Don’t buy an AI PC. Pay for Gen AI apps instead.

Generative AI has real benefits for everyone, but you don’t need to buy a new laptop to enjoy them. Just use the laptop you have, and spend money on Gen AI app subscriptions instead.

There’s been a lot of “AI PC” hype by Microsoft, Qualcomm and laptop makers, but consumers are not going wild. Why?

1. Your current PC or Macbook already lets you use AI…in the cloud.

We use our devices to access AI apps that are in the cloud (ChatGPT, Midjourney, Claude etc). The amount of computing power and data storage required to answer your query in ChatGPT is beyond what our laptops can handle.

2. There are no killer Gen AI apps for your laptop (yet).

Research firm IDC says that only 3 per cent of PCs shipped this year will meet Microsoft’s processing power threshold to be considered an AI PC. Even then, there aren’t any killer Gen AI apps that those AI PCs can run well locally.

The two most common examples trotted out are Whisper AI (audio transcription) and Stable Diffusion (image generation). I use Whisper regularly but not everyone does the communication work I do.

I used to be a Stable Diffusion enthusiast, but you need a beefy gaming PC with an Nvidia RTX graphics processor to run it at acceptable speeds. Even then, Adobe’s online Firefly app has far surpassed Stable Diffusion’s usability.

What Microsoft needs to offer people are practical solutions like “Gen AI will do all your Powerpoint slides”. That’s what people often ask for in my Gen AI workshops.

3. Qualcomm Snapdragon laptops may not run your critical Windows software.

I’m pretty keen to buy a Copilot PC powered by Qualcomm’s new Snapdragon X Elite chip because of better battery life. However, the dealbreaker is full compatibility with Windows apps. For example, Google Drive does not yet work on these PCs.

So, which laptop to buy?

You want all-day battery life: Get a MacBook. Or just bring your laptop charger with you.

You want to do local AI processing: Get a Windows gaming laptop with an Nvidia graphics processor (GPU) like an RTX 4060. That’s a true “AI PC”, and it lets you play all the best PC games too.

You want powerful Gen AI capabilities: Pay for an online subscription to ChatGPT, Midjourney, Adobe CC, Claude and so on, according to your needs.