MSI demos Thunderbolt-based external GPU solution

By on January 10, 2012, 12:21 PM

External graphics solutions have long been a dream of those who want a laptop that's both powerful enough to play games and light enough to carry around comfortably. We've seen some prototypes throughout the years, and some have even made it to market, but they've yet to achieve mass adoption.

However, with thin and light 'Ultrabooks' expected to be hot items the next few years and Thunderbolt starting to see wider implementation, MSI is ready to take another shot at the concept with the GUS II. The company's external graphics product was on display at CES 2012 housing a Radeon HD 5770, which itself was rendering the Unigine Heaven demo and pushing graphics to an external display.

Although the GUS II was hooked up to a MacBook Pro through its Thunderbolt port, there is currently no Mac OS X support for MSI's external graphics solution so the demo was done in Windows. That said, if there's support for the GPU inside the enclosure it should't be a problem getting it to work under Mac OS X as well.


Image source: AnandTech

MSI says the GPU inside the GUS II enclosure has to be powered by PCIe alone, though we should note that the Radeon HD 5770 does require a separate power connector so there seems to be some confusion regarding this. Furthermore, MSI's spec sheet on display says the GUS II supports PCI Express x16 cards with power envelopes as large as 150W, suggesting cards with one 6-pin PCIe auxiliary power connector will work.

The company hasn't offered a launch timeframe or price at this point but we'll definitely keep an eye out for more details as they become available.




User Comments: 12

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howzz1854 said:

i say bump up the power envelope... and fit a serious graphic card in there that's not a mid range 5770. something like 5850/6950 at the least. other wise it defeats the purpose. lets face it... people who are interested in external gaming graphics will have this thing sitting on a desk in their office, or in a vacation cabin plugged in to a wall. so bump up the power please.

Guest said:

repeating Asus XG station?

but, yes, I agree, they should not put mid range graphic card onto it. External gaming graphics must provide extra power that average laptop (with graphic card, gforce or radeon) can't provide.. at least match with gaming laptop..

but, with amd fusion (with integrated radeon 6xxx series) is a solution for light laptop for gaming right?

Staff
Julio Franco Julio Franco, TechSpot Editor, said:

I agree with the comments above, high end or nothing. Better yet, make it a standalone accessory where you can fit ANY graphics card you may already own so you can take out your desktop's graphics card and take it along with you and your laptop when and if needed.

We've seen this same thing showed time and time again. Hopefully thunderbolt will finally make it happen.

Guest said:

I disagree, I have a computer that runs every modern pc game on high and bf3 on medium fine. Unless the laptop has an resolution over 1080p a 5770 is fine for 90 percent of the games out there. But having the choice between mid end and high ends makes everyone happy.

Guest said:

make it a standalone accessory where you can fit ANY graphics card you may already own so you can take out your desktop's graphics card and take it along with you and your laptop when and if needed

If they make this reality, I'm going to buy laptops from now on

9Nails, TechSpot Paladin, said:

Julio said:

...Better yet, make it a standalone accessory where you can fit ANY graphics card you may already own so you can take out your desktop's graphics card and take it along with you and your laptop when and if needed.

We've seen this same thing showed time and time again. Hopefully thunderbolt will finally make it happen.

That would be a breakthrough Julio! An external PCI Express interface, externally powered and in which you can add your own graphics card(s)? Now that sounds like a terrific idea.

Wagan8r Wagan8r said:

Julio said:

I agree with the comments above, high end or nothing. Better yet, make it a standalone accessory where you can fit ANY graphics card you may already own so you can take out your desktop's graphics card and take it along with you and your laptop when and if needed.

We've seen this same thing showed time and time again. Hopefully thunderbolt will finally make it happen.

+1

I was about to say the same thing about the accessory. I believe that is what it already is intended for though. However, if they just make it an external PCI Express x16 slot that connects via Thunderbolt with the option of plugging it into the wall or other power sources on the laptop, that would be awesome. That way you're not confined to any particular GPU and can be upgraded at will.

Guest said:

Completely obsolete !!!

Guest said:

do you think someone will carry that big box only for hd 5770, its better to get a laptop with gtx580m or hd 6990 mobility. They should atleast use a hd 6950 to really make it useful.

Most of you think that i am mad but it would be great so that we can upgrade it with usual graphic card by including a pcie slot in that big box

baroquer said:

If the GPU is too high-end, will there be the bottle-neck at Laptop's CPU ?

Guest said:

This would be a great solution, if every laptop had an express card slot, however many laptops arent made with them anymore, such as my acer aspire 5740, while i have a decent onboard i am gonna have to buy a 1300 dollar beast of a laptop to even think of gaming, and damnit i miss mmo's!!!! So the challenge for you, make an external gpu that can run off an external power supply and port in over an hdmi line, without using an external monitor!!! then i will be impressed, this wow and wonder of an express card extension is not worth the hype.

Guest said:

oh and look up Vidock, they have been doing this for years, with a smaller case and external power supply, and will even support up to 225w!!!

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