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Nvidia unveils tech that could turn any MacBook into a gaming machine

Published May 30th, 2017 10:44AM EDT
MacBook Gaming Nvidia Max-Q Tech
Image: Apple

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Laptops aren’t what you’d call gaming-friendly devices, especially Apple’s MacBooks. Not even the MacBook Pros can handle the graphic requirements of the best games out there. And while you can buy a laptop made for gaming, these devices won’t also feature the same slim design you’d be looking for in a laptop. But this week, Nvidia has unveiled technology that will allow device makers to include GTX 1080 GPUs without sacrificing design. In theory, Nvidia’s Max-Q tech would let even Apple add gaming capabilities to the MacBook Pro.

In practice, that’s a bit harder for a company that wants to control everything. To make slim laptops run Max-Q GTX 1080 cards, manufacturers will have to work closely with Nvidia on design. There are certain thermal and audio requirements these ultra-thin laptops would have to meet.

Max-Q is a software solution, The Verge explains. With Max-Q, GTX 1080 cards will consume half the power they normally would, which means Nvidia can achieve 90% of the standard performance you’d find on a desktop with a GTX 1080 card in a lighter, slimmer device.

Laptop makers are already announcing Max-Q designs at Computex, and the Asus Zephyrus is one such creation. The device is just 17.9mm thick and features a GTX 1080 GPU, a 120GHz G-Sync monitor, and fans that run at below 39dBA. For comparison purposes, the MacBook Pro is 14.9mm thick.

The Zephyrus features a bidirectional thermal system on the edges and above the keyboard. Furthermore, the back of the laptop widens when you open the lid to allow extra airflow.

The first Max-Q designs are supposed to ship this June but don’t hold your breath for any MacBook to adopt it. We’ll probably have to wait a while longer for MacBooks to deliver a great gaming experience. At least you can still connect external desktop GPUs to your MacBook to enhance your gaming experience until that happens.

Chris Smith Senior Writer

Chris Smith has been covering consumer electronics ever since the iPhone revolutionized the industry in 2008. When he’s not writing about the most recent tech news for BGR, he brings his entertainment expertise to Marvel’s Cinematic Universe and other blockbuster franchises.

Outside of work, you’ll catch him streaming almost every new movie and TV show release as soon as it's available.