Look Closely Before You Buy a GeForce RTX 3000 Laptop

GeForce RTX 3000 Laptop
GeForce RTX 3000 Laptop (Image credit: Nvidia)

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

Swipe to scroll horizontally
Graphics CardTDP (W)CUDA CoresBase Clock (MHz)Boost Clock (MHz)Memory InterfaceMemory Speed
RTX 3060 Laptop GPU Max-Q603,8408171,282192-bit12 Gbps
RTX 3060 Laptop GPU Max-Q653,8409751,357192-bit12 Gbps
RTX 3060 Laptop GPU Max-Q703,8401,0501,402192-bit12 Gbps
RTX 3060 Laptop GPU803,8409001,425192-bit14 Gbps
RTX 3060 Laptop GPU853,8401,0351,485192-bit14 Gbps
RTX 3060 Laptop GPU903,8401,1631,530192-bit14 Gbps
RTX 3060 Laptop GPU953,8401,2151,567192-bit14 Gbps
RTX 3060 Laptop GPU1003,8401,2671,605192-bit14 Gbps
RTX 3060 Laptop GPU1053,8401,3051,642192-bit14 Gbps
RTX 3060 Laptop GPU1103,8401,3421,680192-bit14 Gbps
RTX 3060 Laptop GPU1153,8401,3871,702192-bit14 Gbps
RTX 3070 Laptop GPU Max-Q805,1207801,290256-bit12 Gbps
RTX 3070 Laptop GPU Max-Q855,1208551,365256-bit12 Gbps
RTX 3070 Laptop GPU Max-Q905,1209301,410256-bit12 Gbps
RTX 3070 Laptop GPU1155,1201,1101,560256-bit14 Gbps
RTX 3070 Laptop GPU1205,1201,1701,590256-bit14 Gbps
RTX 3070 Laptop GPU1255,1201,2151,620256-bit14 Gbps
RTX 3080 Laptop GPU Max-Q806,1447801,245256-bit12 Gbps
RTX 3080 Laptop GPU Max-Q856,1448701,320256-bit12 Gbps
RTX 3080 Laptop GPU Max-Q906,1449301,365256-bit12 Gbps
RTX 3080 Laptop GPU1156,1441,1101,545256-bit14 Gbps
RTX 3080 Laptop GPU1206,1441,1551,575256-bit14 Gbps
RTX 3080 Laptop GPU1256,1441,1851,605256-bit14 Gbps
RTX 3080 Laptop GPU1306,1441,2301,635256-bit14 Gbps
RTX 3080 Laptop GPU1356,1441,2601,665256-bit14 Gbps
RTX 3080 Laptop GPU1406,1441,2751,665256-bit14 Gbps
RTX 3080 Laptop GPU1456,1441,3201,695256-bit14 Gbps
RTX 3080 Laptop GPU1506,1441,3501,710256-bit14 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.   

Zhiye Liu
RAM Reviewer and News Editor

Zhiye Liu is a Freelance News Writer at Tom’s Hardware US. Although he loves everything that’s hardware, he has a soft spot for CPUs, GPUs, and RAM.

  • Phaaze88

    Who's looking forward to the upcoming 'RTX 30 laptop, low performance' threads?
  • Glock24
    This is nothing new, for over a decade laptop manufacturers have used slower clocked GPUs and VRAM without telling anyone, they have even used DDR3 instead of GDDR5. This applies to both Radeon and Geforce mobile GPUs. Because of that you have to read the reviews of the laptop you want to buy so you don't get any surprises later.