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What is NVIDIA Max-Q?

What is NVIDIA Max-Q?

Tulie Finley-Moise
Reading time: 9 minutes
When you think of a gaming computer, images of clunky, noisy, and thick machines immediately come to mind. Gaming laptops have a reputation for being loud and large because they’re designed to accommodate all of the high-end hardware and computer components necessary to load up the latest gaming titles on the market. However, things are rapidly changing in the gamer sphere.
Gaming technology and hardware continues to impress consumers with every passing year. Developers, engineers, and manufacturers take the demands of gamers and high-end PC users and transform them into tangible computing magic, reaching ultra-high performance speeds within thinner and stronger chassis. NVIDIA, an HP Partner, has been at the forefront of innovation and production efforts toward making gaming tech smaller, faster, and more efficient.
At the 2017 Computex trade show in Taipei, Taiwan, NVIDIA announced their brand new technology; NVIDIA Max-Q. Inspired by the same term used within the aerospace industry to describe the extreme stress on a rocket during launch and liftoff, Max-Q’s name alone suggests great promise.
Modern gaming laptops are thinning, shedding inches in build with every new release and remodel. Thanks to NVIDIA Max-Q, gaming laptop physiques will look much slimmer and will perform processing more powerfully than ever. But what exactly is Max-Q, how does it work, and where can you find it? Read on for our take on this new tech.

What is NVIDIA Max-Q?

Max-Q is a unique design approach developed by NVIDIA that aims to construct the fastest, thinnest, and quietest gaming laptops that are also supremely energy-efficient. Developed as an innovative concept working toward engineering laptops for maximum performance at the most compact design architectures, everything about NVIDIA Max-Q is optimized for peak efficiency.
Max-Q designs takes plenty into consideration. From processor chips and program drivers to thermal and electrical components, Max-Q aims to streamline the collective functionality of a PC’s inner workings. The results are sleek, near soundless laptops that pack impressive performance specs without any of the traditional bulk, heat, or noise.
At its core, NVIDIA Max-Q is designed to seamlessly load and play modern PC games with high-frame rates and top-end graphic demands while accommodating power and heat generation in a non-affective way. Rather than aiming to cram immense power and heat management software into a thin chassis, Max-Q intends to find the fine balance between impressive and efficient work capacity.

How does Max-Q work?

During the earliest days of Max-Q innovation, NVIDIA worked closely with some of the world’s top laptop manufacturers to generate a set of system parameters that completely revamps the face of the modern gaming laptop. Together these tech giants worked toward making impressive laptops that boasted efficient cooling, powerful processing, and slim builds.
Max-Q’s primary goal is to keep your laptop operating at the optimal settings between energy consumption and processing performance. To best understand the average gamer’s computing needs, NVIDIA mined information from 400 popular games, selecting the settings that deliver the best balance between smooth frame rates, sharp details, and low GPU power usage.
In order to achieve this golden trifecta, Max-Q, the GPU consumes less power, effectively lowering the subsequent heat generation. Operating at a cooler internal temperature means the fans don’t need to spin as much to keep a sustainable working environment, and the fewer times the fans need to spin, the quieter the system.
When you think of reduced power and low heat generation, you think of your PC in its most inanimate mode. However, Max-Q powered PCs allow your laptop to run your most demanding programs without causing any internal hardware turmoil. Even with a mighty graphics card, be it an RTX 2080 or a GTX 1070, you can rest assured knowing things are kept sweetly tempered inside of your chassis.

How does Max-Q improve gaming laptops?

Traditional gaming laptops are sizable, hulking machines with monster screens and minimal battery lives. Though they’re built with a portable clamshell form factor, their extra weight makes them difficult to casually tote around. The challenge lies in reducing the physical bulk while still accommodating the size and weight of the high-end hardware required for such a workhorse machine.
The invention of Max-Q offers a total revisitation of what a gaming laptop can look like and how it can process information. Not only does Max-Q redefine the architectural possibilities associated with gaming laptops, but it proves that there’s no need for compromise in the modern tech world.
Max-Q hardware shines with an astounding 40% to 50% increase in efficiency over the gaming laptops currently available on the market. This productivity boost reduces the need for bulky heatsinks, overworked fans, and noisy computing.

