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The GeForce RTX 3080 has an insane 320 W TDP. What will this mean for gaming laptops?

The GeForce RTX 3080 has an insane 320 W TDP. What will this mean for laptops? (Source: Nvidia)
The GeForce RTX 3080 has an insane 320 W TDP. What will this mean for laptops? (Source: Nvidia)
Even the biggest and fastest laptops at the moment carry "only" the 150 W - 180 W TDP GeForce RTX 2080 GPU. Exactly how Nvidia will translate its massive 320 W desktop GeForce RTX 3080 to mobile form factors will be interesting to see.
Allen Ngo, 🇩🇪
Views, thoughts, and opinions expressed in the text belong solely to the author.

One of the biggest challenges to designing a gaming laptop is how to cool everything inside. GPUs in particular often have TDP ranges over four times that of the CPU and therefore require more attention in terms of cooling. The mobile GeForce RTX 2080, for example, is rated for a minimum TDP of 150 W and very few laptops actually carry the GPU as most utilize the lower-end 80 W GeForce RTX 2080 Max-Q instead.

The upcoming Nvidia GeForce 30 desktop series is set to be even more power hungry than the GeForce 20 desktop series with the RTX 3070 and RTX 3080 specced at 220 W and 320 W(!) TDP, respectively. When considering that the top-end mobile GPU at the moment is only 150 W minimum, this has us concerned about how Nvidia will introduce the inevitable mobile versions of the RTX 3070 or RTX 3080 without incurring significant performance penalties. Currently, the raw performance difference between mobile and Max-Q GeForce 20 GPUs can be anywhere between 5 to 20 percent, but we wouldn't be surprised to see a wider gap between the desktop RTX 3080 and mobile RTX 3080 derivative considering the huge jump in TDP as shown by the table below.

GeForce RTX 2060 TDP (W)GeForce RTX 2070 TDP (W)GeForce RTX 2080 TDP (W)GeForce RTX 3070 TDP (W)GeForce RTX 3080 TDP (W)GeForce RTX 3090 TDP (W)
Desktop160175215220320350
Mobile80+115+150+??????
Mobile Max-Q6580+80+??????

We see three potential scenarios for the mobile GeForce 30 series. Firstly, Nvidia may not even introduce a mobile version of the RTX 3080 at all due to its high TDP floor which would be unlikely to happen. The RTX 3090, however, will likely remain a desktop-only card much like the RTX 2080 Ti.

The second scenario is that the mobile RTX 3080 might be limited to even fewer laptop models than the current mobile RTX 2080 should Nvidia decide to keep its TDP range very high. Massive 17.3-inch gaming laptops like the MSI GT76 Titan, Asus ROG G703 Chimera, or Alienware Area-51m will have the best chances to run the mobile RTX 3070 or RTX 3080 at speeds closest to their desktop counterparts albeit at even higher core temperatures.

The last scenario is that Nvidia may decide to lower the TDP ranges of their mobile Ampere cards to similar levels as their current mobile Turing cards so that OEMs can more easily adapt the Ampere cards onto existing laptop designs. While this will likely incur wider performance deficits between the mobile and desktop variants, OEMs won't have to scramble to create brand new laptops and can therefore offer more Ampere options in general. Consumers won't be happy about the widening performance gap, but we see this to be the most likely scenario regardless.

The first laptop with Turing graphics didn't launch until 6 months after the initial launch of the desktop GeForce RTX 2080 and so we'll likely have to wait until early-to-mid 2021 before official details on the mobile GeForce 30 series come to light.

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> Notebook / Laptop Reviews and News > News > News Archive > Newsarchive 2020 09 > The GeForce RTX 3080 has an insane 320 W TDP. What will this mean for gaming laptops?
Allen Ngo, 2020-09-11 (Update: 2020-09-11)
Comment by Allen Ngo
Views, thoughts, and opinions expressed in the text belong solely to the author.
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.