And just like that, PowerColor is one of the precious few companies at the fore of the promising external graphics card enclosure wave. The Chinese company announced that its Devil Box is now available.
We’re a little surprised, given that our first (and last) sighting of the Devil Box was at Computex this summer, and at the time PowerColor had not decided on a release date or price. Maybe the company just saw the opportunity and pushed to insert itself into a market that has received less attention than perhaps it should.
Under The Radar, For Some Reason
To understand why graphics card docks could be important, you need not look any further, actually, than PowerColor’s Devil Box demo at Computex: It was paired with an Intel Skull Canyon NUC, powering an HTC Vive.
To be clear, that’s a NUC running a high-end VR HMD. Granted, we weren’t privy to some key details such as the framerate it was running, but the point is, the thing that makes that setup work is the external GPU.
Razer’s version of the external GPU paradigm, the Razer Core, is designed to pair with the company’s slim gaming notebooks. Initially, the Core was locked down to just its own Blade notebooks, but because of open standards like USB Type-C, Thunderbolt 3, and AMD’s XConnect, there’s no reason you couldn’t pair a Core (or any other external GPU) with any USB Type-C-equipped notebook.
This all effectively means that instead of having a laptop and a desktop, you could have a laptop and an external GPU dock and still have yourself a burly gaming setup.
The Devil (Box) Is In The Details
The sticking point with all of these GPU docks, including the Devil Box, is the price. It comes in at $379, with no graphics card.
The Devil Box supports graphics cards from AMD (it supports AMD XConnect) or Nvidia up to 310mm in length that demand up to 375W. The interface is Thunderbolt 3 over USB Type-C, and the port features Power Delivery, so it will charge a connected laptop. There’s an internal 500W PSU, and other ports include gigabit Ethernet and four USB 3.0 ports (one of which is on the front of the chassis).
PowerColor said that the Devil Box is available from Newegg today, but at press time there is no listing. It should also be available in Germany (MindFactory), the UK (Overclockers), and China (JD). Shortly thereafter, it’s coming to Japan (Amazon) and Singapore (Banleong).
|Header Cell - Column 0||PowerColor Devil Box External GPU Dock|
|Max. Graphics Card Size||310 x 140 x 50mm|
|Mac. Graphics Card Power||375W|
|Connection||Thunderbolt 3 (40Gbps)|
|Ports||-USB 3.0 x4 (one in front)-Gigabit Ethernet|
|Power Delivery||Yes, v.2.0, max 60W|
|Chassis Size||400 x 172 x 242mm|
Update, 10/21/16, 11:15am PT: We originally misstated the status of the MSI dock. The error has been corrected.
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Would love to see compatibility comparisons with the razor core. I've seen videos where the core will not work certain notebooks. I am wondering if this will work on the razor blade notebook, the intel NUC, and the branched out to see if it will or will not work on other products.Reply
Still too much money, even if they did undercut Razer. The Alienware unit is a lot more reasonable, but I think there's a market for a more entry-level unit to pair with a less-expensive laptop. Something around $100 that "only" supports up to 150W graphics cards and doesn't power the laptop itself (I would use an extension cord or a spare supply cable so the laptop's external PSU is easily detached without fishing). Even a $100-150 latest-gen graphics card would add a lot of ooomph to a $500-ish laptop. For a little headroom and the extras like additional ports you could equip it with a 200-250W PSU.Reply
Then you just need more manufacturers to build devices that support it over Type C, without needing to get into the higher-end.
The msi gaming dock and gaming dock mini has been out for many months now so it's not a maybe. It's just not sold separately and only sold with the gs30 and gs32 respectively. But like dell, it's proprietary. Amazon says May but that article is June.Reply
With Nintendo providing Switch, gaming laptop will have a huge drop in popularity.Reply
18755862 said:Would love to see compatibility comparisons with the razor core. I've seen videos where the core will not work certain notebooks. I am wondering if this will work on the razor blade notebook, the intel NUC, and the branched out to see if it will or will not work on other products.
I think we'll see more of that very soon, from multiple dock vendors. We've been pressing Razer, Asus, etc. on that for over a year. The answer is, essentially: Any laptop with a USB Type-C (w/ Thunderbolt over Type-C) that has the proper firmware/software should be able to support the USB Type-C docks.
Those OEMs have been working directly with Nvidia/AMD to make it work. XConnect is one of the results of those efforts, as I understand it.
Basically, it's not a complex solution, but it's one that needs to be implemented. Because the docks themselves are generally pretty new, and so are the Nvidia/AMD solutions, you have to figure that step 1 is convincing laptop makers to enable the functionality at all, and step 2 is waiting for product refresh cycles.
18757615 said:The msi gaming dock and gaming dock mini has been out for many months now so it's not a maybe. It's just not sold separately and only sold with the gs30 and gs32 respectively. But like dell, it's proprietary. Amazon says May but that article is June.
Good catch, thanks--