Can Gaming Laptops Replace the Desktop?

– Hey guys, this is Austin Computers have been getting smaller and smaller ever since the days of mainframes

It just makes sense, right? As technology advances, you want to put it into more and more portable form factors So when Nvidia reached out and wanted to sponsor a video on the brand new Acer Predator Triton 500, it felt like the perfect time to ask, Are laptops killing desktops? And yeah, that’s a big question At only 18 millimeters thick, and just over two kilos in weight, this is a great example of how a laptop like this could not have existed even a couple years ago The entire chassis is made of metal, and it has a narrow-bezel display, which is not only bright and fairly vibrant, but importantly it does have a full 144hz refresh rate, over double what you would find on most other non-gaming laptops these days Now this version of the Triton does have an RTX-2060 inside, so it will support GSYNC via an external display

But if you are able to upgrade this to the 2080 version of the Triton, it has GSYNC on the internal display Which keeps things looking even smoother On board, you also have Killer DoubleShot Pro Essentially this can take advantage of both ethernet and WIFI at the same time, to route your traffic through whichever is faster Something that’s hard to get across is just the level of polish, fit and finish with this laptop I mean not only does it look clean with all the blue lighting, although of course it is RBG

But on top of that, you’ve got the little things which are absolutely nailed This is one of the best touch pads I’ve ever used on any Windows laptop The keyboard is also great And that screen really does sell the idea that this is a super-fast gaming laptop, even when you’re not even gaming, right? Stuff like web browsing is still much, much smoother than on pretty much any other laptop And that is a big, big plus

So if we get back to the idea of laptops becoming close to replacing desktops, one of the very first things you have to acknowledge is that laptops have a lot less space to deal with But it also fits in your backpack, so, you know, there’s that This might sound obvious but there’s some major advantages of going with a desktop tower In the big ones, it’s on the power side of things So not only does a desktop not have to worry about things like battery life

As long as you’ve got mom paying the electricity bill you’re totally fine One of the bigger issues is the actual cooling aspect of things As you can see with a tower like this, you can load it up with fans, RGBs, liquid cooling, all that is no problem So things can be run at much, much higher clock speeds It just really not a big issue

But, we come over to a laptop which is less than an inch thin, certain sacrifices have to be made But you know what? Those sacrifices are getting smaller and smaller every year This delivers a very similar level of performance to this giant tower right in front of me If we come back to the Triton 500, you’ll that a large part of this design is entirely dedicated to keeping the laptop cool Now that makes sense, right? With a 2060 inside, this can put off a hundred watts of heat just from the GPU alone

So because they have all these different heat sinks as well as the metal arrow-blade fans to keep all that heat moving, it means that there is actually very little throttling even though we are gaming on such a thin and light laptop A big part of this is thanks to the software So if we hit the Predator Sense button which is very helpfully labeled right here, you have full control over a lot of things, including the fans So by default, this guy actually runs with the fans all disabled But as soon as you start needing any kind of extra power, they will start to kick up

Now for gaming, it’s actually fairly quiet One of the cool parts is, that if I come over to the fan control side and hit the turbo button, you’ll see that this thing can really crank up So if you have headphones on and you don’t care about a little bit of noise, you can get significantly better performance out of the Predator And the best part is, as soon as your done gaming, you can just hit the turbo button, and it will bring the clock speeds back down to normal And importantly, those fans will kick right back off

It actually is nice to have the performance when you need it, or the silence when you want it And I always want the silence (laughs) I’ll give up a few frames to have a much quieter laptop I feel like the more videos we do like this, the more I just out myself as someone who’s like an old man and like, I don’t care I just want it to be quiet I want it to work well

Right now there are over one billion PC gamers in the world I think it’s a pretty safe bet to assume that a lot of those gamers are using desktops right now But just look at the overall trends, right? I mean it wasn’t that long ago that pretty much everyone had a desktop in their homes Now laptops have largely replaced them for pretty much anything besides gaming tasks Well, I think given how far gaming laptops have come, it’s only a matter of time before gaming is also moving more and more to the laptop side of things

My real question is, exactly how close can a laptop get to a full gaming desktop? So we have come to GDC here in San Francisco which is the mecca of all things gaming and tech related to talk just a little bit more about why the laptop actually makes so much sense in 2019 Also, we’re were looking for an excuse to come to GDC Now if you take a look inside the Triton, you’ll see the secret sauce that makes all this work The highly optimized CPU and GPU to really elevate the laptop to an entirely different level First up we have the CPU

