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Nvidia is requiring OEMs to specify the power levels of its mobile GPUs

Announcement of laptops with GeForce RTX 30 series GPUs at CES 2021

Nvidia will now require manufacturers to specify what variant of its GeForce RTX 30 series mobile GPUs is being used in a given PC model, the company has said in a statement to The Verge. The move is meant to help consumers understand the level of performance and power consumption they can expect from a PC.

If you've paid attention to gaming laptops in recent years, you may have noticed that Nvidia's mobile GPUs often come with a Max-Q label, but that doesn't always happen. Max-Q is the designation Nvidia uses to refer to its design and technology approach that allows graphics cards to achieve their highest possible performance while staying within certain power or heat limits on laptops.

OEMs can either opt for more power-efficient versions of the GPUs if they want a thinner form factor or go all-out with high-performance variants for heavier machines. However, this causes some problems for consumers, because OEMs haven't been required to disclose what variant of a given GPU is being used in their devices, leaving consumers in the dark about the performance they can expect from that PC.

Table showing the different power levels of Nvidia RTX 30-series mobile GPUs

As you can see on Nvidia's website, the performance levels can vary quite a bit for graphics cards with the same name. For example, the GeForce RTX 3080 can come in variants that use just 80W of power, or go higher than 150W depending on the variant you get. Similarly, the Boost Clock speeds can also vary significantly. Now, OEMs that use Nvidia's mobile GPUs will have to specify the clock speed and power of the GPUs used in their systems, rather than simply being recommended to do so.

While the Max-Q designation is still used here and there, it's not officially part of the product's name, so OEMs don't have to include it in their description. Still, being able to see the power consumption and clock speed should be enough to make the choice easier for consumers. Nvidia says that OEMs are already making this information available, so if you've been looking for a new gaming laptop, you may want to keep an eye out for that.

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