Opinions differ about Optimus–some geeks consider it an abomination; not being able to switch manually and be in total control of the process, while others (mainly non-geeks) think it’s awesome not having to bother with the settings. Regardless it clearly has its benefits as far as battery life goes. Optimus support for Nvidia’s high-end GTX series GPUs has been virtually non-existent in high-end gaming laptops up until now. With Intel’s Sandy Bridge in working order and a new batch of gaming laptops on the way, that’s about to change, and they all have the new GeForce GTX 560M in common.
The GTX 560M is successor to the GTX 460M, which has been the standard video card in Nvidia-based gaming machines for quite some time. There’s not a great deal of difference between the two–at least not on the surface. Both are DX11 GPUs with 192 CUDA cores and a 192-bit memory bus. However, the GTX 560M has been given a generous boost to the clock speeds: 775MHz core vs. 675MHz in the 460M as well as 1550MHz shader clocks compared to 1350MHz in the 460M. Another improvement is some alleged power optimization. This should translate to a performance improvement of about 10-15%, all other things being equal.
The main benefit is of course that now even the large, high-end gaming laptops will be able to run for awhile away from the mains, as they will automatically switch to the Intel IGP as needed. Naturally, playing games on battery power will still have the same effect. As for the new laptops with the GTX 560M, they all come from the usual suspects. Your humble correspondent guessed correctly, as it happens, about the new Toshiba Qosmio that was announced the other day. Other than Toshiba, Asus has its G74Sx and G53Sx in the pipeline, and MSI a GT683. The Alienware M18x is apparently also getting an upgrade to an optional GTX 560M SLI configuration.