I’ll cut to the chase – Nvidia GTX 860M and GTX 850M are the new high midrange GPUs for gaming laptops. GTX 860M equipped laptops are already available for around $900-$1000 from several manufacturers (check $1000 gaming laptops recommendations) and more will come soon.
Generally, the GTX 860M delivers the same performance like the older GTX 770M with significantly lower power requirements, lower typical price point and with some extra features (battery booster for example). So, the GTX 850M should be an interesting option too as it’s basically the same chip, but how is the DDR3 memory affects the performance of the same chip in this case?
Let’s start with a basic info table:
|Model||core (stock)||memory (stock)||Power|
|GTX 850M (Maxwell)||GM104 (Maxwell), 640 cores@830HZ-1100MHZ(?) + boost||DDR3@1GHZ (2GHZ effective), 128-bitAlso GDDR5 option, according to some sources||around 40W|
|GTX 860M (Maxwell)||GM104 (Maxwell), 640 cores@1030MHZ + boost||GDDR5@1.25GHZ (5GHZ effective), 128-bit||probably around 40W-45W|
|GTX 870M (Kepler)||GK104 (Kepler), 1344 cores@941MHZ + boost||GDDR5@1250MHZ (5GHZ effective), 192-bit||~100W probably (peak ofcourse)|
The GTX 860M and GTX 850M are actually the same chip, coupled with different memory chips with the GTX 860M getting the faster GDDR5 chips with effective speed of 5GHZ compared to the much lower GTX 850M DDR3@1GHZ resulting in 2GHZ effective. The GT 750M GDDR5 had a big advantage over the GT 750M DDR3 of up to 80% in some games. This is a huge difference, but we’ll see how much this difference actually plays a role in the final gaming performance.
Lets look at the numbers (thanks, nbc – soon our own numbers!). In these benchmarks, the GTX 850M core clocks were as high as the GTX 860M clocks.
The average advantage is ~38%, which is significant. These benchmarks are made with GTX 860M and GTX 850M which are clocked the same in the notebookcheck benchmarks, around 1060MHZ-1080MHZ, so the core clocks difference is much neglectable for most of it. The other difference is that NBC used an I7 for their GTX 860M benchmark and an I5 for their GTX 850M benchmark.
The only difference that is significant otherwise is the memory bandwidth difference which is around 2.5 times in favor of the GTX 860M. This translates to this advantage in FPS. We can see that in Dota 2 the difference is lower which seems in one line with other benchmarks of Dota 2, showing that it is less memory bound than some of the others. The difference in Crysis 3, for example, can be also strongly related to the I7 vs I5 issue in this case. We’ll test it soon.
The other thing we see is that the GTX 850M DDR3 is quite potent anyway. Unlike the GT 750M GDDR5 vs DDR3 difference which could be very high and up to 80%, in this case, the new Nvidia architecture is kicking butts better, with lower memory bandwidth (at least according to these test). The GTX 850M delivers the same performance level of the GTX 760M/765M on average, easily allowing high graphics settings gaming.
Currently GTX 850M equipped laptops are not really available for reasonable price except the Clevo W650SJ based laptops like Sager NP6658, Eurocom Electra 2 and more, which are all basically the same with minor differences. These are sold for like $830 (M4) with 1080p IPS display and GTX 850M which is a nice deal. GTX 860M laptops for around $1000 (Sager NP7338 / Clevo W230SS) and more will come soon.
So, in terms of gaming performance for price, the GTX 860M equipped laptops do provide higher cost efficiency. However, as said before, the GTX 850M is a very potent by itself, so you might want to save some money and get a laptop with a GTX 850M as it will allow to anyway to play most games on high and very high settings.
bottom line, wait for new models to see the whole picture. Check the gaming laptops under $1000 recommendations.