The focus of attention in the PC market right now is the plethora of high-end CPU and graphics components either scheduled for launch in the next month or at the very least eagerly anticipated. A new teaser from the bowels of ASUS Republic Of Gamers' R&D department however indicates that something special is on it's way to the gaming notebook segment: graphics powered by NVIDIA Pascal GPUs.
The current flagship graphics solution in the notebook environment is based on a full-fat NVIDIA GTX 980 GPU, a design revealed in September alongside overclockable Intel Skylake CPUs and a raft of new notebook models with advanced cooling. Essentially a new high-end notebook gaming platform, they were made possible by NVIDIA's efficient Maxwell graphics architecture and didn't require heavy 'desktop replacement'-style chassis. In essence they were close to being the best of both worlds, and to date are the only class of notebooks certified as 'VR Ready'.
Due in part of the 16nm manufacturing process, Pascal is another major step forward in both efficiency and performance. It was only a matter of time before those improvements translated to an updated range of gaming notebooks. ASUS are first out the gate with their teaser, so it remains to be seen if their competitors have a return salvo of their own primed and ready to go.
Only a glimpse of the new notebook model, known enigmatically as the 'ROG NB' and part of their gaming G-Series, have been shown so far. It has similarities to last year's flagship ROG GX700VO, a model that shipped with a GTX 980 GPU and an innovative external liquid cooling loop. The five circular plugs shown in the teaser are close matches to those on the GX700VO, indicating that the cooling unit will be compatible with this notebook and that the design will support heavy GPU & CPU overclocking.
Alongside the teaser ASUS have revealed a single benchmark result of the ROG notebook. The system was apparently able to reach a 3DMark 2011 P-Score of 20811, fractionally higher than a reference Titan X achieves and approximately 5% higher than the GTX 980 Ti*.
Sadly ASUS haven't revealed exact specifications for the new notebooks, but we can make a few educated guesses. For a start it's probably not powered by a reference GTX 1080, but may utilise a similar GPU with lower stock clocks. On the other hand it could be equipped with a GTX 1070 or '1080M', a GPU with fewer enabled CUDA cores than the full-fat GTX 1080 but still offering superb performance for a notebook. It's impossible to tell from the information provided whether it makes use of GDDR5 or GDDR5X VRAM.
Alongside high-performance graphics we'd expect the new ROG notebook to be kitted out with an unlocked Intel Skylake CPU, and thanks to robust power delivery and cooling it should be an excellent (although pricey) option for overclocking enthusiasts in the notebook platform. If the design is being used to showcase NVIDIA technologies you can also expect it to be kitted out with G-SYNC display and various power optimisations
More information on this new notebook will probably be released at Computex, including detailed specs and performance expectations. But if it's anything like the GX700VO you can expect it to be much lighter than you might imagine.
* Take careful note of the scale on the graph provided.