Last month, new laptops were launched that directly impact the high-performance and portable slot machine segment. The new Intel Core i7-10875H is the most important new CPU in the 10th generation for laptops. At the same time, Nvidia released an improved RTX Super series GPU, and the week before, AMD launched a competitive processor that targeted Ryzen 4000 in the same segment.
Today our focus will be on the RTX 2070 Super Max-Q, but the right context was very important as you should expect new laptop models to be equipped with a variety of this hardware in the coming weeks and months.
It took Nvidia almost a year to switch its RTX Super GPUs from desktop to mobile form factors. However, as we explained at the time of the announcement, the change is not limited to an increase in frequency, but there are some nice new features reserved for these new GPUs. If you missed it, read our full feature overview here.
The new laptop GPUs include the RTX 2080 Super, the RTX 2070 Super and the GTX 1650 Ti. The RTX 2070 Super is available in a number of TGPs, in which the 80 W and 90 W variants have a max. Q designation received, while the version with a maximum of 115 W is designated as Max-P.
As you can imagine, having all these different variants and performance limits under a single GPU name can be confusing, and we're still frustrated with it. Just take a look at all the GPUs that are known today as "RTX 2070": two desktop GPUs, two Max-P laptop variants and at least 4 Max-Q models. Some are great, some are not great. Some are Max-Q, some are not. The performance goals are often not announced, but whether you have an 80W or 90W Max-Q version will affect performance. But let's go on …
Nvidia's desktop and mobile GPUs have the same core CUDA numbers. Therefore, the RTX 2070 Super for laptops has the same TU104 GPU with 2560 CUDA cores as its desktop counterpart, but the clock speeds are different. If you look at the Max-P variant with 115 W, the mobile model has a 29% lower base clock and a 22% lower boost clock, so it of course works under an RTX 2070 super desktop GPU. This is not very surprising when you consider that the desktop card is designed for 215 W and has more space to dissipate all this heat. When comparing laptop and desktop, we also get the same storage subsystem that contains 8 GB GDDR6 at 14 Gbit / s.
Max-Q models are configured at a lower clock to meet the heat dissipation constraints. The 80 W model has a base of 930 MHz and a boost of 1155 MHz. Our test laptop also supports a 90 W configuration that can increase performance. We understand that laptops with a standard output of 90 W have 150 MHz higher base clocks. As with all modern Nvidia GPUs, the nominal boost clock is specified at 1155 MHz. However, due to the GPU boost algorithms, the actual game clock speeds tend to be much higher, so these specifications are for guidance only.
The laptop we used for testing is the Gigabyte Aorus 15G. This is the same device from our Core i7-10875H CPU analysis that we can use to test the RTX 2070 Super Max-Q's performance in both the 80W and 90W configurations. Note that we are getting a CPU and GPU upgrade in this generation at the same time – all RTX super laptops will be equipped with new 10th generation CPUs – ideally we would like to try these GPUs if they are paired with The Core i7-10750H, which comes much closer to the Core i7-9750H that was previously used in many gaming laptops and would remove the CPU as a variable as much as possible. At the moment, however, this is simply not possible. Therefore, we stick to the mostly strong GPU benchmarks in this test.
The Aorus 15G also has 16 GB of DDR4-2933 memory and a 240 Hz display with 1080p. Unfortunately, two of the new functions that Nvidia advertised when the RTX Super laptop was launched are not included in this device: We do not receive Dynamic Boost or Advanced Optimus, so we will have to evaluate this later.
As with all of our laptop tests, we try to lock variables as much as possible. This means that the CPU is kept at Intel's default settings unless otherwise stated, and the same goes for the GPU. We do not use the supplied OEM utilities to overclock these GPUs. This test therefore shows inventory performance for a particular power supply configuration, although some OEMs such as Gigabyte allow power supply targets to be selected in this case. We believe that many OEMs will do the same. So we're showing both 80W and 90W power to give you the clearest idea of how this GPU works in a variety of configurations. The full list of laptops used to compile the benchmarks can be found here.
We'll start this game with a fairly normal game in Far Cry 5. Here you'll see a slew of results with all of the RTX 2070 series GPUs we've tested, and you'll likely recognize the RTX 2080 Max. Q peeks out of the middle there too.
