NVIDIA Announces GeForce GTX 980 GPU For High-End Gaming Notebooks

NVIDIA’s power-efficient Maxwell GPU architecture is a perfect fit for the notebook market, as evidenced by the slew of strong products up and down the company’s mobile GPU line-up. But today NVIDIA is taking things is a slightly different direction at the ultra-high-end, and introducing a “new” mobile GPU, that’s not really a mobile part—the GeForce GTX 980.

Notice, there’s no “M” on the end of that model number. NVIDIA is betting that the enthusiasts which are most likely to buy a notebook with a GeForce GTX 980 in it are savvy enough to understand the difference.

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Through some careful binning and optimizations of the components that accompany the GPU, including the memory, voltage regulation module, and PCB, NVIDIA was able to take the full desktop GeForce GTX 980 GPU (GM204) and cram it into mobile form factors.

The mobile flavor of the GeForce GTX 980 features selectively binned GPUs that are able to achieve high frequencies at lower-than-typical voltages. And those GPUs are paired to 7Gbps GDDR5 memory and heatsinks / coolers with up to 2X the cooling capacity of typical solutions. Powering the setup are 4 – 8 phase voltage regulation modules that can offer roughly 50% higher power than the components used on many other mobile GPUs. The number of phases in the power circuitry is selected by the individual vendor, but to meet the reference spec, a GeForce GTX 980 equipped notebook must have at least 4 phases.

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A handful of other firsts are coming to gaming notebooks thanks to the GeForce GTX 980 as well. Notebooks powered by this GPU will be unlocked, and fully overclockable. And they’ll also offer users the ability to alter fan curves. Notebook manufacturers will offer customized software for GPU overclocking, and some will even have simple buttons for "one-touch" boosting of clocks / fan speeds, but popular tools like Precision X or Afterburner should work as well.

The performance of the GeForce GTX 980 will also allow notebooks powered by the GPU to push multiple screens or power VR gear. We actually got to see a GTX 980-powered Clevo notebook in action, connected to a trio of 1080P monitors, running GTA V at buttery-smooth framerates. The same notebook, which also featured a Core i7-6700K processor, churned through the 3DMark Fire Strike benchmark and put up a score north of 6300, which was actually a bit higher than a Core i7-4790K based desktop system with a fill-sized GeForce GTX 980 inside.

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GeForce GTX 980-powered notebooks are coming down the pipeline from a number of manufacturers, including Gigabyte / AORUS, ASUS, MSI, and Clevo. Some of the machines will offer G-SYNC compatible displays, and one will even have SLI, namely the revamped MSI GT80. The MSI GT80 is an absolute monster of a mobile-PC, and packs in a mechanical keyboard and 18.4” display.

Expect notebooks featuring the GeForce GTX 980 to arrive in the next few weeks.