Considering how much better desktop graphics cards are compared to their mobile counterparts, gaming notebook manufacturers are now focusing on creating GPU enclosures that deliver desktop performance on a mobile platform.
Just launched at CES, the MSI GS30 is a 13″ FHD gaming notebook, but judging a mobile device by its size is not relevant anymore, these days. Whereas a few years ago gamers thought that the bigger the laptop display, the better they can play, nowadays a 13 or 14-inch gaming notebook is more than they need. MSI’s latest is already a very capable device in its own right, packing an integrated Iris Pro 5200 graphics processor, a Core i7-4870HQ CPU, 16GB DDR3 RAM clocked at 1600Mhz, and a pair of 128GB SSDs in RAID 0 configuration. The gaming dock that’s bundled with it only makes it better.
The GPU enclosure made by MSI can host graphics cards of up to 14.3″ in length, so you’re covered for almost every model on the planet, except for the water-cooled ones. On top of that, the MSI Gaming Dock has room for a 3.5″ storage drive and a speaker to which the notebook’s audio can be routed to.
So what does the Gaming Dock have that Alienware’s Graphics Amplifier doesn’t? Well, besides the storage and the audio part, there’s the bandwidth. MSI claims that the Graphics Amplifier limits bandwidth to PCI-e 4x speed, whereas with their device, gamers can get the full performance of PCI-e 16x.
As it happens most of the time, amazing gaming accessories (if you could name the Gaming Dock that) are rarely affordable. The bundle consisting of the MSI GS30 gaming notebook and the Gaming Dock will cost north of $1,700, depending on the configuration. Bear in mind that for that money you get an empty GPU enclosure, which you will have to populate with a modern graphics card that’s worthy of being GS30’s companion. That means that you’ll have to spend extra for the GPU (and HDD, in case you want do expand the storage capacity of your laptop), but to be frank, anyone who can afford this $1,700 bundle will most likely also have the dough for a GTX980 or the like.
I’m looking forward to seeing more such GPU enclosures from other manufacturers, as well, and I have a feeling that ASUS’ Republic of Gamers line will include one in the near future.