When NVIDIA released its latest Pascal graphics cards for desktop PCs, it signalled a significant jump in outright performance from the previous Maxwell generation, with a completely new architecture offering not only improved frame rates but also much more efficient energy consumption — the critical metric of performance per Watt. NVIDIA has taken that leap further with a new range of 10-series graphics chipsets for gaming laptops, and unlike in previous generations they're not operating at a huge performance disadvantage versus desktops.
NVIDIA says that gaming laptops are the fastest-growing gaming platform at the moment — beating out desktop gaming PCs, which are a niche part of the market, but also massively beating out the install base and sales growth of the Xbox One (29m units, negative 4 per cent sales growth) and out-growing the PlayStation 4 (52m units, 4 per cent sales growth) with a 20 million install base and 30 per cent sales according to numbers supplied to the company by market researcher DFC Intelligence. To that point, NVIDIA says that the laptop is "the ultimate gaming platform" — as well as being portable, it's much more powerful than a current console and has the flexibility of different operating systems and programs on offer.
What it calls a "quantum leap in performance" — the same phrase it used for the desktop launch of the GeForce GTX 1080 — means an average of 1.7x performance (of an average of AAA games running at 4K resolution and Ultra settings) from the newest GTX 10-Series versus their older GTX 900M-series equivalents. It opens up the door for 4K gaming — whether it's on your big-screen 4K TV, or even on new laptop variants like Asus' 18.4-inch 4K ROG GX800.
Importantly, a careful eye will notice that NVIDIA isn't using the -M moniker on its laptop graphics chipsets any more, and that's an important distinction to make. That's because — for all intents and purposes — the same GP104 and GP106 chips are being used in gaming laptops as they are on the company's GTX 1080, GTX 1070 and GTX 1060 desktop graphics add-in boards, with functionally identical specs — the 1080 has 2560 CUDA cores, runs at 1733MHz and has 8GB of 10Gbps GDDR5X memory, while the 1070 has 2048 CUDA cores, runs at 1645MHz and has 8GB of GDDR5 memory, and the lesser GTX 1060 has 1280 CUDA cores, runs at 1670MHz and has 6GB of 8Gbps GDDR5 RAM onboard.
These numbers are all very close to the desktop specs, made possible by the fact that the new 10-Series GeForce GTX chipsets consume much less power in their desktop formats — making them suitable for slotting into appropriately powerful laptop chassis, and boosting battery life by up to 30 per cent versus an equivalent older 900M-series machine in NVIDIA's internal testing. Nvidia is saying that this new generation of laptops is ready for VR, importantly, which opens the door to a new range of wearable VR backpack PCs and portable virtual reality setups.
The GTX 1080 remains at the top of the product line-up and is designed primarily for desktop-replacement gaming machines, while the GTX 1070 is designed to replace the previously-top-spec GTX 980M in larger portable gaming laptops. The GTX 1060 will handily beat a GTX 970M despite consuming less power; in some tests NVIDIA showed the new 10-Series chips producing over 150 per cent the performance of last-generation 900M chips — obviously in tests cherry-picked (with high resolutions and new graphics features) to best show off the Maxwell architecture, but a significant performance jump nonetheless.
New laptops from Aorus include the X3, X3 Plus, X5 and X7 line-up of 13- to 17-inch units, while Lenovo has an updated IdeaPad Y910. Asus's new G701 and G752 offer two different price and performance points, while the thin GL502 is joined by a new, water-cooled, twin-GPU GX800 monster. In Australia, Metabox will have new machines based on Clevo's barebones chassis, while Gigabyte's family of P-series (P35, P37, P55, P57) and thin Aero 14 all have a new NVIDIA refresh. HP's Omen also gets a power update, as does the entire MSI line-up of GS and GT-series laptops — including the massive GT83 Titan. Last up is the Razer Blade and the Acer Predator G9, both of which occupy two opposite points of the spectrum in terms of thin-and-light versus desktop-replacement graphical power. [NVIDIA]