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Ultrabook reviews, guides and comparisons

Portable laptops with Nvidia Max-Q designs (GTX 1060, 1070 and 1080 MQ graphics) and Max-Q explained

By Andrei Girbea , updated on July 12, 2017

This article has two parts, one that explains what exactly Nvidia’s Max-Q initiative means for existing and future gaming laptops, and a second one that gathers all the Max-Q notebooks available out there, in a weekly updated list.

Nvidia’s Max-X initiative aims to slim down gaming laptops and make them more pleasant to use, by lowering noise levels. In order to do that, Nvidia provides OEMs with what they call Max-Q versions of the GTX 1060, 1070 and 1080 chips, which in few words are down-clocked versions of those chips running at lower frequencies, but with much lower TDPs as well, as it’s better explained in one of the tables below.

Let’s take a regular mobile GTX 1080 for instance, which runs at around 150 W. The Max-Q 1080 variant only needs between 90-110 W. This allows manufacturers to put the 1080 chip inside much slimmer and portable laptops, like the Asus Zephyrus or the Acer Predator Triton.

However, the amount of performance is going to vary between the Max-Q chips, based on the exact implementation each OEM chooses to go with. Given the 1080 Max-Q chip can have TDPs between 90 and 110 and clock speeds between roughly 1100 and 1300 MHz, that means there will be performance variations of as much as 20% between implementations, which can get very misleading and confusing for potential buyers.

In other words, not all Max-Q laptops will perform the same, and while in theory a 1080 MaxQ chip sits between a regular 1070 and 1080 in terms of performance, in some cases a MaxQ 1080 can come very close to a standard mobile GTX 1070 chip (or even perform a little poorer).

That’s why it’s impossible to say a 1080 MaxQ chip is generically X% faster than a 1070 and Y% slower than a 1080, because X and Y are going to greatly vary from unit to unit, based on the implementation each OEM chooses for a given notebook. So it is imperative to properly research the laptop you’re interested in (read reviews, the forums, user reviews from online stores) before deciding it’s what you need or not. The same conclusion applies to the MaxQ 1070 and 1060 designs.

The architectural differences between the regular Pascal mobile chips and the MaxQ variants are explained below.

10801080 MaxQ10701070 MaxQ10601060 MaxQ
CUDA Cores256025602048204812801280
Core Clock1566 MHz1101-1290 MHz1443 MHz1101-1215 MHz1506 MHz1063-1265 MHz
Boost Clock1733 MHz1278-1468 MHz1645 MHz1265-1379 MHz1708 MHz1341-1480 MHz
Memory width256-bit256-bit256-bit256-bit192-bit192-bit
Memory speed10 GHz10 GHz8 GHz8 GHz8 GHz8 GHz
Memory bandwidth320GB/s320GB/s256GB/s256GB/s192GB/s192GB/s
TDP165W90-110 W120W80-90W80W60-70W

Hardware aside, the Max-Q initiative has a software component as well. Nvidia pushes a limit on fan noise, set at at maximum of 40 dB (at ear-level). That’s low, given most normal laptops easily go past 45 dB with gaming, and it’s especially low when corroborated with the slimmer form-factors.

In order to meet the requirement OEMs would have to develop new cooling solutions, but Nvidia also gives a helping hand with a feature called “WhisperMode” implemented within the GeForce Experience app. This balances graphics details with frame-rates in order to keep noise down, but what I understand it does is lower details so the GPU would work as little as possible to output a given amount of frames per second. There’s a cap on frame-rates as well, around 40-60 fps, similar to what the BatteryBoost feature does for gaming on battery. Will update on this matter.

Bottom point, Nvidia’s Max-Q design states that gaming performance does not have to sacrifice portability and pushes laptop manufacturers to improve their devices. There’s no hard-limit set for how thin Max-Q laptops should be or their thermals though.

From what I’m seeing, OEMs took two different approaches with MaxQ laptops. Some created brand new ultrathin designs (like the Asus Zephyrus and Acer Triton), while others took existing designs and crammed higher-tier Max-Q graphics inside.

The few MaxQ units available as of early July 2017 are very expensive though, that’s why those designs in the latter aforementioned category make little sense to me. In their case, potential customers are asked to pay a premium of a couple of hundreds of dollars just for a slight performance bump and potentially quieter fans, which might not be worth it for most. In fact, the bump in performance is not a guarantee, as from what we know so far a computer with an overclocked regular 1070 can perform better than one with a 1080 MQ, for a fraction of the price, but with increased energy costs.

