Welcome to a new world of mobile gaming.
It’s finally here. Two months after the release of the desktop GeForce GTX 1070 comes the mobile version, and it’s quite unlike anything we’ve seen from a mobile GPU release before. Whereas past mobile versions of chips were huge cut-backs from their desktop equivalent, Nvidia has actually beefed this up when compared to the desktop GeForce GTX 1070. Asus was the first partner to get us a machine powered by this revolutionary new GPU, the GL502V5.
As part of the premium ROG Strix range, this is most definitely a product aimed at those with money to burn. It’s got enough glowy RGB bits to make it look like a gaming product, yet Asus has gone for a relatively simple design, with straight lines and a matte black finish. Its overall size is dictated by the 15.6-inch IPS display, which has a nice wide viewing angle of 178 degrees. The native resolution of 1920 x 1080 isn’t exactly mind-blowing, and the lack of G-Sync is a bit of a bummer given the incredible performance of the GPU. Colour and contrast are solid, if not quite at the stunning performance of Razer’s latest screens.
Weighing in at 2.34kg it’s a decent middleweight machine, but delivers the performance of 4 to 5 kilogram behemoths. Measuring at just 235mm thickness, this thing is just small and light enough to fit into your backpack without causing undue pressure. Our sample had a weird keyboard, with several of the keys in the wrong place, but we’re guessing this is just a result of it being an early sample. The keyboard is advertised as full-sized, though we found it a little cramped; at least it’s backlit. We weren’t big fans of the touchpad either, which lacked the accuracy and finesse of the very best touchpads.
A great range of I/O options are included; three USB 3.0 Type A sit alongside a single USB 3.0 Type C/Thunderbolt 3 connection. There’s also HDMI – sadly it’s only 1.4b though. This thing would make for a great 4K media device to connect to your TV. There’s also a mini DisplayPort output though, which will handle the job given the right cable. A single Ethernet port delivers wired connectivity, while 802.11ac and Bluetooth 4.1 handles wireless.
It’s what’s inside that really counts though. Intel’s ubiquitous i7-6700HQ is a quad-cored, Hyper-Threaded powerhouse, which ramps up to 3.5GHz under maximum load. Asus has paired this with 8GB of DDR4 memory, which seems a little light considering the price point. Those looking for lots of long-term storage should be satisfied by the 1TB mechanical drive, but like most laptops these days there’s also a 256GB M.2 SSD. It’s all mounted on Intel’s high-end HM170 Express Chipset, but the real explanation for the amazing performance has to go to Nvidia’s GTX 1070.
As mentioned in our deep dive, this is in some ways even better than the desktop version of the GeForce GTX 1070. Based on the exact same GP104 GPU found in the desktop part, it’s got an extra Streaming Multiprocessor (SM), up from 15 on the desktop to 16 on the mobile version. This in turn delivers more CUDA cores and texture units. The desktop GeForce GTX 1070 has 1920 CUDA cores, while the mobile version has 2048. This is a revelation, as we’re accustomed to seeing the number of CUDA cores axed in mobile versions of Nvidia’s chips. The number of texture units has also increased thanks to the extra SM, up from 120 to 128. The total number of ROPs remains identical, at 64.
However, all these extra CUDA cores equals more heat, so Nvidia has slightly dropped the frequencies of the GP104. The desktop part has a Base clock of 1506MHz, which drops slightly to 1443MHz in the mobile component. The Boost clock has also been decreased but only by the smallest of amounts, down from 1683MHz to 1645MHz. Both the desktop and mobile variants come with the full 8GB of GDDR5X running at 8Gbps over a 256-bit memory bus.
The end result is a product that delivers double the speed of its predecessor, the GeForce GTX 970M. As you can see from our Razer Blade benchmarks, which has a 970M, the new 1070 absolutely wipes the floor with it. However, it’s not exactly quiet, hitting 52dB under load, which is rather rowdy to say the least.
Asus has built a very solid machine around an incredible new GPU. We would have liked a slightly better screen, but then the price would have been even higher. Regardless, this laptop has totally revolutionised the performance we can expect from a laptop, putting many regular desktops to shame.