China Is Repurposing GeForce RTX 4090M, 4080M Laptop GPUs Into Desktop Cards

NVIDIA's GeForce RTX 4090 GPU has been in very high demand since release, thanks to its flagship gaming prowess and AI capabilities. This has resulted in various restrictions on the part of the U.S Government when it concerns exports to the Chinese market of certain powerful products, such as the GeForce RTX 4090 itself. Shortages and price increases ensue, needing some other creative solutions to fill the gap. 

Leave it to enterprising companies to find even these unorthodox solutions to battle the lack of GPUs, with cheaper pricing as a benefit. VideoCardz has reported that laptop GPUs such as the GeForce RTX 4080M and GeForce RTX 4090M are being transplanted into desktop GPUs for sale in the Chinese market. There are many issues to be aware of, however, in this wild-wild west of silicon tweaking.  

These reconfigured GPUs are not condoned by NVIDIA, thus potentially putting buyers into uncharted warranty territory with no coverage. These GPUs do have some benefits, however, especially with efficiency.  While powerful within their mobile gaming framework, a GPU such as the GeForce RTX 4090M is significantly slower than a true desktop GeForce RTX 4090 GPU. 

The desktop GeForce RTX 4090 uses the AD102 GPU, while the mobile variant uses the AD103GPU. The biggest differences are found in less CUDA cores, and 16GB of VRAM versus the 24GB VRAM found in its desktop counterpart. 

Source: VideoCardz and GooFish

While performance is expected to be much lower with these mobile GPUs, there are benefits to this approach. Power draw is also significantly less, since these GPUs typically slot into laptops with power limits around 175 watts for graphics. This will mean that when transplanted to a desktop card, a competent and modest air cooler should be sufficient to keep the product thermally under control. 

If one compares the large air coolers found on the 450 watt full-fat GeForce RTX 4090 GPUs, the size difference is significant. The GeForce RTX 4080M, with its 12GB of VRAM, is also making appearances in this format. While not as powerful as its desktop version, the same logic applies here as to the RTX 4090. 

The 3DMark Timespy score shared by GooFish will be much lower than a desktop GeForce RTX 4080, perhaps falling closer in the upper range of a desktop GeForce RTX 4070. 

While it is impressive how these laptop GPUs can be turned into desktop parts, the real-world application of this process is likely filled with obstacles. Aside from lack of warranty support from NVIDIA, users may also run into driver and software issues since these GPUs are being used out of their intended habitat. Modded drivers and more mysterious tweaks may make some weary of using these GPUs if other options are available.