A new leak suggests that Asus could be planning to launch a new line of laptops featuring AMD APUs and Nvidia GPUs in the same chassis. These configurations would be offered with Asus’ FX505DU, GU502DU, and GU502DV models. The laptops in question all use either AMD’s Ryzen 5 3550H (4C/8T, 2.1GHz base, 3.7GHz boost, 35W) or the Ryzen 7 3750H (4C/8T, 2.3GHz base, 4GHz boost, 35W).
The rumor, via TUM_Apisak on Twitter, predicts that two of these systems (FX505DU, GU502DU) will deploy with the GeForce 1660 Ti, while the higher-end GU502DV will use an RTX 2060. Given that Asus often sells multiple similar configurations of the same model, it wouldn’t be surprising to see the GU502DV offered with both GPUs either. No mobile version of the 1660 Ti has been announced, but it’s safe to assume that Nvidia will build one (the 3DMark leak below implies a Max-Q version of that GPU).
What makes this such an interesting development is the rarity of seeing an AMD APU combined with an Nvidia GPU — or, these days, any dGPU at all. If you search Dell.com, there are no AMD laptops sold with a dGPU. HP doesn’t carry any AMD laptops with a discrete GPU, either. Acer has a single model with an RX Vega mobile GPU inside, for $1,900.
A few years ago, it wasn’t unusual to see AMD selling laptops in a dual-graphics configuration, with a dGPU for gaming and an iGPU for regular desktop work. The company appears to have moved away from this configuration, probably at least in part due to the difficulty of making the iGPU and dGPU scale well in Crossfire mode. Lopsided multi-GPU configurations are not known for being high performers and the limited memory bandwidth available to an APU always guaranteed a lopsided configuration.
Obviously, we can’t speak for literally every laptop model in existence, particularly given the difficulty of shopping for a laptop at all. But it’s become obvious that precious few laptop manufacturers are willing to equip AMD systems with dGPUs. It’s possible that AMD only wanted to sell into laptops if it “owned” both the APU and GPU, or that laptop manufacturers have moved away from trying to equip higher-end laptops with dGPUs because they don’t think AMD’s typical buyer would be interested in the feature to begin with. The decisions OEMs make in terms of how they configure their basic laptop SKUs can have a significant impact on how consumers perceive a product, as we’ve discussed before.
But regardless of why the situation looks the way it does, an AMD APU with even a midrange Nvidia GPU is a rare sight in the laptop market. We’ve heard rumors that Intel’s CPU shortage will actually peak in Q2 2019 for mobile products, and that could mean OEMs are a little more willing to experiment with the Ryzen + GeForce pairing than they were before.
AMD could win new market space for itself with its next-generation Navi later this year, but we don’t know enough about the timeline to say for certain. If the company wants to win space in holiday shipments, it’ll need to have Mobile Navi out and ready for market by at least the back-to-school season. Mobile GPU launches often lag their desktop counterparts by several months; it wouldn’t be unreasonable for Mobile Navi to launch at CES, even if desktop Navi debuts this summer.