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Nvidia has been sneaking in slower GeForce MX150 '1D12' variant onto some Ultrabooks

Nvidia quietly shipping slower GeForce MX150 '1D12' variant with some Ultrabooks (Image source: Nvidia)
Nvidia quietly shipping slower GeForce MX150 '1D12' variant with some Ultrabooks (Image source: Nvidia)
[March 28, 2018 update] Be on the lookout for notebooks shipping with the MX150 'N17S-LG-A1' or '1D12' variant as GPU performance can be 20 to 25 percent slower than a "standard" MX150. The '1D12' label is essentially the Max-Q version of the MX150 and Nvidia has not been explicitly distinguishing between the two distinct MX150 versions in any of its promotional material thus far.

(March 25, 2018 update: The ThinkPad T480s has been discovered shipping with the slower GeForce MX150 Max-Q GPU. This system has been added to our 3DMark benchmark list below.)

(March 28, 2018 update: Xiaomi uses the slower MX150 GPU for the Mi Notebook Air and the Mi Notebook Pro, but the latter is equipped with a higher clocked version).

TL;DR: We've discovered two distinct versions of the GeForce MX150 with wide performance differences and power demands. The second version is notably slower and less demanding than the "standard" MX150 with underclocked clock rates, Boost rates, and VRAM not unlike a Max-Q GPU. This slower "MX150 Max-Q" can only be found on 13-inch Ultrabooks so far. We recommend being cautious if purchasing a notebook with the MX150 GPU as neither Nvidia nor the manufacturers have been explicitly advertising the slower GPU version.

Please see our dedicated page on the GeForce MX150 for more technical information on the two versions of the GPU.

10 W and 25 W Versions of the GeForce MX150 Exist

When the GeForce MX150 was announced early last year, our initial tests and sources pointed to a 25 W TDP to be in line with the outgoing GeForce 940MX that the new Pascal GPU directly replaces. Nvidia never explicitly mentioned, however, that there would be two distinct versions of the MX150 beyond the simple VRAM differences that we've become accustomed to in the past.

Our first laptop with the MX150 was the MSI PL62 and it was there where we recorded core clock, Boost clock, and VRAM speeds of 1469 MHz, 1532 MHz, and 1502 MHz, respectively. Curiously, a select few notebooks have also been shipping with underclocked MX150 GPUs rated for significantly slower clock rates across the board. Our two GPU-Z screenshots below compare the Asus Zenbook UX430UN and Lenovo IdeaPad 320S each equipped with the same MX150 GPU by name but with very different clock rates.

Xiaomi also uses the low power version of the MX150 GPU in its Mi Notebook Air and Mi Notebook Pro laptops. Both are equipped with the slower 1D12 version, but it seems the larger Mi Notebook Pro has more thermal headroom so Xiaomi increases the clocks of the GPU. Both the clock and the performance are almost right in the middle between the other two models.

Asus Zenbook UX430UN with "standard" '1D10' 'N17S-G1-A1' GeForce MX150.
Asus Zenbook UX430UN with "standard" '1D10' 'N17S-G1-A1' GeForce MX150.
Xiaomi Mi Notebook Pro with the slower 1D12 version, but higher clocks.
Xiaomi Mi Notebook Pro with the slower 1D12 version, but higher clocks.
Lenovo IdeaPad 320S-13KBR with slower 'N17S-LG-A1' MX150 variant. Note the dissimilar Device ID '1D12'
Lenovo IdeaPad 320S-13KBR with slower 'N17S-LG-A1' MX150 variant. Note the dissimilar Device ID '1D12'

Notebooks Shipping with the Slower "MX150 Max-Q" Are Not Advertised as Such

The base clock rate alone is 36 percent slower on the '1D12' variant of the MX150 when compared to the initial '1D10' model that the MX150 debuted with. This is not limited to the IdeaPad 320S either, as we've spotted the same MX150 '1D12' variant on a handful of notebooks including the ZenBook 13 UX331UN, Xiaomi Mi Notebook Air 13.3, HP Envy 13, and the ZenBook UX331UA thus far.

Raw graphics performance is unsurprisingly faster on notebooks with the '1D10' variant of the MX150. Our 3DMark 11 chart below compares all notebooks in our database equipped with either the '1D10' or '1D12' variant of the MX150 and nearly all models with the slower '1D12' variant are conveniently on the bottom of the list. The ZenBook UX430UN sits comfortably in the center of the chart since its '1D10' GPU regularly throttles as detailed in our review, but users can generally expect a significant performance drop of about 20 to 25 percent between the two versions of the MX150.

