NVIDIA’s Max-Q technology – explained in simple words

If you haven’t already heard about NVIDIA’s new Max-Q design then it’s about time to find out. That is the company’s latest technology aiming at creating slim yet powerful gaming notebooks. Usually, gaming laptops are quite bulky and hefty especially if they are equipped with top-end hardware like a GTX 1080 graphics card. That will be no more because of the Max-Q design.

From now on manufacturers will be able to cramp up a high-end graphics card inside a thin and light notebook. A perfect example would be the ASUS ROG Zephyrus which is just 17.9 mm thick but features a GTX 1080 GPU.

You can check all NVIDIA-equipped notebooks over here: http://amzn.to/2stPF3j

Let’s start our explanatory article with the definition of Max-Q. The term is taken from aerospace engineering and it means maximum dynamic pressure. This is the point where the pressure on a taking off spacecraft stops increasing due to the decreasing density of the atmosphere around it. After this point, you can say that the rocket was successfully launched and it withstood the hardest moment. NVIDIA took this term to symbolize that these notebooks perform at their best under dire circumstances (eg being very thin).

Max-Q technology creates light, thin and quiet yet high-performing notebooks. This is achieved through many engineering innovations like advanced thermal solutions, optimized in-game settings, and power-efficient options.

First of all, the most important thing when it comes to Max-Q is efficiency, not performance. These notebooks aren’t designed to provide maximum performance, they provide maximum efficiency. Their performance is about 10% lower than regular notebooks.

How and why is this done? NVIDIA has provided a graph that shows the relation between performance and power consumption. What we see is that there is a point in which increasing the power consumption (giving the GPU more power) does not result in a major increase in performance. So the engineers pick the point where the GPU performs the best while not consuming too much energy aka where it is most efficient. The other graph shows exactly this point where performance increments shrink as power increases.

This is of a significant importance. An efficient GPU does not require a bulky heatsink and cooling system, therefore, rendering the chassis of the notebook slimmer and also decreasing the weight. This way manufacturer can cramp up a GTX 1080 where they could have only installed a GTX 1060 before.

This is combined with innovative cooling solutions. For instance, the 17.9 mm ROG Zephyrus’ bottom panel opens to let more air in. Better voltage regulators are also used.

NVIDIA also has worked with game developers to optimize in-game performance. One aspect of the Max-Q design is quieter notebooks. This is made possible due to the so-called WhisperMode. This mode applies the most power-efficient graphics settings and intelligently paces the game’s frame rate. This way performance, visuals and noise output are balanced out. In fact, NVIDIA has targeted a maximum noise level of  40 dBA which is no louder than the average living room environment that you will probably use the notebook in. Over 400 titles have been profiled with WhisperMode.

We have already seen some Max-Q notebooks being unveiled. They should soon hit the market. These are:

Meanwhile, you can check all NVIDIA-equipped notebooks over here: http://amzn.to/2stPF3j

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