Curmudgeon Gamer
Curmudgeoning all games equally.
10 January 2007
Finally game on your laptop
Ever since I started using VNC, I wondered why nobody made an external video card for laptops. Heck, even the original iMac had a video card made for it, and there are quite a few more laptops sans anything approaching a good video card out there with owners that like to play games. The Grover Cleveland tax isn't unique to Mac gaming; that's about the markup you'll pay to play on something like an Alienware laptop (and their failed user-replaceable video card setup).

So Engadget reports that ASUS has stolen my idea, nevermind that anyone with a laptop and a copy of Doom 3 has probably thought the same thing. It looks neat. For some reason I always envisioned doing it through a fast ethernet port, but this more intelligently uses PCMCIA ExpressCard port [thanks Zachary]. I'm not a fan of the kitchen sink approach, as it adds surround sound, etc. Just get me a video card for WinXP + WoW on my MacBook as inexpensively as possible, please.

Still, a pretty neat device. I hope it does well.

Update: The details on this are pretty varied (for which I'll blame the PCMCIA mistake, but don't believe me [placing the blame] until I relocate the source), though some places report that it's coming out as early as Feb. CNet tells us both the Feb release date and, more importantly, what card it is, though not the amount of memory: "in this case Asus' own Nvidia GeForce EN7900GS."

Updatex2: Even better, Tech Digest says it's essentially adding a standard external PCI-E slot to your laptop.

Perhaps the best feature though, is that it is just equipped with a standard PCI-Express slot so you'll be able to swap and upgrade your grahics cards whenever you feel the need.

Updatex3: Asus' own press release.

Labels: ,

--ruffin at 11:48
Comment [ 5 ]

Comments on this post:

Express Card is not pcmcia, it is either USB 2 or PCI-Express:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Express_card

By Blogger Zachary, at 10 January, 2007 12:25  

To be fair, a lot of media outlets have been reporting this as a PC Card device.

This device doesn't seem to be terribly portable. For single location users of laptops, docks that offer PCI expansion ports have been available for some time (c.f. http://accessories.us.dell.com/sna/productdetail.aspx?c=us&l=en&s=dhs&cs=19&sku=310-8556 ). I don't know if there are any docks with a PCI Express slot though. It's entirely possible that the interfaces on the back / bottom of most laptops don't have enough bandwidth for that.

Typically the docks have their own graphics cards (note dock, don't confuse them with port replicators).

PCMCIA is a standard developing body now (which developed Express Card), so technically Express Card is a "PCMCIA card". It's just unfortunate that they have the same name as the IBM standard that was later renamed PC Card. Of course, no one would call them PCMCIA cards in common useage.

By Blogger Jeremy, at 10 January, 2007 13:16  

You can get gaming laptops, of course it is expensive. The one I want is this one: http://www.toshibadirect.com/td/b2c/rdet.jsp?poid=349373&seg=HHO
which has a GeForce Go 7900 GS with 256M GDDR3.

By Blogger Kat, at 10 January, 2007 18:49  

That's an excellent idea. Well, at least as long as one doesn't have to sell ones teeth/kidney to afford one. Might even pick upp playing RTS-games on my soon to be Macbook in that case.

By Blogger kj_, at 11 January, 2007 10:07  

kj_: I thought that too, until I found out that the MacBook doesn't have the ExpressCard slot like the MacBook Pro does.

As Kat points out, if you need to game on a laptop, they are available. The comment about the Cleveland tax on gaming laptops meant that they tend to run about a grand more than their desktop/tower cousins, but there is a less expensive middle ground. The Inspiron e1505 comes with a "discrete" graphics card -- not extremely powerful (ATi 1400 iirc, 128 or $40 for 256 megs), but enough that spending the extra heavens knows what for this item is likely money best spent elsewhere.

I've seen that the throughput of the ExpressCard slot is about 25% of a wide-open PCI-x slot. No idea if that's accurate, but I don't believe you get full PCI-x speed here, so it's possibly something that'll become outdated as soon as the discrete video card you could buy for that extra dough anyhow.

For now, this seems to have a market only for people with integrate graphics and a decent proc in their laptops now and perhaps no space or desire for adding a tower... and hardware geeks. That's one of the reasons my "dream device" would work with an ethernet port: It's much more common.

I do wonder if they couldn't figure out a way to combine card slots of whatever type with ethernet with wireless with [insert port] to maximize throughput, and make a real Frankenstein external card solution that rocks.

By Blogger rufbo, at 11 January, 2007 10:30  

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