chips from Teams Blue and Red.

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New Windows 11 energy-saving option could save money and extend your laptop’s battery life

Windows 11 laptops could soon benefit from improved battery life thanks to a change in the works currently in testing.

The new feature called ‘Energy Saver’ is in the freshly released preview build 26002 of Windows 11 in the Canary channel (the earliest testing avenue).

Microsoft describes it as an extension of battery saver, and it reins in system performance to give you more battery life. The blurb for the feature notes it will limit some background activities, so apps and the system may run a bit slower, or be a touch less responsive when you return to them, but your laptop will last longer.

Energy Saver can be set to kick in when your battery percentage drops to a certain level, or you can manually select it. In the latter case, the option is present in the quick settings accessed via the system tray (far right on the taskbar).

Speaking of the quick settings panel, in build 26002 Microsoft has applied some other work here, including experimenting with a tweak that makes it pop up faster and act more responsively, which will be a useful addition to the mix.

Furthermore, dealing with VPNs has been improved in quick settings, with the introduction of the ability to turn your VPN on or off with just a single click.

For all the gory details of the changes made in build 26002, check out Microsoft’s blog post (spoiler alert – they’re not all that gory).


Analysis: Energy Saver – and Money Saver, too

What we don’t know yet is how much effect this new Energy Saver will have in extending battery life, but Microsoft is certainly billing it as a more heavy-duty method of eking out greater longevity than battery saver, so that’s promising.

What’s also interesting with this feature is that while it’s designed for laptops, Microsoft is also allowing it to be used for desktop PCs (or notebooks plugged into the mains and not running on battery, for that matter).

In short, this allows you to save a bit of money when running your desktop PC all day – maybe you work from home and do so, like us – if you’re happy with somewhat constrained performance levels, of course. With power bills being what they are, though, and the cost-of-living crisis still very much around, it’s a useful option to have. Not to mention an environmentally-friendly choice, to boot.

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Here’s a technology that could make laptops and smartphones last longer

When you think about the parts of our electronic devices that consume the most power, the screen and processor usually spring to mind. However, data transfer – either within the device or over the waves (i.e. to cloud storage providers) – is consuming more and more power.

Scientists at the National University of Singapore (NUS) have come up with an innovative technique that promises to reduce the amount of energy consumed during memory-intensive processes by up to 80%. In other words, a fivefold improvement in efficiency over current solutions when bits travel on silicon.

They came up with a new type of network-on-chip that decreases quality a little bit, but also reduces power consumption significantly. This is achieved by adjusting the amplitude of the transmitted signal dynamically; using conventional values for mission-critical tasks to ensure maximum accuracy and lower values for greater power reductions.

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Smarter than usual

The example provided by the team was that of imperceptible video quality degradation when full quality is unnecessary, for example when the user looks away from the screen, when ambient light is low or when battery life is short.

Similar scenarios are also applicable to more powerful (and power hungry) platforms such as desktop PCs, NAS boxes, laptops or even servers, but the key opportunity is to enable a full computer vision system – one that can replicate the human vision system while being viable from a power perspective.

The stated goal of the research is to build “a new breed of low-power smart cameras that could operate almost perpetually under the tight power budget extracted from the environment such as via a centimeter-sized solar cell”.

It's unclear when the technology will be rolled out for more practical use cases, but given TSMC – which manufactures chips for AMD, Nvidia and Qualcomm – supports the project for chip fabrication, we wouldn’t be surprised if it was sooner rather than later.

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Best Buy’s Memorial Day sale 2020: deals on TVs, appliances, laptops, and more

Memorial Day 2020 is almost here, and Best Buy is kicking things off with incredible deals throughout its site. Best Buy's Memorial Day sale includes price cuts on best-selling TVs, laptops, headphones, appliances, and so much more. 

Our top Best Buy Memorial Day sale picks include the best-selling Apple Watch 3 on sale for just $ 199, the Insignia 50-inch 4K Smart Fire TV on sale for $ 289.99, a $ 100 discount on the HP Envy x360 2-in-1 Touch-Screen Laptop, and popular Google Home Mini on sale for $ 39.99

If you're looking for appliance deals, Best Buy has the powerful Dyson V8 Animal on sale for $ 299.99, the Insignia 6qt Pressure Cooker on sale for only $ 39.99, and a $ 50 price cut on the iRobot Roomba e5 robot vacuum.

