Nvidia Quadro RTX 5000 will bring a new level of power to thin laptops

Nvidia launches the RTX Studio program to attract creator in conjunction with its rollout of the mobile Quadro GPUs, which can fit into laptops the size of a thin gaming system.

Lori Grunin Senior Editor / Advice
I've been reviewing hardware and software, devising testing methodology and handed out buying advice for what seems like forever; I'm currently absorbed by computers and gaming hardware, but previously spent many years concentrating on cameras. I've also volunteered with a cat rescue for over 15 years doing adoptions, designing marketing materials, managing volunteers and, of course, photographing cats.
Expertise Photography, PCs and laptops, gaming and gaming accessories
Lori Grunin
3 min read

The next time -- or the first time -- you go shopping for a laptop with at least an Intel Core i7 H-class processor, 16GB or more RAM, 512GB or larger SSD and an Nvidia RTX GPU, it may bear an "RTX Studio" sticker as part of a new program Nvidia announced at Computex 2019.

But that high-powered laptop, such as the Razer Blade Advanced or Asus ROG Zephyrus GX701, doesn't have the work behind it that the RTX Studio laptops have, which includes specific programming interfaces for pro graphics software companies to add more GPU acceleration to their applications or the workflow testing of the drivers with the hardware and software.

And the Quadro RTX Studio models promise breakthrough power for video, 3D, AI-assisted features in creative applications and coding with AI. They incorporate the new Quadro RTX 5000, 4000 and 3000, the first Quadros that can be used in systems the size of Max-Q gaming laptops. And the RTX 5000 is first 16GB mobile GPU Nvidia's been able to adapt to systems already designed around the GeForce RTX 2080 Max-Q.

They're essentially workstation-class variants of the Max-Q versions of the gaming-focused GeForce RTX 2080, 2070 and 2060. That means no more needing to schlep a 10-pound Windows system or underpowered MacBook Pro for, say, onsite video editing. And photographers can finally get the 10-bit color support in Windows (i.e., Photoshop) that they need in a truly portable, though likely not inexpensive, machine. 

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Mobile workstations with the top-end Quadro chips have traditionally been big and heavy, and frequently 17-inch models, because of the power requirements: The RTX 5000 draws between 80 and 100 watts (Nvidia's Optimus technology dynamically adjusts), which makes it easier to adapt existing laptop designs for them. The older P5200 requires 150w.  

The new Quadros are also the first generation of the company's mobile GPUs to incorporate the ray-tracing and Tensor (for AI acceleration) cores that differentiate them from their Pascal predecessors, the Quadro P5200, P4200 and P3200. Those are becoming increasingly important as more professional software boosts capabilities via AI algorithms like Adobe's Sensei and makes working in 3D with reasonable real-time rendering quality less painful.

Like their predecessors, they're also the only VR-ready Quadro chips in the new lineup and the only ones that can use GDDR6 memory; that bump seems to deliver a lot higher memory bandwidth, at least based on Nvidia's specs. 

While I define a mobile workstation as any mobile device with a CPU or GPU that gets certified by professional software applications, Nvidia defines it by size, weight and manufacturer. That way the company and its partners can refer to these as "studio laptops" rather than using the marketing-kiss-of-death "mobile workstation" to distinguish the them from high-powered GeForce-based systems.  


Nvidia's RTX Studio badges for its high-end mobile graphics processors.


Remember the "Creator Ready" driver track Nvidia launched in March? Now that driver-release cycle has been redubbed as Nvidia Studio Drivers, though it still works with the same set of not-necessarily-Studio GPUs: Turing- and Pascal-based GeForce cards and as far back as the Volta-based Titan V.

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Seventeen manufacturers are debuting with RTX Studio laptops, including Acer , Asus , Dell , Gigabyte, HP , MSI and Razer. 

Nvidia's launched other members of the updated mobile Quadro line as well. There are also new Quadro analogs for the GeForce GTX 16- series, in that the Quadro T2000 and T1000 use the new Turing architecture but lack the RT and Tensor cores. However, moving to Turing still delivers better parallel processing, adaptive shaders and a unified memory architecture, which should add up to a modest performance boost.

And for the budget-minded, the Pascal P600 and P500 get a bit of a speed bump for the P620 and P520, gaining more CUDA cores and slightly higher memory bandwidth.