If you are interested in a notebook with a GeForce graphics chip from Nvidia’s RTX-3000 series, alias Ampere, you will often no longer see any information about the GPU power consumption in the manufacturer’s data sheets. The formerly widespread Max-Q specs have disappeared from most names. Consequently, it is not possible to find out how fast the graphics chip in a notebook is without research.
Manufacturers can install the mobile GeForce RTX 3080, GeForce RTX 3070 and GeForce RTX 3060 with different power settings – the top model, for example, with 80 to 150 watts or even more in exceptional cases. A limitation to 80 watts reduces the clock rates considerably, which affects the frame rate in 3D games. A mobile GeForce RTX 3070 with 125 watts can be faster than a GeForce RTX 3080 with less than 100 watts.
Spartan data sheets
With the RTX 2000 generation, the GPU names included a "Max-Q" was noted in the GPU names if it was a low power consumption version. This way, buyers knew that a device with a mobile GeForce RTX 2060 could be faster than one with a GeForce RTX 2070 Max-Q. In some cases, variants with a maximum performance configuration also had the specification "Max-P" or "Max Performance" can be found.
The vast majority of notebooks with RTX-3000-GPU lack these specifications, as the website Notebookcheck noticed. Examples can be found at Asus, Gigabyte, MSI and Razer, among others. An exception is the German provider Schenker with its own XMG notebooks, where the name continues to contain a "Max-Q" and the exact performance budget is noted in the spec sheet, for example in the XMG Pro 15 with up to 115 watts for the RTX-3000 GPU.
Further confusion is added because the notebook GPUs are more different from the desktop graphics cards of the same name than in the previous two generations. The mobile GeForce RTX 3080 uses significantly fewer shader cores than the desktop version.
Nvidia sees manufacturers in duty
In a statement to HotHardware Nvidia wrote that the Max-Q brand will not disappear. In the case of the RTX-3000 series, Max-Q is understood as a platform and no longer only as a performance rating. Manufacturers can use individual features like Dynamic Boost 2 or Whisper Mode 2 and optionally limit the power consumption.
"We strongly recommend OEMs list the clock speeds and other technologies a notebook supports, including Advanced Optimus, Dynamic Boost 2 and more", it says. "Ultimately, as with all laptop features and specifications, it is up to the manufacturer to market what the specific laptop configuration supports."
Nvidia also refers to the driver control panel, which lists power limits, clock frequencies and supported features. However, this is of little help to prospective buyers before they buy a notebook. In the price comparison, Geizhals notes Max-Q ratings, if known, to make filtering easier.