Shop more of Best Buy's top Memorial Day deals below, and if you're interested in more bargains, check out our roundup of the best Memorial Day sales that are happening right now.

Best Buy Memorial Day deals:

Shop more of the best Memorial Day sales below that are happening online.

The best Memorial Day sales:

Shop more of the best Memorial Day sales 2020: deals from Home Depot, Best Buy, and more.

You can also learn more about the upcoming Amazon Prime Day 2020 sale event.

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Laptops vs Desktops: Which computer is better when you work from home

People all have different impressions of what it actually means to work from home. Some think it’s all just lounging in bed, binging TV shows, doing chores around the house, and watching the “work” fall by the wayside. That can certainly be what some days of working from home look like, but for anyone that wants to keep working from home, there needs to be some serious productivity now and then. 

If you want to be sure you’re set up right to work from home, it’s fair to ask whether a laptop or a desktop computer will serve you better. But, each type of computer has its perks and drawbacks. We’ll explore various aspects of working from home and see how laptops and desktops fit into the picture. 

So, whether you’re new to working from home or have been doing it for years and just want to optimize your setup, we’ve got the info you should take into consideration.

Acer Aspire 5 15-inch

Your workstation

When you’re trying to get into your workday, it’s important for you to be able to get in the zone. A desktop work setup is going to more readily enable that. 

Part of what makes a desktop less appealing is also what makes it ideal for work. It’s going to be in one spot all the time. Once it’s set up, it’s set. You’ll be able to get to work and have a consistent setup. If you have two monitors one day, you’ll have two monitors the next day.

That consistency makes it easier to have a more complete workstation. You can put a better keyboard, nice headphones, multiple monitors, a comfy chair, and whatever other creature comforts you want at your desk. From one day to the next, they’ll be right there, ready for you to work. 

You won’t have to worry about spending a bunch of time getting your workstation set up at the start of each day, saving you a bit of time. Bonus points go to the ability to have one of the best monitors. Since you’ll be spending more time staring at a screen when you’re working from home, it’s good to do your eyes a favor and increase your screen space and font sizes – don’t strain looking at a small screen all day.

However, the desktop’s merits stem from one of its greatest detriments. After enough days in a row working from home, a single workspace can start to seem like a prison cell blended with a little solitary confinement.

A laptop frees you up from that. With a laptop, you can start your day in the kitchen, looking over emails while you brew coffee or prep some breakfast. You can go to your living room and spend time with your pets while you check the news. That’s a helpful way to avoid going stir crazy.

If the weather is nice, you can even take your laptop out on a porch/balcony or whatever semi-outdoor location you have available to you – a convenience not so easily afforded to a desktop setup.

And, of course, you can always set up your laptop in a desktop configuration. It might require a hub to connect a modern laptop to multiple monitors, a keyboard, a mouse, and all. But, once you’ve made those connections, your workstation can be just as good as any desktops with the added benefit that you can pick up and move whenever you need. When you do move, all your work will come with you, too. 

Bonus points go to the laptop because you don’t even need to get out of bed to start your work day. While there may be psychological drawbacks to doing this regularly, it can be nice to get every last minute of sleep possible before needing to clock in for work.

 Your work capabilities 

In many ways, a desktop is going to exceed a laptop in capabilities. The larger form factor means you can stick a more powerful processor and graphics card in, you can add more RAM, and you can have substantially more storage. The front panel of a desktop alone tends to have more I/O than a laptop, and then the motherboard back panel can easily quadruple that.

The anchored nature of a desktop also makes it a more suitable device to keep plugged into the internet over an Ethernet cable, giving you a more consistent, high-speed connection. 

All of that combines to make the desktop PC more capable for high-tab-count browsing, any visual work with photo or video editing, or design work. So, when it comes to sheer performance and connectivity, a desktop setup is going to score an easy win.

But, performance isn’t all the matters. If you just need a window into your workspace to interact with your coworkers, a laptop may have a few advantages over a desktop. While you can add a webcam and microphone to your desktop PC, odds are good that your laptop already has both built-in. When you’re working from home, those can be a big bonus.

