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Graphics Apple Hardware

External Thunderbolt Graphics Card On Its Way 207

An anonymous reader writes "Last week, as the result of a straw poll on Facebook, Village Instruments agreed to begin development of an external Thunderbolt-connected graphics card enclosure. Village Instruments already has experience with its ExpressCard-connected ViDock graphics card chassis, which provides extra GPU juice for Windows and Mac laptops, and the Thunderbolt version is expected to be the same kind of thing — but faster. The only problem is, Thunderbolt is only 4x PCIe 2.0, so you won't be using this to connect modern, desktop-class GPUs to your laptop — and more importantly you need to carry around a second monitor to actually use a ViDock. So why not just buy a proper gaming laptop?"
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External Thunderbolt Graphics Card On Its Way

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  • Woosh! (Score:3, Interesting)

    by CountBrass ( 590228 ) on Tuesday August 09, 2011 @05:05AM (#37030638)

    You've completely missed the point. Don't think MacBook Pro, think the new Thunderbolt equipped MacBook Airs that lack a decent built in graphics card.

    And to answer the summary's closing question: because it means I can carry an ultra-portable (MacBook Air) when I travel and plug it in at home to give it a much needed graphics boost for use at home.

  • by macklin01 ( 760841 ) on Tuesday August 09, 2011 @05:09AM (#37030652) Homepage

    So why not just buy a proper gaming laptop?"

    For docking stations and such. Plenty of us plop our laptop onto a docking station or a USB hub + monitor + speakers + keyboard + mouse anyway.

    It beats the hell out of hauling an overpriced 10-pound beast to the same office desk every day, when you can just keep better equipment (with better ergonomics) neatly arranged and haul a lighter machine to/from work.

  • by ledow ( 319597 ) on Tuesday August 09, 2011 @06:56AM (#37030950) Homepage

    I used to think this. Then, by chance, my workplace bought me one. I'd specified nothing more than "Must have Intel chip, more than one core, and an nVidia graphics card" - for convenience, compatibility with my existing disk images, etc. and to suit all the tasks I do during the average work day.

    I ended up with an MSI gaming laptop - my workplace didn't even realise that the rucksack and mouse it came with were anything more than "freebies" even though the mouse was one of those stupidly expensive ones that has multiple DPI modes, weights for balance and all sorts of other shite (but, hell, it's a very good mouse).

    They didn't even care that the WASD keys were highlighted or that it had all sorts of gaming features like a touch-button to overclock both processor and graphics (2 year warranty not applicable...). Apparently it was a super-cheap deal and even now I can't get the same laptop or any equivalent for even half the price they paid for it.

    I have to say - it's been wonderful. I've always had a dedicated "games" machine in the past and never had the money for this sort of laptop and probably would never have bought it for myself. I threw 300 Steam games at it and it laughed at every single one (I've always played the defaults that games offer but now I can actually ramp up to maximum easily).

    It has a huge screen that, even as up close as being laptop-range, you can really appreciate every pixel. It does HD video like I was asking it to add 2+2. The processor laughs at my Eclipse platform and compiles take no time at all. I've never NEEDED to press the overclock button for any reason, ever, at all. It has all the usual gadgets (webcam, bluetooth, wifi, even an "eco" button) and some more unusual (e.g. an external wifi antenna port!).

    It has a huge (full) keyboard that's ideal for typing AND gaming. It has a solid aluminium construction that has so far suffered more and survived better than any other laptop I've ever seen in my life (and has a custom-designed backpack to carry it in that holds more weight that I ever thought a backpack like that could). The sound is amazing and the first full 7.1 setup I've ever owned (hell, I've never bothered to have anything but stereo before - and this is WITHOUT having to plug any speakers in) and it's the LOUDEST laptop I've ever heard (you can easily watch a DVD on a crowded noisy airplane, or in a room with the TV on, and hear every word - and the positional audio does still work in those circumstances.

    I would never have touched this laptop in a million years, much preferring two or three more ordinary ones instead. But now I'm trying to find this EXACT laptop again for myself at a decent price. It's really changed the way I used my computer and I use the laptop exclusively now. There's nothing better than having a machine that you can use all day at work for menial tasks and then have that same machine at home to play anything you throw at it, and take the same machine with you on holiday and have it do everything you need/want while you're away too.

    Plus, gaming laptops have huge advantages in terms of some basic specifications - big GPU's that you just don't get on business laptops, great for video encoding - large amounts of RAM, big screens, every port imaginable, full keyboards that you can get to every key easily, and a lot of money spent on making it feel "right" and solid. I can type on this laptop all day long, go home and type on it for hours, and then take it on the road and type on it for even longer and not fatigue. Even the mouse is the most comfortable that I've ever used.

    I would never pay what I see as the gaming premium (similar to the wedding premium - a £5 cake suddenly costs £50) but a single gaming laptop changed it for me. It's not like this is even a model that *pretends* to be gaming while actually being general purpose - the WASD are marked and everything about it says "gaming laptop". But it laughs at everything you throw at it because, compared to a to

  • Re:Woosh! (Score:4, Interesting)

    by drsmithy ( 35869 ) <drsmithy @ g m a> on Tuesday August 09, 2011 @07:31AM (#37031070)

    The latest Intel graphics cards aren't that bad. They're not great, but I'd imagine that they'd stack up quite well against something that's crippled by the bandwidth of Thunderbolt. Modern GPUs use 16x PCIe cards. Even with PCIe 1, this is 3 times the bandwidth that this device can use. With PCIe 3, it's 12 times as much. A slightly weaker GPU on a fast interface is going to beat a fast one that's spending 90% of its time waiting for data over the bus.

    The vast majority of stuff you might want a GPU to do, is not bandwidth-limited. Numerous tech sites have shown that in most cases, the difference in performance between a GPU on a x16 PCIe bus and a x4 PCIe bus is nothing, and even a x1 PCIe bus doesn't suffer much.

  • by Luckyo ( 1726890 ) on Tuesday August 09, 2011 @08:41AM (#37031494)

    It would stupid because there's more then enough cables in a desktop already. If anything, we need LESS of cable solutions and more slots. Look up at what's missing inside laptops in comparison to desktops. Yeah.

    Grandparent is exactly correct. This is a technology looking for a solution, or more correctly for a problem to fix. Because there simply isn't one at the moment.

  • by JBMcB ( 73720 ) on Tuesday August 09, 2011 @10:19AM (#37032428)

    > If anything, we need LESS of cable solutions and more slots.

    'Cause that's what consumers are looking for, great big huge desktops with loads of slots. That's what's filling the aisles at Best Buy.

    No, the majority of consumers want tiny, unobtrusive PC's that they have to mess with as little as possible.

    > Look up at what's missing inside laptops in comparison to desktops.

    Uh-huh. That's why nobody buys laptops. Oh wait, laptops are almost more popular than desktops these days. If only there was some technology that would bring PCIe level expandability to laptops without eating up a bunch of space like ExpressCard...

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