Nvidia 1060 Max-Q vs 1060 – Laptop Graphics

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Nvidia 1060 Max-Q vs 1060 – Laptop Graphics. We’re going to be benchmarking two laptops to compare the Nvidia 1060 against the newer 1060 with Max-Q design to see what the difference in performance is in a number of different games, and help you decide which to get. The two laptops that I’m testing here are very close to being the same in terms of specs. Both have an Intel 7700HQ quad core CPU with 16GB of DDR4 memory running at 2,400MHz and use an SSD for the primary hard drive, which is running Windows 10 with all available updates applied.

No manual overclocking was performed for any of these tests.. The main difference between the two laptops is of course that one is running your standard Nvidia GeForce GTX 1060, while the other laptop has an Nvidia GeForce GTX 1060 with Max-q design. The specs between these two graphics cards are slightly different.

Nvidia 1060 Max-Q vs 1060
Nvidia 1060 Max-Q vs 1060

The main difference is that the max-q 1060 has lower base and boost clock speeds, these are the ranges that Nvidia list on their website, and they state that the base and boost clocks depend on the particular laptops thermal and electrical system design, so essentially one laptop with a max-q graphics card may perform differently to another laptop that also has max-q graphics.

With that said the Dell 7577 that had the max-q 1060 in it had plenty of cooling, so I don’t believe that was a limitation here. As the regular 1060 has higher base and boost clock speeds, it also uses more power, meaning it will run hotter and require more cooling, resulting in more noise, and this is what max-q graphics aim to reduce. With that in mind let’s take a look at our benchmarks and find out how each of these cards perform! We’ll cover both real world gaming benchmarks, as well as the results of some benchmarking tools. Each benchmark was run 3 times and the average results have been presented, so these should be fairly accurate.

PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds was tested with the latest 1.0 version. I’ve used the new replay feature to perform this testing, so the results between each test should be more accurate as I can now consistently perform the same test run, however with that said the performance of the game will vary quite a lot depending on what’s going on in the game, so take these results with a grain of salt.

Interestingly at low and very low the max-q version was performing better, I had the exact same result when I compared the 1070 and 1080 with max-q, so there must be some reason for it. Rise of the Tomb Raider was tested using Direct X 12, we can see that the regular 1060 is again getting a nice performance increase compared to the max-q variant, however like with PUBG, at the lowest setting level the max-q version just pulls ahead.

Watchdogs 2 is a fairly resource intensive game, and we can see there is a larger difference between the two at lower settings, however the 1060 is still offering a nice little performance boost over its max-q counterpart even at the higher settings, although perhaps not really enough to make a massive difference.

It’s a similar story in the witcher 3, there’s a little increase with the regular 1060 at all setting levels, but not really that much. Interestingly though the 1% lows seem to get a slightly larger boost on the regular 1060 compared to the performance increase with the average frame rates. Ghost Recon is another resource intensive game, and here we can see even less of a performance difference between the two graphics cards. I wasn’t personally able to tell the difference between the two while playing, and I think that’s illustrated here by these results.

Shadow of War had fairly similar results, the increases with the regular 1060 aren’t really all that much above the max-q 1060 with this game. Finally in Ashes of the Singularity we have some strange results, similar to PUBG and Rise of the Tomb Raider where the max-q 1060 performed better than the regular 1060 at the lower setting levels.

The benchmark results in this game can sometimes differ a bit each run, but as mentioned before these are the results of 3 runs, so they should be fairly accurate. If anyone’s got an explanation for the max-q 1060 is pulling ahead in some of the games at the lower setting levels I’d be interested in hearing it. Before we get into the benchmarking tools I’ll just quickly note that so far the performance improvement over the games tested is a 7.62% increase for the regular 1060.

Now onto the benchmarking tools, while a useful indicator note that these results are less practical compared to the real world gaming tests previously shown as synthetic tests seem to scale better compared to real games with better hardware as we’ll see. In the Heaven benchmark the difference between the two graphics cards is fairly similar at all setting levels, whereas in Valley benchmark the differences between the two are much closer together regardless of setting level used. I’ve also tested the latest Superposition benchmark from Unigine, and these are the results at the different 1080p levels.

Finally I’ve tested Fire Strike and Time Spy benchmarks from 3DMark, in both tests there’s approximately a 10% performance improvement. As expected the regular 1060 came out ahead of the max-q version in all of the benchmark tools, performing 11 percent better on average when compared to the Max-Q 1060. This is a higher percentage compared to the actual games that I tested, because as mentioned higher powered hardware seems to scale better in benchmark tools compared to real world games, just something to take note of.

When we combine both the gaming and benchmark tool results we get an 8.56 percent improvement with the regular 1060 over the max-q 1060. I was surprised that the 1060 with max-q performed better in a few of the games at lower settings, I’m not sure why that’s the case but I also experienced the same thing when I compared the 1070 and 1080 with Max-Q, so there must be a reason.

So obviously if you have a laptop with a max-q 1060 there’s absolutely no point in upgrading to a laptop with a regular 1060, you’d be better off either getting a 1070 or above, or otherwise waiting for the next generation which is rumoured to not be too far away. Either of these are graphics cards are really nice sweet spots for 1080p 60 FPS gaming with modern games, based on the frame rates we’ve seen it doesn’t really make too much sense in most games to pair either of them with a display higher than 60Hz, as you won’t actually be able to take full advantage of it, but of course this will depend on how demanding the games are that you’re playing and settings used. As both are so close in performance, I’d recommend you get whichever best suites you.

The max-q option should save your battery as it uses less power, runs cooler and quieter, and laptops featuring it should in general be lighter when compared with the non max-q option as less cooling materials are needed. Of course it also depends on the price, if the max-q 1060 costs more than the regular 1060 and your focus is on the best performance in gaming then it probably doesn’t make sense to pay more for lower performance, on the other hand if you’re willing to pay more for similar performance and have a quieter laptop then maybe it does, it comes down to your preference.

The 1060 with Max-Q should use less power and produce less noise, however as both of the laptops I’ve tested are completely different in terms of overall form factor as they’re from different companies it wouldn’t really be a fair comparison here, I’d need two laptops of the same brand and model to do that justice.

Regardless, I’m sure people will want to know what I got anyway, so keeping in mind that these results are basically useless as both laptops were from completely different companies with different cooling designs, these are the results. We can see that the max-q 1060 actually ran cooler than the regular 1060 as expected, and it was also a little quieter, which is one of its features.

I hope that this post has shown you the real world differences in performance between the regular Nvidia 1060 and Max-Q 1060 laptop graphics cards, and helped you choose between them.

Let me know down in the comments which graphics card you’ll be getting in your next laptop and why, and leave a share this post if you found the information useful.

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