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Laptops are fantastic tools, but the portable design philosophy that makes the laptop possible is responsible for one of its most irritating flaws: an utter lack of upgradeability. Sure, you can upgrade the RAM in your laptop, but other than that, you’re probably out of luck. Even if your CPU is fast enough to perform the newest tasks, your video chipset will often limit what you can do.
Want to use three or more displays? Sorry, most laptops only support the included display plus another using an analog out. Want to buy an external Blu-Ray player for your laptop? If your integrated video chipset doesn’t support DHCP, or doesn’t accelerate decoding, it’s not going to play Blu-ray movies. What if you’d like to play some of the newer video games? Sorry, your laptop’s integrated video is too slow, and you can’t upgrade the video card...
Or can you?
While it’s true that there are a small number of laptops out there with an upgradeable video chipset solution, such as MXM, Axiom, or Dell’s proprietary slot, these are by far the minority. For most laptops, upgrading the internal video chipset is simply not an option. Yet with the introduction of the external ExpressCard interface, we have seen companies explore the realm of the external graphics card upgrade.
By now you have probably heard of XG Station from Asus, an ExpressCard solution currently in development, but not yet ready for purchase or even testing by our labs. The PC technology company MSI demonstrated the Luxium, but when we talked to them they told us it was nothing more than a technology demonstration at this time. A company called Magna has been selling the ‘Expressbox’, which, with no included videocard, looks to be an ExpressCard-to-PCIe adapter that leaves the graphics card purchase and installation up to the user. What you might also have heard of is another solution by a company called Village Tronic: the ViDock Gfx.