nVidia’s 860M, 870M and 880M bring 4k video and double a laptop’s runtime, writes Agam Shah
Laptops will get console-like gaming framerates and run for up to twice as long with nVidia’s GeForce GTX 800M mobile graphics processors.
The GeForce GTX 860M, 850M, 840M and 830M GPUs are up to 60 percent faster than their predecessors, according to nVidia. Built on the Maxwell architecture, the GPUs will go into laptops less than 22mm thick.
nVidia has also unveiled the GTX 870M and 880M high-end graphics processors, which are based on the older Kepler architecture but have been clocked up for bulkier enthusiast laptops. The company put Maxwell in lower-end GPUs because those products sell in larger volumes, said Kaustubh Sanghani, general manager of the mobile PC business unit at nVidia.
The company has already shipped desktop GPUs based on Maxwell, which will also be used in Linux-based gaming desktops better known as ‘Steam Machines’, due to ship later this year.
Most laptops today are sold with integrated graphics processors, which are good enough for casual gaming.
The GTX mobile GPUs are embedded on a motherboard and will let laptops play some of the latest gaming titles, which are heavy on graphics and special effects.
PC makers will put the new GPUs in laptops, although it is not clear when the systems will ship. The fastest GTX 880M will go into MSI’s GT70, Dell’s Alienware 17 and Asus’ G750, which have 17.3in screens. The GTX 870M will be in Razer’s Blade laptop, while Lenovo’s Y50 and Gigabyte’s P34 will have the Maxwell-based 860M GPU. Gaming PC maker Falcon Northwest will also be updating its laptops to include the new GTX 800M-series chips. CEO Kelt Reeves has yet to test the GPUs, but has high expectations.
“We’ll be revving our laptop lines from 700- to 800 series, but don’t expect any signifi cant price changes. Hopefully the massive performance-per-watt increases shown by the fi rst Maxwell desktop cards will be as good on the mobile side,” he said.
Improved framerates Games such as Assassin’s Creed IV, Black Flag and Arkham Origins can be played at a 1080p resolution with the 850M and 860M, and at higher framerates with the 870M and 880M. The 860M, 870M and 880M can render graphics at a 4k resolution of 3840×2160 pixels, but laptops with 4k displays are not yet available.
On an 860M-equipped laptop nVidia measured 2 hours 11 minutes of gameplay time for Borderlands 2 at 30fps, 1080p – that’s almost twice the battery mileage compared to predecessors, Sanghani said.
The power effi ciency comes partly from a new feature called Battery Boost, which can adjust GPU operations depending on a game’s requirements. Battery Boost balances performance and power consumption by assessing each game.
The adjustments kick in once a game starts. As on the PS4, laptops with the GPUs will be able to record gameplay through ShadowPlay. This can then be broadcast live or uploaded to the Twitch.tv gaming website.
Games can also be streamed wirelessly over a home network to nVidia’s Shield handheld gaming console, which has an HDMI port and can connect to an HDTV.
The 850M has 640 cores and is 60 percent faster than its predecessor, the 750M, according to nVidia. The 860M has 1,152 cores and is 40 percent faster than the older 760M. The Kepler-based 870M has 1,344 cores and is 30 percent faster than the 770M, while the fastest performing 880M has 1,536 cores and is 15 percent faster than the 780M. The clock speeds can be boosted depending on the performance needed.
nVidia’s graphics business was strong in the most recent quarter, driven by desktop GPU sales, with overall GeForce GTX graphics processors growing by around 50 percent year on year. However, laptop GPU revenue declined slightly, in line with the overall decline in laptop shipments.
But Sanghani is expecting growth as the PC gaming market expands with the new chips and gaming titles coming out.