In terms of average frame rates, the RTX 2070 Super Max-Q in its 80 W configuration with 115 W is slightly ahead of the RTX 2070, which is impressive in itself because it outperforms the 90 W RTX 2070 Max-Q which is below the RTX 2070 level. However, if you look at all of these results, it doesn't matter whether you get an RTX 2070 Max-Q up to RTX 2080 Max-Q because the difference between the best and the worst Results only 6% is ultra settings.
What about Battlefield V using ultra settings at 1080p again? The story here is not too different, although this time both configurations of the RTX 2070 Super Max-Q are not as fast as those of the 115W RTX 2070 and fall 3 to 6 percent. The 80 W configuration is also slower than that of the RTX 2080 Max-Q, but the edges here are similar to those of the RTX 2070 with only single digits.
Now let's take a look at Shadow of the Tomb Raider, a GPU-intensive game than the previous two that unlocks the power of the RTX 2070 Super GPU. This is one of the strongest results for RTX 2070 Super Max-Q compared to RTX 2070 Max-Q, both at 90W, which is the comparison we have available. With this configuration, the new Super GPU is 13 percent faster and more impressive, even the 80 W variant is faster. As a result, the 2070 Super Max-Q can be delivered 4% faster than the 115 W RTX 2070, although only 80 W of power are used. Impressive result in a mobile form factor.
Resident Evil 2 with balanced settings also played well on the RTX 2070 Super Max-Q with well over 100 FPS. Here we see an 11% performance gain over the RTX 2070 Max-Q and a 2% advantage over the RTX 2070. However, the frame rates in this game, the larger GPU, don't quite keep pace with the RTX 2080 Max-Q here better at the same 80W power limit.
Metro Exodus is a very GPU-intensive title, and we are again seeing a whole series of results for all GPUs of the RTX 2070 class. The 80W numbers for the 2070 Super Max-Q are not particularly impressive, 2% slower than for the RTX 2070, but this does result in a performance advantage at 90 W. In fact, this game was one of the biggest wins in increasing the power limit to 6%, which allows it to be almost 5% faster than the RTX 2070 when all is said and done. However, when comparing 90 W numbers with the 90 W RTX 2070 Max-Q, we don't see a big gain, just an improvement in average frame rates of 1%.
Control is a very GPU-demanding title at 1080p with high settings. Here we test without RTX functions. If you enable DLSS, you will see better performance. The 80W configuration of the 2070 Super Max-Q is almost 10% behind the RTX 2070, but benefits from an 11% increase in output when increased to 90W, which allows it to be slightly ahead of the last generation's more power-hungry configuration to be. This is not a bad result of a part with lower power consumption.
Borderlands 3 is another title where the RTX 2070 Super Max-Q can only keep up with the performance of the RTX 2070 at 90W, while comparing 80W 2070 Super Max-Q with 80W 2080 Max-Q by about Falls back 5%. These names are pretty confusing, but here we are with modern gaming laptop GPUs.
Red Dead Redemption 2 is of course a very popular title on the PC and the performance story is very similar to some of the games we just watched. The 80W configuration of the 2070 Super Max-Q is slower on average than that of an RTX 2070, but faster at 90W. And surprisingly, this is one of the few games we've tested where the 80W 2070 Super Max-Q is actually faster than the 2080 Max-Q running at the same power limit.
Star Wars Jedi Fallen Order plays well with the RTX 2070 Super Max-Q, with both performance variants being 2 to 4% faster than the standard RTX 2070 for laptops. It's not quite as fast as the RTX 2080 Super Max-Q, but we think the performance in this game is good in both cases, even when using the Epic preset.
Grand Theft Auto V is the last title we will take a closer look at, which is an older but still popular game. There's not much here that we haven't talked about yet. The performance margins between all the GPUs we've talked about are small, and that's not really different here. The 80W 2070 Super Max-Q is 2% behind the RTX 2070, but 2% ahead of 90W. This is one of the rare titles where the new super GPU is slower than the non-super model. However, we believe that part of it is due to a CPU limitation. The game benefits from faster CPUs at these frame rates.
Performance breakdown: great or not?
It's time to fix some performance issues. We'll start with the RTX 2070 Super Max-Q compared to the RTX 2070 Max-Q, both at 90W, in GPU-limited games. On average, the new Super GPU was 7% faster with the same performance limit, but this varied between titles. Some games weren't much faster, others up to 15% faster. It depends on how the game uses resources and whether the game prefers the core frequency or the number of cores.
