External Graphics: The Way Forward For Gaming Laptops?

/ 11 years ago

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MSI's GUS II providing discrete class desktop graphics through a Thunderbolt connection.

The graphics market is taking leaps and bounds every year in terms of performance, but not necessarily making great progress in the realm of power consumption. Consequently, most ‘Gaming Laptops’ are struggling to keep up with high performance graphics without sacrificing battery life or the size of the laptop itself. Given the fact Nvidia’s high performance GTX 580M card consumes around 100W of power and is equivalent to the GTX 560Ti 384 cores in terms of performance, this illustrates the fact high performance requires high power consumption.

Consequently, Gaming Laptops like that struggle to maintain battery life unless constantly plugged in. But since the majority of Gaming Laptops would be left plugged in when being used for gaming it makes sense to suggest that external graphics are a realistic suggestion, if your laptop is going to be plugged in anyway how difficult would it be to plug in an external graphics card docking station powered separately from your laptop. This not only boosts your gaming laptop’s performance, but also allows it to hold a ‘weaker’ graphics card onboard meaning in the times when it is being used unplugged or on-the-go it will not drain the battery as much. It also has a positive affect on the life expectancy of your laptop, a weaker graphics card mean less power is pulled through the system circuitry, therefore less heat which ultimately means components will last longer.

Currently this market is relatively ‘new’ so we take a look at what is on offer now and take a brief look forward with some of the prototypes we have seen over the past few months, most notably the external graphics card docking station MSI unveiled at CES 2012 in Las Vegas which is dubbed the ‘GUS II’.

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