Nvidia offers two variants of this laptop GPU and one is much slower than the other, but you might not be able to tell which one you’re buying.
If you’re looking to buy a new thin and light laptop that has a little more graphical grunt than an Intel chip can offer, then a GeForce GPU will be tempting. But it turns out Nvidia isn’t making it very clear how much of a performance difference there is between some of its GPUs that are marketed under the same name.
As NotebookCheck reports, the performance discrepancy between laptops stems from their use of the Nvidia GeForce MX150 GPU. While a laptop may include the MX150, there’s actually two variants of it and one is significantly better in terms of performance than the other.
The MX150 is based on Nvidia’s GP108 chip using the Pascal architecture. The two variants are named N17S-G1-A1 and N17S-LG-A1. Those names tell you absolutely nothing, but the performance difference is significiant. The G1-A1 variant is a 25W TDP chip with a clock speed of between 1468-1531MHz. On the other hand, the LG-A1 variant is a 10W TDP chip with a clock speed of between 936-1037MHz.
As you can see, the LG-A1 GPU is significantly slower than the G1-A1 and is aimed at thinner and lighter laptops which have smaller batteries and generally underclocked or lower performance components to ensure heat is kept under control.
The problem for consumers is the fact Nvidia and its laptop partners aren’t making it very clear which variant of the MX150 is included with each laptop model. They are also referred to as the 1D10 (G1-A1 variant) and the 1D12 (G1-A1 variant).
NotebookCheck found the slower 1D12 GPU being used in the Lenovo IdeaPad 320S-13KBR, Asus ZenBook 13 UX331UN, Asus ZenBook 13 UX331UA, Xiaomi Mi Notebook Air 13.3 2018, and HP Envy 13-ad006ng. In 3DMark tests, they were unsurprisingly slower much slower than laptops using the faster 1D10 variant, and all were slower than the average GeForce MX150 score.
So if you do spot a new laptop you like and it is listed as using a GeForce MX150 GPU, don’t stop there. Dive into the technical specification and check specifically which variant of the chip is being used. In some cases the variant won’t be listed and you’ll have to contact the vendor directly. You may actually prefer the 1D12 version if long battery life is high up your list of preferences. But for graphical performance, you’ll benefit from the 1D10 instead.