Startup company Exklim is currently running a Kickstarter campaign for its portable external graphics dock, with a price point that challenges one of Lenovo’s products of similar design.
The Exklim ex Core is a portable eGPU dock that features an Nvidia GeForce GTX 1050 4GB MXM graphics card in a small Thunderbolt 3-powered chassis that measures in at a mere 5.9 x 4.1 x 0.8” and weighs 1.57lbs. The I/O consists of two Intel TB3 ports (Type-C), a USB-C power input (for the included 90W power adapter), and an HDMI 2.0 port for additional video output. The ex Core comes in three different models (colors): T-White, X-White, and G-Dark.
If the idea of a GTX 1050 TB3 graphics enclosure sounds familiar, it's because one of the big-box brands already got there. The Lenovo Thunderbolt 3 Graphics Dock is strikingly similar to the ex Core, with a GTX 1050 4GB MXM graphics and tiny chassis. However, the Lenovo dock offers more USB and networking connectivity, with a gigabit Ethernet port, two USB 3.0 ports, and one USB 2.0 port. It only has one TB3 Type-C port (the ex Core has two), but it does offer two more display output options (one HDMI 2.0, two DisplayPort 2.0).
Despite the slight differences, the ex Core is priced within a few dollars of the $399 Lenovo Thunderbolt 3 Graphics Dock, with Early Bird backers able to get T-White and G-Dark versions of the ex Core for about $407 USD after shipping (to US address). However, the X-White version (the third image in the album above) costs a little bit more at $447.
At first glance, it doesn’t seem the Kickstarter-backed Exklim is offering something the market doesn’t already have; Lenovo has the branding and manufacturing bit already taken care of, and Exklim isn’t pricing the eGPU at a deeper discount than the already established competitor. However, the ex Core is able to provide the graphics horsepower without the need to connect the AC adapter, instead drawing power from the connected TB3-enabled laptop to power the GPU and ports. Lenovo’s TB3 Graphics Dock is designed to be tethered to the wall with an AC adapter and provides power to your connected device. It may be portable in a sense, but not to the same extent as the ex Core.
Although it may seem like a “better mouse trap” at this particular price point in the eGPU market, the ex Core’s primary strength (untethered graphics-boosting glory) doesn’t make much sense for gamers – playing games without an AC adapter connected quickly drains the laptop’s battery, especially with a 90W device also running at full bore. Furthermore, Nvidia’s Battery Boost driver is set to limit framerates to 30 FPS in an effort to save battery life, so you wouldn’t be seeing the full benefit of the eGPU without a source of power for at least one of your devices (laptop or dock). It is nice to have a single cable to connect the ex Core, and we see the value for on-the-go CAD developers and professionals who could use the GPU horsepower in the field, but one way or the other, you’ll have to power your setup if you expect to see results in games.
The Exklim ex Core T-White and G-Dark are available on the company’s Kickstarter page for about $407 USD. The X-White is available for around $447, and all three of the ex Core eGPU docks have limited quantities still available.