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MSI Shows External Graphics Card w/ATI

By - Source: Tom's Hardware US | B 23 comments

Here's a good way to beef up your laptop's graphics.

MSI plans to showcase its upcoming Graphics Upgrade Solution (GUS) at Computex next week, an externally-housed ATI Radeon HD 5670 1 GB card that connects to a notebook's ExpressCard slot. MSI's solution is one of many external options in the works--both Gigabyte and Shuttle recently displayed their offerings at CeBit back in March. As seen at the show, Gigabyte has chosen the docking station approach whereas Shuttle's I-Power GTX mini will use a special GTX connector.

As for MSI's solution, the company has tweaked the limitations of the ExpressCard connection by using a thicker, shielded copper cable and "improved" associated electronics. This supposedly allows for "over 70-percent" of the theoretical bandwidth as opposed to the 50-percent or less seen with other external solutions. MSI said that the next generation of GUS devices will take the simpler route by using USB 3.0, however the current model will still provide a nice performance boost over integrated graphics.

While this option may sound encouraging for gamers, there are a few positives and negatives associated with the technology. The external device will need a separate power source, and could prove cumbersome when traveling. However that's only a minor setback given that it can provide up to three additional video outputs. This means that consumers can set up a 4-display array using the output from the laptop (or use the laptop's LCD) and the three ports provided on ATI's card.

MSI said that the upcoming GUS will be offered in two forms: without the ATI card for just $99 to $109, or with the Radeon HD 5670 card for $169 to $229. As it stands, the device can't support cards more advanced than the Radeon HD 5670, as the GUS has a maximum power draw of 84 watts and does not have a 6-pin power adapter.

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  • 12 Hide
    IFLATLINEI , May 27, 2010 10:13 PM
    AWESOME!!!! What took so long???
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  • 12 Hide
    IFLATLINEI , May 27, 2010 10:13 PM
    AWESOME!!!! What took so long???
  • 5 Hide
    adamspc , May 27, 2010 10:24 PM
    Quote:
    As it stands, the device can't support cards more advanced than the Radeon HD 5670, as the GUS has a maximum power draw of 84 watts and does not have a 6-pin power adapter.

    Quote:


    Can't they just use a beefier power supply for a faster card, or is there maybe a bandwidth issue as well? I assume bandwidth would be the real issue considering they make a point about the extra shielding.
  • -3 Hide
    jryan388 , May 27, 2010 10:32 PM
    Probably have 5670 performance at 5850 price.
  • 2 Hide
    builderbobftw , May 27, 2010 10:50 PM
    Be cool if there was a 5970/5870/5850 version for those of us with 19x12 laptops :/ 
  • 0 Hide
    joytech22 , May 27, 2010 10:58 PM
    Awesome! Too bad my Laptop doesn't have a ExpressCard slot..
    Hp Pavilion dv6-1323tx... Only came out last year :o 

    My older Acer has a ExpressCard slot but it's CPU will still bottleneck it.
  • 1 Hide
    steiner666 , May 27, 2010 11:00 PM
    I've only been saying that they need to make external desktop-GPU housings for laptops for over a decade now! So many laptops get outdated because the built in graphics chipsets cant keep up with the games, CPUs dont get outdated nearly as quick. This will add YEARS of usability to laptops that would otherwise be replaced.
  • 3 Hide
    schmich , May 27, 2010 11:05 PM
    There should be a generic case where you can just put in any graphics card! Like that you can just take the one in your PC when you go away.
  • 1 Hide
    Zoonie , May 27, 2010 11:07 PM
    Quote:
    As it stands, the device can't support cards more advanced than the Radeon HD 5670, as the GUS has a maximum power draw of 84 watts and does not have a 6-pin power adapter.


    It's probably an easy mod to add the missing power. However, the question is, can you feed anything more powerful through that ExpressCard slot?

    And then ofc.. Can it outpace something like a mobile 8/9-series GS/GT? I'm really hoping you will benchmark this thing. As is and modded to run some more powerful card!
  • 7 Hide
    Lamiel , May 27, 2010 11:15 PM
    jryan388Probably have 5670 performance at 5850 price.

