NVIDIA is launching its most powerful graphics processors for notebooks. The company says the new GeForce GTX 980M is the fastest notebook GPU ever released — it’s about 40 percent faster than the GTX 880M processor.
The new new GTX 970M is a less powerful processor which still offers performance gains and better energy efficiency than prior-generation models.
The first notebooks featuring the new chips hit the streets this week.
The new GPUs are based on NVIDIA’s Maxwell 28 nanometer architecture. The GTX 980M features 1536 processor cores, a clock speed of 1038 MHz, and support for up to 4GB of GDDR5, 256-bit graphics memory. NVIDIA’s GTX 970M is a 1280-core, 924 MHz model with support for up to 3GB of GDRR5, 192-bit memory.
Among other things, the company says the new chips offer support for high-performance gaming on notebooks with higher-than-1080p displays. Many games will be playable on notebooks with 2560 x 1440 pixel screens, and some games will even be playable on machines with 3840 x 2160 (4K) Ultra HD screens.
NVIDIA is also introducing a new technology called Dynamic Super Resolution which it claims will make games look better on systems with 1920 x 1080 pixel screens. That’s because games can be rendered at higher resolutions and then down-sampled to fit your notebook’s display. This will theoretically result in more detail showing up on your screen.
All that extra graphics processing power could take its toll on battery life… but NVIDIA’s got a strategy for that too. For instance, NVIDIA says the GTX 980M can render Tomb Raider at 69 frames per second or League of Legends at up to 150 frames per second. That’s great when your notebook is plugged in… but when you’re running on battery power, 30 or 35 frames per second might be 8good enough — especially if lower frame rates mean longer battery life.
And they do. An MSI GT72 gaming notebook with NVIDIA’s GTX 980M processor can get up to 55 percent longer battery life by adjusting frame rates and other settings to conserve energy during unplugged gaming sessions.
NVIDIA first unveiled its BatteryBoost software with its GTX 800M series processors, but the company says it’s made big improvements in the last 6 months. Some of the new optimizations will roll out to older chips through a software update, but you’ll get the biggest benefits when you use one of the new GTX 900-series mobile graphics processors.
Still, don’t expect miracles: you’ll only get a few hours of run time from a gaming laptop with one of NVIDIA’s new Maxwell graphics processors, even under the best of circumstances. You also probably shouldn’t expect to see these high-performance chips in tiny laptops anytime soon: most of the first models announced feature 15 inch or 17 inch screens.
Asus, Clevo, MSI, and Gigabyte are among the first companies to offer gaming laptops with NVIDIA GeForce GTX 970M and 980M graphics.