We’ve added complete lists of the available MaxQ gaming laptops bellow, as well as relevant information for each model. The article is split into three main sections, based on the chip inside the units, and while there are few models listed as of right now, we’ll continue to update it as new models are announced.

Portable laptops with Nvidia MaxQ 1080 graphics

This section includes high-tier gaming notebooks with Nvidia MaxQ 1080 graphics and portable designs. If you’re just after performance and don’t care about the form factor, a list of laptops with regular mobile 1080 graphics is available over here.

Acer Predator Triton 70015.6-inch IPS FHD matte GSyncKaby Lake Core HQ / max 32GB RAM GTX 1080 MQ 8GBYes5.75 lbs / 2.6 kg
nice build quality and looks; 18.9 mm / .74″ thick; mechanical keyboard with NumPad, with the trackpad placed above; matte FHD screen with GSync; Core HQ processors and GTX 1080 Max-Q graphics inside; up to 32 GB of RAM (2x DIMMs), M.2 NVMe storage; 54 Wh battery
Starting price: $2999 – scheduled for July
Alienware 1515.6-inch FHD, FHD IPS GSync 60 Hz or FHD TN GSync 120 HzKaby Lake Core HK / max 32 GB RAM GTX 1080 MQ 8 GBYes7.69 lbs / 3.49 kg
bulky and heavy in comparison to the other options in this list – 7.7 lbs, 22 mm / .86″ thick; several screen options; port for the Alienware Graphics Amplifier; Core i7-7820HK CPU overclocked at 4.1 GHz, 110W of the GTX 1080MQ chip, 2x memory slots, M.2 NVME storage; 99 Wh battery
Starting price: $2349 – configurations and latest prices
Asus ROG GX501VI Zephyrus15.6-inch IPS FHD matte 120 Hz GSyncKaby Lake Core HQ / max 24GB RAM GTX 1080 MQ 8GBYes4.94 lbs / 2.24 kg
our full review is available here – nice build quality and looks; 18 mm / .70″ thick; the keyboard and trackpad are good, but oddly positioned in order to accommodate the hardware; matte 120 Hz FHD screen with GSync; Core HQ processors and 90W version of the GTX 1080 Max-Q graphics inside; up to 24 GB of RAM (8 GB soldered+ 1 DIMM), M.2 NVMe storage; runs hot under load, but fairly quiet; 50 Wh battery; poor speakers
Starting price: $2699 – configurations and latest prices

Portable laptops with Nvidia MaxQ 1070 and 1060 graphics

This section includes mid level gaming notebooks with Nvidia Max-Q 107 and 1060 graphics. You can also check out our lists of portable notebooks with regular Nvidia GTX 1060 and 1070 graphics.

Clevo P95015.6-inch TN FHD 120 Hz, UHD matteKaby Lake Core HQ / max 32 GB RAM GTX 1070 MQ 8 GBYes4.2 lbs / 1.9 kg
thin (0.73″) and light; RGB keyboard; several screen options available, including a 60 Hz UHD panel or the 120 HZ FHD TN screen; 2x memory DIMMs, 1x M.2 NVME and 1x 2.5″ storage bay; 55 Wh battery; more customizable and affordable than the competition
Starting price: $2399 – configurations and latest prices
HP Omen 1515.6-inch IPS FHD 120 Hz or UHD matteKaby Lake Core HQ / max 32 GB RAM GTX 1060 MQ 6 GBNo4.85 lbs / 2.2 kg
sober black design, average profile (~1″ thick) and fairly low weight; FHD 120 Hz or UHD IPS matte screens; dual storage (M.2 + 2.5″); 70 Wh battery
Starting price: TBA
HP Omen 1715.6-inch IPS FHD or UHD GSync matteKaby Lake Core HQ / max 32 GB RAM GTX 1070 MQ 8 GBNo7.45 lbs / 3.35 kg
sober black design, thick (1.3″) but fairly light for a 17-incher; FHD or UHD IPS GSync matte screens; Dragon Red backlit keyboard; dual storage (M.2 + 2.5″); 96 Wh battery
Starting price: TBA
MSI GS63VR Stealth Pro15.6-inch TN FHD 120 Hz matteKaby Lake Core HQ / max 32 GB RAM GTX 1070 MQ 8 GBYes3.96 lbs / 1.8 kg
very thin (0.69″) and light for a 15-incher; SteelSeries keyboard; average build quality; TH FHD 120 Hz screen, but other options should be available down the line; 2x memory DIMMs, 1x M.2 NVME and 1x 2.5″ storage bay; 57 Wh battery
Starting price: $2399 – configurations and latest prices
MSI GS73VR Stealth Pro17.3-inch TN FHD 120 Hz matteKaby Lake Core HQ / max 32 GB RAM GTX 1070 MQ 8 GBYes5.35 lbs / 2.4 kg
thin (0.77″) and light for a 17-incher; SteelSeries keyboard, average build quality; FHD matte screen with 120 Hz refresh time, other options should be available soon; 2x memory DIMMs,  1x M.2 NMVe and 1x 2.5″ storage bay; 65 Wh battery
Starting price: $2499 – configurations and latest prices
Origin EVO15-S15.6-inch FHD/UHD matteSkylake Core HQ / max 32 GB RAM GTX 1070 MQ 8 GBNo4.4 lbs / 1.99 kg
slim (0.69″) and light; backlit RGB keyboard; 2x RAM slots, 1x M.2 PCIe storage and 1×2.5″ bay; highly customizable; small battery
Starting price: TBA

