Have you ever heard of the saying, "Not everything is made equal?" That statement holds even more truth now with the launch of Nvidia's GeForce RTX 3000 Laptop GPUs.
Nvidia has only released three primary mobile Ampere graphics cards: GeForce RTX 3080, 3070, and 3060 Laptop GPUs. In reality, there are multiple variants of each graphics card since Nvidia has given its partners freedom to adapt the graphics cards to their product. If you're wondering how many variants of the GeForce RTX 3000 Laptop GPUs are out there in the wild, there's a grand total of 28 of them, according to the latest ComputerBase report.
If you take a good look at Nvidia's website, the chipmaker never really established a fixed clock speed or TGP (total graphics power) for each mobile Ampere SKU. Instead, Nvidia leaned toward using a range of values, making it even more important that OEMs disclose the clock speed and TGP for their products. Sadly, Nvidia hasn't imposed this transparency on its partners. The chipmaker has only encouraged vendors to list the relevant specifications. So while you have vendors like XMG that follow good practices, others haven't followed Nvidia's recommendation.
Nvidia GeForce RTX 3000 Laptop GPU Specifications
|Graphics Card||TDP (W)||CUDA Cores||Base Clock (MHz)||Boost Clock (MHz)||Memory Interface||Memory Speed|
|RTX 3060 Laptop GPU Max-Q||60||3,840||817||1,282||192-bit||12 Gbps|
|RTX 3060 Laptop GPU Max-Q||65||3,840||975||1,357||192-bit||12 Gbps|
|RTX 3060 Laptop GPU Max-Q||70||3,840||1,050||1,402||192-bit||12 Gbps|
|RTX 3060 Laptop GPU||80||3,840||900||1,425||192-bit||14 Gbps|
|RTX 3060 Laptop GPU||85||3,840||1,035||1,485||192-bit||14 Gbps|
|RTX 3060 Laptop GPU||90||3,840||1,163||1,530||192-bit||14 Gbps|
|RTX 3060 Laptop GPU||95||3,840||1,215||1,567||192-bit||14 Gbps|
|RTX 3060 Laptop GPU||100||3,840||1,267||1,605||192-bit||14 Gbps|
|RTX 3060 Laptop GPU||105||3,840||1,305||1,642||192-bit||14 Gbps|
|RTX 3060 Laptop GPU||110||3,840||1,342||1,680||192-bit||14 Gbps|
|RTX 3060 Laptop GPU||115||3,840||1,387||1,702||192-bit||14 Gbps|
|RTX 3070 Laptop GPU Max-Q||80||5,120||780||1,290||256-bit||12 Gbps|
|RTX 3070 Laptop GPU Max-Q||85||5,120||855||1,365||256-bit||12 Gbps|
|RTX 3070 Laptop GPU Max-Q||90||5,120||930||1,410||256-bit||12 Gbps|
|RTX 3070 Laptop GPU||115||5,120||1,110||1,560||256-bit||14 Gbps|
|RTX 3070 Laptop GPU||120||5,120||1,170||1,590||256-bit||14 Gbps|
|RTX 3070 Laptop GPU||125||5,120||1,215||1,620||256-bit||14 Gbps|
|RTX 3080 Laptop GPU Max-Q||80||6,144||780||1,245||256-bit||12 Gbps|
|RTX 3080 Laptop GPU Max-Q||85||6,144||870||1,320||256-bit||12 Gbps|
|RTX 3080 Laptop GPU Max-Q||90||6,144||930||1,365||256-bit||12 Gbps|
|RTX 3080 Laptop GPU||115||6,144||1,110||1,545||256-bit||14 Gbps|
|RTX 3080 Laptop GPU||120||6,144||1,155||1,575||256-bit||14 Gbps|
|RTX 3080 Laptop GPU||125||6,144||1,185||1,605||256-bit||14 Gbps|
|RTX 3080 Laptop GPU||130||6,144||1,230||1,635||256-bit||14 Gbps|
|RTX 3080 Laptop GPU||135||6,144||1,260||1,665||256-bit||14 Gbps|
|RTX 3080 Laptop GPU||140||6,144||1,275||1,665||256-bit||14 Gbps|
|RTX 3080 Laptop GPU||145||6,144||1,320||1,695||256-bit||14 Gbps|
|RTX 3080 Laptop GPU||150||6,144||1,350||1,710||256-bit||14 Gbps|
As per ComputerBase's list, the GeForce RTX 3060 Laptop GPU and GeForce RTX 3080 Laptop GPU each have eight different variants. It's understandable since the first is the budget offering, while the latter is the flagship part. The GeForce RTX 3070 Laptop GPU presents the least confusion of the lot with just three variants. Even the Max-Q versions weren't saved from the hatchet as there appear to be three different variants for each Max-Q SKU.
With mobile Ampere, Nvidia has introduced the Dynamic Boost 2.0 technology that basically utilizes AI to balance the power load between the processor, GPU, and GPU memory. As a result, OEMs have the liberty to supply the GPU with an extra 5W, 10W, or 15W through Dynamic Boost 2.0. This would bump the GeForce RTX 3080, RTX 3070, and RTX 3060 Laptop GPUs' maximum thermal limit up to 165W, 140W, and 130W, respectively.
It's even more important now that consumers do their due diligence before picking up a GeForce RTX 3000 gaming laptop. Unless the vendor explicitly lists the GPU variant inside the laptop, consumers have no way of finding out which variant they've gotten until they've bought the device.
Of course, you can always rely on reviews, but the problem is that there are so many laptops out there, it's practically impossible to find a review for every single unit. Furthermore, you have to take regionalization into account. Sometimes the same model that's being sold here in the U.S. may present a slight difference in hardware in other countries. If the vendor doesn't list the GPU's TGP and a review is not available, it would be wise to get in touch with the company to find out the important details. If that fails, just move on to another brand that does provide transparency with its products.