Nvidia's New Laptops All Run on Desktop GPUs
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Up until now, gaming laptops with Nvidia graphics cards have largely been equipped with weaker, mobile versions of the company's GPUs. That's completely changing with Nvidia's new GTX 10 series notebooks. Nvidia is doing away with its mobile SKU graphics cards, and is replacing them with desktop GPUs based on the company’s Pascal architecture. This means starting now, Nvidia gaming notebooks will be equipped with desktop GTX 1080, 1070, and 1060 GPUs.
Compared to Nvidia’s older mobile Maxwell-based GPUs (the GTX 980M, 970M, and 960M, respectively), Nvidia claims that the Pascal chips are up to 76 percent faster in 4K, which is a resolution that heavily stresses the graphics card. This also means that Nvidia is positioning some of its new gaming laptops as 4K capable. While it’s likely that only higher-end laptops will be outfitted with 4K panels, Nvidia claims that all of the Pascal laptops revealed here will be VR ready.
Nvidia also asserts that you'll be able to play Overwatch, Mirror's Edge Catalyst, Doom, Rise of the Tomb Raider, and Metro Last Light all maxed out at 1080p with at least 120 fps with a notebook that has a GTX 1080, which is great for laptops with high-refresh-rate panels. Nvidia also asserts that GTX 1080 notebooks will also be able to deliver at least 50 average FPS running most games in 4K on high settings. The company says that it's committed to delivering the "full Pascal experience" on notebooks, which means it will also support HDR, Ansel, Nvidia VRWorks, and more (You can read more about those Pascal features here).
Some tweaks were made to the laptop versions of the Pascal GPUs here to account for the smaller form factors, such as clock speeds and CUDA cores adjustments as you'll see in the chart below, but Nvidia assures us that laptop variants will all run within 10 percent of their desktop counterparts. Nvidia allowed us to run a handful of benchmarks in a closed environment, and our brief preliminary data seems to indicate that the 10 percent figure is quite conservative. We saw occasions in which a beefy laptop with a GTX 1080 coupled with a desktop Intel Core i7-6700 CPU (Yes, some of the bigger desktop replacement style laptops can be outfitted with a desktop CPU) ran on par with our GTX 1080 desktop setup, which is super impressive given the form factor.
Technical specifications for the Pascal family are contained in the chart below.
GTX 1080 (notebook)
GTX 1070 (notebook)
GTX 1060 (notebook)
8GB, 10Gbps (GDDR5X)
8GB, 10Gbps (GDDR5X)
The *asterisks denote GPU change.
As you can see in the chart above, there aren't a ton of changes to the laptop variants. The GTX 1080, 1070, and 1060 all use the same amount and video memory speed, for instance. Both GTX 1080 variants offer the same CUDA cores, boost clock, and memory configuration. The laptop version of the GTX 1070 actually features 128 more CUDA cores, but a slightly slower 38MHz boost clock. The laptop version of the GTX 1060 features the same CUDA core count and memory configuration as its desktop graphics card counterpart, but again features a 38MHz slower boost clock.
Despite being the most powerful GPUs we've ever seen in gaming laptops, Nvidia claims that Pascal is able to deliver up to 30 percent more battery life than equivalent Maxwell-powered notebooks. The company is also pushing a more advanced version of its Battery Boost feature, which the company asserts will deliver a smoother, more consistent frame rate experience.
Another feature Nvidia is pushing this time around is overclocking, which the company has never really aggressively pushed with its gaming laptop GPUs before. Whereas Nvidia says that the 900-series mobile Maxwell GPUs were able to be overclocked by about 80 to a 100MHz, Pascal versions should be able to be overclocked by 200 to 300MHz. In a presentation, Nvidia over-clocked a gaming laptop equipped with a GTX 1080 with a 225MHz GPU core offset. This allowed the card to reach above 2GHz in Doom. For better or worse, however, you can't adjust the overvolting on Pascal notebooks. Nvidia sealed this feature off to prevent users from damaging their laptops.
The company revealed that Pascal-based notebooks would be available from all the big gaming laptop manufacturers such as MSI, Gigabyte, Alienware, Razer and more. Nvidia says that prices for the Pascal laptops will start at $1,300. Click through the picture gallery for more info on each notebook.
Nvidia had one gaming laptop with a GeForce GTX 1080 that the company allowed us to run a handful of benchmarks on. It was a Clevo P775 notebook, which was also equipped with a 4K G-Sync panel and Intel’s Core-i7 6700 desktop CPU.
