Gaming laptops have become much, much better over the last couple of years — faster, lighter, more powerful with better battery life. But they can be better, Nvidia says: slimmer and lighter again, with more responsible energy usage when they're plugged in and on battery, and — most importantly — quieter while gaming.
'Max-Q', as Nvidia is calling its holistic philosophy, hardware design and software tweaks, has its roots in NASA tech — "the point at which the aerodynamic stress on a rocket in atmospheric flight is maximised", apparently, a particular set of criteria that everything has to be designed to accommodate. And lo, Max-Q is the full thermal stress threshold of a gaming laptop.
There are three parts to Max-Q, which will be "debuting" — weird word, if you ask me — on new laptops from June 27 onwards around the world. On Pascal-powered laptops, optimised processor clock curves for low voltages, drivers for mobile chipsets that keep them within thermal limits, and customised cooling solutions for each device that dumps heat out as efficiently as possible.
Nvidia says it will make gaming laptops three times thinner with this combination of tech. Expect 18mm-thick laptops with GeForce GTX 1060 chips, it says. Given that I'm typing this on a 31mm-thick Alienware 13 with a 1060 inside, that would be a nice change, but the pessimist in me is still concerned; haven't laptop manufacturers pushed the envelope with cooling tech and hardware thermals already? See Razer's skinny Blades as an example.
The one big takeaway from Max-Q, though, is that Nvidia's GeForce Experience software will be getting a new WhisperMode setting that will let gaming laptops dynamically adjust frame rates and graphics settings in games to consume a set level of power while gaming, letting those fans run at a level — and a volume — that each gamer can customise to their own wills. I ran a couple of rounds of Battlegrounds on this machine last night and while it was not jet-engine loud, it certainly wasn't quiet, so that adjustability would be nice.
Gizmodo traveled to Computex as a guest of Dell.