Being able to get some face time with co-workers, even if it’s just on a screen, can be a lot more productive than just chatting on Slack all day. And, when it comes to cabin fever and social isolation, a video chat is a much better supplement than any phone call or group chat.

sennheiser hd 450bt

 Your ability to focus 

The point of working from home, of course, is actually to work. To that end, it matters that you’re able to be productive. Unfortunately, there’s a landslide of distractions you can get buried in at home, whether it be family and roommates or all the things you needed to do around the house but put off because you weren’t quite bored enough to do them before.

Neither desktops or laptops have any guaranteed advantages over the other when it comes to focusing. A desktop can keep you away from other distractions, like your TV. And, family might better recognize that you’re trying to work when you’re at a desktop as opposed to sitting on the couch with a laptop.

But, anchoring yourself to a desktop computer can also be a problem for focus. If the room your desktop is in suddenly gets noisy, whether from outside noise or roommates coming in, you might lose the ability to focus. If you’re using a laptop in the same situation, you may be able to pick up and move to a quieter location.

 Other considerations 

There are a few other things that may be worth thinking about when you’re working from home. While a desktop may offer more raw power, that power doesn’t come from nowhere. A desktop PC will likely rack up a higher power bill at the end of the day than your typical laptop will. So, unless your work needs the extra power, you may not benefit from using a desktop.

Even if you need the power of your desktop, you don’t have to anchor yourself to it. You can enjoy the portability benefits of a laptop while still using your desktop’s internals by employing a remote connection to your desktop. And, if your laptop and desktop are on the same network, you should have exceptionally low latency for that remote connection.

Another perk your laptop will have over a desktop is one that hopefully won’t come up often. In the event of a power outage, your laptop can keep running on its battery for some time. That means you won’t suddenly lose all of your work. A desktop would shut down straight away if the power went out. And, even with an uninterruptible power supply in place, your desktop likely won’t stay powered up for very long compared to your laptop if the electricity goes out.

And if your internet cuts out, forcing you to run down the street to use a cafe’s Wi-Fi, you can’t bring your desktop along with you.

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Best laptop games: 20 games for laptops that won’t melt your machine

Look through our list of the best laptops games 2020 has to offer, and take your pick. If you’ve just bought a brand-new gaming laptop sporting the most powerful processor and the best graphics cards, it will most certainly be able to handle the most demanding games out there. And, it’s only right to test its gaming prowess by playing the top AAA titles on it.

Though even if you’ve only got a budget gaming laptop that can only see you through less graphics-heavy games, don’t worry. There’s also quite a few options out there for you. In fact, that’s what we’re here for.

From the best PC games like Far Cry 5 to the best indie games like Cuphead, and even beloved classics like Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic, we gathered all the best laptop games out there in one place. Whatever your play style, schedule and hardware, we’re willing to bet there’s something on this list that you’ll enjoy.

  • Once you’re looking for something meatier, check out our best PC games
  • CPU: 2 GHz
  • RAM: 4 GB
  • GPU: Intel HD 3000 or better

Whether he’s at LucasArts, Double-Fine or working in a new indie studio, veteran developer Ron Gilbert is certain to serve up a slice of veritable gaming gold.

The tradition of flawless output keeps going with Thimbleweed Park, a pixel art point ‘n’ click adventure that harkens back to the glory days of Maniac Mansion while weaving it together with a very modern eye for creativity.

It’s essentially a murder mystery graphic adventure, where FBI agents Reyes and Ray – who don’t in any way resemble another famous couple of fictional, UFO-chasing members of the Bureau – arrive in a sleepy town to investigate a murder most horrid.

The way it intertwines a truly clever story and a cast of unusual yet instantly memorable characters is something most games with far bigger budgets miss completely. Is it any wonder that it tops our best laptop games list?

  • CPU: Intel Core2 Duo E8400, 3.0GHz or AMD Athlon 64 X2 6000+, 3.0GHz or higher
  • RAM: 2 GB
  • GPU: Geforce 9600 GT or AMD HD 3870 512MB

You might be turned off by the tremendous amount of challenge it poses, but we promise you that Cuphead is worth a shot. If you don’t already find its vibrant, whimsical art style delightful, then you might be convinced by some backstory of how it was made.

