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Nvidia launches mobile Pascal, drops desktop-class hardware into mobile form factors

Nvidia launched its new mobile Pascal hardware today — and with a twist. Several months ago, we covered rumors that the company would use its standard desktop hardware in laptops rather than creating an entirely separate mobile product line. Turns out, that’s exactly what the company did.

The new GTX 1080, 1070, and 1060 for laptops are almost identically specced to their desktop counterparts. The GTX 1080 is identical, with 2560 cores in both form factors, while the GTX 1070 actually has slightly more cores than its desktop counterpart (2048 in mobile, 1920 on desktop). The 1060 is 1280 cores in both cases. Core clocks have been trimmed slightly, but RAM loadouts are the same — 8GB of GDDR5X on the 1080, 8GB of GDDR5 on the 1070, and 6GB of GDDR5 on the 1060.

What’s most striking about these performance targets is that the TDP on Nvidia’s Pascal family is still quite high by laptop standards — 180W for the 1080, 150W for 1070, and 120W for the 1060. We suspect what’s happening here, however, is that Nvidia will use the best-binned parts for its mobile division, similar to what AMD did for the R9 Nano compared to the Fury X. With that chip, we saw how better binning and tighter clock ranges could make a material difference — the Fury X uses about 17% more electricity per frame of animation compared to its smaller cousin and draws 100W more power at the wall.

The other place Nvidia will likely be able to trim power consumption is in its Nvidia Boost 3.0 technology. As we discussed in our 1070 review, the GPU’s boost clock is more of a formality than an actual limitation. Our 1070 held a GPU clock of 1911MHz under sustained load, well above the 1822MHz defined by Gigabyte. If Nvidia trims its boost clocks to more closely resemble stated boost ranges, it could easily knock some additional power consumption off the card.

Even so, GPUs like the 1070 and 1080 will likely be the province of high-end desktop replacements while smaller systems and form factors make do with the 1060. “Make do,” in this case is something of a misnomer, since the desktop 1060 already offers performance similar to the GTX 980.


Nvidia isn’t just launching new hardware — it’s using the debut of mobile Pascal to put a full court press on G-Sync as well. For the first time, G-Sync panels that support 120Hz and 2560×1440 resolutions.

Hot Hardware had the chance to run the platforms through their paces. We recommend reading their coverage for information on how laptops from MSI and Asus perform, but here’s an example from Metro Last Light (not Redux).

The GTX 1070 is a huge leap forward for absolute performance, while the 1060 is still slightly faster than an Alienware system with the desktop-class GTX 980 that Nvidia launched last year. All in all, these figures are extremely positive — but pricing is still a major question and we don’t expect either GPU to come cheap. The fact is, months after launch, the 1080, 1070, and 1060 are all still selling well above their baseline prices. More expensive product bins are never cheaper — that’s why the R9 Nano debuted at $650 last year, even though its performance was more similar to the $500 Fury.

As for AMD’s mobile plans, the company hasn’t shared anything on that front yet. Polaris’ high power consumption relative to Pascal means AMD will likely use a separate mobile spin on its GPUs to reduce power consumption — though the RX 460 is probably enough of a lightweight to squeeze into some mobile form factors through binning. AMD’s best bet is to focus its own chips on the entry level and midrange gaming space, and Nvidia will likely want top dollar for its own Pascal. Historically, NV has owned most of the mobile gaming space these past few years, so any movement for AMD on this front would be positive.

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