What is WhisperMode?

WhisperMode is a proprietary NVIDIA technology that quiets the sounds of any whirring fans living within your Max-Q enabled gaming laptop. Using Intelligent Frame Pacing, WhisperMode effectively optimizes your game settings by automatically reducing your game’s frame rate to reduce the burden on your GPU. Because your GPU is under less stress, less heat will be generated, ruling out the need for loud and noisy fan-cooling.
By examining gamer habits, NVIDIA has created custom Whisper Mode based on the hardware configurations used to play over 400 popular titles. This custom mode auto-adjusts gameplay settings to deliver the optimal in-game experience per each individual title.

What HP systems feature Max-Q?

HP® is one of the world’s most innovative leaders in the gaming laptop community. Our line of HP OMEN laptops is home to impressive, customizable models that are groundbreaking market additions in their own respect.
Unleash your full potential with an HP OMEN Max-Q powered PC that will take you to the top of the leaderboards. Currently there are three potential contenders; the HP OMEN 15 gaming laptop, the HP OMEN 17 gaming laptop, and our newest gaming laptop, the HP OMEN X 2S gaming laptop.
Let’s take a deep dive into the specs and standout features of each of these HP Max-Q gaming laptops.

1. HP OMEN 15 gaming laptop

The HP OMEN 15 gaming laptop is a compact force to be reckoned with. As one of the most popular models within the HP OMEN line, the HP OMEN 15 lives up to its sparkling reputation. Featuring a 15.6-inch diagonal Full High Definition (FHD) IPS anti-glare WLED-backlit screen, the HP OMEN 15 delivers immersive graphics with every power-on.
Anti-glare technology allows you to take your gaming on-the-go without worrying about any reflective haze, while the WLED-backlighting ensures you can play on into the wee-hours of the nights without straining your eyes.
Built with an NVIDIA® GeForce® RTX 2070 with Max-Q design, the HP OMEN 15 takes you from the sidelines of your favorite game to the frontlines of gameplay. Max-Q optimizes your system to handle your program input and deliver a sustainable, powerful processing output. You can be a part of the action without any of the noise.
The HP OMEN 15 gaming laptop has a sleek and edgy shell, but you can hand-pick the hardware that goes inside. Customizable from the processor and memory to the storage and frame rate frequency, we put the freedom to choose in your hands.
Designed to be upgrade-friendly, the HP OMEN 15 gaming laptop comes with single-panel access to the hard disk drive (HDD), solid state drive (SSD), and random access memory (RAM). Stay ahead of the technological curve by upgrading whenever and however you please.
Processor (CPU): Intel Core™ i7 9750H (2.6 GHz, up to 4.5 GHz, 12MB cache, 6 cores)
Graphics card: NVIDIA GeForce RTX™ 2080 Max-Q graphics
Memory (RAM): 16GB DDR4-2666 SDRAM (2 x 8GB)
Storage: 256GB PCIe NVMe™ M.2 SSD
Customizable: Yes
External I/O Ports:
  • 1 HDMI 2.0
  • 1 Mini DisplayPort
  • 1 RJ-45; 1 Thunderbolt™ 3 (data transfer up to 40 Gb/s, DP1.2, HP Sleep and Charge)
  • 3 USB 3.1 Gen 1 (1 HP Sleep and Charge)
  • 1 Headphone/microphone combo

