Nvidia Max-Q hands-on review

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Nvidia Max-Q hands-on review – TAIWAN: GPU GIANT Nvidia unveiled a new chip architecture at Computex in Taipei on Tuesday, claiming to revolutionise the gaming laptop forever thanks to a new design approach that it says will make such devices 3x thinner and 3x more powerful than previous models.

Called Max-Q, the new design architecture boasts optimisations to the firm’s Pascal architecture, which will see GPUs such as the GeForce GTX 1080 fit inside gaming laptops and will apparently be available to buy later next month.

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A bunch of manufacturers have already been confirmed to build them, including Asus, which has already been showing the fresNvidiaia gaming set up on the Computex show floor with its brand new ROG Zephyrus gaming laptop. Luckily, we were in town to get an exclusive look and play with the device to see how Nvidia’s latest design architecture fares in real life.

Max-Q powered laptop design
When it announced the Max-Q architecture on Tuesday, Nvidia said that everything in the design is precision-engineered – including the laptop, the GPU, the drivers, and the thermal and electrical components – to ensure peak efficiency.

“The results: a high-performance gaming platform, that is as small as 18mm thick — as thin as a MacBook Air — with up to 70 percent more gaming performance than what is currently available,” the firm said.

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This is especially evident in the Asus ROG Zephyrus gaming laptop. Compared to rival manufacturer’s gaming laptops, the Zephyrus is especially slimline, measuring 16.9mm thick. It’s also quite lightweight considering it’s a beast of a gaming laptop. So much so that you can pick it up with one hand and your wrists don’t feel like they will snap under the weight. It’s not crazy light though. It’s still just over 2kg. Not something you’d want to carry around on your back all day.

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Graphics performance
The Asus ROG Zephyrus we tested was powered by an 7th-gen Intel Core i7 CPU with 24GB of RAM and an Nvidia GeForce GTX 1080 card. But, according to Nvidia, because these graphic are based on its new Max-Q architecture, it uses half the power as the exact same chip in a standard non-Max-Q, bulky gaming laptop. However, the GPU firm says it should achieve about 90 perc ent of the performance in this new thin and light design. This was not at all noticeable in our hands on tests. General gaming performance was smooth, responsive and impressively detailed, with impressive frame rate performance.

Nvidia also announced that it has tuned its Game Ready drivers in the Maq-Q to “deliver optimal system efficiency and a great gaming experience”.

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In a bid to make gaming laptops quieter, the Max-Q also features a new WhisperMode technology that paces the game’s frame rate while simultaneously configuring the graphics settings for optimal power efficiency, which in turn reduces the noise that gaming laptops make. On the busy show floor, it was difficult to hear how quiet the Asus ROG Zephyrus gaming laptop really was, but holding it up to our ear, we didn’t notice any loud fan noise specifically.

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It’s also worth noting that Max-Q designed laptops also support the entire GeForce gaming platform, which includes the latest gaming technologies, Game Ready drivers, Nvdia G-Sync display technology, VR, and 4K gaming. This is not something we were able to try out on the show floor, unfortunately.

First impressions
Nvidia’s new Max-Q achives something that should have been done a long time ago: making bulky and fugly gaming laptops sexier, slimmer and less embarrassing to own, while retaining most of the graphical performance of the bulkier counterparts. The gaming industry should therefore welcome Max-Q with open arms, and by the looks of the list of manufactures that have signed up – as well as the likes of big players like Asus already showing off the tech in its latest flagship devices – this looks highly likely. It’s for sure a revolutionary piece of chip tech for gamers that will bring better portability to a niche but highly successful market.

The gaming industry should therefore welcome Max-Q with open arms, and by the looks of the list of manufactures that have signed up – as well as the likes of big players like Asus already showing off the tech in its latest flagship devices – this looks highly likely. It’s for sure a revolutionary piece of chip tech for gamers that will bring better portability to a niche but highly successful market.

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Availability
When it is launched on 27 June this year, the Max-Q will power a bunch of laptops with Nvidia’s GeForce GTX cards, comprising: the GTX 1080, GTX 1070 or GTX 1060. The architecture will be featured in the devices of a bunch of laptop manufacturers, including: Acer, Aftershock, Alienware, ASUS, Clevo, Dream Machine, ECT, Gigabyte, Hasee, HP, LDLC, Lenovo. µ

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