Lenovo Thunderbolt 3 Graphics Dock announced
At CES 2018 Lenovo announced the Lenovo Thunderbolt 3 Graphics Dock. The dock connects to the computer using a Thunderbolt 3 (TB3) connections and allows the computer to use an NVIDIA GTX 1050 graphics card with 4GB of graphics memory. Essentially it adds a dedicated graphics chip to the notebook!
This enables notebooks with integrated graphics to enjoy the speeds and performance of dedicated GPUs, that would normally require a much larger or more expensive computer.
External GPUs – a little history
External GPUs have been a long term dream. I remember I was exploring if the X201/X220 series ThinkPad would work with an external GPU. These solutions were more hacks than properly supported scenarios though, and also had some limitations on performance.
You see, I among others have long been dreaming about having a nice thin and light and small computer (with a powerful CPU), that can be turned into a gaming powerhouse.
The problem with the external GPU is, that they require a lot of bandwidth. This is because a lot of data is needed by the GPU to perform their jobs and render the awesome images they provide us. Typical connections like USB (even USB 3.0) could not provide the required bandwidth.
TB3 ports are able to provide the connections speeds to make external GPUs viable.
The Thunderbolt 3 Graphics Dock aims to provide the traditional desktop dock combined with better graphics performance.
This dock, is it something new?
You might have seen external GPU enclosures before. Some even have the ability to change the GPU in them. The Thunderbolt 3 Graphics Dock combines the external GPU with the traditional notebook dock. It will be a nice integrated solution this way.
In addition to having the external GPU, the dock has the following ports:
- 1x HDMI 2.0
- 2x DisplayPort 1.2
- 1x USB 2.0
- 2x USB 3.0
- Audio combo jack
- Kensington lock port
The only downside is probably that the GPU in this one is not replaceable.
I am excited!
I have to say I am very much excited about this new product. I have been longing for something like this for a very long time. In recent years I have been preferring lighter and thinner machines, at the expense of graphical performance. This finally make it possible so that I do not need to choose between the two.
The latest Lenovo ThinkPads come with a Thunderbolt 3 port, so you can turn these machines into gaming machines when you use them while docked. Most ThinkPads do not come with dedicated graphics, and the integrated graphics are just not that powerful.
Very much looking forward to these when they become available. It should arrive during this year (2018).