Gaming laptops have always been a mysterious idea to me. They’re never quite up there with desktop performance, they cost nearly twice as much and often can’t actually function as a laptop if you want to play proper games. They’re bulky, battery chomping, monstrous pieces of over-priced tech, but they have a niche market for those looking for mobile gaming stations for travel, expos and few other situations. If you’re in that market, well then today is your day.
Nvidia has revealed a brand new mobile chip that really shouldn’t be possibly mobile at all. Forgetting all naming conventions, the new GTX 980 chip for beefy laptops is exactly what it suggests – it’s the exact same flagship card that you can buy for your desktop, complete with all the performance you expect from it. That means you’re getting 2048 CUDA cores, 128 texture mapping units and 64 raster operation units, all inside a mobile device.
Couple that with the standard clock speed of 1126 MHz base and 1218 MHz boost clock, unlocked Skylake processors and a staggering 8GB of GDDR5 memory over a 356-bit wide bus, and you’ve got a mobile laptop that delivers near identical performance to some of the strongest desktops out there – if not more.
Eurogamer has already had the chance to mess around with a 980 equipped laptop, and it manages to stick right on par with a desktop version. Testing Metro: Last Light, Tomb Raider and Shadow of Mordor, the two were always within a frame or two of each other – with the laptop sometimes coming out on top. Futuremark’s FireStrike tests showed similar results, with the unlocked Skylake processors in supported laptops driving the physics calculation way, way up.
But that’s also the thing – these aren’t your normal type of laptops. Hell, they’re not even regular gaming laptops. Just look at the ASUS GX700, one of many supported devices alongsidemodels from MSI, AORUS and more. The GX700 has an optional water-cooler that you can attach to the laptop on a desk, which will be a requirement if you hope to suck out more juice from the card while overclocking. Desktop cards are big for a reason, and these supporting laptops will have to compensate to deal with the ridiculous amount of heat they will generate.
And that’s where you’re going to have to ask yourself – how much do I really need mobile gaming? For those on a plane every other day or the few of your not wanting a massive tower at your desk, sure. These fully powered laptops are a suitable, albeit expensive solution, even allowing upgradable configurations that include SLI setups (no jokes). It’s great to see Nvidia finally not force people to compromise on desktop performance, but you should think long and hard about why you want one before taking the plunge.
Last Updated: September 23, 2015