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.
|1080||1080 MaxQ||1070||1070 MaxQ||1060||1060 MaxQ|
|Core Clock||1566 MHz||1101-1290 MHz||1443 MHz||1101-1215 MHz||1506 MHz||1063-1265 MHz|
|Boost Clock||1733 MHz||1278-1468 MHz||1645 MHz||1265-1379 MHz||1708 MHz||1341-1480 MHz|
|Memory speed||10 GHz||10 GHz||8 GHz||8 GHz||8 GHz||8 GHz|
|Memory size||8GB GDDR5X||8GB GDDR5X||8GB GDDR5||8GB GDDR5||3/6GB GDDR5||3/6GB GDDR5|
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 700||15.6-inch IPS FHD matte GSync||Kaby Lake Core HQ / max 32GB RAM||GTX 1080 MQ 8GB||Yes||5.75 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 15||15.6-inch FHD, FHD IPS GSync 60 Hz or FHD TN GSync 120 Hz||Kaby Lake Core HK / max 32 GB RAM||GTX 1080 MQ 8 GB||Yes||7.69 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|
|Aorus X5 v7 MD||15.6-inch WQHD or UHD 60 Hz GSync||Kaby Lake Core HK / max 64 GB RAM||GTX 1080 MQ 8 GB||Yes||5.5 lbs / 2.5 kg|
|– our full review is available here – sleek (.9″ thick) and portable for its class, multiple screen options with GSync support, Core HK processor, 3xM.2 and 1 x2.5″ storage, 95 Wh battery, 200 W power pack|
|Starting price: $2899 – configurations and latest prices|
|Asus ROG GX501VI Zephyrus||15.6-inch IPS FHD matte 120 Hz GSync||Kaby Lake Core HQ / max 24GB RAM||GTX 1080 MQ 8GB||Yes||4.94 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
|Asus ROG GX501VI Zephyrus||15.6-inch IPS FHD matte 120 Hz GSync||Kaby Lake Core HQ / max 24GB RAM||GTX 1070 MQ 8GB||Yes||4.94 lbs / 2.24 kg|
|– our full review of the 1080MQ version 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 GTX 1070 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: $2299 – configurations and latest prices|
|Clevo P950||15.6-inch TN FHD 120 Hz, UHD matte||Kaby Lake Core HQ / max 32 GB RAM||GTX 1070 MQ 8 GB||Yes||4.2 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|
|Eurocom Q5 / Clevo P957HR||15.6-inch TN 120 Hz or IPS FHD matte||Kaby Lake Core HQ / max 32 GB RAM||GTX 1070 MQ 6 GB||No||4.85 lbs / 2.2 kg|
|thin and light design; multiple configuration options available;get Optimus instead of G-Sync; low frequency GTX 1070MQ; noisy fans; dual storage (M.2 + 2.5″); good IO, 60 Wh battery; more affordable than the competition|
|Starting price: from $1699|
|Dell Inspiron Gaming 7577||15.6-inch IPS FHD or UHD matte||Kaby Lake Core HQ / max 32 GB RAM||GTX 1060 MQ 6 GB||Yes||6.3 lbs / 2.85 kg|
|new design with metallic chassis, average profile (~1″ thick) and quite heavy; red backlit keyboard; FHD or UHD IPS matte screens; dual storage (M.2 + 2.5″); 56 Wh battery|
|Starting price: $999 – configurations and latest prices|
|HP Omen 15||15.6-inch IPS FHD 120 Hz or UHD matte||Kaby Lake Core HQ / max 32 GB RAM||GTX 1060 MQ 6 GB||No||4.85 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: $1399|
|HP Omen 17||15.6-inch IPS FHD or UHD GSync matte||Kaby Lake Core HQ / max 32 GB RAM||GTX 1070 MQ 8 GB||No||7.45 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: $1499 – configurations and latest prices|
|MSI GS63VR Stealth Pro||15.6-inch TN FHD 120 Hz matte||Kaby Lake Core HQ / max 32 GB RAM||GTX 1070 MQ 8 GB||Yes||3.96 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 Pro||17.3-inch TN FHD 120 Hz matte||Kaby Lake Core HQ / max 32 GB RAM||GTX 1070 MQ 8 GB||Yes||5.35 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-S||15.6-inch FHD/UHD matte||Skylake Core HQ / max 32 GB RAM||GTX 1070 MQ 8 GB||No||4.4 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|
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.