The first laptop, aka the Compaq-Portable came out in 1982, which was an impressive technological feat for the time. As it should be, laptops have come a long, long way in the ensuing 40 years. Nevertheless, that change started to stagnate during the early 2000s and improvements became slow and incremental, rather than revolutionary. Major OEMs continued to manufacture and release hardware with desktop-grade architecture every year, and laptops were being built with watered-down, crunched versions of hardware that had been designed originally for their bigger, bulkier brethren.
Hardware components exclusive to laptops were also released from time to time, but they were far too underpowered to be of any real benefit, beyond only very basic usage. Things have changed drastically in the last three years though and laptops have been truly revolutionised from the inside out. As we highlight some of those big changes next, it will help us understand why the laptop is becoming such a versatile computer.
Incredibly Powerful APUs
The accelerated processing unit or APU is a powerful SoC that combines the power of a CPU and a GPU into a single unit. The process itself is nothing new, but it’s the recent change in iGPU performance that has been revolutionary. Prior to 2017, integrated graphics processors stuttered and often crashed if the user tried to play a 4k resolution video on their laptop with hardware acceleration enabled. Thanks to the new APUs with bigger, better iGPUs, such frustrations are a thing of the past.
It started with AMD’s Vega iGPUs, but Intel is started doing incredibly well with their UHD and Iris range of integrated graphics processors. As of 2021/22, the Lenovo Intel Arc integrations have allowed for some incredibly versatile, efficient, and affordable laptops for professionals and personal users alike. Laptops powered by the later generations of Intel Arc APUs can not only play a 4K video without a hitch, but they can also be used to edit and render ultra-high-definition media professionally.
Closing the Gap in Performance
Previously, power users and gaming enthusiasts would not rely on a laptop to work or game, as long as they could help it. It was a valid choice too because even the best laptops were extremely limited in their ability to handle intense workloads. They would heat up to dangerous temperatures when overworked and thermal throttling would kick in, making laptop computers unusable for handling prolonged, intense workloads. All that has changed recently because:
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- Hardware components for laptops are now designed exclusively and separately.
- The performance gap between laptop and desktop hardware components sharing the same core architecture is now minimal.
- Thermal throttling is now negated with liquid cooling in workstation and gaming laptops, making them capable of handling prolonged stress.
Boosting Old Advantages
Laptops already had a few benefits that desktops did not, which is why they became so popular to begin with. However, those same factors have been boosted to such high degrees recently that the contrast between desktops and laptops is more evident now than ever before. Just go through the following to understand the point made.
- Better battery life
- Accurate, fast, and sharper displays.
- Integrated touchscreens.
Laptops were always meant to be a more comprehensive package than desktops, but they lacked performance. In 2022, this is not a statement that anyone can make with confidence anymore. Desktops can still be more powerful, but that power comes at a much higher cost and the loss of portability.