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AI PCs Are Here, But Do You Even Need Them?

Written by: Martin Dale Bolima, Tech Journalist, AOPG


The age of Artificial Intelligence (AI) dawned on us last year, ushering in an unprecedented wave of AI-related innovation. In fact, it seemed as if there was an advancement in AI and its cousins—Natural Language Processing (NLP), Machine Learning (ML), and Large Language Models (LLM), to name three—every week, to the point that a complete AI takeover became an increasingly plausible idea.

Leading this wave are tech giants, beginning with OpenAI and the phenomenon it birthed in ChatGPT, whose generative capabilities opened up a whale of possibilities and pushed AI firmly into the mainstream. The wave just kept growing from there—and now here we are, at the doorstep of AI’s next frontier: The AI PC.

An AI PC is, as the name suggests, AI on a PC (or a laptop). More specifically, an AI PC is a kind of computer with the right hardware and software to run AI and ML tasks quickly and efficiently right on the PC itself—without sending data to the cloud, where AI servers perform the required processing.


AI PCs have all the good stuff under the hood, starting with powerful CPUs, equally powerful GPUs, swift storage, and lots and lots of RAM. The cherry on the top, so to speak, is the addition of the Neural Processing Unit (NPU), a specialised processor specifically designed and optimised to handle the myriad of mathematical calculations involved in performing AI-related tasks.

So, essentially, it acts as the super smart brain of the PC, processing bulk loads of complex information in tandem with the GPU to reduce processing time and lower power usage (in the case of laptops).

“The AI PC will be a sea change moment in technical innovation,” Pat Gelsinger, CEO at Intel, told developers at Intel Innovation back in September 2023 as the company was laying what would become the groundwork for the AI PC: The Intel® Core™ Ultra, Intel’s first PC platform that contained a built-in NPU.

The rest is shaping up to be history in the making.

AI PCs Were Front and Centre at the MWC 2024 in Spain

Unsurprisingly, AI PCs were among the biggest stars in the Mobile World Congress (MWC) 2024 held in Barcelona, Spain, from the 26th to the 29th of February, as Intel and its partners—Dell, Lenovo, and Acer, to name just three—unveiled in varying designs and hardware capacities.

From the 7350 and 7450 Ultralight by Dell to the T16 Gen 3 and T14s by Lenovo to the Book4 Series by Samsung, the new devices announced at MWC 2024 are undeniable proof that AI PCs are set to be part of the next AI wave, one that will supposedly bring this game changing tech right at the very edge that is the end-user—you. As Intel describes it, “AI is for everyone,” and AI PCs are supposed to ensure that.

Intel, of course, is at the forefront of this AI PC boom, unveiling at MWC 2024 its all-new, all-powerful Intel vPro® platform that is under the hood of most of the AI PCs announced in Barcelona. And, with hardware and software now being designed with AI firmly in mind, expect the lineup of NPU-enabled PCs and laptops to have new additions at fast intervals within this year and the next.

″[The market for] AI PCs is going to continue to expand,” Victor Peng, President at AMD, told CNBC early this year as AMD continued its deep-dive into the AI PC market. “AI is going to continue to be very big this year and beyond. I mean, as large as the opportunities already are, we’re still in the early innings of AI.”

Indeed, we are in the formative stage of the AI PC at the moment, and that begs the question: Do you need one?

Cop or Drop? Should You Get an AI PC?

It is easy to fall for the narrative around the AI PC bringing AI to everyone. What the narrative conveniently leaves off is that AI is already accessible to everyone, even sans an AI PC—whether it is ChatGPT, Gemini, Bard, or enterprise use cases of Vertex AI and more.

The truth is, this narrative around AI PC is typical big tech rhetoric, where those with the biggest stakes hype up their latest tech, similar to how gaming companies bet big on Virtual Reality (VR) many years ago and how Meta tried—and failed—to be the face of the metaverse just recently.

And, as in the case of VR and the metaverse, behind the bold proclamations and the big words being thrown around by Intel, AMD, and their brethren is a harsh truth: We don’t need AI PCs. At least not their current iterations just yet.

Sure, it would be cool to have built-in AI enhance your video and audio calls, but doesn’t Zoom or Microsoft Teams do that already? Working with an AI assistant, like Microsoft Copilot, would be nice as well, but you can already do that with a regular laptop running Windows 11 that is connected to the Internet.

The larger point here is that there is nothing today’s AI PCs can do that you cannot already do with your regular PC and Internet connection. It does not help that practically all software and apps—Adobe, Office 365, and ChatGPT, for instance—all run their AI via the cloud, essentially making AI PCs a duplication of what is actually an established working model already.

In other words, you probably don’t need an AI PC right now—especially if your current PC has good enough specs, like a dedicated GPU, at least 8GB of RAM, and a decent-power CPU. But that is not to say AI PCs are all hype because we are in the age of AI, after all, and it may someday make sense to have AI-ready PCs at your fingertips.

That time is not now—at least not yet. But if you are replacing your PC anyway or are scheduled to buy a new one, then it wouldn’t hurt to go for an AI PC. We’d even say go for it! It is not yet a necessity by any means, but it is a nice-to-have.