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.