    The cheapest 5850 on Newegg right now is going for 289.99. This article says "or with the Radeon HD 5670 card for $169 to $229". Considering you're getting both the adapter and the GPU for that price, I'd say your comment makes no sense.
  • 5 Hide
    RADIO_ACTIVE , May 27, 2010 11:44 PM
    just another thing to drag around lolz along with a laptop cooler, mouse, power brick...

    portable PC gaming is not that portable :) 
  • 1 Hide
    Yuka , May 28, 2010 12:46 AM
    Why not make an PCIe external adapter of some sort for notebooks? Come on Intel, Ati, nVidia! Stop being slackers, this is a really profitable idea!

    And while we're still at it, no... This thing has no "portability" utility to it. Just get from work/school after PRODUCING on your laptop, plug the V. Card and have some fun without having to get a full blown PC. And even if you want to carry it around, it's not that much hassle compared to carring around a full PC with you :p 

    Cheers!
  • -2 Hide
    redgarl , May 28, 2010 2:00 AM
    That's a good idea. But for laptop, maybe cloud computing is a better option... if you got great internet access.

    Still, my G73jh-A1 is awesome. If you compare to the 1000$ piece of garbage sold at Stamples to my parents who wanted to make me a surprise, it's a real steal for 700$ more. They actually charged 500$ for different services and... crap sold... a 4GB USB stick for 40$... arhmmm... RIPOFF!
  • 1 Hide
    alextheblue , May 28, 2010 2:13 AM
    steiner666I've only been saying that they need to make external desktop-GPU housings for laptops for over a decade now! So many laptops get outdated because the built in graphics chipsets cant keep up with the games, CPUs dont get outdated nearly as quick. This will add YEARS of usability to laptops that would otherwise be replaced.
    They already had them, but previous models sucked bad. This one doesn't look too terrible. Future models using USB 3.0 and other advanced connections might be even better.
  • -2 Hide
    enewmen , May 28, 2010 3:26 AM
    IFLATLINEIAWESOME!!!! What took so long???


    Agree, but if it's external with it's own power source, why limit it to a 5670? Why not a 5700 or 5800 series ?
  • 0 Hide
    rooseveltdon , May 28, 2010 6:06 AM
    enewmenAgree, but if it's external with it's own power source, why limit it to a 5670? Why not a 5700 or 5800 series ?


    As it stands, the device can't support cards more advanced than the Radeon HD 5670, as the GUS has a maximum power draw of 84 watts and does not have a 6-pin power adapter.

    did you read the article?
  • 1 Hide
    tacoslave , May 28, 2010 6:14 AM
    enewmenAgree, but if it's external with it's own power source, why limit it to a 5670? Why not a 5700 or 5800 series ?

    bandwith
  • -1 Hide
    pirateboy , May 28, 2010 8:47 AM
    if it's not an x16 slot: FAIL
    5670: FAIL

    Acer already FAILED with this. MSI is the next captain failboat?

  • 0 Hide
    enewmen , May 28, 2010 10:34 AM
    rooseveltdonAs it stands, the device can't support cards more advanced than the Radeon HD 5670, as the GUS has a maximum power draw of 84 watts and does not have a 6-pin power adapter.did you read the article?


    I still don't know why the GUS was designed to have a maximum power draw of 84 watts and does not have a 6-pin power adapter.
    I'll need to check more on the bandwidth limiitations...
  • 0 Hide
    Hiniberus , May 28, 2010 10:42 AM
    pirateboyif it's not an x16 slot: FAIL5670: FAILAcer already FAILED with this. MSI is the next captain failboat?


    stfu dude, at least they're trying where other's fail and may possibly manage. Also the 5670 isn't all that bad either. The only problem would be the express card bandwith cap, though I have to say I can't wait to see the reviews for it
  • 1 Hide
    bildo123 , May 28, 2010 12:43 PM
    Or, create a standard video connector, like USB, built right into the laptop so all you have to do is slap in a video card and go to town.
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