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Thread: What would be wrong with an external graphics card?!

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    What would be wrong with an external graphics card?!

    Right, so I was just thinking about my ideal pc, and i realised it would actually be a widescreen laptop, but I want to game too. So I hatched up the completely genius plan of an external GPU. Think of it, it can be purely proprietary, coming with the necessary PSU and cooling paraphernalia. And you would be able to upgrade the sucker without having to overhaul your entire machine.

    I guess I can see right now the major issue would be bandwidth and communicating with the computer subsystem. Hence why we are not seeing it today, but come on, you can create a new especially wide port to communicate with the GPU.

    If you think about it, that kinda convergence would please tons of people. Firstly, a major contributor to heat and power usage can be externalised, and a very basic gfx unit can be installed inside the laptop for when it's detached. I also can't justify having a full tower pc with 5+ fans when more than half of my pc usage is web surfing. But laptops are fine only if you have somewhere else to game.. and lets face it, the consumer PC industry is all about the gamers. Do you really think the non-geek users upgrade to the hardware with the highest price-margin every couple of years?

    So, the mighty, thoroughly unresearched solution: Have the GPU in a box, and keep the laptop's mobility. What do you think?

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    Re: What would be wrong with an external graphics card?!

    Dragons Den's probably your best bet mate

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    Re: What would be wrong with an external graphics card?!

    its nothing new, they make them that fit in the card slot, trouble is a laptops never going to be a gaming rig unless your buying a bloody good lappy to start with like the sli alienware ones

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    Re: What would be wrong with an external graphics card?!

    Quote Originally Posted by matty-hodgson View Post
    Dragons Den's probably your best bet mate
    Yes, me and my ultra-knowledgeable 'this thing goes here and then things happen on the screen' proposition.

    Quote Originally Posted by GoNz0 View Post
    its nothing new, they make them that fit in the card slot, trouble is a laptops never going to be a gaming rig unless your buying a bloody good lappy to start with like the sli alienware ones
    I was being facetious when I said it was a genius idea, but you have to concede the majority of games today are GPU-limited more than anything else. So why not a GPU box?

    People are already moving toward laptops en masse because they've got enough juice for most tasks. What I don't see happening is there ever being a way to fit in a CPU and GPU powerful enough to make the latest games go vroom! So you take out the GPU, which a very specialised activity is dependent on, and use the freed up thermal/power freedom to juice up the processors.

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    Re: What would be wrong with an external graphics card?!

    to be fair they do make laptops that will play the latest games at a damn decent spec, and a side effect is the heat generated will cause you balls to boil and you will become sterile.

    i guess it wont be long b4 u get the docking station with built in video card though,

    or even the monitor having the video card built in, that would be the best idea imo

    docking station would allow for best throughput though.

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    Re: What would be wrong with an external graphics card?!

    yeah it's a fantastic idea which is why a lot of us are waiting for news on the external gpu solution demonstrated by ATi back in early 2007 and promised to us by AMD in 2008. It was codenamed ATi Lasso and various other named have been attached to it. Haven't heard anything from it in quite a while though and it was meant to have been released shortly after the launch of the AMD Puma platform. Lol if only you thought of it earlier :doh:

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    Re: What would be wrong with an external graphics card?!

    Yeah, obviously the problem is the PCI-E cable that doesn't exist.

    Having said that though, I can't help feeling that it would wind up failing anyway, purely because people struggle with the idea of extra expense. The extra box would mean that you had to pay for an additional power supply, an additional interface, an additional case, an additional cable, and on top of all of that you would need a brand new laptop with a brand new interface to cope with it. Ultimately, surely it would be cheaper just to buy an Alienware laptop in the first place and what you lose in portability of the laptop you gain in the portability of the graphics solution.

    I like the idea, I just doubt that it would take off.

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    Re: What would be wrong with an external graphics card?!

    Errrmm I think Fujitsu have done this exact thing, had an external 3850 plugged in between a little laptop and a monitor, it should be on sale sometime.

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    Re: What would be wrong with an external graphics card?!

    Is a fanastic idea, often thought why they don't do it myself. But if you think about the high end desktop GPUs. ATI and nVidia make very little money selling £400+ graphics cards. Their core revenue generation comes from sub £100 parts, no?

    How many hardcore gamers want to game on their laptops? The expense of developing an external GPU setup and the actual expense of the parts (both in the lappy and externally) would undoubtly be massive and I don't honestly think the market is large enough to make it profitable, otherwise it would have been done already. Average lappy buyer is happy enough with The Sims and a bit of HD playback, (is also relative, in a few years, onboard offerings will hammer through Crysis as we all know).

