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NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1060 (Max-Q) vs GTX 1060 (Laptop) – performance, gaming and temperatures

Not long ago NVIDIA announced its new series of notebook graphics cards – Max-Q which is set to forever change the mobile gaming world. The goal of Max-Q is to make powerful yet slim, light and quiet gaming notebooks. This is accomplished through precious engineering and lots of hours of development.

The first notebooks to feature a Max-Q graphics card are already on the market and one of them is the HP Omen 15 latest version. It features a Max-Q version of the GeForce GTX 1060 and falls into the category of mid-range gaming devices. Its rival today will be the Lenovo Legion Y720 equipped with a standard GTX 1060 – Lenovo’s most profound gaming notebook to date.

But a thin notebook usually has problems with the cooling system. Is the Max-Q as reliable as a normal GPU and does it perform adequately? We are going to answer these two questions today.

Check the price of HP Omen 15:  Buy from Amazon.com (#CommissionsEarned)

Check the price of Lenovo Legion 720:  Buy from Amazon.com (#CommissionsEarned)

Design

The HP Omen 15 equipped with a Max-Q GTX 1060 isn’t the lightest nor the thinnest notebook out there but measures a fairly small footprint for a gaming laptop. It weighs 2.62 kg and has a profile of 24.8 mm. Nothing like the ASUS Rog Zephyrus with it 17.9 mm but still thin.The Lenovo Y720 isn’t much thicker – 25.8 mm but it is considerably heavier with its 3.094 kg.

The GTX 1060 and the GTX 1060 Max-Q are basically the same GPU with some important differences. They are both based on the same GP106 chip produced using the 16nm FinFET technology. However, the Max-Q version has a lower base clock ranging from 1063 MHz to 1265 MHz compared to the 1506 MHz of the regular version. Boost clock is also lower – 1341 – 1480 MHz compared to 1708 MHz. The Max-Q model also has lower TDP of 60-70 W while the standard model is rated at 80 W. The other specs are all the same – 6 GB GDDR5 memory clocked at 8000 MHz, 192-bit interface, 1280 CUDA cores and DirectX 12.1 support.

Benchmark comparison

As you can see, the full-size GTX 1060 with higher clocks does indeed perform better than the Max-Q version but the gap is not big. However, Max-Q design isn’t aiming at the best performance it rather targets the best efficiency.

We ran out usual benchmarks that include Unigine Heaven 3.0 and a few 3DMark benchmarks. The biggest gap we got is from the Cloud Gate test where the regular GTX 1060 performs about 19% better than the Max-Q version (68315 vs 57247). However, this gap tightens in the other test and it falls to just about 7% on Unigine Heaven 3.0 (3560 vs 3322).

Results are from the 3DMark: Fire Strike (Graphics) benchmark (higher the score, the better)

Gaming performance

Here we can see that the Max-Q model is capable enough to run every modern game on medium settings and get high frame rates. You can even ramp up the graphics settings to high if you are ok with playing with lower than 60 fps average. Comparing it to the regular GTX 1060, we see that there is some difference but not in every scenario. For instance, it delivers 10 to 15% lower frame rates when playing titles such as Tom Clancy’s The Division but on the other hand Max-Q performs just as good as the regular model in Rise of the Tomb Raider (2016). Well-optimized games like GTA 5 also run almost identical on both graphics cards.

GTA-V-benchmarks

Grand Theft Auto V (GTA 5)Full HD, Medium (Check settings)Full HD, Very High (Check settings)Full HD, MAX (Check settings)
GTX 1060 (regular)107 fps (+1.9%)60 fps (+27.7%)37 fps (+12%)
Max-Q design105 fps47 fps33 fps

rise-of-the-tomb-raider

Rise of the Tomb Raider (2016)Full HD, Medium (Check settings)Full HD, Very High (Check settings)Full HD, MAX (Check settings)
GTX 1060 (regular)85 fps42 fps29 fps
Max-Q design85 fps43 fps (+2.3%)29 fps

Tom Clancy’s The DivisionFull HD, Medium (Check settings)Full HD, Ultra (Check settings)Full HD, MAX (Check settings)
GTX 1060 (regular)88 fps (+15.7%)50 fps (+11%)18 fps (+12.5%)
Max-Q design76 fps45 fps16 fps

Gameplay footage – GTX 1060 Max-Q

Here you can see how gaming on the GTX 1060 Max-Q would look like.



Temperature

We already saw that the Max-Q version is capable of competing against the regular model but the thing that is a concern with thin notebooks is their cooling capabilities. We are going to compare the results we got from the temperature tests of the Lenovo Y720 and HP Omen 15 (Max-Q) and find out how well does the cooling system handles a powerful GPU inside a thin chassis.

We are interested in the GPU performance so we are going to skip forward to the point where we add the 100% GPU stress test to the temperature test. The Lenovo Y720’s CPU ran at 2.7 GHz (which did not change after the addition of the 100% GPU load) at fairly low temperatures around 80-85 °C. The GPU ran at 1455 MHz which is just below the base frequency. The temperature of the GPU was 81 °C which is a bit hot but nothing to worry about.

In HP Omen’s case, the CPU frequency dropped to 2.9 GHz and temperatures were above 90 °C. The GPU was running at 1151 MHz which is inside the base frequency range and a fairly low temperature of 75 °C which is 6 °C lower than the Y720.

What we see, is that the Y720 handled the CPU temperatures better but we are comparing the GPU performance and the Omen 15 kept its Max-Q GPU cooler, however, at a lower frequency which is expected as Max-Q’s boost clocks are lower than the base clocks of the regular edition. In other words, we are happy with how the Max-Q notebook handles GPU temperatures but we have to keep in mind that these results are from two given models – other Max-Q and non-Max-Q notebooks may perform better or worse.

Verdict

To sum things up, we could say that we are happy with the performance of the Max-Q GPU. Both in benchmarks and in real-life scenarios it performs 10 to 15% worse than the regular edition, however, there are some exceptions like Rise of the Tomb Raider or Unigine Heaven 3.0 where they are identical. The thinner Max-Q design notebook also proved that it could handle just as good or even better the temperature output of the powerful GPU.

If you are wondering – is a Max-Q notebook right for you – you have to look for the answer according to your needs. If you are want to get the maximum performance out of the GPU and don’t care much about portability or battery life because you are going to use it mainly at home, a notebook with a regular edition of the GTX 1060 (or any other GPU) is better for you. However, if you don’t care about that 10% extra frames and you value the thin, light-weight design, then a Max-Q-equipped notebook is what you are looking for.

All laptops equipped with the NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1060 (Max-Q)

All laptops equipped with the NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1060