Cuphead is from indie developer Studio MDHR (short for Studio Moldenhauer), named for the two brothers who started the project, Chad and Jared Moldenhauer. In fact, the whole company is made up of family members and friends who sought out to finish their dream project.

Marija Moldenhauer, Chad’s wife, was responsible for the inking and clean up in this hand-drawn ode to 2D platforming classics like Mega Man and 1930s Fleischer cartoons like Betty Boop. And, if the 19 bosses aren’t enough for you, Cuphead is getting a major DLC next year featuring new bosses, areas and a new playable character.

  • CPU: 2 Ghz
  • RAM: 2 GB
  • GPU: 256 mb video memory, shader model 3.0+

If you’re obsessed with farming sims (and, considering how well the likes of Farming Simulator and Harvest Moon sell, there’s a few of you out there), then few games will get you jumping for agricultural joy more than the enchanting busywork of Stardew Valley.

Taking cues from the Harvest Moon games, Stardew Valley's top-down point of view and cutesy characters feel blended together seamlessly, making it one of the best laptop games available.

It doesn’t seem all that exhilarating, tending to fields, growing produce and raising livestock – but that’s the beauty of it. There’s a special kind of peace to the mundanity of Stardew Valley’s minutia as you expand your farm, catch some fish down at the river and even head into the village to strike up friendships (and maybe something a little more) with a cast of NPCs. Farming has never been so much fun or addicting.

  • CPU: Intel i5 Quad-Core
  • RAM: 4 GB
  • GPU: Intel HD 4000

In more than a few ways, we’re inclined to describe Night in the Woods as Life is Strange meets Bojack Horseman. The interactive dialogue bits are reminiscent of the former while the overarching themes of dealing with mental health issues ring true in the latter.

Night in The Woods itself was developed in Unity by Infinite Fall, the virtual studio comprised of coder and composer Alec Holowka and Twitter jokester slash illustrator and animator Scott Benson. Together, these two have designed not just a game, but a stunning world full of relatable characters that should hopefully resonate with you.

You take on the role of Mae, a cat who dropped out of college and recently returned to her hometown of Possum Springs. It’s a completely narrative-driven game, as modern point-and-click adventure games tend to be, with very few gameplay hooks that will hold your attention. So, if you’re into Telltale Games or Life is Strange, Night in the Woods might be the best laptop game for you.

Best of all, it will run fairly smoothly on integrated graphics, given that it has an attractive, but not highly demanding, art style. Surely, this is a title we’ll be talking about for years and years to come, even if it was snubbed at The Game Awards.

  • CPU: 1.2GHz
  • RAM: 512 MB
  • GPU: DirectX 8-compatible graphics card with at least 32MB of video memory

You might wonder whether Hotline Miami’s neon-drenched ultraviolence would exist if the film Drive had never been made, and while it’s hard to miss just how eagerly it doffs its bloody mask at the Gosling classic, the end result is an utterly magnificent little indie title and among the best laptop games to date.

With pixel art invoking that top-down look of Grand Theft Auto’s retro years, Hotline Miami indulges in its almost psychedelic violence. The concept is pretty basic: don on a mask (each one is styled on an animal and adds its own buffs, debuffs and unique abilities), enter a stage and coat the walls with the blood of your enemies.

Add buckets of neon, a synth soundtrack that will have you sewing a scorpion onto the back of a white jacket in no time and one crazy storyline to the mix, and you have a classic in its own right.

  • CPU: Intel Core i3-2100T @ 2.50 GHz / AMD Phenom II X3 B73
  • RAM: 4 GB
  • GPU: ATI Radeon HD 4850 or NVIDIA GeForce 9600 GT

While it’s a 2018 title and has a reasonably massive following, your laptop’s integrated graphics can still run Pillars of Eternity 2: Deadfire. It has mostly the same forgiving system requirements as its predecessor, so if you are a fan of that game, you should be able to engross yourself in this best laptop game as well.

Pillars of Eternity 2: Deadfire drops players on the Deadfire archipelago and tasks them with hunting down a rogue god. And, just like its predecessor, it features rich storytelling and deep RPG gameplay that harkens to the days of Baldur’s Gate and Neverwinter Nights.

While all the backgrounds are in 2D and viewed from a top-down point-of-view, they’re still lovely to behold. Plus, the numerous spell effects will keep you bewitched as you work your way through the intense and tactical combat.

