What Is an AI PC and Should You Buy It in 2024?

In 2024, we are now seeing the release of several new AI PCs. Major brands like Dell, HP, Lenovo, Asus, Samsung, and others are all pushing to market their new offerings with the “AI PC” moniker. So, how are these new AI PCs any different? What features & advantages do AI PCs offer over non-AI PCs?

We are here to answer all these questions and compare the new generation of AI-enhanced PCs to older generation PCs looking into aspects like performance and efficiency. Then, we try to answer whether or not you should buy a new AI PC this year.

AI PCs with Intel & AMD Processors Releasing in 2024

The AI PCs in 2024 have Intel’s latest Core Ultra processors or AMD’s latest Ryzen 8000/ 7000 processors. These new generation chips are majorly responsible for welcoming the AI era of computing. With the release of these new CPUs, both Intel and AMD have brought several AI-centric features to the table on new laptops.

We are yet to see lots of AI-enabled processors come out on desktop PCs. But, AMD has already released the Ryzen 8000G series as the world’s first AI processor for desktops. This year, we will also expect to see Intel releasing a new Lunar Lake architecture. A fresh lineup of processors for desktops on a new motherboard platform is expected.

Overall, a steady shift is happening in the PC industry right now. There is a hope that consumers like you and me will be intrigued by the new AI PCs of 2024.

What Features Do AI PCs Offer?

AI PCs of 2024 come with many new ‘AI-enhanced’ features. In the present, the inception of AI PCs has just begun – so many of these new advantages can feel quite rudimentary. Both Intel and AMD are marketing the new laptops of 2024 with a heavy push to all things AI.

Neural Processing Unit (NPU)

The most specific feature of new AI PCs in 2024 is the addition of an onboard AI accelerator on these new processors from Intel and AMD. It is termed the Neural Processing Unit (NPU), and it’s essentially this new hardware component present within the processor.

NPU is made by design for accelerating AI, at a high level of efficiency that can’t be achieved by the CPU & GPU, whose resources can be kept free for handling heavy computing workloads, while the NPU handles AI-centric workloads.

Collaboration Features in AI PCs

The work of creative professionals, developers, and even general users is said to become much more efficient, thanks to the new AI features. It is being said that collaboration has been made more efficient. When using communication apps like Google Meet, Microsoft Teams, and Zoom you get AI auto-framing, AI background blur, and even AI eyesight correction which makes it look like you’re directly looking at the person. This is a common set of features found in many AI PCs of today.

Previously, non-AI PCs that didn’t feature an NPU (with processors such as Intel 13th Gen) also had collaboration features like these AI enhancements for video conferencing as we talked about above. Beebom did a hands-on of the Samsung Galaxy Book 3 with an Intel Core i7-1370P processor, and its feature set included AI enhancements during video conferencing. The same features of “AI PCs” being heavily pushed into the market – background blur, auto-framing, and noise cancellation were present on this laptop.

So, how do new AI PCs in 2024 make things better, especially if previous PCs already had AI features like this? The above demonstration is actually running on the CPU because the previous-gen Core i7-1370P does not have the NPU. The neural processing unit is only found on various new CPUs from Intel and AMD. These AI features on many previous-gen laptops were also part of a special app. On Samsung, this was called ‘Studio Mode’. Sometimes, the AI features were found in the software control panel.

And now with 2024 AI PCs, the NPU handles many AI-related workloads. On these older laptops that had AI features, I often saw the warning for higher power consumption when AI features like noise cancellation or video call enhancements were turned on. But for an NPU that is tailored to handle AI computing workloads like this, the power consumption is quite low which is also the intended architectural design.

In newer 2024 AI-enabled PCs that we have tested at Beebom, these AI enhancements were tested & found to be facilitated via the NPU, rather than consuming other vital system resources. For new AI PCs of 2024, you will see the NPU in Task Manager and its usage will go up when it’s in use.

Below you can see that in the Camera app of Windows 11, the AI effects are now present within the app itself (as part of Windows Studio Effects) rather than a separate feature from the manufacturer. With all the AI features enabled, the NPU was observed to be used in the range of 25-35%.

NPU taking care of AI workloads on a new 2024 AI PC

Before we dive into more, there are some more common features on AI PCs and non-AI PCs. Pretty much anyone can use OpenAI ChatGPT, Google Gemini, Adobe Generative AI, and various other popular artificial intelligence innovations of today. Nvidia has also recently unveiled its Chat with RTX. This is an AI chatbot that can directly run off an RTX graphics card (offline).

With this, pretty much any PC with a compatible Nvidia RTX GPU could be called an ‘AI-enabled‘ personal computer. This is quite true at least to a certain degree, even if older PCs don’t have the NPU. Now, let’s discuss some more features of AI PCs, and then conclude with whether or not it’s worth buying an AI PC in 2024!

How AI Assistants Can Get Better on 2024 AI PCs

Intel and AMD’s on-board NPU can be used to run AI assistants, albeit made with smaller models. As an example, check out how Tony Mongkolsmai (Software Architect at Intel) has showcased TinyLlama & Google’s Gemma-2b AI models running on the NPU directly. Similar to this, Huggingface has documentation here on how to set up the AMD Ryzen AI environment so you can run LLMs on the NPU of Ryzen 7000/8000 series processors.

