In a thinly veiled branding exercise, graphics card maker Nvidia has unveiled “Max-Q,” a series of thin and light gaming notebooks. Much like Intel’s Ultrabook initiative, Nvidia is hoping that Max-Q will encourage laptop makers to create gaming laptops that can actually be used on the go, rather than remain permanently tethered to a wall socket, because humanity’s best scientists haven’t yet created a battery-sized fusion power cell.
To that end, Max-Q (a co-opted NASA term that defines the point at which the aerodynamic stress on a rocket in atmospheric flight is maximised) has some recommended physical specs. Those include a thickness of 18mm and a weight of 2.3kg—a significant reduction over the 51mm and 4.5kg of GTX 880M-era laptops. Naturally, Max-Q laptops sport one of Nvidia’s desktop-class graphics cards, which include the GTX 1060, GTX 1070, and GTX 1080.
Fan noise, a perpetual problem for gaming laptops, is kept low by a new feature dubbed WhisperMode. WhisperMode dynamically changes the game’s frame rate, while simultaneously tweaking the graphics settings in order to save GPU resources. While Nvidia is yet to reveal the technical details behind WhisperMode, it sounds an awful lot like AMD’s Radeon Chill feature, which lowers the frame rate during less action-orientated scenes in order to save power.
What isn’t part of Max-Q are battery life recommendations. Gaming laptops are notorious for having terrible battery life. While more efficient CPUs and GPUs have helped increase battery life over the past few years, slim Max-Q designs leave even less room for a battery.
Perhaps the oddest part of Nvidia’s Max-Q announcement were comparisons to games consoles. While running a live demo of Project Cars 2, Nvidia CEO Jensen Huang claimed that a GTX 1080 Asus laptop is 60 percent faster than a PlayStation 4 Pro. While the performance is certainly better, Huang failed to mention the price of the Max-Q laptop. Currently, a GTX 1080 laptop costs at least £2,000; a PS4 Pro costs a mere £335.
Max-Q gaming laptops will be available starting June 27. Partners include Acer, Alienware, Asus, Clevo, Dream Machine, ECT, Gigabyte, Hasee, HP, LDLC, Lenovo, Maingear, MSI, Multicom, Origin PC, PC Specialist, Sager, and Scan.
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