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What is NVIDIA Max-Q and what does it bring?

Recently, as part of their Computex keynote, NVIDIA announced a new initiative to design high-end gaming laptops. Nicknamed NVIDIA Max-Q, the company is pursuing the ultrabook concept and merging it with gaming-quality laptops. The goal is to work with partners and build high-performance systems that deliver desktop-level performance with the look and feel of ultrabooks. In other words, you can enjoy lag-free gaming on your slim profile laptop. But how is it actually achieved? If you are confused by the same question, read on as we discuss what NVIDIA Max-Q is and what you wear:

What is NVIDIA Max-Q?

NVIDIA Max-Q NVIDIA's technological advancement in the field of gaming laptops, which enables a lean gaming platform with support for powerful NVIDIA GPUs . Max-Q uses an innovative design approach that helps in creating laptops up to 18mm while being equipped with desktop graphics from GeForce GTX 1060, 1070 or 1080 GPUs. Compared to laptops of similar size, Max-Q offers up to 70% of increased gaming performance. It also allows us to play 4K 60fps on a thin and light laptop, which many considered to be a dream for years.

The name Max-Q derives from the aerospace industry. In the aerospace world, Max-Q referred to as the point where the aerodynamic effort on the nacelle is the highest. Everything therefore designed around Max-Q, for the hardest condition that spacecraft encounter. In the world of thin laptops, the main challenges come from creating a laptop with space and weight limitations, while trying to keep performance at its peak. Not to mention the fact that thermal and electrical limitations add to making the task more difficult, which often results in a lack of performance. The NVIDIA Max-Q design, on the other hand, helps allow notebooks with thin casino games to operate at their own maximum efficiency to offer maximum performance. Max-Q technology allows OEMs to design thin gaming laptops up to 18mm with the energy efficiency and performance of the GeForce GTX 1080.

How does Max-Q work?

Slim laptops come with challenges that revolve around power consumption while working within space and weight limits. As a result, these laptops are unable to reach their full potential. You may have noticed that most laptops or thin ultrabooks don't even have a dedicated cooling fan. Instead, they simply design the laptop to facilitate cooling. In addition, in all GPUs, the performance increases significantly with increasing power, but the improvement begins to decrease once the upper limits of the GPU are reached. Precisely in this state, the increase in energy consumption also requires larger cooling solutions and faster and stronger fans. Hence, the need for a large, bulky chassis and audible cooling solutions is prominent in the current generation of high-performance laptops.

Having understood the design concept, NVIDIA and the OEMs realized new chassis and innovative cooling systems, with a new thought and engineering. Max-Q laptops, on the other hand, aim at the moment of maximum efficiency and therefore are able to avoid all these problems. The NVIDIA Max-Q design allows laptops to maintain a meeting point between power and performance, allowing the GPU to consume less energy. As a result, there is less heat emitted, which allows the system to operate with a lower system, thus reducing the need for the fans to spin a lot, resulting in a much quieter system.

As a result, these new Max-Q laptops have the perfect balance between performance, power consumption and noise, with a time until 70% faster compared to similar-sized laptops. They fit most bags, won't break your back and offer a much better experience than previous generation laptops.

WhisperMode technology

WhisperMode technology is part of the NVIDIA GeForce Experience, which aims to reduce sound pressure levels by up to 50% . Technically, WhisperMode mitigates the noise of the fans in the system by making use of Intelligent Frame Pacing (IFP). Optimize your application by applying energy-efficient graphics settings and frame rate with intelligent rhythm. The end result is an excellent balance between acoustics, graphic details and performance, thus offering a better gaming experience for the user.

Where you compromise yourself

All good things come at a price and you can't just lower energy consumption for a GPU just like that. As mentioned earlier, Max-Q technology focuses on GPU performance peaks. Therefore, in order to reduce energy consumption, the company has decided to limit the limits of peak performance GPUs. For example, a typical GeForce GTX 1080 laptop has a base clock speed of 1.556 MHz with an incremental clock speed of 1.733 MHz. Comparatively, a GeForce GTX 1080 laptop with Max-Q technology allows a base clock speed of 1.101 MHz at 1,290 MHz and clock boost speeds are limited to 1,287 MHz at 1,468 MHz, depending on the laptop's design. In a nutshell, you notice a 15% -28% difference in clock speed.

Except for the limited clock speeds, everything else on the GPU is the same. L' architecture remains the same and you have the same number of CUDA cores, the same amount of VRAM as a standard NVIDIA GeForce 10-series desktop GPU.

GTX 1080 GTX 1070 GTX 1060
Core CUDA 2560 2048 1280
Core Clock 1101 – 1290 MHz 1101 – 1215 MHz 1063 – 1265 MHz
Turn up the clock 1278 – 1468 MHz 1265 – 1379 MHz 1341 – 1480 MHz
Memory Clock 10 Gbps GDDR5X 8 Gbps GDDR5 8 Gbps GDDR5
Memory bus width 256-bit 256-bit 192 bits
Max-Q TDP 90 – 110W 80 – 90W 60 – 70W
Full Perf TDP 150W 115W 80W
GPU GP104 GP104 GP106
Productive process TSMC 16nm TSMC 16nm TSMC 16nm


While it all sounds good on paper, low clock speeds tend to downgrade GPU performance. We ran a couple of benchmarks, comparing MSI GT73VR (GTX 1080) with ASUS ROG GX501 (GTX 1080 with NVIDIA Max-Q) and Alienware 15 R4 (GTX 1070), to compare the performance of the 3 GPUs.

  • 3DMark FireStrike Extreme

NVIDIA Max-Q 3DMark: higher better

On the 3DMark FireStrike benchmark, the GTX 1080 Max-Q scores better than the GTX 1070 on the Alienware 15 R4 but widely outperformed by MSI's GTX 1080 . While the difference in score is rather high, it is worth noting that the benchmarks push the GPU to its maximum clock speeds, where Max-Q technology is already limited.

NVIDIA Max-Q Gaming FPS: Higher Better

As for gaming performance, the GTX 1080 with Max-Q behaves more like a GTX 1075 (if any), comfortably seated between the GTX 1080 and the GTX 1070.

NVIDIA Max-Q CineBench: higher better

The Cinebench R15 benchmark focuses primarily on the CPU and uses the GPU for acceleration. As such, the ROG is located next to Alienware 15 R4, thanks architecture of the seventh Kaby Lake on them, surpassing the MSI with its sixth generation architecture.

Which laptops currently support Max-Q?

Since NVIDIA Max-Q requires careful design with a partnership with NVIDIA, currently only a handful gaming laptops support this technology. Some of these are Asus ROG Zephyrus, Acer Predator Triton 700, MSI GS63 Stealth Pro, Aorus X5 MD and Clevo P950HR.

However, we can expect to see more high-end laptops to switch to NVIDIA Max-Q technology, as it allows laptops to function as a laptop and not as a heavy desktop replacement. Note that NVIDIA Max-Q technology supports only GeForce GTX 1060, 1070 and 1080.

Turn on your gaming laptop with NVIDIA Max-Q

Gaming laptops are preferred by many people who like to play on the go. Unfortunately, the current laptop series falls into the heavyweight category, acting more like a desktop replacement. Fortunately, NVIDIA Max-Q technology here, to finally make gaming laptops available again. Tell us what you think of NVIDIA Max-Q and on which laptop you would like to see it in the comments section below.