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Computers to get faster processors, lower prices at CES 2015

What we expect, from new Intel CPUs to hints of Windows 10, in laptops, tablets, hybrids, and desktops at CES.

The annual Consumer Electronics Show can sometimes be a major showcase for new laptops, desktops and other Windows PCs, but generally only when a major shift in processors or the Windows operating system is due. In other years, PC makers saved their best stuff for the back-to-school or holiday seasons.

With a long-delayed fifth generation of Core i-series chips from Intel due, and Windows 10 starting to filter into the public consciousness, CES 2015 will very likely be a big year for PCs.

A big wave of updates for Intel's Broadwell CPUs

Nearly every PC maker will release new products using the fifth generation of Intel's Core i3/i5/i7 processors, code-named Broadwell. Additionally, many existing product lines will be updated to Broadwell chips. After being pushed back more than once, these new processors are going to be available in shipping products in early 2015, and promise improvements to overall performance (frankly not that important) and battery life (very important).

The first handful of products with Intel's other Broadwell product, the Core M CPU, are already out, but we'll see even more at CES, generally restricted to very thin, very light laptops, hybrids, and tablets being marketed as premium-priced systems.

Higher-resolution screens

Adding genuinely new bullet-point features to laptops is tough, but over the past couple of years we've seen a handful of systems with better-than-1080p displays . Whether 2,560x1,440, 3,200x1,800 or full 4K 3,840x2,160, these higher resolutions are coming to more PCs in 2015, largely targeted at gamers and photo/video professionals.

The slim HP Omen gaming laptop. Sarah Tew/CNET

Gaming get slicker

From the HP Omen to the Razer Blade, gaming laptops are no longer desktop-hogging monsters. More PC makers will follow this trend at CES, releasing products that fit more gaming power into less space. Additionally, 4K monitors, which are great for high-res PC gaming will drop in price, and we'll see immersive ideas, such as curved monitors and virtual-reality headsets for gaming and movie-watching. Expect at least one or two wild-looking gaming PC prototypes, such as the modular Project Christine .

There's a price war going on

Chromebooks started the current race to the bottom of the price barrel with systems diving below $200. Now, Microsoft and PC makers are following suit with systems such as the $199 HP Stream 11 , which offers Windows 8 (plus a year of Office 365) for the same price as many Chrome-OS systems. At CES, look for more low-cost full Windows 8 devices in an attempt to steal back some of Chromebooks' buzz.

An early look at Windows 10.

Windows 10 and beyond

While Windows 8 is still going to be on most of the computers showcased at CES, it's Windows 10 that will really be on everyone's mind. By skipping a version number, Microsoft is clearly putting some major distance between Windows 8 and its successor. The company is hosting its own Windows 10 event later in January, so don't expect to see much of the upcoming OS in person, but it'll certainly be talked about extensively behind closed doors.

Many of the new PC products from CES will be announced starting the weekend before the show, so keep checking our ongoing CES coverage for full details.