Interestingly, the 80W variant of the RTX 2070 Super Max-Q is still faster than the 90W RTX 2070 Max-Q we tested, not in all games and not much, but an average improvement of 3% is respectable and indicates a small gain in efficiency due to the larger CUDA core array with its slightly reduced clocks.
Speaking of 80W versus 90W, here's how the higher power variant stacks up. In some stocks we saw an 11% increase in performance, in others the gains were more modest. On average, we only achieved a 3-4% performance improvement over the higher performance limit, which is slightly lower than the gains from higher performance limits in previous generations. For example, the 90W RTX 2080 Max-Q is 7% faster on average than the 80W configuration when we tested it in early 2019.
Thanks to the rise to this new supermodel, the Max-Q variant of the RTX 2070 class was able to approach the regular RTX 2070 with 115 W. With 80 W, the RTX 2070 Super Max-Q is only 2% slower on average. Some games show that it is faster and others that it is slower. In our previous tests, the 80W RTX 2070 Max-Q was about 10% slower, sometimes even longer. We're still talking about RTX 2070 Super compared to RTX 2070, so Nvidia had to raise a GPU level to achieve this performance parity on a lower-performing target.
With 90 W, the RTX 2070 Super Max-Q can drive the RTX 2070 on average, but only slightly. The low-power Max-Q model isn't always the faster GPU, but performance is quite good here in many of the most demanding GPU titles. So I would hope that most people who buy a laptop with this GPU will end up getting the 90W configuration.
The RTX 2070 Super Max-Q still has its place in the lineup. It fell only 3% behind the RTX 2080 Max-Q on average. Although we can't quite replace the last-generation higher-tier product with a lower design, it's very close.
The RTX 2070 Super Max-Q offers significantly more power than the RTX 2060 when both are configured for 80W. The new super GPU is 18 percent faster, suggesting that it is far more efficient.
After all the comparisons above, it is clear that Nvidia has overfilled the market and most of the time the profits you get from moving up a GPU holder are very small. From the RTX 2060 to the RTX 2070 Max-Q, you see growth of around 10%, but all you can achieve with it are marginal increments.
What we have learned
Let's try to keep things as simple as possible. According to Nvidia, the RTX 2070 Super replaces the RTX 2070 at about the same price. For the same money, you get ~ 7% performance improvement. It's not groundbreaking, but we'll take it.
The RTX 2070 will continue to exist on the market by replacing the RTX 2060 in this price range, so that RTX 2070 Max-Q and RTX 2070 Super Max-Q models can be selected. Gigabyte's Aero 15 is available with a GPU and an i7-10750H, for example. The RTX 2070 Max-Q model costs $ 1,900 and the RTX 2070 Super Max-Q costs $ 2,100. This corresponds to a price increase of 11% for 7% more performance or in the best case up to 15%.
When switching between Max-Q and non-Max-Q laptops, the RTX 2070 Super Max-Q offers similar performance to the 115-W RTX 2070, which is neat for efficiency reasons, but not when exploring the value so good. Laptops that use the full 2070 are usually cheaper. This revised pricing structure doesn't solve the difference in value between Max-Q and non-Max-Q GPUs: Max-Q is always a worse value, but that's the premium you pay for leaner, nicer, and more portable machines.
Then there are some marginal cases where companies are replacing the full RTX 2070 with an RTX 2070 Super Max-Q. This was done with the Gigabyte Aorus 15. In this scenario, the GPUs work relatively the same, but the CPU has been upgraded from 6 to 8 cores. Unless you need improved productivity performance, this kind of "upgrade" isn't very appealing to gamers. If a laptop's cooler can handle a 115W GPU, it would have made more sense to upgrade to a 2070 Super Max-P or keep the RTX 2070 but lower the price.
We should also note that the Aorus 15 we tested does not contain Dynamic Boost or Advanced Optimus, two new features that Nvidia advances in this generation. These have the potential to further improve performance. So we talked more about a basic metric today. We need to examine these features in a future test as we get more laptops to test.
The bottom line is that the needle hasn't shifted too much in terms of performance, but we hope to see new opportunities for lower-priced laptops in the coming months. The excitement for 2020 laptops will come from the use of Ryzen 4000 APUs, Nvidia's Advanced Optimus, new 300 Hz displays and these beautiful mechanical key switches from the Aorus.