    Biggest problem I think would be reaching a situation where manufacturers choose not to fit the extra bits in budget/midrange offerings to keep costs down. That will further segment the laptop market (Netbook, anyone?) and you'll end up with these crazy priced confergence laptops that you plug an external GPU into, next its external sounds cards, then comes the bigger screen, external keyboard, mouse, HDD, is the thin end of the wedge and having owned a few lappies myself, can tell you, you end up wondering why you didnt just get a desktop in the first place lol.

    End of the day, laptop will always be a compromise of portabilty over performance, they aint for games, theys for work and light media use.

    As an aside, can't you replace the GPU's in those tasty Alienware and RockDirect offerings anyway?

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    Re: What would be wrong with an external graphics card?!

    External graphics card, like the ASUS XG Station?

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    Re: What would be wrong with an external graphics card?!

    Quote Originally Posted by Hawker1986 View Post
    Errrmm I think Fujitsu have done this exact thing, had an external 3850 plugged in between a little laptop and a monitor, it should be on sale sometime.

    Hawker
    Yep - here is a review of the notebook:

    http://www.guru3d.com/article/amilo-...ooster-review/

    The external connector is actually via a PCI-Express 2.0 x8 XGP port.

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    Re: What would be wrong with an external graphics card?!

    I read something recently that one manufacturer will be doing something that will allow you to plug in an external graphics card and still use the laptop's screen. Most exsiting solutions require an external monitor.

    The question is - is it in the manufacturer's interests to produce a laptop that's significantly upgradable? If someone wants a gaming laptop now, they have to replace them every so often. Why kill that market?

    Having said that, the Advent netbook I had while working away from home did a fine job with Deus Ex...

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    Re: What would be wrong with an external graphics card?!

    Quote Originally Posted by Uriel View Post
    The question is - is it in the manufacturer's interests to produce a laptop that's significantly upgradable? If someone wants a gaming laptop now, they have to replace them every so often. Why kill that market?
    That's been on my mind too. But I figure the market is nowhere near as large as it could be. The first manufacturer to successfully go mainstream with such a solution would have an Apple-esque market. They could have a huge markup if nobody else provided the same service. So there are clear incentives for competitors to go that route.

    Thanks to all who mentioned the lasso and asus xg stuff. I was simply unaware of those I'm quite happy attempts are being made, at least.

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    Re: What would be wrong with an external graphics card?!

    Quote Originally Posted by Uriel View Post
    I read something recently that one manufacturer will be doing something that will allow you to plug in an external graphics card and still use the laptop's screen.
    The notebook I mentioned already does this:

    http://www.guru3d.com/article/amilo-...ooster-review/

    The graphics booster is actually an ATI lead initiative!!


    Here are some details about XGP:

    http://ati.amd.com/technology/xgp/index.html



    Quote Originally Posted by transylvanic View Post
    That's been on my mind too. But I figure the market is nowhere near as large as it could be. The first manufacturer to successfully go mainstream with such a solution would have an Apple-esque market. They could have a huge markup if nobody else provided the same service. So there are clear incentives for competitors to go that route.

    Thanks to all who mentioned the lasso and asus xg stuff. I was simply unaware of those I'm quite happy attempts are being made, at least.
    This already exists with ATI XGP.

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    Re: What would be wrong with an external graphics card?!

    That looks like a pretty awsome idea but the price will probaly still be high. I think more people would go for a desktop for gaming and a cheapo laptop for office and browsing.

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    Re: What would be wrong with an external graphics card?!

    I like your concept, but I'm not sure there's that much of a market. Real Gamers(tm) will surely buy a proper gaming rig, and will then maybe add a netbook if they want to be able to surf on the move.

    Casual gamers who want mobility are more likely to go for a laptop with half-decent NVidia or ATI graphics (and of course when Congo comes out later this year they'll have the option of HD3200 integrated graphics in a very portable platform).

    More serious mobile gamers have the option of discreet mobile cards as well as (HybridPower?) where the low power IGP handles light loads like surfing, and the discreet mobile card only kicks in for gaming.

    And finally, you can always get a laptop and a console, if you want an occasional kick-ass gaming experience.

    I'm not sure that leaves much room for a mid-power laptop plus an external box + second power brick that you can plug in for extra graphics oomph! I think whoever said docking station with GPU is probably nearer the mark. If you could get a Congo laptop that'd game reasonably at 1280 x 800, but could be plugged into a docking station when you get home that houses a HD4870 and plugs into a 22" screen, then you're talking - cheaper than a second gaming PC, and you keep all your settings, documents etc. That'd certainly tempt me (if I didn't already have a dedicated gaming machine, that is )

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