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NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1080 Max-Q vs GeForce GTX 1080 – gaming performance and benchmarks

It has been a while now since the first notebook equipped with NVIDIA’s new Max-Q graphics cards were shipped. The Max-Q design promises top-notch performance while maintaining the slim figure of the notebook. The biggest concern with users is if it is really that good as the company claims. We have already made a comparison of the mid-range GTX 1060 Max-Q GPU and now it’s time for something serious.

The most advertised Max-Q notebook that really showcases the marvels of the technology is the ASUS ROG Zephyrus. If you haven’t heard for some reason, the thing that makes the Zephyrus so special is the fact that it features a GeForce GTX 1080 GPU inside a 17.9-inch thin chassis.

In this comparison, we will take a look at the Max-Q GTX 1080 versus the original model to see just how well does the slimmed down version of the high-end graphics card perform.

You can check the price and availability of the ASUS ROG Zephyrus over here: http://amzn.to/2hqOfVx

You can check the price and availability of the Alienware 17 R4 over here: http://amzn.to/2lvLKmj

You can check the price and availability of the Acer Predator 17X over here: http://amzn.to/2lHLHjG

Overview

The GTX 1080 Max-Q is basically an underclocked version of the original thus there are almost identical. Both versions are built around the GP104 chip that uses the 16nm FinFETT manufacturing process. They also have the same amount of CUDA cores – 2560 and same amount of VRAM – 8 GB GDDR5X clocked at 10000 MHz. However, there are two major differences between the two models.

The first one is as we said core clock speeds. The standard GTX 1080 (Laptop) is clocked at 1566 MHz with boost frequencies reaching 1733 MHz while the Max-Q design is clocked at 1101 (1290) MHz base and 1278 (1468) MHz boost. This is a difference of about 16-18%. However, the lower clocks of the Max-Q result in a much lower power consumption of just 90-110 W compared to the 150-200 W of the standard model. All Max-Q versions have a lower TDP than that of their regular version but the difference in GTX 1080’s case is huge.

And lastly, the GTX 1080 Max-Q has 40 dB limit for the fan noise which is one of the Max-Q design features called Whisper Mode.

Synthetic benchmarks

What’s interesting in the synthetic benchmarks is that there are almost no differences in the results. While the GTX 1060 Max-Q scored 10 to 20% lower than the GTX 1060, the case with the GTX 1080 Max-Q isn’t the same. There is basically no difference (within 1-2%) on most benchmarks. The only benchmark in which the regular edition of the GTX 1080 has a major lead over its Max-Q version is the Fire Strike demo on 3DMark.

Gaming performance

We compared the GTX 1080 Max-Q (Zephyrus) to two notebooks equipped with the GTX 1080 – the Acer Predator 17X  and Alienware 17 R4. The Predator 17X has a much more powerful CPU than the Alienware 17. The reference point for the percentages is the Zephyrus result.

We got some quite surprising results from the gaming tests. We are quite happy to say that the Max-Q version is as capable of gaming as the regular one. The differences in the frame rates that we recorded were within a few percent in most graphics settings and games. However, the GTX 1080 (Laptop) tends to deliver an extra few frames when the graphics are very high or maxed but contrary to that the Max-Q version performed better on medium settings in a lot of cases.

This results could mean that the ROG Zephyrus is just very well built with a good cooling system (we will check this in our upcoming detailed review) but anyways the GTX 1080 Max-Q remains quite powerful.

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 1080 – Alienware 17 R4111 (-14.6%) fps68 fps59 (+1.7%) fps
GTX 1080 Max-Q130 fps78 (+14.7%) fps58 fps
GTX 1080 – Acer Predator 17X 134 (+3%) fps – fps64 (+10.3%) 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 1080 – Alienware 17 R4109 (-20.5%) fps78 fps55 (+3.8%) fps
GTX 1080 Max-Q137 fps80 (+2.5%) fps53 fps
GTX 1080 – Acer Predator 17X 118 (-13.9%) fps – fps64 (+20.7%) fps

Tom Clancy’s The DivisionFull HD, Medium (Check settings)Full HD, Ultra (Check settings)Full HD, MAX (Check settings)
GTX 1080 – Alienware 17 R4132 (-4.4%) fps84 (+2.4%) fps34 (+6%) fps
GTX 1080 Max-Q138 fps82 fps32 fps
GTX 1080 – Acer Predator 17X 158 (+14.5%) fps – fps37 (+15.6%) fps

Verdict

Unlike the GTX 1060 Max-Q which had a noticeable drop in performance compared to its normal version, the GTX 1080 Max-Q stood its ground both in synthetic benchmarks and gameplay.

Overall, the GTX 1080 Max-Q proved itself a worthy high-end graphics card. Maybe it’s just the engineers from ASUS that created the Zephyrus or maybe the GTX 1080 Max-Q is just so powerful but it can compete head to head with the normal version.

All this shows that indeed high-end gaming notebooks do not need to be bulky and heavy at all. Stay tune for our detailed review of the ASUS ROG Zephyrus.

You can check the price and availability of the ASUS ROG Zephyrus over here: http://amzn.to/2hqOfVx

You can check the price and availability of the Alienware 17 R4 over here: http://amzn.to/2lvLKmj

You can check the price and availability of the Acer Predator 17X over here: http://amzn.to/2lHLHjG