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Laptop GPU Wattage or TDP – What is it? What Difference does it Make?


You probably came here because you’re just about to buy a laptop and you’re concerned about its GPU wattage, heck, you might not even know what its GPU wattage ( also known as TDP )is. Don’t worry about it, in this post, we’ll sort it all out!

First….

Let me state a fact:

GPU’s wattage is the single most important determinant factor behind the gaming performance. All things being equal a laptop with a higher GPU wattage will vastly outperform one with lower GPU wattage.

So What is GPU’s wattage?

GPU wattage is basically how much power (electrical power as in watts, W) a GPU runs at. The higher the wattage, the higher the gaming performance.

An over simplistic summary would be…

Wattage = Power = TDP = more gaming performance = more framerates or higher resolution

GPU Min TDP Max TDP
3060 85W 130W
3070 85W 140W
3080 85W 165W

Sometimes how much difference wattage can make is ridiculous! Let’s go through an specific example.

Image below shows a 3060RTX (130W) LEFT vs a 3070RTX (115W) RIGHT*. 

*Colors don’t represent political parties!

The left is a 3060RTX (130W) , the right is a 3070RTX (115W). Benchmark videos of the 3060RTX here and the 3070RTX laptop here.

Despite the 3060RTX GPU being obviously weaker, surprisingly, it outperforms a 3070RTX at 1080p High settings on call of duty.

What’s crazy about this comparison is that the laptop on the left has a Ryzen 7 5800HS , the laptop on the right has a RYZEN 9 5900HS!

What’s even crazier is that the snapshot on the left (3060RTX) is taking WHILE IN COMBAT!

The one on the right just shows you a player dickin’ around the map (less hardware demanding).

So yeah, that’s how important wattage is! The discrepancy here is just too big so it is likely the 3060RTX running at 130W ALSO has a MUX Switch. You can read more about it in my post.

Now that we got that covered, the next step is to find out:

What WATTAGE is Good for Gaming? 

Obviously, the highest as shown on the table.

A better question would be, what wattage is BAD for gaming!

Yup, we want to avoid those low wattage GPUs which are outperformed by “cheaper” and “slower” GPUs such as the case of the 3070RTX 115W. 

3060RTX (80W) vs 3070 (80W) vs 3080 (80W) 1080p Gaming

If you’re buying a laptop with a FHD display that means you’re stuck to 1080p gaming.

If this is the case, then the 3060RTX (80W) will give you equal preformance to either of the other 80W GPUs at ultra 1080p settings for most games as in Call of Duty.

EXCEPT for those very graphical demanding games, like Assain’s Creed, where both the 3070 and 3080 will get you +10fps.

Screenshots taken from Benchmarks for gaming channel. 

Thus for 1080p gaming, 3060RTX 80 W = 3070 80W & 3080W.

It’s obviously pointless to compare the 3060RTX 80W to the 3070W 90-130W and 3080RTX 90-130W or the 3060RTX (100W) vs 3080 RTX(80W). 

It’s much more insightful to compare a 3060RTX 100W vs 3080RTX 100W.

3060 130W vs 3070 100W  for 1080P Gaming

For reasons we’ll explain soon , it is crucial to benchmark GPU performance with very graphical demanding games like The Witcher 3, Call of Duty and so on. 

130W 3060RTX vs 3070RTX 80W-100W from LOW FPS GAMING Youtube channel

Basically benchmarking through a very graphical demanding game will force GPUs to go full wattage (130W in the case of the 3060RTX and 100W in the 3070W).

You can see there’s only a 5-10fps difference in performance. Whether that’s worth paying more money it’s really up to you.

100W 3070RTX and the 3080RTX clearly outperform the full wattage 3060RTX 130W for 1080p.

 

3070RTX 140W vs 3080RTX 110W (1440p) Gaming

If you’re buying a laptop to play at 1400p resolution then both the 3070RTX and the 3080RTX will outperform the 3060RTX across all wattages.

Thus it is much more meaningful to test the 3070RTX against the 3080RTX.

Blacks OP four taken from the gameRone Youtube channel.

The 3070RTX 140W clearly outperforms the 3080RTX , ~15 fps makes a huge difference in 1440p gaming because it’s not easy to gain even one extra framerate with this much resolution.

Thus it is not worth buying a 3080RTX unless wattage is bigger than 110W.  I would recomend at least a 130W but I’d just recommend go as high as 150W or just don’t buy a 3080RTX.

