AI PCs, a big thing at CES

But what are they?

David Harold

New AI PCs launched at CES 2024 and offered a mix of software applications, from power and component control to GenAI. Most interesting are added NNA capabilities, particularly from Lenovo.

What do we think? We looked at the new chips from AMD, Intel, and Qualcomm that will power AI PCs, but what about the box makers? Gigabyte, Lenovo, and MCI all showed PC devices that have AI capabilities to one extent or another, though at this point, there’s a lot of talk and relatively little walk. Features that feel like tomorrow? Lenovo AI Now lets you control your PC with natural language. Things that seem like more of the same? Acer making Zoom a little clearer. (I’m pretty sure Meeami Technologies‘ audio AI has been doing that stuff for ages, maybe this is their tech? They are certainly in a major phone brand now.) In between is Microsoft’s AI key, Office Copilot AI functions. Fluff today, maybe useful tomorrow.

Gigabyte, Lenovo, and MSI all launch AI PCs at CES 2024

Gigabyte AI PC

Gigabyte Technology launched a mix of AI PCs and AI HPC servers. The new servers variously have AMD’s Instinct MI300A APU or Nvidia’s Grace Hopper Superchip, and Nvidia HGX H100 8-GPUs. Gigabyte cites the exponential growth of AI, especially managing model parameters and datasets, as a reason to focus on AI HPC.

The PC vendors also showed AI PCs tailored for gamers and creators. Gigabyte’s seven strong 2024 AI gaming laptop lineup features proprietary AI Nexus software for performance, battery life, and generative AI. For the most part, the AI capability is down to the Nvidia GeForce RTX 40 GPUs with AI-optimized visuals like DLSS 3.5. That said, the Aorus 17 and Aorus 15 include the latest Intel Core Ultra processors that feature neural processing units (NPUs) for AI. 

Lenovo AI PC
Lenovo AI laptop
Lenovo’s AI PC ThinkBook developed by Lenovo Research. (Source: Lenovo)

Lenovo announcements included new AI PC innovations across Lenovo’s Yoga, ThinkBook, ThinkPad, ThinkCentre, and Legion sub-brands. A number of these (no, I didn’t count) include Microsoft’s new Copilot AI button on the outside and Lenovo AI Core and Intel Ultra processors on the inside. You know about Intel Ultra, but what is AI Core? I’m pretty sure it’sLenovo’s LA2 designed to off-load some AI workloads, improving performance by approximately 10% at the same power consumption as without the chip. It’s really interesting because it is a combination of a RISC-V core and an NNA core. Its features include shorter lock time, shorter boot time, voice ID and root of trust security, power management including scenario management (workload prediction), sensor fusion, and lighting management.

Lenovo LA2
Lenovo’s LA2. (Source: Lenovo’s PC YouTube channel)

Lenovo really wants you to know how Lenovo Research was involved in their CES 2024 AI PC offering. And fair enough, because they actually have quite a robust AI feature list. This includes:

  • Personal knowledge-driven foundation model generation and interaction
  • Fine-tuned system control
  • Industry-leading model compression and inference acceleration
  • User scenario optimization (different optimizations depending on the work you are doing)

What does that mean in regular terms? More personalized services. That may not seem headline-grabbing, but it’s something you can touch and feel.

Not on the new models but demonstrated at CES and coming to China in 2H 2024, Lenovo’s upcoming AI Now Personal Assistant will offer personalized interactive experiences by leveraging user information on the device. This AI assistant aims to improve workflow efficiency and enhance personalization. Through natural language communication, users will have the ability to check and modify common settings, such as display or performance, as well as search and summarize emails and documents. That weird setting you can never find? Use natural language to get AI Now to open it.

MSI is offering three models of AI gaming PCs. (Source: MSI CES ad)

MSI showed three AI gaming desktop models—with multiple versions of the MPG Trident AS 14th, the MAG Infinite S3 14th, and the MAG Codex 6 14th—as well as a new gaming laptop and AI-enhanced monitors (we can’t vouch for the AI element, but they did look great). Powered by 14th Gen Intel Core processors and Nvidia GeForce RTX 4070 GPUs, they take AI into the component level with Frozr AI Cooling, which is claimed to have advanced algorithms for rapid responses to changes, suppressing spikes and optimizing performance.

MSI’s AI Engine is software, which, like Lenovo’s scenario detection, automatically detects the active application and optimizes performance settings for things like RGB lighting effects, audio, and screen color—so, no more manual adjustments are needed, though I might miss the tweaking.

Another included app is MSI’s AI Artist, for generative AI text-to-image and image-to-image tasks―it neatly outputs Adobe Photoshop files.

I don’t love muscle-car laptops, but the magnesium-aluminium alloy encased MSI Stealth 18 AI Studio would certainly impress the other kids at the WeWork. It has an Intel Core Ultra i9 processor and Nvidia GeForce RTX 40 series graphics, plus a huge 18-inch 4K 120 Hz mini-LED display. It’s for gamers, natch.