In the past, laptop manufacturers have used cut down versions of desktop graphics cards to power their “gaming” edition notebooks. These chips, adding an ‘M’ at the end of the product title, had a much lower power output than their desktop counterparts, clocking a decent amount slower as a result. Last year, NVIDIA began shipping full GTX 900 series chips in some of the beefier gaming laptops on the market, and while they provided a significant performance boost over their “Mobile” edition counterparts, they had some intense drawbacks as well, including lackluster power efficiency and less than ideal form factors.
Many of these drawbacks are about to disappear however, as NVIDIA have just announced a slew of new 1000 series chipsets which drop the aforementioned “M” to create significantly upgraded laptop graphics performance.
The incredible thing about the new line is that they essentially match their desktop counterparts in terms of performance. The reason they can do this is that they are actually fully fledged 1000 series chips, and aren’t actually cut down at all. In fact, the GTX 1070 chip that is included in these notebooks actually has more CUDA cores than its desktop counterpart, though it is clocked slightly lower to achieve essentially the same performance.
This is all possible because of the incredible power efficiency of the new Pascal architecture. Though NVIDIA’s last generation “Maxwell” architecture was dubbed the efficiency king by many at the time, Pascal takes that one step further, pulling an incredibly modest 75 watts from the laptop’s battery on the GTX 1060. This power efficiency also allows these chips to be placed into slim profile notebooks such as the Razer Blade, which is releasing an updated model to showcase the tech in the near future.
Laptops showcasing the GTX 1070 and 1080 will maintain their more traditional beefy “gaming laptop” styles to provide adequate cooling for the graphics cards. Companies like MSI and Asus have refreshed a number of their products to include the new chips, and many are available to order now. We should see a slew of new updates being announced over the next couple of weeks, so if you have ever dreamed of getting intense desktop class gaming on a notebook, this could finally be your opportunity.
Coming along with the new graphics available to mobile consumers are the refreshed possibilities of screen resolution and refresh rate. We’ve seen 4k screens present in laptops in the past, but they were not able to be pushed very hard due to the graphics cards powering them. Now, some of these cards are able to get a much higher refresh rate on these screens, closing in on the glorious 60hz sweet spot. Additionally, many laptops can now implement 120hz screens, meaning it can be possible to get buttery smooth performance on some older titles at 2k. This is awesome for fans of first person shooters such as CS: GO, where every frame can mean the difference between winning and losing.
Another huge thing to consider with the release of these cards is the potential that it has for virtual reality applications. The GTX 1060 has been known as one of the ultimate entry level VR graphics cards since it launched not long ago, and including it in portable notebooks creates a scenario where once could potentially bring around their entire virtual reality setup in a backpack. We’ve previously seen some interesting “VR Backpack” concepts from the likes of HP and a couple of others, but these used full desktop class graphics cards in a beefy chassis, and are likely to never see the light of day due to NVIDIA’s recent announcement.
While “Gaming” laptops have traditionally been seen as overpriced and gimmicky due to their cut down graphics performance, this could be about to change for good. Almost every game tested on the new skews have performed within around 5% of their desktop counterpart, which could usher in a new generation of viability for mobile graphics applications. Check out the specs and benchmarks done by the guys over at PC Perspective:
Are you as hyped as we are?