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The mobile GeForce RTX 3080 is 40 percent slower than the desktop GeForce RTX 3080. What the hell happened?

The mobile GeForce RTX 3080 is 40 percent slower than the desktop GeForce RTX 3080. What the hell happened? (Image source: Nvidia)
The mobile GeForce RTX 3080 is 40 percent slower than the desktop GeForce RTX 3080. What the hell happened? (Image source: Nvidia)
Back in the Nvidia Pascal days, the chipmaker boasted that its mobile GPUs have caught up to their desktop counterparts in terms of performance. Fast-forward to 2021 and that claim has all been thrown out the window.

Late last year, we projected that the performance gaps between mobile GeForce RTX 30 and desktop GeForce RTX 30 would widen significantly when compared to the previous RTX 20 generation. Now that the first RTX 30 laptops have come to market, our in-house tests between a handful of GeForce RTX laptops have unfortunately upheld our prediction. Jumping from a mobile RTX 3080 to a desktop RTX 3080 can net users a 50 to 60 percent gain in raw graphics power compared to just 10 to 15 percent between the mobile RTX 2080 to desktop RTX 2080. Similar results also exist between the RTX 2070 series, but this page will focus on the RTX 3080 series for simplicity's sake.

The culprit for the wide performance discrepancy this generation isn't much of a surprise. Desktop gamers have probably noticed by now that their GeForce RTX 3080 graphics cards have significantly higher power ratings than their older RTX 2080 cards by about 40 percent (320 W vs. 225 W). Consequently, RTX 3080 cards are typically thicker and with stronger cooling than the older RTX 2080 cards to compensate for the extra heat generated.

On laptops, TGP ratings have hit a brick wall. The mobile RTX 2080 is rated for only 150 W maximum and so is the latest mobile RTX 3080 meaning the new mobile Ampere series must run under similar power constraints as the older mobile Turing series.

Raising the power ceiling for mobile Ampere by significant margins was likely impossible during development because these chips must fit into the same laptop models and thickness levels designed for mobile Turing. PC makers have tuned their thin-and-light laptops specifically for certain power levels and raising the power ceiling by 40 percent or so would inevitably mean thickening their respective chassis designs. We certainly doubt this is something OEMs want to consider now that consumers have grown accustomed to successful thin and sleek Max-Q gaming models like the MSI GS66, Razer Blade, Gigabyte Aero, or Asus Zephyrus.

Now, this isn't to say that the mobile RTX 30 series offers no improvements over mobile RTX 20. The gains, however, will be relatively small especially if gaming in lower resolutions like 1080p or 1440p. It'll be interesting to see where Nvidia and PC makers go from here because the limits of cooling technology have now become an even bigger obstruction to the advancement of mobile graphics performance than ever before.

3DMark
1920x1080 Fire Strike Graphics
ASUS GeForce RTX 3080 ROG STRIX OC GAMING
NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3080, R9 5900X
40910 Points
Average NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2080 (Desktop)
  (27228 - 28469, n=3)
27772 Points
Average NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3080 Laptop GPU
  (16455 - 32366, n=45)
27464 Points
Average NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2080 Mobile
  (22504 - 27319, n=16)
25211 Points
Average NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1080 Mobile
  (18879 - 23091, n=24)
21306 Points
Average NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1080 (Desktop)
  (15834 - 22887, n=6)
20727 Points
2560x1440 Time Spy Graphics
ASUS GeForce RTX 3080 ROG STRIX OC GAMING
NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3080, R9 5900X
17467 Points
Average NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2080 (Desktop)
  (11099 - 11294, n=3)
11173 Points
Average NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3080 Laptop GPU
  (6407 - 13210, n=44)
10695 Points
Average NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2080 Mobile
  (9411 - 10992, n=15)
10046 Points
Average NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1080 (Desktop)
  (6867 - 7592, n=5)
7227 Points
Average NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1080 Mobile
  (6380 - 7166, n=8)
6867 Points
2560x1440 Port Royal Graphics
ASUS GeForce RTX 3080 ROG STRIX OC GAMING
NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3080, R9 5900X
11238 Points
Average NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3080 Laptop GPU
  (5338 - 8032, n=26)
6675 Points
Average NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2080 Mobile
  (5377 - 6005, n=14)
5674 Points
Average NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1080 (Desktop)
 
1501 Points
3840x2160 Fire Strike Ultra Graphics
ASUS GeForce RTX 3080 ROG STRIX OC GAMING
NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3080, R9 5900X
10793 Points
Average NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3080 Laptop GPU
  (5859 - 8293, n=24)
7142 Points
Average NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2080 (Desktop)
  (6379 - 6568, n=3)
6487 Points
Average NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2080 Mobile
  (5511 - 6077, n=8)
5812 Points
Average NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1080 Mobile
  (4712 - 5120, n=8)
4964 Points
Average NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1080 (Desktop)
  (4647 - 5003, n=3)
4830 Points
3DMark 11
1280x720 Performance GPU
ASUS GeForce RTX 3080 ROG STRIX OC GAMING
NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3080, R9 5900X
47287 Points
Average NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2080 (Desktop)
  (37989 - 41409, n=4)
39989 Points
Average NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3080 Laptop GPU
  (31288 - 43744, n=39)
38345 Points
Average NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2080 Mobile
  (31826 - 38809, n=17)
35286 Points
Average NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1080 (Desktop)
  (19910 - 32126, n=6)
28484 Points
Average NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1080 Mobile
  (24868 - 31412, n=26)
28106 Points
1280x720 Performance Combined
ASUS GeForce RTX 3080 ROG STRIX OC GAMING
NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3080, R9 5900X
17096 Points
Average NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3080 Laptop GPU
  (10637 - 20233, n=38)
16622 Points
Average NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2080 (Desktop)
  (13644 - 18046, n=4)
15533 Points
Average NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2080 Mobile
  (9038 - 18934, n=17)
14407 Points
Average NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1080 (Desktop)
  (9421 - 17223, n=6)
11938 Points
Average NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1080 Mobile
  (7533 - 16949, n=26)
11440 Points
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> Expert Reviews and News on Laptops, Smartphones and Tech Innovations > News > News Archive > Newsarchive 2021 02 > The mobile GeForce RTX 3080 is 40 percent slower than the desktop GeForce RTX 3080. What the hell happened?
Allen Ngo, 2021-02-11 (Update: 2021-02-11)