Why are there insanely low clock speeds on RTX Mobile GPUs?

We were studying up on RTX Gaming laptops, given that the embargo has been lifted, and we came across Nvidia’s specification page for the details on the RTX GPUs for mobile. We were very surprised to see something that was pretty disturbing.


Where Pascal series offered little to no difference in terms of desktop vs laptop counterparts and that the Max-Q series were curbed a bit to control temparatures and noise – the TURING GPUs seem to have suffered a big cut in terms of clock speds. Nvidia’s website lists the RTX2080 GPU as having base clocks of as low as 735mhz and boosts that are barely over 1095mhz. This really confused us because while the Turing architecture is the best we’ve ever seen on any GPU – those crazy low clock speeds will not translate to huge performance gains.

Take a look at this chart:

RTX Mobile

While Nvidia doesn’t list it down as Max-Q or Max-P – we can only assume that the base clocks are designated for the Max-Q versions and that the max clocks are for the Max-P versions. It still doesn’t explain though, why Nvidia is giving us a range instead of 2 specific numbers to differentiate both.

A wild guess is that Nvidia is now giving manufacturers the ability to slightly use higher clock speeds on Max-Q series, or lower clock speeds on Max-P series to further control the hardware environment and curve temperatures for ultrathin laptops which are close to impossible to keep from getting hot. This is pretty much backed up by the power draws also being in ranges instead of a singular or specific wattage.

MaxQ Design

To give you an idea of the differences, here’s the list of clocks of the pascal series from Notebookcheck.net’s website.

GTX10 series
Image from notebookcheck.net

What the implications are for the difference in power draw and boost clocks are obvious – Performance gaps. This means that there will be huge FPS differences and game capabilities per GPU, P vs Q, and also Manufacturer vs Manufacturer.

Better Make Sure You Check Details Of Your RTX Purchase

So while this is our theory on what Nvidia’s specification page suggests – we have no official confirmation from them so, for now, just be weary when you buy RTX gaming laptops. Check for clock speeds and power draws and make sure you’re getting the most out of your hard-earned money. After all – Nvidia’s Turing RTX GPUs don’t come cheap wherein this generations XX60 costs as much as last generations XX70, and so on. It actually makes the older generation a good deal given that they have already received multiple price cuts and you’ll see them selling significantly cheaper.

For example, GTX2060 laptops will cost you around 119,995 and you’ll now see some older laptops equipped with GTX1070 at around 99,995. Given those pricing and that performance is quite similar – We’d really recommend that GTX1070 if you’re not in to the whole ray tracing and dlss hype!

 So Yes, take a look at Nvidia’s website for more details, and don’t forget to check out specific details of the laptop you’re going to buy before you swipe that card!