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Nvidia may finally bring desktop-grade graphics to laptops

GTX 1080 Mobile

According to PC Gamer, Nvidia is planning to release versions of its top-end 1000-series graphics cards that will work in gaming laptops. These aren’t some pansy, watered-down “M” version either: they’ll be the same chips as the desktop-grade 1080 and 1070, running at slightly lower power.

In other words, desktop-level graphics performance in a portable, battery-powered device. That would be big.

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There’s currently a huge difference between the desktop and laptop (‘M’) version of Nvidia’s chips. Desktop graphics cards normally draw 200-300 watts of power, take up space, and throw off huge amounts of heat. Because of that, there’s never been a laptop-compatible graphics card that can play with the big boys. Last year, Nvidia tried to get around that by cramming a full-size GTX 980 into 17-inch laptops, but the result wasn’t particularly pretty. Or affordable.

But with the 1000-series, fitting the desktop card into a (slightly thick) laptop is much more plausible. The TDP of the GTX 1080 is just 180W, and the 1070 is 150W. That’s way down from the 250W TDP of the GTX 980, and low enough to fit into a laptop. According to PC Gamer‘s sources, Nvidia will be tweaking voltages and core clock speeds somewhat, most likely to have a lower base clock, but a ‘turbo’ mode capable of boosting up to full power when necessary.

It’s going to be interesting to see the details of this play out. Gaming laptops are mostly a running joke among serious gamers, because you can’t upgrade them, the graphics sucks comparatively, and they get hot enough to fry an egg (or your testicles). Bringing the full-fat desktop cards to laptops would hopefully fix all of that, although the heat problems may still need some work. Water-cooled laptop, anyone?

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