Nvidia’s virtual CES 2022 keynote is underway, and the company’s just announced a new slate of gaming laptop chips there — including mobile versions of the RTX 3070 Ti and RTX 3080 Ti that’ll appear in laptops starting at $1,499 and $2,499, respectively. They’ll be out February 1st from the typical array of partners including Alienware, MSI, and Razer.
While the company isn’t sharing a lot of specs just yet — only that they’ll offer Ultra-spec 1440p gaming at 100 and 120 frames per second, respectively, and that the 3080 Ti has 16GB of GDDR6 and is faster than a desktop Titan RTX — Nvidia has something up its sleeves that might make this latest slate a little different than previous laptop gens. The company claims its fourth-gen Max-Q platform comes with the ability to control your laptop’s CPU, changing its performance, power, and temperature as needed to open up headroom for your Nvidia GPU instead. That makes some sense — far more games are GPU limited than CPU limited these days. (I ran a five-year-old CPU in modern games until just this past month, with little effect on frame rates.)
Nvidia says it worked with both CPU vendors to create “a new low-level framework” to control specific “next-gen CPUs” — namely Intel Alder Lake and AMD Rembrandt chips, Nvidia confirms to The Verge. If you’ve got a Max-Q system with those CPUs and an Nvidia RTX 3000-series graphics chip, there’s a good chance it might happen.
Insert slight skepticism here
That said, it’s not clear how much it might matter, or how you’d even tell if it’s working. Nvidia didn’t offer any particular performance claims around the new CPU Optimizer feature, and it’s not the only boost it’s touting from fourth-gen Max-Q. There’s also “Rapid Core Scaling” which can turn off some GPU cores while overclocking others for an “up to 3x” performance boost, and a “Battery Boost 2.0” that can theoretically offer up to 70 percent more battery life. (Though if it works anything like the original Battery Boost, that may mean intentionally limiting your game’s frame rate to save that battery life.)
Without knowing more about how the laptop-grade RTX 3080 Ti and 3070 Ti perform, it’s hard to say whether it’s time to buy a new gaming laptop to get one, but we’ll have news and reviews around those individual laptops before long. For now, Nvidia’s GeForce marketing head Matt Wuebbling says they’re roughly 10 to 20 percent faster than their non-Ti counterparts, though it may depend on the model and the laptop they’re in. Like previous RTX 3000 laptop chips, they’ll come in different clock speeds and wattages, and you’ll have to rely on manufacturer fine print to know what you’re getting. It’s possible to buy a 3080 laptop that’s slower than a 3070 laptop, and that might be the case again here.
Update, 11:57 AM ET: Added that Intel Alder Lake and AMD Rembrandt chips specifically are the ones that can be addressed, and that the RTX 3080 Ti and 3070 Ti mobile chips are roughly 10 to 20 percent faster than non Ti versions according to Nvidia.