While our recent review of the Alienware M17x R3 proved you could have a gaming notebook that was still capable of halfway decent battery life, the hybrid solution found in that machine was more the exception than the rule. NVIDIA is refreshing their mobile high end, and while that's mostly newsworthy on its own, the big improvement is Optimus support for every part in the GeForce 500M series, from top to bottom. That includes the king of the hill, the (slightly) new GeForce GTX 580M.

The recent refresh of the GeForce GTX 460M into the 560M was a welcome one, bringing Optimus support and higher clocks to what's liable to be their crown prince of budget mobile gaming. The GTX 560M is beginning to materialize in the market, but we were still left with an odd hole in NVIDIA's lineup at the top. That hole has now been filled, and thankfully it's at least a little more than the usual speedbump that goes along with a new moniker these days. Now every part in the 500M series can switch over to Sandy Bridge's integrated graphics while running on the battery, offering the best of both worlds.

  GTX 580M GTX 485M GTX 570M GTX 560M
Stream Processors 384 384 336 192
Texture Address / Filtering 64/64 64/64 56/56 32/32
ROPs 32 32 24 24
Core Clock 620MHz 575MHz 575MHz 775Mhz
Shader Clock 1240MHz 1150MHz 1150MHz 1550MHz
Memory Clock 750MHz (3GHz data rate) GDDR5 750MHz (3GHz data rate) GDDR5 750MHz (3GHz data rate) GDDR5 625MHz (2.5GHz data rate) GDDR5
Memory Bus Width 256-bit 256-bit 192-bit 128/192-bit
Frame Buffer Up to 2GB Up to 2GB 1.5GB/3GB 1.5GB/2GB
Transistor Count 1.95B 1.95B 1.95B 1.17B
Manufacturing Process TSMC 40nm TSMC 40nm TSMC 40nm TSMC 40nm
Optimus Y N Y Y

NVIDIA's new top dog is the GeForce GTX 580M. Every spec on the press sheets is listed as "up to," but that's really par for the course. While NVIDIA's reps declined to comment on what chips are being used for the GTX 580M, you'll find the specs are a dead giveaway. The 580M seems to be a mobile version of the GF104/114 (more likely GF114), with 384 CUDA cores, with a main clock of 620MHz (yielding 1240MHz on the shader cores). Riding shotgun is a 256-bit memory bus supporting up to 2GB of GDDR5 clocked at an effective 3GHz. Those of you keeping score at home will note that's an improvement of 45MHz on the core (and thus 90MHz on the shaders), with the memory speed remaining constant. All told I'd expect performance in the neighborhood of the desktop GeForce GTX 460 1GB version (or at least, the original NVIDIA spec): not too shabby, but still an incremental improvement on the shipping GTX 485M. The major selling point is, again, Optimus support in the 580M.

On the heels of the GTX 580M is the GeForce GTX 570M. The 470M was a bit of an oddity in that while the 480M and 485M were easy enough to find, the 470M was largely a rarity. While the 580M sees the minor speedbump we've come to expect, the 570M is a major improvement over its seldom-used predecessor. The 570M likely uses the same silicon as the 580M (which is, again, more than likely a GF114), but while the 470M only had 288 CUDA cores, the 570M gets a healthy upgrade to 336. The 470M's 535MHz core clock also sees a boost to 575MHz, with the shaders clocked at 1150MHz. The 570M still retains the 470M's 192-bit memory bus, and will be configured with either 1.5GB or 3GB of GDDR5 clocked at an effective 3GHz, a marked improvement on the 470M's 2.5GHz memory clocks. All told performance should be somewhere between the desktop GeForce GTX 460 768MB and the GTX 460 SE. For mobile gaming, that's still not bad at all, and again it benefits from Optimus support.

NVIDIA also was able to point out specific models of notebooks that will be shipping with these parts. Availability in 17" Clevo notebooks should surprise no one, with the P270WN in particular supporting both 3D Vision and SLI'd GeForce GTX 580M's. Alienware's new M18x (which we have en route for review) will also be supporting the GeForce GTX 580M in SLI. And finally, the MSI GT780R shown above will be shipping with the GeForce GTX 570M.

