It seems like there are a slew of vendors releasing mobile desktop graphics docks at CES, but Asus appears to be differentiating from the typical solution with its ROG XG2 graphics dock. The dock is designed to work with particular Asus mobile devices (no word on which ones just yet) and unlike other competing devices, it uses PCI-e bandwidth instead of Thunderbolt.
We got to check out the Asus ROG XG2 at the company’s suite in Las Vegas, and it definitely catches the eye. A tinted side panel shows off the LED-lit interior, which can house virtually any graphics card on the market today. The side panel also has a small space between the chassis and glass to allow air intake.
Perhaps it’s just me, but the LED lighting and plasma tube on the front make for an impressive design, clearly more flashy than practical in some cases. The chassis itself is not as sturdy as the Razor Core, which used heavy steel for its case, and the XG2 is much lighter by comparison.
Another key difference, and possibly unique from any other graphics dock we’ve seen so far, is that the ROG XG2 uses two USB Type-C cables to connect to the mobile devices (in our case, an Asus ZenBook). This is because the XG2 uses PCI-e lanes to transfer the data between the dock and the PC.
Asus explained that Thunderbolt 3 interfaces can create latency for external graphics docks, so the company decided to implement the dual-USB Type-C configuration to use four PCIe-3.0 lanes instead. Each cable handles two PCI-e lanes, and the interface provides adequate bandwidth to run even the most powerful graphics cards (Asus explained that its internal testing with a Titan X showed that four lanes operate at 99.99% of the performance of a x16 lane interface). Additionally, the USB Type-C ports on the PC will automatically switch between USB protocols and PCI-e protocols based on what you plug into it.
There’s no word on price or availability yet, but more importantly, it opens like a taco.