Sometime in early 2017, ASUS plans to start shipping its ROG XG Station 2, a new external video card solution. The device is intended to upgrade a laptop to desktop-like graphics performance, it connects via Thunderbolt 3 and has room for a single video card.
The box has an integrated 500W PSU with 80Plus Gold certification, it has a ROG-themed design and features a RGB LED tube. Cooling is provided by three small fans (looks smaller than 80mm) and the device also has a Gigabit Ethernet port plus a 4-port USB 3.0 hub.
The ROG XG Station 2 was first shown at CES 2016. We still don't know how much this thing is going to cost, but it's probably going to be so expensive that few people will be interested in buying it.
Even though the power and compactness of laptops have made leaps and bounds over the years, we as gamers always crave for moar power as game developers continually ramp up the resolution and fidelity of the latest games. Now your fantasy of carrying an ultra-portable laptop (such as the ASUS Transformer 3 Pro T303UA) when out and about and using it as a gaming powerhouse when you get home - has become a reality. The new ROG XG Station 2 can upgrade compatible laptops to full desktop gaming performance. The most attactive part is the ability to upgrade the graphics card solution for your laptop whenever you like.
In 2007, ASUS introduced world's first docking station to boost laptop performance. The original XG Station even came with an OSD (on-screen display) and allowed you to adjust the GPU clock, fan speed and volume. Adding a desktop NVIDIA 8600GT to your laptop was at the time highly sought-after.
Performance & Connectivity
Fast forward to today, XG Station 2 utilizes the speed of Thunderbolt 3 (up to 40Gbps) which allows eight times the data transfer rate of USB 3.0 (5Gbps) and four times the video bandwidth of HDMI 1.4, resulting in a minimal performance drop while using this external solution. Ideally, it would be best to allow all laptops to be compatible with the XG Station 2, however, it would be a travesty to connect this to a single-core processor laptop with USB 3.0 for example. That's why ROG has chosen to only support selected ASUS laptops with enough processor power and Thunderbolt 3 so you get your money's worth in performance for years to come.
There's a slight overhead due to encoding and decoding when connecting only via Thunderbolt 3, XG Station 2 allows you to connect an additional USB Type-B cable to help compensate and push the performance further. The performance can then be pushed up to within 10% of the graphics card's maximum performance.
A compact laptop usually offers less connectivity in favor of reducing overall size and thickness, the four USB 3.0 ports and Gigabit Ethernet port at the back of the XG Station 2 help to make up for it, while reducing the hassel and number of cables you need to plug and unplug at the laptop. ROG has made it possible to connect and disconnect the XG Station 2 without restarting.
Everyone wants a hassel-free and clutter-free solution, that why XG Station 2 is designed to not only supply 500W of power to the graphics card, it provides up to 100W to charge your compatible laptop and other USB-connected devices via a single Thunderbolt 3 cable. The internal power has an 80 Plus Gold certification, and is up to 90 percent energy efficient.
Wondering if this can support the latest graphics cards? There's enough juice here for the current king of the hill - the ROG Strix GTX 1080, and also supports the latest offerings from AMD, such as the ROG Strix RX 480. For future cards, XG Station 2 can accommodate full-length graphics cards up to 2.5 slots wide.
The centerpiece of the station is an ROG-themed plama tube, it gives you a sense of the power and futuristic tech within. Don't be surprised if you find yourself staring at it like a hypnotized mosquito. The window on the side reveals the graphics card and all the additional lights surrounding it, through software you can synchronize the RGB lighting effects the way you like it. All the latest ROG Strix graphics cards support Aura Sync and GPU Tweak II to help you get the best performance possible.
A single cable to upgrade your laptop, charge your laptop, expand connectivity and possibly lure mosquitos, sign me up!