And, because it's coming from Obsidian, a studio known for making the best RPGs of all time, you can be confident that you’re getting an adventure, and one of the best laptop games, that’s worth every penny.

  • CPU: 1.5 GHz Core2Duo
  • RAM: 2 GB
  • GPU: OpenGL 1.4 or better

If somebody told you a game about working in a border control office would be one of the most addictive games ever, would you scoff and walk off shaking your head?

Well, you might give a little indie gem by the name of Papers, Please a chance. Set in a fictional take on the Eastern Bloc, you’re an immigration clerk tasked with processing refugees from a hostile neighbouring nation.

The core concept is simple: check each person’s documents against a clear set of rules, process those who meet the requirements and detain those with false papers. 

The game is created to test your attention to detail, as well as the strength of your moral compass. Sometimes you’ll have to decide if specific sympathetic characters should be granted asylum, even if it goes against the rules. 

The twist is good performance effectively feeds you family, while mistakes put their lives in danger. It’s dark, but engrossingly so.

  • CPU: Intel Core 2 Duo E8400
  • RAM: 4 GB
  • GPU: Integrated GPU / NVIDIA GeForce 510

We all know how aggressive geese can be. Well, thanks to Untitled Goose Game, you can walk a mile in a goose’s webbed shoes. And, not just any goose – a crappy one at that. You can already tell how this slapstick-stealth-sandbox game is going to be just from the title, which is really more like a non-title.

If you enjoy causing mayhem, you’ll enjoy this game. As a goose, you’ll run around ruining people’s days by setting up pranks, stealing their stuff and just being really annoying. In fact, the more miserable the humans are, the better. So, you should be ticking off every objective in your ‘to do’ list, which include things like trapping a kid in a phone box, for example. What better way to let off some steam after that crappy day you’re also having?

  • CPU: 2GHz+
  • RAM: 3 GB
  • GPU: 512MB

Part role-playing game, part bullet hell shooter, Undertale is a game like no other. The fact that this remarkable game is the work of one man is impressive, considering the depth of consequence developer Toby Fox has built into Undertale’s world.

In the small boots of a child who’s fallen into a monster-filled world beneath the earth where only the quick thinking survive, you’ll encounter brutal bosses.

The fact you can befriend bosses as well as battle them changes the fabric of the story, and shows that it’s not just NPCs that offer crucial moments of dialogue. It’s a game of empathetic reflection, where your actions dictate how a boss or monster reacts to you. 

Aggression leads to more powerful attacks against you, while avoiding retaliation will soften the blows. Strange and seductive in its own special way, Undertale is a curio definitely worth chasing and one of the best laptop games to play right now.

  • CPU: Intel Core 2 Duo or AMD Athlon 64X2
  • RAM: 2 GB
  • GPU: NVIDIA GeForce 100 series (512 Mb) or Radeon HD 3xxx or better

When it comes to CCGs (collectible card games), Hearthstone does a pretty impressive job of keeping you and your deck of animated cards entertained throughout – but what happens when you want something a little less innocuous? You give a CCG with a unique spin such as Chronicle: RuneScape Legends a gander.

Based on the classic lore of Runescape, Chronicle blends card-dealing with the 3D setup of a RPG. Cards represent real characters and enemies that appear across a 3D-rendered pop-up books. 

Cards are played successively, with player characters facing each one (ranging from foes to curses to stat buffs), before facing off against one another at the end. It’s bizarre, brilliant and categorically worth your time. 

Hey, it’s even got new single-player content when you don’t want to test your mettle against other users. Not too shabby for a low-spec CCG.

  • CPU: 2GHz
  • RAM: 1GB
  • GPU: Card with 128MB+ dedicated memory

FTL sounds like an ultra-hardcore game when you’re talking about it: a real-time strategic space roguelike. A roguelike is a game that makes you start from scratch when you die. However, FTL is actually perfect for pretty casual laptop gaming. You can even get it for iPad, in fact.

You tool up your star ship, recruit your crew and do your best not to get annihilated as you take an important message from one end of the galaxy to the other. Screenshots don't really give FTL justice, as all you see is a blocky graphic of your ship, not really its spacey surroundings.

However, it's the best laptop game for public play: nothing on-screen to make you feel too embarrassed or keep fellow passengers glued to your screen, if you play on train journeys.

