Ever since AMD teamed up with Razer and Intel to create the XConnect concept, we’ve seen more companies tiptoeing into the external graphics market. The basic idea is simple: Slap an external GPU into a chassis, hook it to a laptop (or even a small desktop, with proper Thunderbolt 3 support), and you’ve got a high-end game station that weighs 2-3 pounds when detached, but plays like a 6-10-pound desktop replacement when hooked up. Asus is the latest company to launch a new external GPU enclosure, this one built in partnership with the Taiwanese case manufacturer, In Win.
The new XG Station Pro packs into a svelte 4.3-by-14.8-inch form factor. There’s an included (external) 330W PSU for the GPU, enough space for a 2.5-slot PCI Express GPU (this should support any aftermarket cards, either today or in the foreseeable future), and a pair of 120mm fans (shown below) to keep the GPU cool. There’s also a single USB-C charge port on the chassis, with enough provided power (15W) to charge mobile devices, though probably not enough to charge or power anything larger. The fan speeds are automatically handled by in-chassis temperature sensors, there’s an option to tune the colors and LEDs of the in-chassis hardware (assuming you have an Asus GPU with compatible LED lighting), and Asus is claiming the enclosure is optimized for silent operation. GPUs up to and including the GTX 1080 Ti or RX Vega 64 are supported.
That said, it’s not the best-featured chassis of its type. The Mantiz Venus MZ-02 that we’ve written about before was more expensive, at $ 399 compared with the XG Station’s $ 329, but also featured an SSD attach point, gigabit Ethernet, 550W power supply, and multiple USB 3.0 ports. Asus is, however, claiming that it intends to build its future GPUs to be compatible with the XG Station, implying we may see better support than might otherwise be the case for a third-party manufacturer. Then again, robust power supplies and adequate internal clearance have typically been the only requirements needed to provide future-proof compatibility.
It’s also not clear if Asus’ support for PC and Mac is a meaningful point, mostly because it isn’t clear if UEFI-specific enhancements are required for cross-platform support. As far as we’re currently aware, any eGPU chassis with Thunderbolt 3 will work with any Thunderbolt 3-equipped system, regardless of manufacturer. We’ll update you if that changes.
As more companies push into this market we’ll undoubtedly see a range of hardware and hardware prices. Hopefully consumer uptake will justify the experimentation — while these chassis may not work for everyone, they’re a potential compromise between the ultrabook thin-and-light systems that are increasingly popular and consumers who don’t want to trade weight for horsepower.
The $ 329 XG Station Pro will launch later this month.