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External Graphics Upgrade for Notebooks

At the end of the day, is the ViDock an attractive solution for the owners of older laptops who want multiple display options, and perhaps a little more graphics power out of their laptops?

As far as multiple displays are concerned, the ViDock is an impressive solution. While the ViDock Business edition is a little pricey at the proposed $329 price point, it does offer some interesting features over competing multiple display solutions. Of course, some of those solutions are a lot cheaper, so unless the higher available resolution and digital outputs of the ViDock are a must-have for your specific application, the ViDock Gfx isn’t necessarily the best multi-display solution for everyone.

If you’re considering buying the ViDock for increased graphics performance, you’ve seen the numbers: the ViDock offers a huge leap in power over integrated video chipsets like the Radeon Xpress 1150, and even allows for HD video playback. Having said that, the ViDock Pro edition is bottlenecked by PCIe 1x bandwidth to Radeon 2600 PRO performance, even if the video card inside is swapped for a more powerful unit.

While in many cases the 2600 PRO offers huge performance leaps over integrated graphics, we have to consider the ViDock Pro’s MSRP of $429: that’s pretty close to the price of a new basic laptop. We were able to find a new laptop with an integrated Geforce 8600M / Radeon 2600 class chipset for under $900, which probably even outperforms the ViDock Pro: remember that an integrated solution wouldn’t be subject to the PCIe 1x bandwidth limitation the ViDock suffers from. To be fair, we also found a number of laptops over $1000 with underpowered integrated video chipsets as well. The lesson is that if you’re buying a laptop for graphics performance, you’re much better off simply getting a more powerful mobile graphics chipset.

Where the ViDock shines and becomes very attractive is for the user who already has a laptop but wants all of these features—multiple display functionality, increased graphics performance, HD video playback, and the convenience of a docking station—all in a single package.

Unfortunately, interested buyers must already have a laptop with an integrated GeForce or Radeon chipset, and perhaps even a specific operating system, so the ViDock’s market is somewhat limited out of the gate. But if you fit the profile, the ViDock Pro may be well worth the $429 price tag.

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