  • CPU: dual-core 2GHz
  • RAM: 2GB
  • GPU: DirectX 9 compatible

Few games stay relevant as long as Skyrim. It should feel old and antiquated, but a mod scene has kept it relevant in the past half-decade. Being so old has also meant not as powerful hardware has been able to catch up with its real-life spec requirements.

It'll run pretty well on Intel Core-series processors from the last 2-3 years, and even plays pretty well on some recent Atom/Pentium CPUs on its lowest settings. If you have a real dog of a laptop, there's also a mod that'll cut down the settings even more than the game itself allows, called Ultra Low Graphics Mod. Imaginative naming.

It’s one of the best laptop games to date, and many agree – in case you've been locked in a cupboard for the past five years, Skyrim is a massive open-world RPG that won countless 'game of the year' awards when it was released back in 2011.

  • CPU: 1.7GHz dual-core
  • RAM: 2GB
  • GPU: Intel HD 3000 or newer

Remember the game that received millions and millions of dollars of funding on Kickstarter back when such things were unheard-of? That's Broken Age, the point 'n' click platform made by one of the people who came up with Monkey Island back in the 90s.

It didn't exactly and single-handedly revive the genre. However, it’s still a fun tale that is nowhere near as frustrating as most of the early 90s exploits, most of which are best viewed through a pair of rose-tinted nostalgia specs. From a distance.

You play as both male and female characters, skipping between chapters in their respective stories to make sure the narrative doesn't get stale. We're steering clear of spoilers, so we'll let you uncover it on your own.

  • CPU: 1.7GHz
  • RAM: 512MB
  • GPU: DX 8.1 compatible card

You might head straight for 2D games when you think of title that'll work with pretty modest hardware. However, some once-fancy 3D games work very well with non-gaming laptops. Valve's Source engine is especially good at working with less powerful GPUs, making classics like Half-life 2 play delightfully on modern integrated graphics hardware.

If you're not up for a thinking person's FPS like Half-Life 2, you might want to check out fantastic first-person puzzler Portal 2 instead. It is also based on the Source engine. Portal 2 takes the portal gun from Half-Life 2, which makes teleporting holes in walls, and makes a whole game out of it. It’s possibly one of the best games of all time, actually, and of course, of course among the best laptop games ever.

  • CPU: Intel Pentium D
  • RAM: 2GB
  • GPU: Intel HD

It's easy to think of Minecraft as retro in some way, but it's actually far more groundbreaking than some of the nay-saying haters would have you believe. It is not just for kids, either. Try it, you might just like it.

This world-building classic was never out to wow audiences with its Crysis-style graphics, but its highly scalable visuals let you tweak Minecraft to suit any machine. As well as being able to experiment with the draw distance and the few visual effects the game uses, you can alter the field of view as well.

Minecraft is also best-suited for laptop gaming, as you don't need to be very accurate with your cursor. This is handy if you're using a trackpad rather than a mouse.

  • CPU: 1.6GHz
  • RAM: 1GB
  • GPU: x1950 Pro, 7900 gt

Take 90s platform aesthetic, add a roguelike twist, a completely modern random level generator and a few RPG sprinkles to the mix, and you have Rogue Legacy. It's one of the most addictive indie games of the last decade – not to mention, one of the best laptop games.

You play as a knight type, leaping right into a castle full of nasties. When you die, and you will die, you return as one of that warrior's descendants. The castle will be different, as will the class of your character. While you have to start from scratch every time, you can unlock bonuses by collecting gold from chests in the castle.

This is the bit that makes it more accessible than a true roguelike game, where you really have to start from square one when you die.

  • CPU: 2GHz
  • RAM: 1GB
  • GPU: Nvidia HD 4450

Don't Starve is an outrageous little game where you wander around in a somewhat twisted nightmarish world, exploring and picking up supplies to try to survive, day by day. When the sun goes down, awful creatures start prowling in the shadows. If you don't build a fire, you're a goner.

You also have to eat to keep yourself healthy, and even your mental health deteriorates if you don't find out ways to pep yourself up.

There are some nice visual effects in Don’t Starve, but as a predominantly 2D near-top-down game, it's happy to work with all but the lowest powered laptops.

