If some recent rumors are to be believed, high-end gaming notebooks are poised to get a serious dose of graphics horsepower later this year when Nvidia's powerful GTX 990M hits the streets by September.
The origin of the rumor is Chinese manufacturer Hasee -- specifically their CEO Wu Haijun -- who revealed the mobile graphics card during a company livestream. Not only did he out the GPU, he also hinted that the GTX 990M would be capable of delivering graphics eye candy equivalent to GTX 980 SLI. Yep, as much as a pair of Nvidia's current flagship mobile cards.
How does a 980M SLI configuration perform? Look no further than the mechanical-keyboard-packing, dual-GPU MSI GT80. In my internal testing, it absolutely chews through demanding games at 1080p. Here are some of those results:
- Battlefield 4 (Ultra) = 100fps
- Middle Earth: Shadow of Mordor (Ultra) = 82fps
- Tomb Raider (Ultimate) = 109fps
- Alien Isolation (Ultra) = 160fps
- Metro Last Light Redux (Very High, Tessellation Very High, Advanced PhysX) = 93fps
Beyond the Chinese to English transcription of the livestream, NotebookCheck claims knowledge from multiple industry sources, all claiming that the 990M is designated with the codename "N16E-GXX." Further, it will boast Maxwell GM204 architecture. That's right, Nvidia's desktop GTX 980. Bolstering the reliability of this rumor is an entry named "Nvidia E-GXX" in the latest GeForce drivers according to LaptopVideo2Go.
It gets even more fascinating, as the chip's TDP (Thermal Design Power) is allegedly variable, ranging from 100W to 185+W. What does that mean to you? It means notebook manufacturers like Clevo and MSI have some flexibility on how to integrate the 990M, specifically with consideration for their cooling solutions. Those of you intimately familiar with the notebook gaming scene don't need me to tell you this, but a mobile GPU with 185W presents some thermal challenges, to say the least. And you can probably kiss any dreams of remotely decent battery life goodbye.
All things considered, would we enthusiastically take a mobile Nvidia GPU packing the performance punch of a desktop GTX 980? Sure, and let's pair that with an Intel Xeon processor while we're at it!
The only bad news we can glean from this batch of rumors reinforces the permanence of a laptop purchase: The 990M would be soldered onto the system's motherboard. But note that for a mobile GPU to be considered part of the MXM platform (mobile PCI-Express), it needs to consume 100W or less.
It's a fascinating rumor to ponder, and with Nvidia practically owning the entirety of the dedicated GPU notebook segment, we no reason this couldn't be at least moderately successful, especially for folks looking for a beefy desktop replacement.
We reached out to Nvidia PR man Bryan Del Rizzo prior to publishing this story, who reinforced Nvidia's position of not commenting on rumors.