The pre-installed benchmarks include Shadow of Mordor, BioShock Infinite, and Rise of the Tomb Raider. When we ran Shadow of Mordor on the game’s respective max settings at 4K, it yielded a 59 average FPS, which is exactly what our desktop GTX 1080 got in our review of the graphics card. We also got to run BioShock Infinite on max at 4K, and the laptop generated a 64.2 average FPS, which is just two percent behind our desktop card’s 65.5 average FPS score. Finally, the laptop was also able to get a 117.2 average FPS in Rise of the Tomb Raider running on its “very high” preset with FXAA enabled in DirectX 11 mode. In DX12 mode here, performance went up to 126.6 average FPS.
Nvidia also had an Asus G752 notebook that was armed with a GeForce GTX 1070 GPU for us to run the Metro Last Light benchmark. Here, the laptop achieved a 65 average FPS with the graphically-demanding game maxed out at 1080p. This is four percent shy of our desktop 1080’s performance, which achieved a 67.3 average FPS.
It’s also worth mentioning that the laptop has a 120Hz high-refresh rate G-Sync panel that will allow you to enjoy frame rates above 60FPS.
This laptop here is MSI’s GT73 gaming notebook, which features a 120Hz 1080p G-Sync panel coupled with a GTX 1080 (ignore what the sign says about it being equipped with a 1070). While this particular laptop wasn’t set up for benchmarks, we could play a demo of the upcoming Gears of War 4 on it. This marks the first time that developer The Coalition has shown off a PC build of the game. The game definitively looked like the prettiest version of Gears of War we've seen yet. The textures on the rocks, physics, and lighting all looked top-notch. While we couldn’t enable FRAPS to see frame rate data, the game ran incredibly smooth and we didn’t see any hitches in performance.
Gears of War 4 was also playable in 4K via EVGA’s SC17 laptop. This 17-inch laptop was equipped with a GTX 1070, and unfortunately, didn’t run the game nearly as smoothly at 2160p. It was certainly playable, but we reckon it ran closer to 30 FPS than 60. We’d probably tweak some settings to get it to run more smoothly with a GTX 1070. To be fair, the game is still in development and we could see a performance boost by the time Gears of War 4 launches in October.
Nvidia also showed off a laptop from Razer, simply dubbed the Razer Blade. The notebook uses a GeForce GTX 1060 and shows how thin and light Pascal gaming laptops can be. Nvidia claims that certain Pascal laptops will weigh in at four pounds, which is quite modest for a gaming laptop.
While we couldn’t benchmark the laptop, we could play Overwatch on it with the frame rate counter enabled. Here, we saw the Razer Blade consistently achieve over 90 frames per second with everything maxed out at 1080p. It often got over 100 FPS, too. For reference, when we used FRAPS to record average FPS data on the desktop version of the GTX 1060 graphics card, we saw an average FPS of 103, which makes the two GPUs relatively close.
The one downside here is that while the laptop didn’t get uncomfortably hot (which was a common complaint of older Razer Blade laptops), its fan did run a little loud from our preliminary test.
MSI's GT62 uses a 15.6-inch 1080p G-Sync panel, an Intel Core i7 processor, and a GeForce GTX 1070 GPU.
Asus' GL502 laptop here uses a GTX 1060 GPU and an Nvidia G-Sync panel. While desktop G-Sync monitors need G-Sync modules to enable the GPU's variable refresh rate feature, gaming laptop monitors do not need them.
Here the laptop is showing off Nvidia Ansel, which is a new feature of Pascal that allows you to disable the UI and control the camera to take really high resolution artistic shots of your games (The Witcher 3 is featured here). You can read more about Ansel here.
Acer Predator 15
This Acer Predator 15-inch gaming laptop here features a GeForce GTX 1070 GPU along with a G-Sync panel.
Asus' GL702 notebook features a GeForce GTX 1060, but what makes it somewhat unique is that it features a high 75Hz refresh-rate panel, which pairs well with the capabilities of the GPU.
While the MSI GS63 here features a 4K panel, it's equipped with a GeForce GTX 1060, which is kind of an odd pairing since the GPU really isn't suited for 4K gaming. Regardless, the laptop uses a thin chassis, and Nvidia says that its new notebooks will be as thin as 18mm.
Nvidia was giving VR demos on laptops equipped with GTX 1080, 1070, and 1060 GPUs. Here's the GTX 1060 station, which features MSI's relatively thin GS43 laptop. We played a VR boxing demo with it and had no perceptible issues with frame rate or latency.
While all the laptops here will be VR-ready, you'll have to keep them plugged into the wall to get enough power. Nvidia says that it can't guarantee quality VR performance off of battery since there are other parts of the laptop, like the CPU, that might throttle performance to optimize for battery life.
HP's Omen gaming notebook here represented the GTX 1070 VR station. Here we played VR game Raw Data, and again, noticed no frame rate dips. The laptop also features an optional G-Sync panel.
The last VR station showcased MSI's GT73 laptop, which uses a GTX 1080 GPU. It also features a 120Hz refresh rate panel with an option for G-Sync.