Computers

Alienware Graphics Amplifier provides desktop performance on a notebook

Alienware Graphics Amplifier p...
The Graphics Amplifier provides a powerful, if somewhat limited tool for upping notebook graphics power
The Graphics Amplifier provides a powerful, if somewhat limited tool for upping notebook graphics power
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The Graphics Amplifier provides a powerful, if somewhat limited tool for upping notebook graphics power
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The Graphics Amplifier provides a powerful, if somewhat limited tool for upping notebook graphics power
The Amplifier lets gamers plug in full-length, dual-height desktop graphics cards to their laptop
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The Amplifier lets gamers plug in full-length, dual-height desktop graphics cards to their laptop

Every PC gaming aficionado knows that no matter how high the price tag, a notebook will never quite be able to match a desktop computer when it comes to raw power. Alienware’s Graphics Amplifier provides a simple solution to the issue, allowing users to easily turbo-boost their notebook performance while at home.

While Nvidia’s recent Maxwell laptop graphics cards have gone some way to closing the gap between laptop and desktop GPUs, full-sized high-end cards are still much more capable than anything you’ll find in a portable machine. The Graphics Amplifier aims to solve the issue by letting gamers plug in full-length, dual-height desktop graphics cards to their laptop, with up to 375 watts of power – enough to power high-end picks like the 4 GB PNY XLR8 GeForce GTX 980.

The extra graphical grunt won’t just improve performance, but will also let users take better advantage of the new Alienware 13’s quad HD display resolution, and can even power dual monitors. Additionally, the accessory doesn’t just allow users to pipe more performance into their portable system, but also makes things a little more convenient by providing an extra four powered USB 3.0 ports.

The Amplifier lets gamers plug in full-length, dual-height desktop graphics cards to their laptop
The Amplifier lets gamers plug in full-length, dual-height desktop graphics cards to their laptop

The Amplifier might seem a little too good to be true, and the truth is that there is one significant downside. In order to ensure that there’s significant bandwidth to drive the graphics experience, the hardware makes use of a proprietary PCIe cable to connect to its parent laptop, meaning it's currently only compatible with the new Alienware 13 notebook. So while the new tech is great if you’re in the market for a brand new gaming machine, it won’t please anyone looking to breathe a little life into their aging notebook.

The Alienware Graphics Amplifier is available now in the US for $299, with global availability this holiday season. That may seem fairly reasonable, but it’s worth considering that you’ll have to shell out for a desktop GPU on top of the cost of the Amplifier. You can purchase these from Alienware when picking up an Amplifier, but high-end cards like the GeForce GTX 980 will add an extra $689 to the bill.

Source: Alienware

6 comments
Mzungu_Mkubwa
As usual, this isn't a novel concept. This example is merely a "mainstream" manufacturer finally getting on board with the idea.
Another (far cheaper) option is reviewed here: http://youtu.be/bP_8EYQ-2RA or here is the company's site: http://www.banggood.com/EXP-GDC-Laptop-External-PCI-E-Graphics-Card-p-934367.html
...already in it's 7th iteration.
Bronco
Seems to me that tethering your notebook to a bulky (and possibly heavy) amplifier sorta defeats the whole purpose of the portability of a notebook.
If you're a serious gamer, and you're going to be tied to a desktop to get serious performance, then you might want to just get a desktop machine.
liui
if you have an empty ExpressCard slot you can use an Express card to PCIe adapter to add an external PCIE video card http://forums.overclockers.com.au/showthread.php?t=988062
xs400
@MzunguMkubwa @liuite
Good to know. Thanks.
Gregg Eshelman
ExpressCard connections are only PCIe x1. The Alienware box is x2 or higher, could even be x16. I haven't been able to find specifications.
I'd like to see a new addition to ExpressCard to expand the connector to the full width and dedicate 100% of the expansion to PCIe lanes.
John Banister
This might also be a nice expansion for those AIO "workstations" that only ever use mobile graphics.