August 18, 2016

NVIDIA 10 Series Heads to a Laptop, and a Film Set, Near You

NVIDIA for mobile
With its new "for mobile" cards, NVIDIA puts the ball in Apple's court to keep video professionals on Macs.

NVIDIA has long offered downgraded mobile versions of its graphics cards with an "M" appendage at the end, but that ends with the announcement that future video cards designed for the laptop will end with "for mobile."  

The big driver behind this is the graphics demands of VR consumption, but filmmakers will benefit from the boost in power.

While it's an awkward verbal change, it's a big statement: NVIDIA is saying to the world that these cards aren't different from normal cards—they are just as powerful as their desktop equivalent, only built for a laptop. The big driver behind this is the graphics demands of VR consumption, but filmmakers will benefit from the boost in power.

Of course, these cards won't be quite as powerful as their desktop equivalents. While they have the same specs, they run at slower clock speeds so they can sip less power. But they will be much closer to their desktop equivalents than previous generations of cards, and that in and of itself is a big deal.

Credit: NVIDIA

Unsurprisingly, at launch, the cards are primarily in gaming laptops like those made by MSI and ASUS— so you could, if you wanted, buy a laptop with a GTX1080 in it today (for $3,500). Of course, a gaming laptop doesn't tend to have the I/O ports that a video editor might be looking for, and it'll take a few months for these cards to trickle over to the more traditional workhorse laptops we use for editing like the Dell Precision, HP Zbook, and Lenovo P50, which are a better fit for a filmmaker's needs. But they are coming, and the price/performance ratio will be fantastic.

There was a time when any film set had a folding table with 3-4 Apple Macbook Pros. Starting at least with the HVX-200, if you were downloading, you did it on a silver aluminum (or titanium) Cupertino-designed machine. You soon saw more than just the download laptop, with editors and VFX artists moving to set, sitting at that same folding table, on a bunch of silver laptops, with stickers to help tell them apart, downloading, editing, grading stills, and effecting footage. Add in the production team and their Airs, it was a sea of silver on set. (With the occasional desktop, of course, but those are a hassle to drag around.)

Mac Pro DIT Workstation
Thomas Wong's Macbook Pro DIT station on No Film School founder Ryan Koo's AMATEURCredit: No Film School

This has been fading the last few years: a few Hackintosh or PC folks here or there have been trickling to set, often sporting gaming laptops. Because not only has the Macbook Pro basically not improved in four years, it's gotten worse in the last few. Alex Cranz at Gizmodo recently pointed out that the Geekbench scores actually went down between 2014 and 2015 (the switch to AMD graphics didn't help), and they are only up 10% overall since 2012.  For a laptop that runs $2,400, Moore's Law doesn't seem to be in effect.

While the 1070 and 1080 appear to be physically pretty large and demanding—too big to fit into anything newer than the PowerBook G3—the 1060 form factor could easily fit into a Macbook Pro chassis.

Give us a 15" MacBook Pro with a GTX 1060 for mobile and you've got a sale.

Here's your chance, Tim Cook! I've bought at least six MacBook Pros over the last 10 years, and I would really like to buy another, but haven't since 2012. I couldn't care less about an OLED function strip in the new MacBook Pro, and I don't care that much about clock speed on the CPU. Give us a 15" MacBook Pro with a GTX 1060 for mobile and you've got a sale.

I'm afraid Apple will drop this ball. It shouldn't. Not just for us—though filmmakers do matter as a market—but also for VR, which needs this much power to run. And if Apple doesn't make a swing at VR, then they might as well stop making Macs and just be a phone company. Help us, Obi Tim Cooknobi. You're our only hope.

Tech specs

(vs. desktop in parentheses, identical if not noted)

  • 1280 CUDA Cores
  • 1404MHz core clock (vs. 1506MHz on desktop)
  • 1670MHz boost clock (vs 1708MHz on desktop)
  • 192-bit memory bus
  • 8GHz memory speed
  • 192GB/s memory bandwidth
  • 6GB GDDR5 memory size

Your Comment

16 Comments

I'm onboard with everything except "Of course, a gaming laptop doesn't tend to have the I/O ports that a video editor might be looking for"

My two year old asus rogue has HDMI DisplayPort usb3 and thunderbolt.....

August 18, 2016 at 12:02PM

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Good point, I'm not sure what Charles meant when he wrote that about the I/O ports. He must have been referring to something specific.

August 18, 2016 at 12:52PM

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I can't see my next DIT rig being an Apple if they abandon Thunderbolt and go entirely USB Type C.
They'll probably do that though. I don't think they understand the market for the MacBook Pro at all.

August 18, 2016 at 12:02PM, Edited August 18, 12:02PM

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Richard L
Camera assistant, DIT, DOP
137

Thunderbolt over USB Type-C is a thing. You can have both.

