External graphics docks over USB/Thunderbolt are almost upon us

Gaming on laptops has always been a compromise. Not only do you pay more than a desktop system for lesser performance, but you are also always juggling between using a laptop as a laptop - light and portable - or buying a behemoth that can easily run your games, but is a laptop in all but name. Intel might finally have the solution to your woes.

Announced a couple of months ago, Thunderbolt 3 is the latest iteration of what started off as the love child of Intel and Apple. The Thunderbolt protocol sought to be the one port for all your needs and while it did, at least partly, achieve that dream, the port was almost exclusively found on MacBooks and did not see much success with Windows machines. Intel's latest attempt at cracking the problem might prove a lot more successful, however. This is because the company is opting for routing the protocol through a normal USB Type-C port. As this is more compliant with standards, it will likely make it much easier for OEMs to include Thunderbolt in their products.

The ease of adoption isn't the only thing Thunderbolt 3 brings to the table. The most exciting development, from a gaming perspective at least, is that transfer speeds are high enough that Intel is now officially supporting external graphics docks. This means you could theoretically run all the latest game on high settings and resolution on an Ultrabook, leveraging a desktop graphics card to augment your machine's graphical prowess. You can even drive multiple monitors at 4K and this is exactly what Intel did.

At its Intel Developer Forum this year, the company is flouting the prowess of its new port and showed an Ultrabook running multiple peripherals, USB and Displayports, ethernet, external audio and an SSD, all while powering two 4K monitors! If that wasn't enough, the company also showcased the port connecting to an external dock, with an AMD Radeon M385 inside. If you're disappointed that this is just a mobile GPU, don't be. The new standard can also easily handle a full size AMD R9 200 series GPU - and possible more in the future.

While companies like Alienware and MSI have already started testing the waters in this regard, their offerings were proprietary and rather expensive. Having a industry-wide standard is likely to bring prices down significantly. The demonstration was, of course, only a reference, but with USB Type-C and Thunderbolt 3 coming soon, graphics docks can't be far behind. For gamers, Christmas is coming soon!

Via: Gizmodo | Image: Gizmodo

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