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Sony’s VAIO Z laptop wears its graphics card on the outside


The problem with gaming laptops is that they’re a technology divided against itself. On the one hand you’ve got a laptop, this sleek, self-contained device that packs all of the computing power you need on the go into an easily carried package. On the other hand you’ve got a gaming rig, the computing industry of a muscle car or hotrod. These things are built for power and constant tuning, adapting as newer, better parts are replaced with old, outdated ones. Laptops aren’t really built for customization and gaming rigs don’t travel well, so “gaming laptop” is something of an oxymoron. Can Sony work around that with its just-announced VAIO Z but placing some of those key custom components on the outside?

The VAIO Z series weighs in at just under three pounds and sports a 13.1-inch HD (1600×900 native resolution) screen, a press release confirms. It comes packing one of Intel’s Core i5 or i7 processors and a sheet battery that offers seven hours of life (14 if you opt for the more expensive long-life version). Here’s the kicker though: the integrated Intel HD Graphics 3000 chip can be supplemented by adding a Power Media Dock (sold separately) to the mix. This puppy packs an AMD Radeon 6650M GPU with 1 GB of RAM. The PMD connects via Light Peak (better known as Thunderbolt), and also sports USB 3.0, VGA and HDMI ports as well as a slot for an optical drive.

The VAIO Z doesn’t appear to be available here in the United States yet, but you can customize one for yourself on the UK website. The base configuration costs roughly $2300 and comes packing an Intel Core i5-2410M 2.30 GHz, a 128 GB solid state drive and 4 GB of RAM. Adding in a PMD (with a built in DVD-ROM drive– burners up the price a bit) will cost an extra $640. All in you’re looking at almost $3000 for this little guy. It isn’t built expressly for high-end gaming, but you do get that capability with the addition of a PMD. Overall, it looks as though the VAIO Z is designed to cater to a very specific type of customer. The external GPU is cool, but gamers would be better off taking all of that money and building a proper gaming rig.

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