How Important is the Laptop Gaming Segment?
The desktop and gaming graphics market is always a hub of activity, but these days notebook graphics are keeping up with the pace as well. Both Nvidia Corp. and ATI Technologies are pushing the boundaries when it comes to how much graphics power they can get into a portable device, and the delay between desktop technology and its migration to mobile devices has never been closer. Mobile users have an unprecedented level of performance to tap into.
Nvidia’s amazing graphics have reached the mobile sector now as well, which is pretty impressive. Just imagining this level for desktop is astounding, but to put it into a mobile – that’s another level altogether. Currently, ATI has a portable version of Radeon X800, but this graphics processor is directly in competition with the GeForce Go 6800. There is a mobile version of Radeon in the works, but it might take more effort than it’s worth to fit this into a notebook-sized device.
There is also a rumor swirling around that Nvidia and ATI are bringing their SLI platforms to the mobile market.
What is the Mobile Mainstream?
ATI recently released their Mobility Radeon X1600, which includes normal trade-offs compared to software that is compatible with desktop, including voltage and other power-saving elements. However, the foundation remains the same. Nvidia offers a couple of competing GPUs for the mobile market.
The discussion around the mainstream gaming notebook between rivals has been the hardest concept to get our heads around. There are some hardcore gamers out there that are prepared to part with the cash for a completely decked out notebook, but spending money on something in between the two is a tough ask.
It’s not going to satisfy hardcore gamers, but it still has a higher price, bigger footprint, and requires more power than your conventional laptop in terms of graphics.
Chipsets are Still King
There’s another thing to consider here as well: presumably, these deluxe mobile graphics chips get a lot of press, but what is their actual impact? When it comes to the laptop market in general, it’s not a lot, as Intel takes the cake here.
These days, parts like these are inexpensive than mobile solutions, and they use less power and require less code. The dominant plater remains Intel, whose mobile chipsets have made Centrino’s marketing campaign one of the most successful in computer history.
The GeForce Go 6200 was its entry-level debut, but Nvidia in general doesn’t show a lot of interest in the integrated mobile market. ATI, on the other hand, thinks that it has a legit alternative to Centrino in its Radeon chipset.
Radeon Xpress 200M’s popularity does seem to be increasing, with more and more notebooks being made with this chipset. The secret to any mobile platform is to balance battery life with performance, while maintaining the mantra that thin and light is always the way forward.
There are many consumers out there that want to go mobile-only for their next computer purchase, and clunky, power-hungry desktop replacements are definitely out, while thin notebooks are the way of the future. This is especially relevant in the corporate setting, but even people at home don’t want to have to lug something heavy from room to room.
Laptops that have higher calibre graphics tend to be a bit more expensive than integrated chipset models, with only a small portion of the price difference coming down to how much the hardware costs. The thing about the more expensive systems is that they need a power-saving mechanism, as well as a specified motherboard. Even things like ‘better DVD playback’ doesn’t really mean anything anymore.
As appealing as the concept of desktop-grade graphics is on a notebook, the reality is that only specific games need this. Laptops, at the end of the day, aren’t really where you should be going to for your hardcore gaming needs. The demand is there, but it’s really limited, which means that there’s nobody out there making a killing by selling high-end laptops to dedicated gamers.
The mobile performance war is just an attempt to gain attention from the mass consumer market, and then increase brand awareness on all products. Of course, this does work to a certain extent, an example of this being ATI’s Radeon Xpress 200M that is definitely no goldmine for gamers, but is still seen as preferable to the Intel chipset.