  • CPU: Intel Core 2 Duo
  • RAM: 2GB
  • GPU: Intel HD 1000

If you don't mind tempting addiction in your laptop gaming, Hearthstone is a title not to miss. It is a little like nerd classic card battle game (and also video game) Magic: The Gathering, but much better-suited to quick, casual play.

Like many other modern casual games, however, you'll likely end up playing for a lot longer than five minutes. And it feels even more "right" on a laptop than a bulky desktop.

It's a Valve game and, like most Valve titles, fares extremely well on lower-end hardware. It officially supports the Intel HD 1000 integrated GPU, from way back in the Sandy Bridge generation half a decade ago.

  • CPU: Intel Core 2 Duo
  • RAM: 2GB
  • GPU: Intel HD

Is Civilization the ultimate "PC" game? Many of us have spent a handful of full days working through Civilization's virtual recap of the ages of man, whether it was back in the 90s, or just last week. Civilization V has more of the laid-back vibe that previous Civ games, but that makes it more accessible if you're looking for something to kill 30 mins, rather than 3 hours.

It'll work on almost any Intel Core series laptop from the past five years, but if you find yours still isn't up to the task, don't forget Civilization IV. Despite being old, it still works fine on Windows 10 through Steam.

  • CPU: Core 2 Duo
  • RAM: 2GB
  • GPU: Intel HD 3000

EA gets a lot of flak. It was rated as the most despised company in America two years in a row, after all. However, it doesn't half know how to court a big audience. And that means making sure games like The Sims 4 work on just about everything.

This infamous lifestyle sim even has a "laptop" mode created for systems that can barely make it through the title screen of The Witcher 3. The game itself is very much business as usual: you slog through a virtual life, making bucks and designing living rooms. Or doing your best to torture some poor virtual peon by locking them in an inescapable toilet.

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Best Ultrabooks 2020: the top thin and light laptops reviewed

Owning one of the best Ultrabooks on the market is more than just about looking cool. Thin, light and elegant, Ultrabooks not only ooze sophistication in the design department; they also boast power as well – and a lot of it. That excellent combination of portability and power is what makes them a favorite among professionals, especially those who are always on the go.

The best Ultrabooks 2020 has to offer can handle a hefty workload despite their svelte form, thanks to the best processors and SSDs they hide within. In fact, they’re so powerful more creative professionals rely on them for demanding tasks like video editing and 3D design. What’s more is that these Ultrabooks tend to generally have a great battery life, so they’ll go a long way on a single charge.

If you’re ready to invest in one of the best Ultrabooks of 2020, this list is for you. We have gathered all the best ones on the market, each of which we’ve tested and reviewed ourselves so you know you can count on whichever one you choose.

HP Elite Dragonfly

The HP Elite Dragonfly tops many of our lists this year, including the best Ultrabooks list.

If you’re a traveling professional, and you’re looking for the best of the best this 2020, then you will be hard-pressed to find anything that will rival the HP Elite Dragonfly. Garnering our coveted five-star rating, this laptop tops many of our lists this year, including the best Ultrabooks list. It’s no surprise, as it delivers a deadly combination of incredible features like a sublime keyboard and amazing speakers, raw power, portability, a beautiful design and a long battery life. Admittedly, it’s pricier than many of its competition; but if you’ve got the funds, it’s worth every penny.

Read the full review: HP Elite Dragonfly

Huawei Matebook 13

For some years now, Huawei has been sitting in the shadows, biding its time to take on the best Ultrabooks. But now, their time in the limelight is here. Like the Huawei MateBook X Pro before it, the Huawei Matebook 13 packs a ton of powerful hardware into a gorgeous shell, all while offering it at a price that’s more than reasonable. Those discrete graphics are also worth a mention – the Huawei Matebook 13 may be one of the tiniest laptops out there to come with an MX150 GPU. It’s not hard to see why the Huawei Matebook 13 is the best Ultrabook right now.

Read the full review: Huawei MateBook 13

Dell XPS 13

The Dell XPS 13 has been king of the Ultrabooks for years, and while it’s been unseated by the Huawei MateBook 13, it remains one of the Ultrabooks to beat in 2020. This time around, Dell has moved the webcam from the bottom of the display back to the top, fixing one of the biggest flaws that held back the XPS 13 for years. Add the updated internal components to the mix, and the Dell XPS 13 still makes the best Ultrabooks list – even in the face of tough competition.

