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Mobile GeForce GTX Graphics: Model Inflation Gone Awry

The All-New G92?

Bringing high-end performance to the upper-mainstream masses, the 8800 GTS 512 might be the most exciting PC gaming product…of 2007. But rather than wax nostalgic for its G92 architecture, Nvidia has rehashed and revised it, first naming it the 9800 series, then shrinking it from 65 to 55nm for the G92b, and finally moving to 40nm for its latest mainstream-mobile variant. So far, so good!

But then came the naming games. Knowingly pulling one over on mobile gamers looking to buy the latest notebook products, Nvidia re-named the 8800 GTS 512 (in its 55nm, 1 GB trim) to GeForce GTX 280M. Today’s notebook comparison shows that this sneaky maneuver probably wasn’t necessary in order to win over performance-oriented customers, but may instead be intended to woo unwary buyers as they drop out of the desktop market.

That sounds like harsh criticism, so let’s have a look at the actual specs of each mobile processor to see how accurate it is.

Mobile GPU Feature Comparison
Mobile ModelDie ProcessStream ProcessorsMemory BusMobile GFlopsDesktop VersionDie ProcessDesktop GFlops
GeForce GTX 280M55nm128256-bits5628800 GTS65nm624
GeForce GTX 260M55nm112256-bits4628800 GT65nm504
GeForce GTS 260M40nm96128-bits3968800 GS65nm396

The computational power might be a little lower for the mobile version than the elder desktop parts, but we’re willing to give up a little clock speed to keep heat production and power consumption at notebook-acceptable levels. What we’re not willing to give up is an entire generation of graphics development while paying for the latest “high-performance” product in name only.

To be fair, Nvidia is far from the only offender, yet we remember previous products like the Radeon Mobility 9700 (based on the 9600 XT) being much closer in performance to the desktop part from which it took its name. Indeed, the aforementioned notebook comparison even shows a Mobility Radeon HD 4850 that differs from its desktop counterpart in clock speed alone, not architecture.

Eurocom’s recent delivery of a desktop Core i7-based mobile solution gave us the perfect opportunity to see how well Nvidia’s most recent high-end notebook graphics processor stands up to last year’s desktop-performance phenomena of similar name.

  • tacoslave
    and here i thought they were going to name it the gts 250m, but 280m? thats just low
    Reply
  • amdfangirl
    Well... how long would a lappie last with power draws of the desktop GTX versions?
    Reply
  • IzzyCraft
    Probably not more then 30 mins :) But that's not the point.
    Reply
  • Crashman
    IzzyCraftProbably not more then 30 mins But that's not the point.
    Actually, if you look at the notebook it's in...you could probably cool at least a GTX 275 with same-sized sinks if you had a lower power CPU.
    Reply
  • Sharft6
    :o i never noticed this before although I've never had a laptop before. maybe this article could stoke up the the big boys in the gfx department to rethink their naming schemes :)
    Reply
  • apache_lives
    will these parts crash and burn like every other previous nvidia product released for laptop over the last 2 years?
    Reply
  • amdfangirl
    Well, the laptop maker could always try putting in a normal Geforce card...
    Reply
  • lemonade4
    Down with naming inflation!! (excellent article btw)
    Reply
  • Crashman
    9476634 said:
    Well, the laptop maker could always try putting in a normal Geforce card...

    It would be hard, but when nVidia makes a card using the same specs as the GTS 250...except lower clock speeds...it could at least call the thing a GTS 250M.

    Then again, both it an the GTS 250 are actually die-shrunk, underclocked 8800 GTS 512s...with twice the memory.
    Reply
  • falchard
    I think the die on the GTX 260+ is just too large to shrink down to be cool enough and power hungryless enough to put in a laptop.
    Reply