Alienware Graphics Amplifier: Another External Graphics Brick

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Quixit

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"The input card looked like it was a PCI-Express 8x card, and upon asking we were told that it was actually operating over just four lanes, which we fear can have a notable impact on performance for higher-power graphics cards due to the more limited bandwidth."

This is not a problem, you have to remember that the card is only transferring the video output from the graphics card, not all the data necessary to process the image. It's not the same as the amount of bandwidth needed for a GPU. In fact they could probably do it using a PCI-E 1x. PCI-E 4x should provide enough bandwidth for hundreds of FPS of frame buffer at 4K resolutions.
 

enewmen

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I've been waiting for laptops with external desktop size GPUs for years. Just the connection seems to be the problem and even that should be just an extension cord of the PCI lanes. Anyway, I'll be extremely interested in anything with more than 4 PCIe lanes and costs less than a full ITX (size) PC,
 

mswezey

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So I should just attached my Keyboard, track pad, and monitor to my desktop and call it a laptop?

My bad...gaming laptop...
 

dstarr3

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I'm not entirely sure why this is a thing. I would imagine that a consumer needing this would be better off just building a gaming computer for home and using an inexpensive laptop for portable use. $300+GPU isn't far off from what a basic gaming rig could cost.
 

kenny1007

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I'll would just wait for the $100 versions that will come out after this from other companies. $300 for an enclosure is just a waste of money.
 

kenny1007

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I'll would just wait for the $100 versions that will come out after this from other companies. $300 for an enclosure is just a waste of money.
 

Ninjawithagun

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Ultimately, the deal killer of Alienware's Graphics Amplifier is cost and extremely limited graphics bandwidth. $299 for an empty case (no graphics card) with a measley 460W generic power supply, and a wimpy PCI-E x4 bus. This will become a huge issue should you want to play games on an external monitor at higher resolutions of WQHD or UHD. I say NO THANKS! I will patiently wait until a better product is made available.
 

CaedenV

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So at what point can we buy a basic bare-bones laptop and hook it up to an external GPU with native 8x PCIe3-4 via Lightpeak (optical, not the active cable used by Thunderbolt) and be able to just enjoy games on the big screen at home? It would be amazing if we could see it happen sooner rather than later, but it looks like streaming tech where the server/workstation in the basement does all of the heavy lifting is the direction most things are headed.
 

mswezey

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"This is not a problem, you have to remember that the card is only transferring the video output from the graphics card, not all the data necessary to process the image. It's not the same as the amount of bandwidth needed for a GPU. In fact they could probably do it using a PCI-E 1x. PCI-E 4x should provide enough bandwidth for hundreds of FPS of frame buffer at 4K resolutions."
OP deleted his post.

My Response:

Wrong. The graphics card doesn't only transfer the video output from the graphics card to the laptop's monitor. It also needs the data to process and render the image. 4 lanes vs 8 lanes will hinder performance overall. Don't get me wrong though, the card will play games great overall, just not at it's half potential via 8 lanes.

Your last statement sounds like your just talking out of your ass. Not trying to put you down, but if the truth hurts.

The graphics card has a GPU and is still treated as such. Saying it doesn't need the same bandwidth as one is ignorant.

Ask yourself this, why on earth would I buy this and a powerful graphics card if it only need 1 PCI lane (per your explanation) to transfer only video (already processed) to the monitor?

That 1 cable that connects to the laptop is used bi directional. To transfer processed video back to the monitor, and to transfer raw data to the graphics for processing. It's also used to transfer data from the USB ports, possibly hindering performance even more.

TL:DR; Cable transfers both raw and processed data to/from GPU on top of USB data to the laptop (assuming no external monitor). 4 lanes will hinder a top end card which could utilize 16 lanes.
 

erendofe

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Actually the unit takes on the GPU work load, not simply streaming the laptop's frame buffer. so, yeas an x4 slot is an issue high end cards need x8 typically to avoid bottlenecks. if it were to simply transfer video output, you would have NO performance increase at all. mind you some new mid-range GPU's may still perform better then the onboard.
 

truegenius

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One of the questions that we asked Dell was whether the device would support hot-swapping, to which the answer was, as we expected but still unfortunately, no. This isn't surprising though, as you also cannot just pull a graphics card out of a desktop that is switched on
well i tried hot-swapping (installing dgpu while windows running on igpu) my dgpu in my running desktop and guess what, at first try the pc just restarted :p and at second try the inbuilt audio chip got short-circuited (card's bracket touched the audio chip connections) and it smoked for few seconds and now there is a clearly visible whole in that audio chip and no sound output :( , though pc is still working great :p
now i am playing counter strike without any audio

*in counter strike
me: taking fire, need assistance
me (hoping), he must be coming any second :whistle:
maverick: no sir (but no audio)
oh fish :(
 

Chettone

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In a near future PC and Laptops will not need any GPU and just require a good connection. If you could do the game processing in a server and just stream it to your PC the whole computer industry will be dead. There is no point in trying to make good gaming laptops if you need to carry extra stuff. The whole "portability" stuff makes no sense if you have to carry a big laptop and that brick.
 

beetlejuicegr

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Imo this is an awesome thing to have on laptops. a plug that can connect devices for gaming graphics.

