Until now, most gaming laptops have been exercises in excess. To foster playing the latest PC games at high quality settings and with no performance compromise, manufacturers have wedged mobile parts you’d normally use for a desktop PC into a form factor approximating a notebook computing device, pushing CPU and GPU thermal limits and leading to designs that some gamers love, but others find over the top.
In rare cases, manufacturers have made enough compromises to pack lots of power into a thin, light gaming laptop, like we saw with the MSI Stealth Pro. That’s an exception.
In late May, Nvidia announced Max-Q, a reference framework whereby laptop manufacturers can use a more efficient GTX GeForce GPU that requires less cooling muscle and is therefore quieter, slimmer, and lighter. We detailed Max-Q specifics following more in-depth discussions with Nvidia, and we’ve also seen a handful of Max-Q laptops from other manufacturers. Most of those designs have been impressive, although not all of them stick exactly to the size and weight parameters that Nvidia initially outlined; still, all of what we’ve seen so far shows significant progress. Note in our deeper look at the technology that Nvidia is estimating anywhere from 10 to 20% performance loss.
Looked at differently, if a GTX 1080 taps its highest performance potential at 150W, Max-Q will get to within 10 – 20% of that at 90W, which is what Nvidia calls the efficiency peak. You get that 40% power savings for only 20% performance degradation at most, but you also get a quieter, lighter, slimmer gaming notebook. And according to Nvidia, these machines shouldn’t cost more.