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Nvidia raises the curtain on its latest mobile GPUs: the GeForce GTX 970M and the GeForce GTX 980M

Michael Brown | Oct. 8, 2014
Nvidia dropped its other GPU shoe today, taking the wraps off the mobile version of its "Big Maxwell" architecture, embodied in the GeForce GTX 970M and GeForce GTX 980M mobile graphics processors.

Enabling BatteryBoost will let you play games longer on battery power, too: League of Legends for 117 minutes, compared to 90 minutes without it; Grid 2 for 102 minutes, versus 79 minutes without it; and Tomb Raider for 76 minutes compared to just 49 minutes without it.

The gaming laptop market is on fire
Sanghani says the rapid improvement in mobile GPU performance has spurred a fivefold growth in gaming notebook sales over the past three years."It's almost a new category," said Sanghani. "More and more OEMs want to participate. Gamers now have all kinds of choices: Thin and light, different screen sizes, and so on."

In 2010, the GeForce GTX 480M made it possible to play games at 1080p resolution with visual quality at high, according to Sanghani. In 2012, the GeForce GTX 680M made it possible to play games at that same resolution with visual quality at ultra. Nivida says its GeForce GTX 980M is the first GPU that can move notebook gaming beyond 1080p while keeping visual quality at ultra: All the way to 2560x1440.

Why this matters: Gaming has been the last bastion of the desktop PC. Powerful user-upgradeable video cards are one of the only reasons why people buy tower or even small-form-factor PCs these days. When the performance gap between mobile and desktop GPUs closes entirely, the only factor that will keep desktop PC sales afloat will be the difference in cost between laptops and desktops.

As Sanghani points out, more and more OEMs are jumping into the gaming laptop market, joining the ranks of Origin, Razer, and Alienware. Lenovo, for instance, offers the affordably priced Y40 and Y50, and Acer recently announced its entry into this space with the Aspire V Nitro.

I think it will be a long time before boutique builders give up on the tower form factor. But as sales in that segment continue to shrink, mainstream manufacturers such as Acer, Dell, HP, and Lenovo will exit the market altogether. In an ideal world, these bigger players will combine mobile GPUs like these with their manufacturing know-how and efficiency to build new generations of all-in-one, NUC, and super-small form factor desktop PCs that can finally deliver satisfying experiences with AAA titles. The competition should also help drive down the cost of pure gaming laptops. 

What are your thoughts on graphics processors and gaming laptops. Are you thinking of making the switch, or will they need to pry your tower from your cold, dead hands? Let us know in the comments section, below. 


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