Event Coverage

NVIDIA's Desktop GeForce GTX 980 is coming to notebooks!

NVIDIA GeForce GTX 980 gaming notebooks

This is the initial wave of gaming notebooks to feature an NVIDIA GeForce GTX 980 inside. Expect more to follow after these are out the door.

NVIDIA GeForce GTX 980 gaming notebooks

Right now, NVIDIA has revealed 6 different notebooks that will come with the NVIDIA GeForce GTX 980. It's interesting to note that only the 18.4-inch MSI GT80 is the only machine without a G-Sync display. In case you've forgotten, the MSI GT80 is hands-down the world's most overpowered gaming notebook. It's also the only gaming notebook in the world with a mechanical keyboard, which is also set to return when the new MSI GT80 makes its debut in the next few days or weeks.

Also, since all of the machines are either SLI or G-Sync compatible, none of them are running NVIDIA Optimus, which automatically switches to the CPU's integrated GPU when running on battery power and when non-gaming tasks are performed. Gaurav did say that while Optimus technology is compatible with the NVIDIA GeForce GTX 980 used in notebooks, it's not used in these machines because its incompatible with G-Sync and SLI machines.

There were three NVIDIA GeForce GTX 980 gaming notebooks on display at the event - they were the Aorus X7 DT, MSI GT72,and Clevo P870DM. The baseline system for comparison was the ASUS ROG G20AJ desktop gaming PC.


The Aorus X7 DT was powered by an Intel "Broadwell" Core i7-5700HQ processor and equipped with 16GB of system memory:-

The Aorus X7 DT uses the same chassis as the Aorus X7 Pro, with one major change. It's using the new trackpad found first on the Aorus X5.

The MSI GT72 featured Intel Core i7-6820HK CPU, an overclock-able quad-core mobile Skylake processor with a base clock of 2.70GHz and a Turbo Boost clock speed of 3.70GHz. It was also decked out with 16GB of RAM. Looks familiar?

Unlike the Aorus X7 DT, the MSI GT72 on display looked similar to the MSI GT72S 6QE Dominator Pro G. There wasn't anything new that we noticed.

Specifications of the MSI GT72. Note the overclocking friendly Skylake mobile CPU used and a desktop-class GeForce GTX 980 graphics module.

The last system on dislpay with the new GPU was the most powerful of all as the Clevo P87DM sports an unlocked desktop "Skylake" CPU, the Intel Core i7-6700K! Of course, like the rest of the notebooks, it too had an NVIDIA GeForce GTX 980 graphics module in it.

The Clevo machine will look familiar to fans of Aftershock gaming machines. That's because Clevo is the OEM for their notebooks.

The CPU specifications of the Clevo P870DM.

The Clevo machine also has the cool lights at the back. The MSI and Aorus machines only had lighted logos, which is fairly commonplace.

The ASUS ROG G20AJ desktop system had the unenviable task of being the baseline system for comparison; it was powered by a previous-gen Haswell Intel Core i7-4790 CPU, coupled with 16GB of system memory. Its GPU sub-system was reported as a GeForce GTX 980 with 4GB of GDDR5 video memory, according to its NVIDIA control panel. Take note that its official specifications obtained from the ASUS website stated that the system can be configured to support either the GeForce GTX 970, with 4GB of GDDR5 video memory, or with the GeForce GTX 780, with 3GB of GDDR5 video memory.

The ASUS ROG G20AJ was selected as the desktop baseline.

Specifications of the ASUS ROG G20AJ desktop (baseline)


Game Demos with the GeForce GTX 980 in a notebook

During the 3DMark 2013 benchmark demonstration, the ASUS ROG G20AJ (located on the left) was pit against the Clevo P870DM (on the right). The score of the ROG desktop gaming system was 5887; while the Clevo had the score of 5898. Do bear in mind the Extreme test of the benchmark is usually reserved for systems with multi-GPU configurations or overclocked gaming rigs. The score of the Clevo was slightly higher due to its more high-end specifications, especially its GTX 980 graphics chipset and its updated Skylake desktop CPU. NVIDIA has made its point about experiencing desktop gaming, at high settings, with the notebook form factor.

In the next gaming benchmark Tomb Raider, the Clevo had an average FPS of 91.46 and the baseline desktop, 96.84fps. So this result is typical of the GTX 980-based gaming notebook as NVIDIA has emphasized the empirical results wouldn't be 100% on par with a desktop system; it's inclined to a percentile value of 95%.

This demonstration showcased the ability of the gaming notebook to drive three full HD monitors for an immersive gaming experience. As gamers know, Project Cars is a pretty demanding game, especially so at high settings. The Aorus X7 DT is running the game on its highest setting at 1080p and the frame-rate is still buttery smooth throughout.


Closing thoughts

We came to the event expecting NVIDIA to show off a new 'Titan M' class of cards and instead came away with the revelation that the company has finally succeeded in achieving parity between their mobile and desktop graphics cards. This begs the question on whether NVIDIA would stop here or whether it would actually take it one step further, introducing other NVIDIA GeForce GTX 900 series desktop cards to the mobile market.

We wonder too if market fragmentation will occur because of this. After all, most enthusiasts who play on notebooks gravitate to SLI systems or those with an NVIDIA GeForce GTX 980M. If there's a choice between that and a NVIDIA GeForce GTX 980, we reckon most of them will bite on the GTX 980, regardless of how much more it costs.