This is the Intel Core I7-8750h, which is a full 6 4 processor that can clock over 4 ghz when it’s boosting Now it’s easy to forget that for a very long time, we were capped at around four cores not only on the desktop side, but also the laptop side The idea that we can get six cores in something that’s this thin and light, is something that’s easy to take for granted But this is a big deal You can do more than just gaming on something like this

With that much power, stuff like streaming, video editing, 3D rendering, all that stuff is totally possible Inside, essentially what you’re getting is a more power-efficient version of the eighth-gen core desktop processors Now there’s a lot of advantages to this Not only is it a very similar layout, but because we’re dealing with about less than half the power, somewhere in the neighborhood of 45 watts versus 90 plus on the desktop side, it means that while you’re giving up a little bit of performance, that same basic core architecture is all here As long as you have the cooling to back it up, which the Triton definitely does, you can actually still keep those fairly high boost clocks even with all six cores loaded

Now the laws of physics do mean that because we have less than an inch-thick laptop, it’s never going to have quite that same level of performance as the desktop But, it kinda doesn’t need to as long as you’re getting close enough and you still deliver the portability I think it’s a trade off that a lot of people are happy to make Don’t expect this trend to go anywhere either As laptops and desktops share more and more of the same components, it is very likely, if the rumors are true, that we’ll see laptops with eight core CPU before too much longer, which would mean, to be fair, do you need eight cores in a CPU of a laptop? Probably not

Do you want one? I do Maybe the more interesting comparison is on the graphics side Now for years, Nvidia made a separate version of all of their graphics cards They wold make the desktop version, and then a mobile However, for the past couple years, they’ve straight up just made one that works across the board

Now, no, it’s not quite that simple Nvidia and their OEM partners such as Acer, do a lot of work to make sure that a full RTX card can fit in a thin, light chassis like this But you might be surprised at just how close the graphics card from this laptop is compared to a much thicker and much more expensive gaming PC What this means is that you’re getting all of the performance you would expect as an RTX graphics card Not only do you have the power to play a lot of games on ultra settings and high frame rates, but you can also get some of the cool bells and whistles including ray tracing which we are just very conveniently standing in front of a giant booth for

Really what this means is that the days of waiting for the cool bells and whistles for the desktop to come down to laptops are over We really basically hit feature parity And typically speaking, when something comes out for the desktop side of things, it’s gonna come out for the laptop side very quickly And generally speaking, you’re really going to be loosing a lot in that process This is something that’s easy to kind of take for granted, right? But again, this is a much thinner, much lighter, and much more difficult thing to engineer

It’s easy to forget that not that long ago, there was a massive penalty to get gaming on a laptop You had to deal with far inferior specs, both on the CPU and the GPU side And a lot of times you just didn’t even have those same level of features I mean I can imagine if ray tracing came out five years ago, you would not have been able to play it on a laptop While it’s great to have that same level of performance with the 2060 inside the Triton as you would get in a desktop, you also have other options as you go higher up in the product stack

So specifically on the Acer side, if you upgrade this Triton with an RTX 2080, you then get a Max-Q design Now the Max-Q design is actually not that different from what Intel does on their high-end mobile CPUs So they basically start from the same building block In this case the RTX 2080, it’s the same GPU across the laptop as well as the desktop Now there are some slight differences

Usually the Max-Q design is a little bit more highly benzed and a little more power-efficient just naturally On top of that, they do a much better job of bringing out the power to keep that level of performance as high as possible So for context, typically speaking, an RTX 2080 has a roughly 220 watt TDP Now on the laptop side, it’s usually about half of that, around 100 to 120 watts Even though it’s using half the power, often times you’re getting anywhere between two thirds to three quarters of that same level of performance

Now if you excuse all the nerd talk for a second, what this means is that laptops and desktops are so similar at this point It really is just a scaled-up version of what you’re finding on the laptops side You can go grab a desktop with some giant cooler and a ton of heat sinks Now of course, there’s going to be the laws of physics which mean that laptops can never quite match that level of performance But when we’re talking about 70 to 80% of that same level, in something that’s less than an inch thick that you can fit in your backpack and take with you all day, I think that’s a super-compelling value proposition

I think a lot of people would prefer to have one single system This here might not be a hundred percent as powerful as the most crazy thing out there But it can do basically very well, plenty of battery life, and most importantly you can take it with you all day, something that’s not really going to happen anytime soon with the desktop

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