Buying a new Windows 10 notebook can be a challenging proposition today. So many options exist, from thin and light machines, to 2-in-1s, to massive gaming systems, that picking between them can difficult. Toss in the wide ranges of prices, and the task can seem downright impossible.
For anyone who wants a gaming system, one theoretical option is to buy a notebook or 2-in-1 that’s good enough for productivity and then connect an external GPU (eGPU) enclosure for gaming back in the office. Unfortunately, discovering whether a machine supports an eGPU can be difficult, and that’s something Dell is working on making a little easier for its XPS 15, as Notebookcheck reports.
The minimum specification required for a notebook to support an eGPU is the presence of a USB Type-C connection with Thunderbolt 3 support. However, that alone isn’t sufficient. The port needs to use the right controller, and in the case of newer eGPUs, specific support needs to be enabled by the manufacturer.
With older eGPUs, the TI82 Thunderbolt 3 chipset provided support without an official stamp of approval, as long as the user was willing to put in some effort. That includes the Razer Core and the Akitio Thunder 3. With the introduction of newer eGPU options that use the TI83 Thunderbolt 3 chipset, however, machines need to be explicitly supported or they simply won’t work. That means that manufacturers like Dell need to get their machines eGPU-certified to work with options like the Asus XG Station 2 and Akitio Node.
That’s not something that Dell has done so far, but it looks like it’s going to consider making the effort going forward. As Dell’s Alienware and XPS General Manager Frank Azor said on Twitter:
@jackeyjoe IDK, no guarantee that we can support, we are just looking into it now based on all of the recent demand since 9560 launch.
— Frank Azor (@AzorFrank) February 9, 2017
There’s no guarantee that the XPS 15, either the old or brand new versions, will support eGPUs, But at least Dell is looking into it, giving owners of those machines — or anyone thinking about picking one up — some hope that they can combine an outstanding productivity powerhouse with an awesome gaming experience to go with it.