(Unless you don't want to move from TB2 to TB3)

August 18, 2016 at 1:32PM, Edited August 18, 1:32PM

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Supposedly the specs on the new MacBook Pro show it having 4 USB type-c ports. USB 3.1 can also take on the traditional USB style, so that seems like an option too (for a couple of those ports).

http://www.macrumors.com/roundup/macbook-pro/

August 18, 2016 at 4:12PM

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I really hope this is correct and they listen.

The problem with Apple is that they have been listening to the consumer market for years now. They know that they'll sell whatever they make, because for most people, the don't care what graphics card is inside. If Apple drop the ball on this, the ball will roll away unnoticed and people will still buy Apple gear.

August 18, 2016 at 12:19PM

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Liam Martin
DP, editor, part time director
559

"...a gaming laptop doesn't tend to have the I/O ports that a video editor might be looking for"... USB 3, USB 3.1, Thunderbolt 3 - what else is an editor looking for SCSI?

August 18, 2016 at 12:47PM, Edited August 18, 12:47PM

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Lance Bachelder
Writer/Director/Editor
318

I have a ton of ports on my Asus and handy a dvd burner should I desire it. Teh ports were of the reasons I got it.

August 20, 2016 at 4:17PM

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Scott Jensen
Tai Chi and Kung Fu Instructor
232

August 18, 2016 at 1:37PM

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If you have an old mac with thunderbolt 2 and want to connect a graphics card to it check out this video.
https://youtu.be/GtbiK0yigWo

August 18, 2016 at 1:43PM, Edited August 18, 1:43PM

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The saddest part about all these great hardware upgrades is no one making editing programs even cares! Adobe's specs are now 3 generations and 3 years old with the last update the GTX 780! Avid? forget about it - they update about once a decade and never for gamer cards. Apple? They've ditched nVidia to save cash with inferior AMD. Maybe BMD will be first with Resolve on the GTX 1080?

August 18, 2016 at 2:35PM

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Lance Bachelder
Writer/Director/Editor
318

Apple is rightly angry with Intel for totally fking up their MacBook Pro product cycle-- as well as delivering subpar performance improvements with those long overdue chips. That might be part of the reason they're favoring AMD GPU's right now.

August 18, 2016 at 4:16PM

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That is among the silliest things I have ever heard. Intel has been producing tons of new chips at pretty constant clip forever. It's not Intel's fault if virtually every product Apple produces is nothing more than a shiny bauble. No one should be depending on on-die graphics for serious work, they are ALL far too weak, and always will be. AMD GPU's are actually significantly better at compute tasks than nVidia as nVidia have purposedly pushed that function into professional Quadro chips. CUDA is nVidia only however Premiere also supports Opencl on AMD. The new NVidia series used tile based rendering as it's latest party trick. This particular round of GPU releases seems positioned to be short lived as the real revolution hits next year. Unfortunately with Apple real innovation is at a such snail's pace they can't keep up with 6 month or less PC release cycle. The stupidity of the public is the only thing keeping them in the business, but the facts are simple all the power is on the PC side now, and it's lead increases every few months. I use a MSI laptop that has the power of a stack of Macbooks, and it cost less than ONE OF THEM. Apple is being pushed out of the creative space for good, and the creative space will be better off for it. You want see a real cool laptop that will get all the kids on the set talking - get yourself a Razer Blade.

August 18, 2016 at 10:12PM, Edited August 18, 10:19PM

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I have an Asus 17" with the nvidia 980gtx and wow is it fast. I also really like that Asus is made in Taiwan, our ally, instead of China, our enemy. Apple used to be a great company. I have owned a lot of Apple computers, we still have 5 in the house. But the company has lost its moral compass. Holding profits over seas to avoid taxes, taking all the manufacturing over to China. Just like any other ugly corporation. Uggh! Better to support Taiwan, its a much better country, if it can't be made here. This Asus computer is a beast with really heavy duty cooling and dust venting systems.

August 20, 2016 at 4:15PM

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Scott Jensen
Tai Chi and Kung Fu Instructor
232

Lets not forget these cards are super overclock friendly and run really cool on idle. I have a desktop GTX 1080 and on idle the fans don't even turn on. And when i want to overclock ill get 400 to 500 Mhz easily. And then there is the new Asus ROG GX800 and Origin EON17-SLX with Dual GTX 1080s. The Asus actually has real watercooling!!!!!

I worked at the apple store and they are way more focus on the billion that the iPhone brings them than their failing software and PC hardware market, that's why they keep getting rid of certain software!

Apple doesn't care about professionals!

August 22, 2016 at 12:25PM

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Well, but the 1080 and 1070 cards are not supported in OS X yet.

August 23, 2016 at 12:40PM

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Lasse Selvli
Junior Colorist
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