Rumors claim that a GTX 1070 Max-Q version of the Asus GX501 Zephyrus is also expected later this year, but we’ll only add it if it becomes official.

That’s about it for now, but we’re constantly updating the list and adding new devices as they are released. Please get in touch in the comments section below in case you spot anything that should be in here and it’s not, and down there you can also leave your impressions and questions about the Nvidia Max-Q designs.

Andrei Girbea, Editor-in-Chief at Ultrabookreview.com. I never liked carrying big laptops around and that fueled my passion for mobile computers back in the 2000s. Things have changed much since then, but I'm still interested in the topic and in the meantime I've owned and tested hundreds of thin and lights, so I know a thing or two about them. You'll find mostly reviews and guides written by me here on the site.


  1. Christoffer

    July 5, 2017 at 8:22 pm

    Where are the MaxQ 1060's??

    • Andrei Girbea

      July 6, 2017 at 3:01 pm

      There aren't any announced as far as I know. Yet

      • Simon

        July 8, 2017 at 2:23 am

        As far as I am concerned, there is already a series call Lenovo r720 which sells in China, equipped with GTX 1060 MAX-Q

  2. eroneko

    July 8, 2017 at 1:52 pm

    Lenovo is selling a 1060 max-q version of legion y720 in China. I can't find more information about it.

  3. Vince BL

    July 8, 2017 at 10:43 pm

    I have read from a number of sources that The refreshed HP Omen coming out around July are supposed to have MaxQ technology (see laptopmedia for instance).

    The 15" will max out at GTX 1060, and the 17" at 1070.

    However, on HP US site I have not found any mention that those models are indeed MaxQ.

    The 15" 1060 is also not yet available on the Hp store

    I am following this closely because I am very interested in this model, but since it's not released in most countries there is still some confusion around it.

    • Andrei Girbea

      July 9, 2017 at 4:08 am

      Thanks, I'll keep an eye on it and update asap.

  4. darren tuffs

    July 13, 2017 at 3:14 pm

    The 1060 MQ is available on HP Omen 15 just now, but with a 5-15% decrease in performance depending on who you listen too, between the MQ 1060 and normal 1060 that puts the 1060 MQ in a tricky position, the full fat 1060 is only 10-20% faster than the 1050 ti, so realistically, if we average those out a bit the 1060 MQ is probably only going to be around 5% faster than the 1050ti.

    Now consider the price difference, the 1060 is £250 more. the exact same hardware in every other way except the GPU and the g-sync panel. would you pay for £250 for a 5% speed bump (and VR support (which ironically proves the 1050ti could do VR if they let it))

    im struggling to consider the 1060MQ a worth while option.

    • Andrei Girbea

      July 13, 2017 at 4:45 pm

      That's more or less the case with the entire MaxQ offer right now, it's too pricey for little gains in terms of performance. You could also consider that MaxQ devices should be quieter, but even so it's darn hard to justify the price difference.

      Personally, the only MQ laptops I'd consider would be those specifically designed for it. That means devices that are made to be as thin and light as possible for the given hardware, like the Asus Zephyrus, for example, in the 1080MQ segment. That's not the case with the HP Omen 15 or the Alienware 15 and other laptops that use existing designs with MQ hardware. If shopping in this latter category, I'd just wait for more designs to be released as of right now, or just get the standard non-MQ chip.

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