Next, Intel showed off some new AI assistants which will come in the future to enhance user productivity. One upcoming innovation that will take advantage of the latest Intel Core Ultra processors and the NPU is Rewind.ai, which is expected to be released for Windows later this year. I also expect more AI assistants to come out in the future, which can effectively utilize the NPU directly.

Rewind’s AI assistant has been described by Intel as an amazingly useful tool to assist you throughout your daily work. Once set up, the Rewind AI notices everything you are doing. Then, it can work as a memory, so if you forget something you could just ask your AI assistant.

Plus, it automatically manages the note-taking process when the user is in a meeting. You can even use it to automate writing email drafts. Overall, this is quite impressive and I am excited to use more AI PC-exclusive features that are coming soon! While tools like ChatGPT are impressive, an AI assistant like Rewind’s has proper productivity-enhancing features. New AI assistants are more useful, albeit a bit more intimate as well since it’s watching everything you do.

Still, it isn’t a given that Rewind’s AI assistant will be exclusively released for new AI PCs. It may consume more power, but it could also run on non-AI-PCs. The assistant is also already available for macOS. It uses a small amount of CPU power to function when it’s enabled. Still, I do expect that new AI PCs that are directly designed for this AI-enhanced era of computing will end up having a better experience compared to non-AI PCs with older processors.

Professional Content Creation and Generative AI

According to Intel, the new AI PCs enabled with Intel Core Ultra are much better at AI application performance benchmarks. Many things were tested here including AI-assisted content creation, generative AI, and AI generation of audio in Audacity. Check out how the new AI PCs with the latest processors fare against the older generation:

Image Courtesy: Intel

Several content creation applications like WonderShare Filmora, Adobe Premier Pro, Davinci Resolve, and Adobe Lightroom can be seen above to perform better on an AI PC with a Core Ultra processor whilst using the latest AI-enhanced features within these apps.

A large part of this gain is also because of the GPU. The graphics card of your PC is a commonly used system component to accelerate AI apart from the NPU. But, there are also AI workloads in which the GPU, CPU, and NPU all work together.

AI-Enhanced Audio Editing

For AI-enhanced audio editing, Intel has shown that with Audacity’s latest addition of OpenVINO plugins, many wild things are possible. The demo linked below shows a musician being able to effectively create text-to-music on the latest AI PC.

You can also separate elements of a single audio layer using OpenVINO Music Separation. For example, separating the drum beats away from a particular audio clip. It’s very cool to see exclusive features on AI PCs of 2024 that can directly benefit the work of a musician or audio engineer!

Should You Buy AI PCs in 2024? Maybe!

Overall, AI will be a major focus in the industry moving forward. Let’s say you are excited to use everything related to AI. Maybe, your work can benefit from currently released AI features, as described above. Given those conditions are met, it can surely be beneficial for you to get a new AI PC!

People who work in fields such as content creation, music, development, etc. can surely utilize several new features on new AI PCs of 2024. Hence, it is possible to find enough key advantages of the new 2024 AI PCs that will benefit you. AI PCs can offer some beneficial features compared to older-gen PCs. It’s still true that not everyone is going to find those features useful for what they do on a PC.

What about others? Let’s say you are a general consumer who doesn’t specifically need any AI features. I feel many people will find that AI PCs released in 2024 aren’t actually all that useful. A lot of AI features can still be used to benefit you even if you don’t have the latest ‘AI PC’. It is just a marketing term, separating new PCs from older ones. So, don’t feel the need to rush and buy an AI PC straight away – many apps are still being built, and the ‘AI PC’ era of computing will innovate heavily as we move forward. Plus, there is another major reason which is why I personally will not be buying an AI PC.

Why I Won’t Be Buying an AI PC (For Now)

To be honest, the new generation of processors also hasn’t provided us with any major performance gains either. This aspect is what excites me the most (and many others) about a new processor generation. But this time around, the focus was more on AI and improved power efficiency, rather than heavily pushing the performance ceiling.

With that said future upcoming processors such as Intel Lunar Lake & Arrow Lake have already been teased. AMD will also be cooking up something exciting under the wraps, such as Zen 5 processor architecture. Overall, I expect some big performance gains. Even more AI-centric enhancements will be brought in future generations. At that point, the feature set of an ‘AI PC’ will have evolved heavily. This will make an AI PC a better purchase in the future rather than in the present.

Plus, buying a new AI PC in the future with better processors will not only specifically just give you an NPU and some exclusive ‘AI features’. It will finally also upgrade the performance dramatically compared to your current system & old-generation options. That was my take on whether or not you should buy an AI PC in 2024. I am excited to upgrade to the latest era of computing – but only when my performance demands are also met.

For now, while the AI PC ecosystem is exciting, it is also maturing slowly. So, there is no need to feel a rush to buy an AI PC. This is quite true if your current work cannot benefit from existing technologies.

Comments 1
  • John says:

    I think it remains to be seen if many actually need AI enabled PC’s or are willing to buy a PC with AI capabilities.
    Microsoft and its partners seem committed to trying to market AI in a big way and the Qualcomm Snapdragon X with NPU seems to be the first stage of going all in with AI technologies. Personally, I have read both positive and negative opinions and experiences with AI. I don’t think its a no brainer to invest in such new technology right now. I still think AI needs more time to prove its value and use cases. I don’t think most users need special CPU’s or NPU to use what they actually find beneficial in AI technology.

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