NVIDIA expects notebooks featuring the new GPUs to be available for order from OEMs today.

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  • quiksilvr - Tuesday, June 28, 2011 - link

    Where there is simply no point in this? Why would you possibly need (both casually and professionally) a 580M in a laptop? The desktop version of the 580 is over $400 so I shudder to think how much a LESS powerful and MORE expensive MOBILE version would be. It's not like your playing 1080p Crysis 2 dx11 in a coffee shop. You will either be in a room (or basement). Even at LAN parties you bring your much more powerful and waaaay cheaper desktop.
  • dagamer34 - Tuesday, June 28, 2011 - link

    Desktop + monitor = 2 heavy things to move around. It's not for everyone, but enough people buy them to make them. And I'm sure they just consider the battery to be a built-in UPS.
  • Bolas - Tuesday, June 28, 2011 - link

    I have an extremely powerful desktop. Water cooled x58 system in a Corsair Obsidian 800D, with triple 30" monitors. No way am I lugging that to a LAN party. Too heavy and too much risk of damage.

    But I would take an 18" laptop.

    Also, I sometimes go on long car trips and like to play games to pass the time. Just can not do that on a desktop. But with a tether from a high end cell phone, you can game some while in the back seat of a car at 65 MPH.

    I want a more powerful gpu for a laptop so that it can power not just 1080P, but 3D 1080P. Takes about twice the computing power to handle 3D Vision 120Hz display. So even a single 580m might not be enough for 3D 1080P. And just for Starcraft II and League of Legends, not necessarily even Crysis 2.
  • Aberkae - Tuesday, June 28, 2011 - link

    I need a handtruck for my 800d lol.
  • TrackSmart - Tuesday, June 28, 2011 - link

    For some reason, I never imagined anybody gaming in the backseat of a car who wasn't a kid with a gameboy (or modern equivalent). Certainly not an adult playing Crysis 2 in 3D with an 18" super-laptop burning through his thighs. Ha ha. Quite the image. But I digress...

    Clearly there's a market for these things, even if it's a small one. I'm more in the under $800 - $1,000 desktop computer ever 3-4 years category, with a laptop as a lightweight travel companion. But thank you for spending the bucks! The enthusiasts are the ones that drive (and pay for) the innovation that eventually yields those great $150 GPUs that will play Crisis at high settings at 1080p.
  • Aberkae - Tuesday, June 28, 2011 - link

    I agree for now, untill the 28 nm gpus will be out we will be singing a different tune which is around the corner. 40 nm life is ending soon and these chips are the end of 40nm chips life cycle, why would you buy anything with a 40nm chip size today when a more powerful and efficient gpu is around the corner?
  • ggathagan - Tuesday, June 28, 2011 - link

    If you need something today, you would buy it today.

    Given that the 28 nm parts won't start shipping until Q4, you probably can't expect systems to hit the market until November or December.

    There are probably plenty of situations where a user will not be willing to wait that long.
  • The0ne - Wednesday, June 29, 2011 - link

    Then you have to contend with the same dilemma as you have with these with worst factors. Most likely higher price, unknown real world performances, integration, etc. Heck, even after release it'll take several months for it to be implemented much less be widely available.

    So yea, you can wait til next gen or get going and have fun now.
  • Wolfpup - Wednesday, June 29, 2011 - link

    Right, and at that point there'll be something else, and then something else, and then...

    The question is silly...particularly if it's at least 6 months out, because there's ALWAYS something six months out.
  • seapeople - Wednesday, June 29, 2011 - link

    I don't know what you're talking about. I refuse to upgrade until I can be sure I'm getting the best there is. My current PC is a 400 mhz AMD K6-2. Yeah, some people think I should probably just go ahead and get Sandy Bridge, but forget that. I'm waiting for Haswell at least. Why would you even think about upgrading now when you have fused multiply-add coming around the corner? Think about the possibilities!

    Unfortunately, I do have to use my wife's work laptop if I want to browse the web in anything newer than Firefox 2.0. But still, I think it'll be worth it when I get my $4000 Haswell system. Although, I have been thinking that Skymont might be a better buy, so I could just wait for that. I guess we'll see.

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