In that past, if you wanted to game on the go then your options were limited. You could drag around a desktop gaming rig, with all of the accompanying hassle. You could also buy a gaming notebook that was likely relatively underpowered, was bulky, and offered poor battery life — or all three.
Today, the advent of the impressively fast Thunderbolt 3 specification has changed the landscape a bit. Now, you can buy a more reasonably sized notebook with reasonable specs, and connect it via Thunderbolt 3 port to an external chassis that houses a real, desktop-grade PCIe (x16) GPU. Peripheral maker Akitio has introduced a version of such an external GPU dock, the Node, according to Techreport.
The Akitio Node is similar to predecessors such as the Razer Core and the Powercooler Devil Box. However, whereas those two docks retailed at $499 and $379, respectively, the Akitio Node will start out at a more palatable $299 when it ships in December 2016.
The Node is relatively inexpensive because it eschews gaudy extras like flashing lights and even some more practical add-ons such as additional USB Type-C or DisplayPort connections. Instead, the Node provides a utilitarian design that focuses on efficient specs like a 400W industry-standard power supply and two 8-pin PCE power connectors.
Cooling is provided by a 120mm fan at the enclosure’s front, with rear and side vents to allow air to enter and circulate throughout the enclosure. There’s also an aluminum handle to let gamers drag the enclosure along with them to gaming parties.
The Node can accept cards up to 12 inches long, 6.7 inches tall, and 1.73 inches wide, and the PCIe 3.0 x4 Thunderbolt 3 connectivity at up to 40Gb/s should provide support for a good selection of GPUs. The Node supports Windows 10 PCs with a Thunderbolt 3 connection, and the PC itself must support external GPUs.
You can right-click on the Thunderbolt icon in your system’s taskbar, select Settings, and then Details to see if your machine can support external GPU docks like Akitio’s Node. The number of machines that currently support external GPUs is limited, but should grow over time as Thunderbolt 3 connections become more prominent.
Akitio will be selling the Node for $299 without GPU starting on December 1. There’s no Mac support, though Akitio offers a 2-year limited warranty for the Node.