As we’ve mused previously, there’s something not quite right about Nvidia’s RTX 4090 laptop GPU. It just doesn’t do the numbers versus the best RTX 4080 laptops. Which is actually kind of good news, what with these two really excellent Black Friday deals on RTX 4080 portables.
The most eye-popping deal is the MSI Vector on NewEgg for just $1,599. That’s at least $700 less than the cheapest RTX 4090 laptop. But here’s the thing. This MSI has access to up to 175W of GPU power. And as Dave found, a high wattage RTX 4080 laptop chip can match and sometimes even beat the RTX 4090.
It’s all a little peculiar given that the AD103 silicon used by the RTX 4090 is much more powerful than the RTX 4080’s AD104. The 4090 rocks 9,728 CUDA cores, has a 256-bit memory bus and 16GB of VRAM, while the 4080 is 7,424 CUDA cores, 192-bit and 12GB. But the benchmarks don’t lie.
Part of the explanation is that the smaller AD104 chip can run that bit faster in terms of clockspeeds within the thermal constraints of a laptop. But in the end, the reasons don’t really matter. What matters is that this MSI portable rig has performance that in subjective experiential terms will be largely indistinguishable from far pricier RTX 4090 laptops.
The catch, if there is one, is the MSI’s screen. It’s a 16-inch item with a native resolution of 1,920 by 1,200 and 144Hz refresh. That’s all great and a good fit for gaming. But the screen isn’t the brightest or most accurate. But then something probably has to give a little to hit this price point.
Next up is the Lenovo Legion Pro 7i. It just so happens to be our favorite gaming laptop of the moment, ranking top in our list of the very best gaming laptops. In fact, it was our favorite when it was $2,750 and now that it can be had for $1,999 on B&H Photo, well, it’s only gotten more desirable.
Again, you get an RTX 4080 in full-on 175W form and thus RTX 4090-baiting performance. But a 13th Gen Intel CPU where the MSI has a 12th Gen chip and a 2,560 by 1,600 display that’s not only higher resolution, but also runs faster at 240Hz and offers better brightness and accuracy.
Is that worth an extra $400? Well, that’s a somewhat subjective call. It’s also worth factoring in the Lenovo’s more mature design and superior build quality. Ultimately, you get what you pay for in this comparison. The Lenovo is the superior machine. But then it costs more.
The Acer Predator Helios 16 is also $1,999 at B&H Photo right now, which makes for another compelling RTX 4080 option. Sadly, it’s not the Mini-LED version, but it still comes with a bright 500nit IPS panel inside it and the same top level spec as the Lenovo.
In short, all these represent RTX 4080 deals good enough to make the very notion of almost any RTX 4090 gaming laptop pretty much redundant.