Slower Nvidia GeForce MX150 GPU reportedly found in some laptops

Lenovo IdeaPad 320S

It seems that buyers of laptops which run with Nvidia’s GeForce MX150 discrete graphics should be aware that there are reportedly two different versions of this GPU, one of which apparently offers considerably less on the performance front.

According to some digging done by NotebookCheck, these two variants are differentiated by their device ID of ‘10DE 1D10’ and ‘10DE 1D12’, the former of which is the standard (full-speed) GPU, and the latter runs with lesser clock speeds and a lower power draw.

NotebookCheck posted an example GPU-Z (a graphics diagnostics and benchmark tool) screenshot of a standard 1D10 version of the MX150 running in an Asus ZenBook UX430UN with a clock speed of 1,469MHz and boost to 1,532MHz.

Then, the report shows a shot of the 1D12 flavor running in a Lenovo IdeaPad 320S with a far slower base clock speed of 937MHz with boost to 1,038MHz. The memory is also clocked 250MHz lower in this variant of the GPU – other specs, such as the amount of CUDA cores, remain the same.

The TDP, or thermal design power, of these two versions of the MX150 are very different, too, with the former hitting 25W, and the slower 1D12 only using 10W. So, the latter would appear to be a cut-down version designed for thinner and lighter laptops where thermals are more of a concern.

Update: Nvidia has provided TechRadar with the following statement regarding this report:

"The MX150 is a Pascal-based GPU featuring 384 CUDA cores. We work closely with OEM [original equipment manufacturer] partners to optimize their specific design constraints for things such as TDP, battery capacity, CPU speed and more. Overall performance and specifications will vary based on OEM implementation and design considerations."

Signage for the slow lane?

All this might seem fair enough on the face of it. However, the issue here is that Nvidia doesn’t make any distinction between these two flavors of the GeForce MX150 on its website or in marketing materials, so it isn’t letting would-be buyers know that they are potentially getting a slower spin on the GPU.

That said, on its spec page for the MX150, Nvidia does note: “Actual implementation may vary by OEM model. Please refer to OEM website for actual shipping specifications.”

Arguably, then, it’s the notebook manufacturer which is responsible for the implementation of the GPU in its product, and it’s down to the vendor to make the spec clear in the laptop’s product description.

Although Tom’s Hardware, which spotted the original story, argues that, as the different spins on the MX150 have different device IDs, the speed differences are implemented at the firmware level by Nvidia.

So, in short, it’s not clear exactly where any potential lack of transparency lies. But, by all accounts, if you’re buying a laptop with a GeForce MX150, you’d do well to thoroughly check the specs and try to ascertain if the device runs with a slower version of this graphics card, as per these claims.