Intel Skull Canyon And PowerColor External GPU Dock Power HTC Vive Experience

When we heard about PowerColor’s “Devil Box” external GPU dock, we figured we’d learn more about the device when we dropped by the company’s booth at Computex, but we were in for more than we expected. Not only did PowerColor have the Devil Box up and functioning, it was paired with an Intel Skull Canyon PC. And together, they were coaxing an HTC Vive.

Although I was initially wary of the potential bandwidth and latency problems in such a setup, I found that the demo ran without issue. I haven’t spent much time ensconced in VR environments, but this one was no different than the few others I’ve seen in terms of quality.

Connectivity And VR For All

The Devil Box connects to its host system via Thunderbolt 3 over USB Type-C connectors. This enables the Devil Box to work with essentially any system on the market that supports Thunderbolt 3. Of course, a looming question concerns the CPU limitations of the laptop that connects the GPU dock. The Intel Skull Canyon NUC has a high-end Intel Core i7-6770HQ.

The Devil Box external GPU dock seems like it has reached the end of its development stage, but the company is still tweaking its design. There were actually two different prototypes on display, but the only significantly difference between the two was that one had a carrying handle on top.

The external power dock measures 400 x 172 x 242 mm (LxWxH). This spacious design allows PowerColor to fit relatively large triple-fan GPUs alongside a 500W PSU and a 2.5-inch HDD for extra storage. Pulling double duty as an I/O hub, the case has four USB 3.0 slots, a USB Type-C port and an Ethernet port. It also has RGB LED lighting.

We don’t know the Devil Box price yet, but a product manager told us that it will be cost less than the Razer Core, which puts it below $399. The Devil Box can support up to an Nvidia Titan X graphics card or AMD R9 Fury. Next gen graphics cards should work fine as well, as they are more energy efficient than current offerings. PowerColor may ship full versions with GPUs pre-installed, but that is also still being deliberated.

PowerColor plans to complete development of the Devil Box soon and ship to retailers sometime before the end of 2016, but it doesn’t have an exact shipping date set.

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  • LuxZg
    So with something like Surface Pro + thunderbolt 3 + something like this you can have it all - tablet, laptop, and gaming desktop...as you need it. Finally. Now please bring it all down in $$$ and I'll line up to buy the whole bunch.

    A question though, does it allow usong that 500W to power the laptop/tablet over USB type-C as well? Seems logical, but if someone can confirm...
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  • scolaner
    Quote:
    So with something like Surface Pro + thunderbolt 3 + something like this you can have it all - tablet, laptop, and gaming desktop...as you need it. Finally. Now please bring it all down in $$$ and I'll line up to buy the whole bunch.

    A question though, does it allow usong that 500W to power the laptop/tablet over USB type-C as well? Seems logical, but if someone can confirm...


    It should, yes. Power Delivery is one of the excellent features of USB Type-C. The dock should theoretically be able to power anything connected to it, up to 100 W. So you're right, instead of bothering with a laptop charging cable, you would simply connect the laptop to the dock with the USB Type-C cable, and because the dock is plugged into the wall, it could feed power to the laptop. Pretty cool.

    http://www.tomshardware.com/news/usb-31-usb-type-c-refresher,29933.html

    However...the 500 W rating on this particular dock makes me wary about Powercolor's plans for PD...
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  • weilin
    Quote:
    However...the 500 W rating on this particular dock makes me wary about Powercolor's plans for PD...


    I don't think 500w is going to be an issue... ATX specifications limit the power of 2x 8pin PCIe power connectors to 300w (150w per 8 pin connector). That leaves 100w for PC charging and 100w spare for USB drives etc...
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