Razer Core External GPU Dock: Supported GPUs, High Price Tag Revealed

Razer finally announced some long-awaited details about its Razer Core GPU dock, including the supported GPUs, the (ouch, very high) pricing, and availability.

Pricier Than We’d Hoped

When Razer first announced the Razer Core along with the Razer Blade Stealth Ultrabook at CES, I was hoping for a sub-$200 price tag, assuming one would need to drop a significant amount of money on a graphics card -- in addition, obviously, to the $1,000-plus cost of the Blade Stealth itself (or now, the new Razer Blade).

However, at least one commenter on our original article (H/T to bak0n) more correctly predicted a higher price tag, and indeed, the Core will cost a beastly $499. That’s without a graphics card.

However, the Core is compatible with both the Razer Blade Stealth and new Razer Blade, and if you order a Core along with one of them, you’ll get $100 off. That deal is retroactive to those who have already ordered one of those systems.

Preorders start today on Razer's site, and your Core will arrive sometime in April.

Razer Core GPU Dock, Quick Look

Supported GPUs

Ignoring the gut-punch price tag for a moment, Razer also announced which GPUs the Core will support at launch. It will support AMD Radeon 300-series GPUs for sure, but also some 200-series, Fury and Nano products. For team green, support is baked in for Maxwell-based cards.

Support is limited to graphics cards demanding a max of 375 W and measuring no more than 12.2 x 5.98 x 1.73 inches / 310 x 152 x 44 mm. It can accommodate double-wide cards, though.

R9 FuryGTX Titan X
R9 NanoGTX 980 Ti
R9 300 SeriesGTX 980
R9 290XGTX 970
R9 290GTX 960
R9 280GTX 950
--GTX 750 Ti
--GTX 750

The Specs

As any good dock must, the Core offers a number of additional ports. It also sports its own 500 W PSU. It’s also simple and easy to remove and add cards, as we saw at CES.

Razer Core External GPU Dock
PC ConnectionUSB Type-C w/ Thunderbolt 3 cable
I/O-4x USB 3.0
-1x USB Type-C (for PC connection)
-Gigabit Ethernet 10/100/1000
PSU500 W
LightingRazer Chroma (two zones)
Dimensions4.13 x 13.9 x 8.66 inches / 105 x 353 x 220 mm (WxDxH)
Weight10.89 lbs. / 4.94 kg
Price$499 ($399 with purchase of supported Razer notebook)

Core Coming To Other Laptops?

We’re inferring somewhat here, but we expect that at some point, you’ll be able to purchase the Razer Core by itself and use it with other companies’ laptops.

First of all, Razer made a clear delineation between the price of the Core alone and the $100 off deal when you buy it with one of the two supported notebooks. Why have those two price tiers unless the Core would be able to work with other laptops? (A wild guess is that perhaps Razer’s new buddy, Lenovo, could use the Core along with the next generation of its higher-end laptops.)

Further, Razer has been clear that it wanted to use open standards with this product. As I stated yesterday in the Razer Blade launch announcement, why bother with standards if you’re going to couple the dock with just a couple of your own systems?

OEMs would have to do a bit of work to ready their systems to work with the Core, but it’s by no means a massive undertaking. Apparently, a given system would simply need to offer a USB Type-C port equipped with Thunderbolt 3 and ensure compatibility with AMD’s XConnect technology (that was fast) and the list of supported graphics cards (above).

What of Nvidia? We know that Razer has been working with the company on compatibility, particularly as it pertains to plug-and-play functionality. The Core is designed such that you can hot-plug your laptop into the dock and even hot-swap graphics cards without rebooting. The issue they’re dealing with is that because some laptops, such as the Blade, have discrete GPUs, the switching between internal and external GPUs needs smoothed out. It only affects the plug-and-play feature, we’re told. Apprently, Nvidia will fully support the Core (and the graphics switching) by the time it ships in April.

It’s also highly doubtful that AMD would bother crafting XConnect, a technology that is ostensibly designed to enable external GPU docks, just for a couple of Razer products. The same is true of Nvidia and its hand-in-hand work with Razer on the graphics switching issue. No, AMD and Razer (and to a lesser extent perhaps, Nvidia) are at the forefront of a new computing concept, pushing it forward.

And if you buy the Core and a Blade Stealth Ultrabook or new Blade laptop, you’re going to pay a premium for the bleeding edge.

Seth Colaner is the News Director for Tom's Hardware. Follow him on Twitter @SethColaner. Follow us on Facebook, Google+, RSS, Twitter and YouTube.

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  • rhysiam
    Wow that is expensive! It's not that difficult to put together a cheap i5 build with an OS for under $500 (before you add the graphics card). I realise this has the benefit of portability if you already own the laptop, but wow... that's a lot of money. I can't imagine the BOM is anywhere near $500, so hopefully competition and recouped R&D will see prices drop significantly in future.
  • turkey3_scratch
    $500? Are you kidding me? You can get a full desktop for that price without the GPU, and the GPU is additional cost anyway.

    I also find it funny their "500W" power supply supports cards up to 375W. Sounds like this $500 premium doesn't even come with a good quality power supply.
  • MasterMace
    Not surprised that if Razer made it to the market first they would set a high tag on this