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Nvidia RTX 40 series laptop GPUs are being repurposed as desktop graphics cards in China

What just happened? Announced in early 2023, the mobile versions of Nvidia’s RTX 4090 and RTX 4080 graphics cards were only meant to be used in laptops, but some Chinese tech companies are now repurposing them as desktop GPUs. However, this is not the first instance of such a practice, as there were reports of RTX 20- and 30-series cards being similarly repackaged by some PC makers in China.

According to VideoCardz, Nvidia’s GeForce RTX 4080 laptop and GeForce RTX 4090 laptop GPUs are being installed on larger PCBs and being sold as desktop graphics cards in China. The repackaged cards are reportedly being offered at a discount compared to the desktop models, but there are multiple reasons why it’s a bad idea to spend any money on them.

First off, they will definitely not offer the same level of performance as their desktop counterparts, as they come with cut-down specs compared to the corresponding desktop models. The compromises include fewer CUDA cores and much less memory, meaning you can’t expect these cards to be remotely as fast as the desktop versions.

Nvidia RTX 40 series laptop GPUs are being repurposed as desktop graphics cards in China

In terms of specs, the RTX 4080M (laptop model) is based on the AD104 GPU, comes with 7,424 CUDA cores and offers 12GB of memory, while the AD103-based desktop 4080 ships with 9,728 CUDA cores and 16GB of VRAM. As for the RTX 4090, the AD103-based laptop version comes with 9,728 CUDA cores and 16GB of memory, while the beefier desktop model gets 16,384 CUDA cores and 24GB of VRAM.

The sellers claim that the laptop version of the GeForce RTX 4080 will perform somewhere between the desktop RTX 4070 and 4070 Ti. Additionally, the RTX 4080M has a lower default power limit of 175W, compared to the standard RTX 4080’s 285W, further contributing to its inability to match the latter’s performance.

Apart from the lower performance levels, there could be other concerns about buying these cards, with the obvious red flag being suspect build quality. While Nvidia’s partner brands are expected to offer high quality products, the little-known manufacturers may not have the same level of quality control, resulting in substandard products that could lack the same durability as cards from leading brands. So unless money is really tight, it’s probably a good idea to stick to the mainstream options from official sources rather than spending money on the repackaged mobile versions.

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