Plug-n-play GPUs: Boosting The Industry, Laptop by Laptop

For most people with typical needs, laptops are perfect. Portable, powerful, and kinda pretty sometimes; every feature required in a computation device can be found in a laptop. Word processing, email, internet browsing, image manipulation, casual gaming and more.

There is one glaring problem with laptops, though. Remember way back when we said “For most people”? That doesn’t include the power users.

Power users are pampered, spoiled by the preposterous hardware requirements of their hobby or profession. Video gaming, computer-aided design, 3D modeling, movie & photo editing and programming are all greatly enhanced by higher-end hardware. These users demand that their laptop performance is similar to a full-sized, desktop computer while retaining the portability and beauty of a laptop. Sure, companies offer laptops with high-end specifications, but they don’t necessarily match the performance of a desktop and end up costing way more.

For even if ye art a power user, Technology hast a plan for you.

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Look closely, you may need a magnifying glass. In between the two familiar blue USB ports is something amazing. It’s the punky new peripheral connector, USB Type-C, known for its small size and rapid data delivery, properly labeled “SS” for Super Speed! Like the older, larger USB, this allows many different types of devices to be connected. This can even allow a weaker laptop to connect to a special device that boosts the performance dramatically, just as easily as plugging in a phone charger. It’s a decent compromise, instead of spending a lot of money on a high-end laptop or full desktop, the picky power user can purchase a decent laptop and one of these:

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Behold, the awesome power of Compromise!

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This is an External Graphics Card. An explanation for those with social lives: the graphics card, or GPU (graphics processing unit), is the crucial piece of hardware inside an enthusiast’s computer. It is a specialized CPU (central processing unit) that only deals with images and 3D models, taking a large load off of the CPU and allowing it to focus on the literally billions of other tasks it needs to do. Most laptops are too small and cute to fit a decent GPU, meaning the CPU has to do all the work by itself. By plugging a laptop into an external GPU, the load is shared and the laptop can operate on par with full desktop computers.

A few companies such as Razer, MSI and Alienware  are releasing their own versions of the external GPU and toying with the idea of using a proprietary connector. Because no consumer has ever wanted anything to be proprietary, tech giant AMD is pushing for an open standard connection, a likely reference to the USB Type-C. We predict that, in the near future, the external GPU won’t be needed. It’s a (very useful) crutch for weaker laptops at this moment.

Slightly related: Every year, some smartypants journalist or blogger comes around and says “PC gaming is dead” then conveniently disappears before they can even

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“Mmph.”

Drawing by Rod Anderson

We here at The Hardwire are making sure the foot is planted firmly in the mouth of the critics, per the depiction above. PC gaming isn’t dead. Big advancements, killer marketing and a solid fan base is the best medical insurance that an industry can have.

-The Hardwire


 

This aggression will not stand, man.” — The Dude

 

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