Nvidia quietly launches the GeForce MX450 with PCIe 4 support for laptops

Just what did Nvidia's MX graphics line do to deserve the treatment it gets? Eat Jensen's lunch from the fridge?

Credit: Nvidia

You can bet the entire PC world will be nervously eating every single word Nvidia CEO Jensen Huang says next Tuesday, when he is expected to finally announce the next generation of GeForce graphics cards, based on the company’s cutting-edge Ampere architecture. Today’s surprise release arrived with much less fanfare.

The latest GeForce MX chip—Nvidia’s Rodney Dangerfield of GPUs—got the disrespect it always does and was dumped unceremoniously on Nvidia’s website without notice or press release on Tuesday. Don’t even go out the front door, GeForce MX450, we don’t want anyone to see you—even though this is Nvidia’s first consumer mobile GPU to claim support for PCIe 4.0.

The GeForce MX450 is the latest of the Nvidia’s low power GPUs made for thin and light laptops. The series was originally offered pretty much to offset Intel’s anemic graphics performance and give people with thin and light laptops a way to actually accelerate filters in Photoshop. Lately though, we’ve felt the MX line is there mostly to annoy Intel. It’s just good enough to offer more performance than Intel integrated graphics and give consumers who want “discrete graphics” a check off list, yet not really made for gaming despite the “GeForce” branding. The GeForce MX350, for example, was just fast enough that it was still better than Intel’s 10th-gen Iris Plus graphics but wasn’t speedy enough to warrant Nvidia’s GTX or even GT branding.

GeForce MX isn’t about gaming

Nvidia has always been keen to say the MX laptop series isn’t for gaming. The gaming chops of the GeForce MX450 aren’t known yet to us, but Notebook Check believes it will be based on a Turing TU117 chip. Performance should be, the site believes, between that of an MX350 and a GeForce GTX 1650.

If Nvidia finally moves from the old Pascal core to a newer Turing core, we hope it gets the one thing the MX family needs to stay relevant: Actual support for Nvidia’s hardware encoder and decoder codecss. The Pascal-based MX150, MX250 and MX350 didn’t offer support for Nvidia’s NVENC/NVDEC, which was a sorely missed feature of a chip that was arguably pushed for light-duty content creation laptops.

Besides PCIe 4, the MX450 will offer both GDDR5 and GDDR6 memory. Tom’s Hardware is skeptical the chip will even have PCIe 4.0 despite the claim on Nvidia’s page. Any apparent utility for PCIe 4.0 on a low-power GPU isn’t clear to us. It could possibly be used to run the chip with fewer lanes, however, for power saving dividends. You also can’t discount the marketing dividends of the “world’s first PCIe 4.0 laptop CPU (Tiger Lake) with the world’s first PCIe 4.0 GPU (MX450)” either.

Even more intriguing, however, is just what the GeForce MX450 did to get put in the dog house? Did it steal Jensen’s lunch from the corporate fridge? Maybe it parked in Jensen’s parking spot or dinged his Tesla’s door? All we know is the GeForce MX450 is here and it still gets no respect.

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Gordon Mah Ung

Gordon Mah Ung

PC World (US online)
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