You no longer need a huge, water-cooled rig to play the latest blockbuster shooters, with plenty of gaming laptops doing a fine job of marrying performance with portability. But a divide still exists, with even the best mobile GPUs defined as "desktop-class," which is a nice way of saying they aren't quite as powerful as the cards made for home office-hogging towers. That said, in what NVIDIA claims is an industry first, the company has today announced its top-end GeForce GTX 980 desktop GPU is headed to laptops. Not to be confused with the GTX 980M -- NVIDIA's previous flagship GPU for notebooks -- the GTX 980 for laptops is exactly the same as the desktop version, offering identical gaming performance.
Crafted using NVIDIA's power efficient Maxwell architecture, the GTX 980 runs at a base 1.1GHz clock speed, with 2048 CUDA cores and 4GB of GDDR5 video memory (7 Gbps memory speed). All these numbers culminate in a laptop GPU that can comfortable run any of the latest titles at over 60 fps on maximum graphics settings. The GTX 980 can also drive three 1080p displays (should a notebook's outputs allow it), and is "fully certified by Oculus," meaning it's effectively guaranteed to hold up to the demands of VR gaming.
Furthermore, the GTX 980 for laptops is made with serious enthusiasts in mind, and according to NVIDIA, is the first fully unlocked GPU for notebooks. Any laptop sporting the chip will feature NVIDIA software that lets you overclock the GPU, and make other tweaks like set temperature thresholds and cooling fan speeds. Obviously, the GTX 980 is destined for the cream of the crop of gaming laptops, such as the recently announced water-cooled ASUS GX700 (pictured above), and others from the likes of Gigabyte, Clevo and MSI. The 18-inch MSI GT80 will even boast two of the new top-end GPUs, and you can expect many more partners announcing laptops in the near future sporting this new benchmark in notebook graphics.