The gaming laptop scene has been rather stagnant. Besides from Razer’s rather beautiful MacBook-like designs, almost all gaming laptops are bulky, garish beasts. They’re not designed to be overly portable and the ones that are, tend to not be very powerful. That is, until now, as Nvidia has announced its answer to the gaming ultrabook – Max-Q.
Developed as a new standard for the world’s leading gaming laptop manufacturers, Max-Q is all about marrying aesthetics and performance with efficiency and battery life. Alongside Nvidia’s announcement of Max-Q at Computex 2017, Asus, MSI and Acer all announced their first Max-Q laptops.
To make use of Nvidia’s Max-Q standard, manufacturers have to adhere to a set of – somewhat flexible – rules. While Max-Q is more than simple tickboxes, the two key physical attributes any Max-Q laptop has to have is that it can be no thicker than 18mm and it has to weigh under 2.2kg. Usually these metrics would result in a rather lacking gaming laptop, but with Max-Q you can stick a full-size Nvidia GTX 1080 chip into it and run it at 90% efficiency with no issues.
While I’m sure you’d much rather be running a full-tilt GTX 1080, 90% is still more than enough of a trade off to make for such a thin and light gaming laptop. Having a ultrabook capable of running a GTX 1060, 1070 and 1080 GPU is absolutely incredible – it means 1440p and 4K gaming on the go without lugging around something that weighs more than a baby.
Developing a Max-Q laptop isn’t a straightforward process, Nvidia individually approves and tests every new laptop before bestowing it with the Max-Q brand. The testing requires manufacturers to pass on all the information regarding fans and cooling systems, allowing Nvidia to build a custom cooling profile for each laptop. To pass the Max-Q test, no laptop can run louder than 40dBA when running at full-blast – for reference, a general room hum sits at about 30dBA, so all Max-Q laptops should only have a slight hum when in use.
You may be wondering why Max-Q has taken so long to come about, after all we’ve all been crying out for lighter gaming laptops for years. While Nvidia didn’t get into specifics, it’s clear that the cooling technology and more efficient electrical designs weren’t possible until recently. Pair that with Nvidia’s latest Pascal silicon, and you’ve finally got a power-efficient GPU that’s also more than powerful enough to play big titles on the go.
We’ve already had a look at Asus new laptop, the Zephyru, and been mighty impressed. We hope to have hands on with more soon.