3DMark 11 - 1280x720 Performance GPU
Clevo N855H1
NVIDIA GeForce MX150, 7100H
4775 Points ∼100%
Acer Swift 3 SF315-51G-57E5
NVIDIA GeForce MX150, 8250U
4742 Points ∼99%
Acer Swift 3 SF314-52G-89SL
NVIDIA GeForce MX150, 8550U
4690 Points ∼98%
MSI PL62 MX150 7700HQ
NVIDIA GeForce MX150, 7700HQ
4685 Points ∼98%
Sager NP5852
NVIDIA GeForce MX150, 7700HQ
4662 Points ∼98%
HP Envy 17-ae143ng
NVIDIA GeForce MX150, 8250U
4631 Points ∼97%
Schenker Media 15
NVIDIA GeForce MX150, 7700HQ
4591 Points ∼96%
Lenovo IdeaPad 320-15IKBRN 81BG001KGE
NVIDIA GeForce MX150, 8250U
4582 Points ∼96%
Acer Aspire 5 A515-51G-51RL
NVIDIA GeForce MX150, 7200U
4575 Points ∼96%
HP Spectre x360 15t-bl100
NVIDIA GeForce MX150, 8550U
4564 Points ∼96%
Acer Swift 3 SF315-51G-55Z9
NVIDIA GeForce MX150, 7200U
4547 Points ∼95%
Lenovo ThinkPad T580-20LAS01H00
NVIDIA GeForce MX150, 8550U
4392 Points ∼92%
Samsung Notebook 9 NP900X5T-X01US
NVIDIA GeForce MX150, 8550U
4369 Points ∼91%
Lenovo ThinkPad T480-20L6S01V00
NVIDIA GeForce MX150, 8550U
4300 Points ∼90%
Xiaomi Mi Notebook Pro i7
NVIDIA GeForce MX150, 8550U
4285 (min: 4274, max: 4292) Points ∼90%
Xiaomi Mi Notebook Pro i5
NVIDIA GeForce MX150, 8250U
4252 Points ∼89%
Asus Zenbook UX3430UN-GV174T
NVIDIA GeForce MX150, 8250U
4191 Points ∼88%
Average NVIDIA GeForce MX150
  (2796 - 4876, n=37)
4161 Points ∼87%
Asus Zenbook UX430UN
NVIDIA GeForce MX150, 8550U
3867 Points ∼81%
Asus ZenBook 13 UX331UN
NVIDIA GeForce MX150, 8550U
3581 Points ∼75%
Lenovo ThinkPad T480s-20L8S02E00
NVIDIA GeForce MX150, 8550U
3551 Points ∼74%
Xiaomi Mi Notebook Air 13.3 2018
NVIDIA GeForce MX150, 8250U
3539.5 (min: 3537, max: 3543) Points ∼74%
Huawei Matebook X Pro i5
NVIDIA GeForce MX150, 8250U
3483 Points ∼73%
Asus ZenBook 13 UX331UN
NVIDIA GeForce MX150, 8550U
3461 Points ∼72%
HP Envy 13-ad006ng
NVIDIA GeForce MX150, 7500U
3459 Points ∼72%
Lenovo IdeaPad 320S-13IKB
NVIDIA GeForce MX150, 8250U
2796 Points ∼59%
3DMark
1920x1080 Fire Strike Graphics
Clevo N855H1
NVIDIA GeForce MX150, 7100H
3739 Points ∼100%
Sager NP5852
NVIDIA GeForce MX150, 7700HQ
3704 Points ∼99%
Acer Swift 3 SF315-51G-57E5
NVIDIA GeForce MX150, 8250U
3688 Points ∼99%
MSI PL62 MX150 7700HQ
NVIDIA GeForce MX150, 7700HQ
3673 Points ∼98%
Schenker Media 15
NVIDIA GeForce MX150, 7700HQ
3662 Points ∼98%
HP Envy 17-ae143ng
NVIDIA GeForce MX150, 8250U
3628 Points ∼97%
Acer Swift 3 SF315-51G-55Z9
NVIDIA GeForce MX150, 7200U
3603 Points ∼96%
Lenovo ThinkPad T480-20L6S01V00
NVIDIA GeForce MX150, 8550U
3585 Points ∼96%
Acer Aspire 5 A515-51G-51RL
NVIDIA GeForce MX150, 7200U
3576 Points ∼96%
HP Spectre x360 15t-bl100
NVIDIA GeForce MX150, 8550U
3563 Points ∼95%
Lenovo IdeaPad 320-15IKBRN 81BG001KGE
NVIDIA GeForce MX150, 8250U
3511 Points ∼94%
Samsung Notebook 9 NP900X5T-X01US
NVIDIA GeForce MX150, 8550U
3391 Points ∼91%
Asus Zenbook UX3430UN-GV174T
NVIDIA GeForce MX150, 8250U
3389 Points ∼91%
Xiaomi Mi Notebook Pro i7
NVIDIA GeForce MX150, 8550U
3319 Points ∼89%
Lenovo ThinkPad T580-20LAS01H00
NVIDIA GeForce MX150, 8550U
3291 Points ∼88%
Average NVIDIA GeForce MX150
  (2323 - 3739, n=34)
3291 Points ∼88%
Xiaomi Mi Notebook Pro i5
NVIDIA GeForce MX150, 8250U
3263 Points ∼87%
Asus Zenbook UX430UN
NVIDIA GeForce MX150, 8550U
3122 Points ∼83%
Asus ZenBook 13 UX331UN
NVIDIA GeForce MX150, 8550U
2903 Points ∼78%
Xiaomi Mi Notebook Air 13.3 2018
NVIDIA GeForce MX150, 8250U
2873 (min: 2870, max: 2876) Points ∼77%
HP Envy 13-ad006ng
NVIDIA GeForce MX150, 7500U
2841 Points ∼76%
Asus ZenBook 13 UX331UN
NVIDIA GeForce MX150, 8550U
2826 Points ∼76%
Lenovo ThinkPad T480s-20L8S02E00
NVIDIA GeForce MX150, 8550U
2807 Points ∼75%
Huawei Matebook X Pro i5
NVIDIA GeForce MX150, 8250U
2740 Points ∼73%
Lenovo IdeaPad 320S-13IKB
NVIDIA GeForce MX150, 8250U
2324 Points ∼62%
1280x720 Cloud Gate Standard Graphics
Schenker Media 15
NVIDIA GeForce MX150, 7700HQ
22183 Points ∼100%
Sager NP5852
NVIDIA GeForce MX150, 7700HQ
22116 Points ∼100%
Lenovo ThinkPad T480-20L6S01V00
NVIDIA GeForce MX150, 8550U
21893 Points ∼99%
Acer Swift 3 SF315-51G-57E5
NVIDIA GeForce MX150, 8250U
21666 Points ∼98%
MSI PL62 MX150 7700HQ
NVIDIA GeForce MX150, 7700HQ
21594 Points ∼97%
Acer Swift 3 SF315-51G-55Z9
NVIDIA GeForce MX150, 7200U
21160 Points ∼95%
HP Envy 17-ae143ng
NVIDIA GeForce MX150, 8250U
21153 Points ∼95%
HP Spectre x360 15t-bl100
NVIDIA GeForce MX150, 8550U
20470 Points ∼92%
Samsung Notebook 9 NP900X5T-X01US
NVIDIA GeForce MX150, 8550U
19884 Points ∼90%
Xiaomi Mi Notebook Pro i7
NVIDIA GeForce MX150, 8550U
19717 Points ∼89%
Average NVIDIA GeForce MX150
  (16227 - 22183, n=33)
19412 Points ∼88%
Acer Aspire 5 A515-51G-51RL
NVIDIA GeForce MX150, 7200U
19333 Points ∼87%
Lenovo IdeaPad 320-15IKBRN 81BG001KGE
NVIDIA GeForce MX150, 8250U
18940 Points ∼85%
Lenovo ThinkPad T580-20LAS01H00
NVIDIA GeForce MX150, 8550U
18916 Points ∼85%
Asus ZenBook 13 UX331UN
NVIDIA GeForce MX150, 8550U
18572 Points ∼84%
Asus Zenbook UX3430UN-GV174T
NVIDIA GeForce MX150, 8250U
18513 Points ∼83%
Asus ZenBook 13 UX331UN
NVIDIA GeForce MX150, 8550U
18346 Points ∼83%
Xiaomi Mi Notebook Air 13.3 2018
NVIDIA GeForce MX150, 8250U
18120 (min: 18100, max: 18140) Points ∼82%
HP Envy 13-ad006ng
NVIDIA GeForce MX150, 7500U
17750 Points ∼80%
Lenovo ThinkPad T480s-20L8S02E00
NVIDIA GeForce MX150, 8550U
17743 Points ∼80%
Xiaomi Mi Notebook Pro i5
NVIDIA GeForce MX150, 8250U
17552 Points ∼79%
Asus Zenbook UX430UN
NVIDIA GeForce MX150, 8550U
17469 Points ∼79%
Huawei Matebook X Pro i5
NVIDIA GeForce MX150, 8250U
16553 Points ∼75%
Lenovo IdeaPad 320S-13IKB
NVIDIA GeForce MX150, 8250U
16227 Points ∼73%

