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External GPU for Laptop?

I have a Dell Inspiron 1720 laptop that has a nVidia 8600M GT. When trying to run games like Starcraft 2 above medium graphics settings the card is really strained. The laptop has:

Core2 Duo T7500 2.2 ghz
3 gb DDR2 667
160 gb 7200 rpm HD
nVidia 8600M GT 256mb discrete graphic card
Windows 7 Home Premium x64

The gpu seems to be the bottleneck on this system so I started looking to see if anything had yet come of age as far as external GPU solutions via USB or anything. I found some intersting articles about MSI making GUS that connects a 5670 via the express card slot. It would seem that the increase in GPU power and memory would be huge over what the laptop has currently. This solution really caught my attention as it uses a slot my laptop has instead of the upcoming USB 3.0 port.

Heres my questions:
1: Does this seem like it will be a viable solution and deliver enough performance to make it worth buying?

2: Any recent news about MSI's or any other similar solution? The most recent news I found online was from May 2010.
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  1. To be honest, I think any external solution is going to be hampered by the rest of your system and isn't going to provide the performance you desire. There is also the issue of the inability to disable your laptop's on-board video controller.

    That being said, if you want to game, it may be time to upgrade (buy) a newer more capable laptop/notebook. Not the answer you are looking for, I am sure, but spending money on an external solution that won't solve your problem will be a waste of time and money on your part.

    Good luck!!!
  2. Thank you for the reply. As to disabling the onboard video, I'd assume that all laptops would run into this issue and that MSI or whomever would have to disable it via the driver.

    I get the impression that your opinion of the processor isn't very high. I'm not in a position to get a new laptop anytime soon and the cheap ones out there are a joke, even compared to my current one. (I've been seeing alot of single core Athalons out there, new)

    I was thinking that with a C2D, and maybe upgrading my RAM to 4gb DDR2 800 that an external video upgrade solution would beef it up enough for some modern games.

    Funny, I bought this laptop in March of 2008 and its just about obsolete. I built my desktop much longer ago and its just now starting to show its age. (I've been able to run everything I wanted to till a few months ago)

    I tried OCing the GPU but couldn't get anything stable over the stock clocks. However the temp never went over 60c.
  3. With laptops, your ability to OC is limited, at best. They simply aren't designed to handle more stress (heat/power) than designed for.

    I would not assume that the MSI solution would disable the on-board video. That is a hardware configuration on the latop itself and the liklihood of a 3rd party software driver affecting the GPU itself is very unlikely.

    Pumping up your memory to 4GB will help with overall performance and your CPU is actually okay for most uses, including gaming. The issue is with any external solution and its ability to perform better than the native GPU you already have.

    If it were free, I would try it. If I had to pay for such a solution, I would pass. Those external devices are generally intended just to drive additional displays, not to provide any sort of meaningful GPU upgrade (what you seem to be looking for).

    Regardless, your call. If you decide to try the MSI solution, please come back to the forum to report the results. Good luck!
  4. I see what you mean. I'm not looking for adding additional screens, just want to get some more GPU power. The GPU I have has always been the part that bothered me about the whole system but was the best option available at the time.

    I had hoped for a mild OC but nothing was stable. I read up on how some had done it on this card but aparently mine really didn't like it.

    Thanks again for the reply. I'm going to keep an eye on what develops on the gpu front, but if its just a way to add screens then, ya, its useless for my purposes.

    Really sucks that after all these years they don't have any kind of upgrade solution for laptops. Probably so the can keep people replacing them as often as possible.
  5. Best answer
    There are so-called GPU upgrade-able notebooks/laptops, mostly from high-end vendors like Alienware (read expensive). The issue is still availability of actual devices and being locked into a very small set of choices which can be used.

    Most consumer laptops simply have the GPU integrated into the motherboard and there is nothing you can do to upgrade them.
  6. Best answer selected by Martell1977.
  7. Martell1977 said:
    Best answer selected by Martell1977.

    nDon't know if this would be of interest, or perform better than what you have:
  8. Martell1977 said:
    Best answer selected by Martell1977.

    nI have the same problem as you. A Dell Insperion1720, @.4ghz processor, Nvidia Gt8600m GPU (256 memory), 2Gb RAM- upgrading to 4GB.
    nI to play Skyrim which requires a GPU with at least 512 memory.
    nI could get an XBox for $199 but I want to be able to use the command console feature which XBOX and Playstation 2 do not have.
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