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Nvidia's TDP values for the RTX 4050, 4060 and 4070 Laptop do not matter for gaming

Nvidia Ada-Lovelace GPU
Nvidia Ada-Lovelace GPU
Nvidia's new mainstream laptop GPUs convinced with improved efficiency and performance during our review, but we also noticed that the TDP values of the new laptop GPUs do not really matter above 100 Watts, since even the RTX 4070 Laptop only consumes ~100W during gaming.

The power limits of notebook GPUs can be configured in a very wide range by manufacturer laptop manufacturers, so they can be adapted to different cooling solutions. This makes it much easier for manufacturers to equip slim devices with powerful GPU models, but there is also a risk for the customer to get a slow version with a low TDP. Previous generations still used the Max-Q designation to indicate efficient and slower versions, but all models now support all Max-Q technologies. This means it is very important for gamers that notebook manufacturers specify the power limits of the dedicated GPUs, so you know what you get. 

This is also the case for the new RTX 40 models, which are based on the Ada Lovelace architecture. Nvidia advertises a very wide performance range between 35 and 115 Watt (plus up to 25 Dynamic Boost) for the new models RTX 4070 Laptop, RTX 4060 Laptop as well as RTX 4050 Laptop. These are big differences and there can be extreme scenarios where the RTX 4070 Laptop running at 35 Watts is beaten by the RTX 4050 Laptop running at 65 Watts. You can find the corresponding data in our analysis of the new mainstream GPUs. So far so good, but when we checked the performance with different power levels, we noticed that the GPUs neither reach their maximum TDP levels during the synthetic 3DMark benchmarks, nor the gaming benchmarks. Nvidia already mentioned that the power consumption depends on the actual load. However, it does not seem to be linked to the GPU clock, because we see up to 2200 MHz for the RTX 4070 Laptop in FurMark 1080p without AA and a power consumption of 140W. If we activate anti-aliasing, the clock rises to 2370 MHz, but the consumption drops to ~80W and we can also observe the maximum clock during gaming. We are not sure what's really going on in the background. The German laptop manufacturer Schenker has issued the following statement on its website for its customers:

XMG NEO is able to max out the GPU power consumption of the RTX 40-series laptop GPUs (140 W for RTX 4060/4070, 175 W for RTX 4080/4090) in synthetic stress tests (e.g. FurMark). However, according to the NVIDIA specifications, the actual GPU power consumption depends on the type of workload. Therefore, the power consumption may be below (sometimes significantly lower) than the specified TGP and Dynamic Boost power draw values and is defined by NVIDIA.

We use the engineering sample of the XMG Neo 17 for this example, which is equipped with the 140W version of the new GeForce RTX 4070 Laptop. As stated by the manufacturer, we see the maximum advertised value of 140 Watts during the synthetic FurMark test, but things change when we look at the synthetic 3DMark benchmarks. The regular Time Spy tests only result in around 100 Watts and the latest Speedway benchmark including raytracing 110-115W.

The power consumption is even lower for gaming, where the RTX 4070 Laptop maxed out at ~105W even at 4K with highest settings including raytracing (in this case Cyberpunkt 2077 1.5), and ~100W with standard settings. Our comparison table also shows that the performance does not improve any further at high TDP levels.

Gaming Benchmarks RTX 4070 Laptop
Game 35 Watts 50 Watts 65 Watts 80 Watts 100 Watts 115 Watts
Witcher 3 Ultra 1080p 75 FPS 94 FPS 103 FPS 116 FPS 124 FPS 124 FPS
Cyberpunk 2077 1.5 Ultra 1080p 53 FPS 66 FPS 73 FPS 79 FPS 91 FPS 91 FPS

We also noticed this behavior for the smaller RTX 4050 Laptop, but the maximum consumption was capped at little more than 90 Watts. However, we do not think this will be a big issue since there will probably not be many devices with this GPU that offer more than 100 Watts. We expect most devices will be between 35 and 80 Watts (multimedia and entry-level gaming), which was already the case with the old RTX 3050 Ti.

Gaming Benchmarks RTX 4050 Laptop
Game 35 Watts 50 Watts 65 Watts 80 Watts 100 Watts 115 Watts
Witcher 3 Ultra 1080p 61 FPS 73 FPS 80 FPS 86 FPS 89 FPS 89 FPS
Cyberpunk 2077 1.5 Ultra 1080p 43 FPS 52 FPS 58 FPS 63 FPS 65 FPS 65 FPS

If you are interested in a gaming laptop with a RTX 4060 Laptop or even RTX 4070 Laptop, however, high TDP claims are not really important since the RTX 4070 Laptop running at 105 Watts will offer the same gaming performance as the RTX 4070 Laptop advertised with 140 Watts. Customers might also ask themselves why they should pay more money for a device with a more powerful cooling solution (which might be thicker as well), if it does not improve the performance. We could not notice this behavior for the larger RTX 4090 Laptop by the way, where the GPU can also utilize the dynamic boost during gaming.

Generally speaking it is definitely a positive aspect when new GPUs achieve their maximum performance at lower TDP levels, but we are surprised that there are scenarios where the GPU consumes more power. We hope the manufacturers will explain this issue/behavior to the customers, otherwise there might be the impression that Nvidia artificially limits the gaming performance of the new GPUs. The situation is definitely not ideal right now and based on our tests, you will get the maximum gaming performance with the RTX 4060 Laptop and RTX 4070 Laptop when the manufacturer advertises 100-105 Watts (so it could be 80 Watts TGP + 25 Watts Dynamic Boost). The smaller RTX 4050 Laptop hit its limit at 90-92 Watts, but we do not expect there will be many devices in this performance range. We expect most multimedia laptops or entry-level gaming laptops with the RTX 4050 Laptop will be positioned between 35-80 Watts, which was already the case with the previous GeForce RTX 3050 Ti.

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> Expert Reviews and News on Laptops, Smartphones and Tech Innovations > News > News Archive > Newsarchive 2023 02 > Nvidia's TDP values for the RTX 4050, 4060 and 4070 Laptop do not matter for gaming
Andreas Osthoff, 2023-03- 1 (Update: 2023-03- 1)