Be Careful Which Notebooks You Buy with the GeForce MX150

Why have two variants of the MX150 in the first place? The reasons are likely related to power management as the slower '1D12' GPU is purportedly within a 10 W TDP envelope for thinner and lighter notebook designs similar in concept to the Max-Q series of GTX GPUs. We've noticed, for example, that nearly all notebooks thus far with the '1D12' version of the GPU are 13-inch notebooks. While we don't have an issue with selling multiple variants of the same silicon, it's disappointing to not see any marketing material differentiating between the two versions especially since their performance deltas are more than marginal.

Casual gamers or heavy users looking for full performance out of the MX150 should double-check new notebooks before committing to a full purchase.

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> Notebook / Laptop Reviews and News > News > News Archive > Newsarchive 2018 03 > Nvidia has been sneaking in slower GeForce MX150 '1D12' variant onto some Ultrabooks
Allen Ngo, 2018-03-19 (Update: 2018-06- 5)
Allen Ngo
Allen Ngo - US Editor in Chief
After graduating with a B.S. in environmental hydrodynamics from the University of California, I studied reactor physics to become licensed by the U.S. NRC to operate nuclear reactors. There's a striking level of appreciation you gain for everyday consumer electronics after working with modern nuclear reactivity systems astonishingly powered by computers from the 80s. When I'm not managing day-to-day activities and US review articles on Notebookcheck, you can catch me following the eSports scene and the latest gaming news.