Read the full review: Dell XPS 13

Huawei MateBook X Pro

Sometimes an Ultrabook arrives that totally changes everything. When the 2018 model of the Huawei MateBook X Pro hit the scene, it did just that. This beautiful Ultrabook brings high-end components into an elegantly designed package that puts even the MacBook Pro to shame. It really is one of the best Ultrabooks on the market, despite its successor’s attempts to best it with an Intel Whiskey Lake processor. It’s still the 2018 model that’s captured our computing cores.

Read the full review: Huawei MateBook X Pro

HP Spectre x360

If an arresting Ultrabook housing 2-in-1 functionality and a ton of power satisfies what you’re looking for, it’s hard to find a better laptop than the HP Spectre x360. This slim and light Ultrabook isn’t just filled with the latest Intel Whiskey Lake processors and plenty of RAM. It also might just be the most exquisite laptop you can buy today. The HP Spectre x360 won’t just get you through your workload, but will also make you smart and stylish in the process – leaving no doubt that it’s well-deserving of its lofty spot on our best Ultrabooks 2020 list.

Read the full review: HP Spectre x360

Surface Laptop 2

The original Surface Laptop hit the market just about two years ago, and while it was a great Ultrabook, it was affected by relatively weak internals and Windows 10 S. Fortunately, Microsoft rolled out the Surface Laptop 2 in late 2018, offering quad-core processors and the full-fat version of Windows 10. It’s through these fundamental improvements that the Surface Laptop 2 is able to bring the purest Windows 10 experience to a laptop – not to mention, join the ranks of the best Ultrabooks available right now – at a price that won’t make you run in the opposite direction.

Read the full review: Surface Laptop 2

Lenovo Yoga C930

The Lenovo Yoga C930 has quite a few of the makings of the best Ultrabook – from an absurd 14.5 hours of battery life and dual Thunderbolt-enabled USB-C ports to internal components that will easily handle those daily productivity tasks. That’s without even considering it’s a 2-in-1 that offers form versatility so you can squeeze in some light gaming and movie-watching once you’re done working. It has a few cherries on top as well, specifically the integrated self-charging stylus and the fab speaker system.

Read the full review: Lenovo Yoga C930

Razer Blade Stealth

Razer has made quite a name for itself in the gaming world. Yet, with the Razer Blade Stealth, the green-themed manufacturer wants consumers to know that they’re more than just a company “for gamers, by gamers.” This Ultrabook will absolutely change your mind with its 13.3-inch, QHD+ beauty. You can no longer choose to get a 4K screen, but the performance this Ultrabook provides is more than worth the compromise – especially given how gorgeous the chassis is.

Read the full review: Razer Blade Stealth

Lenovo yoga 730

Durability meets portability and performance in this slim laptop with a reasonable price tag. The Lenovo Yoga 730 isn’t the close-to-perfect machine many premium buyers may be in the market for, with a few less-than-favorable issues like heavier weight, average battery life and weak speakers. However, this laptop will easily take you through your weekly workload. Lenovo then rounds out that performance with a reliable keyboard and trackpad, sturdy hinges to go between tablet and laptop mode, and a display with thin bezels.

Read the full review: Lenovo Yoga 730

HP Envy x360 13 (2019)

There are so many exciting reasons why the HP Envy x360 (2019) should be on our best Ultrabooks list, and its sleek, stylish design is the least of them. This 13-inch 2-in-1 has a premium build quality, touts 9 hours of video playback and a performance that will tackle most of your schoolwork and projects with ease, all without burning a hole in your pocket.

Read the full review: HP Envy x360 (2019)

Michelle Rae Uy, Bill Thomas and Gabe Carey have also contributed to this article

Image credit: TechRadar

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Best Ultrabooks 2020 at a glance:

  1. Huawei Matebook 13
  2. Dell XPS 13
  3. Huawei MateBook X Pro (2018)
  4. HP Spectre x360
  5. Surface Laptop 2
  6. Lenovo Yoga C930
  7. Razer Blade Stealth
  8. Lenovo Yoga 730
  9. HP Envy x360 13 (2019)
  10. Asus ZenBook UX310

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