Below are the wattages you’ll find on 3060RTX, 3070RTX an 3080RTX laptops. Before we get to the tables , let’s quickly settle what dynamic boost and what the “115-130W” “125-145W” phrases mean.

What is dynamic boost?

Dynamic boost is a “wattage boost” your GPU gets when it sees the need to so,

That is your GPU will draw more power and operate at full wattage when let’s say you launch a game like call of duty and set all graphic settings to ultra. 

While you may find laptop’s without dynamic boost and just straight up operate at full wattage all the time, this is rare and these laptops are usually thicker and heavier because more wattage means more heat which means more space is needed to design a better cooling system.

My take: I would personally settle down for GPUs witih Dynamic Boost, it’s just a safer way to keep temperatures under control without compromising performance. 

Notice how the 3060RTX (115+15W dynamic boost) only goes past 115W on extremely hardware demanding setting such as PUBG :

And goes down to as low as 90W on less demanding titles like Dota 2.

With that said…

Although there are 3050Ti with all the wattages listed down below:

TDP(Wattage) 35W 40W 45W 50W 60W 70W 80W
Base Clock Speed 735 915 1043 1140Mhz 1223MHz 1350Mhz 1464Mhz
Boost Clock Speed 1035 1185 1290 1410MHz 1485Mhz 1598Mhz 1695Mhz

Manufacturers will mostly ship laptops with either 35W (~5%) , 60W (~80%) and 80W(~15%).

In theory, 3060 RTX GPUs on laptops should come with ANY of the following wattages:

TDP(Wattage) 60W 65W 70W 80W 85W 90W 95W 100W 105W 110W 115W 130W
Base Clock Speed(Mhz) 817 975 1050 900 1035 1163 1215 1267 1305 1342 1387 1425
Boost Clock Speed 1282 1357 1402 1530 1485 1530 1567 1605 1642 1680 1702 1720

However, in the real world, manufacturers will only ship laptops with the following wattages or TDP :

Surely there are some laptops with no dynamic boost and they straight up operate at full wattage 130W but they are rare. 

TDP(Wattage) 80W 85W 90W 125W 140W
Base Clock Speed(Mhz) 780 855 930 1620
Boost Clock Speed 1290 1365 1410 1670 1700

The most commong wattage configurations however  are listed down below.

TDP(Wattage) without Dynamic Boost 80W 90W 115W 150W
Base Clock Speed(Mhz) 780 855 930 ???
Boost Clock Speed (with Dynamic Boost ) 1245 1365 1410 1750

 

*After Bios Update

What about the 3080Ti , 3070Ti and the 3060Ti?

They all come at super high wattages so you bet the 3070Ti and 3080Ti will beat any of these GPUs (with the exception of the 165W 3080RTX found on the MSI G76 Raider). The question is how powerful is the 3060Ti? We’ll leave for another post.

How to check for GPU wattage? 

A) Checking before buying

If by that you mean how to know how much wattage the GPU of a laptop you want to buy has?

Well you see third party sellers don’t usually list this, they’re sneaky:

  • If a laptop has a full wattage GPU, they will LIST it. 
  • If a laptop has low wattage, they won’t list it on the description.

There isn’t really a full list online that would take a year to make.

The best you can do is type that laptop’s model name on google + the word wattage sort of like this.

“Acer Aspire 5 3060RTX Wattage” = Laptop model name + GPU + wattage.

You should get plenty of good results and one of these should take you to the manufacturer’s site (Acer’s site) where they will have a specification section.

If you need more tips check my article dedicated to this topic where I include my secret method to find out a laptop’s GPU wattage (the last section of the article).

B) Checking your laptop’s wattage

There are two ways to go about this:

  • Check the NVIDIA Control Panel and look for an option to see GPU’s Power
  • Install a software like HWIO, then play a very graphical demanding game, check back HWIO to see what it tells you

I have a full article on this, you might want to check out the first section of my  “How to Check Your Laptop’s GPU Watagge”.

Take Aways!

  • 3060RTX laptops are all you need for 1080p gaming.
  • 3060RTX 130W GPUs beat 3070RTX 115W GPUs.
  • 3070RTX 140W are better than 3080RTX GPUs running at 115W.
  • 3080RTX are only a good purchase past 115W.

We will be happy to hear your thoughts

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