I'm overwhelmed by the different types of GPUs. Recently I came to know that laptops have different GPUs that have lower power consumption and are smaller in size.

But no matter how much I tried to find, I couldn't find a photo of any GTX 1050 or 1080 or RTX GPU for laptop. All I could find photos were like this:

enter image description here enter image description here

I'm not really sure what kind of GPUs are used in laptops. Especially in terms of how they look and what weight and size they have.

Then I came to know about some low profile GPUs. They use less power. A quick Google search for low profile GPU shows something like this:

enter image description here

And some are even smaller with one fan like: enter image description here

Now I'm wondering if low profile GPUs are actually the GPUs used in laptops - I'm not really sure. Because I can't find any reference about this. Which lead me to ask this question.

But I can't find a photo or article about the (mainly physical) differences between desktop GPUs and laptop GPUs (and differences between laptop GPUs and low profile GPUs in case they are also different things).

I've researched and found that desktop GPUs in most cases perform better in gaming than laptop GPUs in the same series, given similar specifications. For example, an i5 (8th generation) desktop with a 1650 GPU gives better FPS in most games than an i5 laptop with a 1650 GPU.

So, are there any differences between low profile GPUs and laptop GPUs? If yes, for the same GPU (e.g. GTX 1080 or 1050 or 1660) series, which one is supposed to give better performance?

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    I'm not posting this as an answer because I'm not 100% sure, but considering how thin laptops are, I guess they all have the GPU embeded in the motherboard. I don't think any of the GPUs you included in pictues would fit in a laptop, even the ones with lower profile.
    – AJPerez
    Aug 15, 2021 at 17:18
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    @AJPerez: There are high-end gaming laptops with interchangeable GPUs. They tend to be the exception, though. Aug 15, 2021 at 17:54
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    @dly i didn't know this. you mean they don't have dedicated memory? I can see many laptops with gtx 1050 or 1650/1660 cards each mentioning 2, 4 or 6 gb graphics memory. Aren't they gpu memory?
    – Vikas
    Aug 15, 2021 at 18:47
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    For example Asus rog strix gaming laptops and HP pavillion gaming laptops
    – Vikas
    Aug 15, 2021 at 18:49
  • @Vikas it depends. The GTX series usually have dedicated memory, though. Only cheap cards share memory.
    – dly
    Aug 16, 2021 at 5:53

1 Answer 1


Low profile GPUs are not the same as mobile/laptop GPUs.

Low profile GPUs generally are designed around reducing the physical size of the GPU, and not necessarily efficiency (though that ends up being a requirement to achieve a low profile more often than not.)

Mobile/Laptop GPUs are designed around the use case of needing to have significantly less power consumption to reduce both battery consumption and heat output. There's a necessity to reduce the amount of heat generated from components within a tightly packaged laptop, and a GPU is going to be one of the largest sources of said heat. Even then there's issues with thermal throttling for many laptops when under heavy load for extended times.

With that in mind, these GPUs are made with different specs. If we look at NVIDIA's RTX 30 series, their desktop GPUs have difference specs compared to their laptop GPUs. Lets compare a few specs...

RTX 3080 Desktop GPU RTX 3080 Laptop GPU
NVIDIA CUDA® Cores 8704 6144
Standard Memory Configuration 10 GB GDDR6X 16 GB GDDR6 or 8 GB GDDR6
Required Power/TGP 320W 80 - 150+ W

These are just a few spec points, but it's really not worth digging much more as a majority of differences are based on what laptop you would end up comparing with as they vary significantly based on laptop manufacture. What should stand out is the massive gap in required power, but also the variation in CUDA cores. There's a significant variation in performance between the two inherently due to the lesser specs of the laptop GPU.

Bottom line, desktop GPUs are significantly better performance wise than their equivalently branded laptop GPUs.

*As a note, laptop GPUs aren't something you generally buy as an individual part due to it being packaged into the system in such a specific manner for laptop manufactures so realistically there isn't much decision to make here unless you're deciding between a desktop or laptop.

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    Welcome to the Arqade and great first answer! +1 Aug 18, 2021 at 2:44
  • One related thing. Like you said, physically reduced size in low profile gpu: does it mean just reducing the number of fans and physical size or it also means the slot size is also reduced? I mean the thing we plug into the motherboard is also different from a full/regular size gpu?
    – Vikas
    Aug 18, 2021 at 13:22
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    @Vikas The slots are the same. The physical height is different, which is dependent on the chassis of the computer and not the motherboard. A low-profile card can be made to mount on a normal profile slot if the normal mounting bracket is used. Some manufacturers provide both versions for the same card. A normal-profile card is usually too big to fit in a low-profile slot, even if the bracket is changed.
    – Nelson
    Aug 19, 2021 at 8:14
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    @Vikas, the PCIe slot is the thing that connects the card to the mainboard, and is the same for all cards. The bracket is the thing that attaches the card to the case, and is different sizes (and orientations) for low-profile and full-height cards.
    – Mark
    Aug 19, 2021 at 20:02
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    @Vikas those answers will also apply for single fan GPUs. Aug 20, 2021 at 17:00

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