Consider you save your laptop from melting down, even alienware laptops will eventually die from gaming. this device is awesome, i hope to see more laptops having this expansion ability, oh wait, thunderbolt? :)
 

Vger73

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Why won't Intel allow Thunderbolt for this application? It would be nice to get away from the proprietary connections that MSI and Alienware are using.
 
I don't really get the whole desire for this either really. For the cost you could just build a desktop for whatever you need at home. This make the laptop locked down to one position and really removes the portability of it. It is nice for a laptop to have a little gaming power when they have discrete graphics solutions inside cause you may not always be home, but who wants to carry this big brick with them to work or on vacation? It just seems to really pull away from the practicality of a laptop. Larger gaming laptops that are thicker and can handle a higher TDP make more sense if you really need extra power.
 

mswezey

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From your site:

performance seems to be around 80-90% of the full desktop performance based on synthetic benchmarks (3DMark and Unigine Heaven)

Given that Thunderbolt 2 offers only 20Gbit/s of bandwidth while a PCIe 3.0 x16 slot offers 128Gbit/s, getting 80-90% of the performance is a lot more than expected. This will vary depending on the game, as based on our own PCIe scaling tests the PCIe bandwidth may cause little to no difference in some games while in others the drop can be close to 50%


I rest my case.
 

ralanahm

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from wiki DP page Gbits/s for 4k display
3840 × 2160 × 24 bpp @ 60 Hz 12.54 14.26
4096 × 2304 × 30 bpp @ 60 Hz 17.81
From wiki PCIE
Speed
Per lane, in each direction:

v1.x: 250 MB/s (2.5 GT/s)
v2.x: 500 MB/s (5 GT/s)
v3.0: 985 MB/s (8 GT/s)
v4.0: 1969 MB/s (16 GT/s)
For a 16-lane slot, in each direction:

v1.x: 4 GB/s (2.5 GT/s)
v2.x: 8 GB/s (5 GT/s)
v3.0: 15.75 GB/s (8 GT/s)
v4.0: 31.51 GB/s (16 GT/s)

SO.. pcie v2 x1-lane would give you 20 FPS just for video output This has to be a x4 to be useful.
 

alextheblue

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I'm not entirely sure why this is a thing. I would imagine that a consumer needing this would be better off just building a gaming computer for home and using an inexpensive laptop for portable use. $300+GPU isn't far off from what a basic gaming rig could cost.
It would totally make sense for this to be a thing if there was some kind of industry standard that carried audio, ethernet, tons of PCIe lanes, and USB 3.x all together. That way we would see a full range of third-party units (in various shapes and sizes) that interface with a variety of laptops from various manufacturers.

But since something like that doesn't exist, I'll just continue to occasionally assemble/upgrade an affordable gaming rig as necessary. I don't travel enough to justify a high-end laptop and I've already got an old laptop and a 10" class tablet.
 

mswezey

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Remind me to never let you near any of my computers.
 

mswezey

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1) The top of your post needs better formatting. Confusing to other people. Numbers without context is meaningless. Should have labeled with Gbps and above them the Timing Methods.

2) What was this in reply to? I was stating that the person I replied to (person deleted their original post) was wrong.
 
Problems:

1) CPU bottleneck possibility
2) CPU fan likely will be very loud in laptop
3) The Alienware laptop I saw listed elsewhere that supported this was expensive with a reasonably good GPU already. Ideally I'd like to see laptops with a 4-core Intel CPU that uses integrated graphics as an option. Why pay more for the laptop GPU if you don't even use it? (some people may when away from house but not all would)

4) Cost and size.
*I'd love to see a GTX970 GPU and PSU merged together in a single package that cost $100 more than the cost of a single GTX970 graphics card with a single blower-style fan setup for the entire unit which could be actually be the SAME SIZE as a normal GTX970.

An efficient PSU for just the GTX970 wouldn't take much space at all, and the cooling requirement is a lot less for an external unit. Actually could be about 2/3rds the size of a typical GTX970 overall for entire unit which is fairly portable!

Summary:
I'd love to see a $500 2C/4T Intel laptop or $800 4C/4T laptop optimized with basic iGPU, AND an external GPU that is extremely portable as mentioned above.

A $500 laptop + $300 external unit (with GTX770 or similar AMD GPU) would be a really great combo for value, fairly high-end gaming!
 
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