2. HP OMEN 17 gaming laptop

Take the imposing power of a desktop computer and transform it into a laptop that measures only 1 inch tall - that’s exactly what we’ve done with the HP OMEN 17 gaming laptop. Weighing only 6.43 pounds while packing some impressive specs, this industry-leading laptop is a true gaming workhorse machine.
With 17.3 inches of screen real estate, you’ll be mistaking your favorite game scapes for alternate realities. This FHD WLED-backlit display boasts a valuable 144 Hz frame rate, allowing you to load-up and play your favorite titles without worrying about screen-tearing or frustrating input lag. The ultra-detailed 1920 x 1080 resolution specs will surprise and satisfy gamers looking to get lost in a whole new world.
Upgrade your PC to a Max-Q design by choosing between an NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2070 or an NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2080 graphics card. Say goodbye to the noisy whirring of an overworked PC and say hello to a soundless, seamless gaming experience. Whether it’s work or play, this gaming laptop understands demanding work capacity and delivers every time.
Processor (CPU): AMD Pro A10-9700 APU (3.5 GHz base frequency, up to 3.8 GHz burst frequency, 2MB cache, 4 cores)
Graphics card: NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2070 Max-Q graphics
Memory (RAM): 8GB DDR4-2666 SDRAM (1 x 8GB)
Storage: 256GB PCIe® NVMe™ SSD
Customizable: Yes
External I/O Ports:
  • 1 USB 3.1 Gen 2 Type-C™ (DisplayPort™ 1.4, HP Sleep and Charge)
  • 1 USB 3.1 Gen 1 (HP Sleep and Charge)
  • 2 USB 3.1 Gen 1 (data transfer only)
  • 1 headphone/microphone combo

3. HP OMEN X 2S gaming laptop

First in its class to feature two interactive display screens, the HP OMEN X 2S gaming laptop brings something more than revolutionary to the gaming sphere. Take in the primary 15.6 inches of 144 Hz FHD might. Enjoy edge-to-edge immersion with the sprawling 1920 x 1080 display resolution as you dive into a vibrant world of fantasy and adventure.
The secondary touch screen measures 6 inches diagonal, lighting up your scope with a mesmerizing 1080p visual experience. Perfect for gamers who run Twitch or YouTube as they play, the second screen promotes seamless multi-tasking. And with an onboard NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2080 graphics with Max-Q design, you’ll be able to focus on strategy rather than worrying about your PC’s performance.
Customize your specs by choosing your ideal RAM, CPU, GPU, and storage. You can even upgrade your storage to Intel Optane memory to accelerate storage speeds and cache your PC’s most frequented processes for the hard drive.
Enjoy endless hours of gameplay each and every time you power-on the HP OMEN X 2S. With a long and impressive list of onboard ports, you can attach all of your essential peripherals. Be it your Bluetooth headset, a wireless mouse, or an external monitor, the HP OMEN X 2S gaming laptop is ultra-compatible for both novice and expert gamers.
Processor (CPU): Intel Core i9 9880H (2.3 GHz, up to 4.8 GHz, 16MB cache, 8 cores)
Graphics card: NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2080 Max-Q
Memory (RAM): 16GB DDR4-2666 SDRAM (2 x 8GB)
Storage: 256GB PCIe NVMe M.2 SSD
Customizable: Yes
External I/O Ports:
  • 1 USB 3.1 Gen 2 Type-C™ with Thunderbolt™
  • 3 (Power Delivery 3.0, DisplayPort™ 1.4, HP Sleep and Charge)
  • 3 USB 3.1 Gen 1 Type-A (HP Sleep and Charge)
  • 1 HDMI 2.0
  • 1 headphone/microphone combo

Is NVIDIA Max-Q worth it?

We’ve come to the golden question: is NVIDIA Max-Q really worth it? Considering the extra cash you’ll fork over to afford this new and ever-evolving tech, interested gamers should weigh their options if they’re on the fence.

When to say yes

For the hardcore gamer who is looking for fluid gameplay, powerful processing, and optimized performance quality, Max-Q is a total must-have. Max-Q will come in handy for CPU and GPU intensive games like Assassin’s Creed Odyssey, DOOM, and all other demanding games that blur the line between fact and fiction.

When to say “not yet”

For the entry-level gamer, Max-Q may be an intense investment for casual gameplay. However for those who foresee long-term commitment to a single hardware-heavy game, Max-Q may be worth the wallet damage. It all depends on your budget and gameplay needs at the end of the day.
NVIDIA continues to deliver on the demands of gamers, and Max-Q is the shining tip of the iceberg. As developers and manufacturers engineer increasingly impressive products and technologies, you can count on the gaming world to be the first to adapt and adopt.

About the Author

Tulie Finley-Moise is a contributing writer for HP® Tech Takes. Tulie is a digital content creation specialist based in San Diego, California with a passion for the latest tech and digital media news.

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