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GPD is crowdfunding an eGPU docking station for the cool new gaming handhelds

GPD crowdfunding a new one compact external GPU docking station which can both enhance the gaming capabilities of some laptops and portable gaming PCs, as well as help anchor them to a desk for mobile workers (through liliputing).

The company calls it the G1, and it includes an AMD Radeon RX 7600M XT chip with HDMI 2.1 plus two DisplayPort 1.4 video outputs, a USB 4/Thunderbolt 4 connector for docking and charging, and something like Oculink (more on that in a bit).

GPD says it’s the “world’s smallest mobile graphics card expansion dock,” just over an inch thick (29.8mm), about nine inches long (225mm), and four and a third (111mm) deep — all with an integrated power supply.

GPD isn’t quite a household name, but the Shenzhen, China-based company has made a bit of a name for itself among PC gamers enamored with the recent rise of handheld gaming. Currently, this market is held strong by Valve’s Steam Deck, and there’s a lot of interest in Asus’ upcoming ROG Ally, but GPD has been plugging in for years.

Those in the know are paying attention to other PC gaming handhelds like the Ayaneo 2S and GPD’s Win Max 2, and both companies will sell versions of it that are equipped with an Oculink connector. The Steam Deck isn’t designed to support external graphics, so GPD hopes the G1 graphics dock can be a big differentiator for its own devices – although it says you can use Thunderbolt 3, 4, or USB-4 if you want to don’t mind having less bandwidth.

The concept of a combined docking station and external graphics card (or eGPU) is not new. Alienware helped develop the idea with its external “Amplifier” chassis that housed both a high-profile desktop graphics card and a USB hub to ease your setup, and eGPU.io is home to a buyer’s guide of the devices that followed. Most recently, Asus has been pumping out painfully expensive but compact ROG XG graphics docks with Nvidia RTX 3080 and 3090s that cost up to $2,000.

GPD shares what cards you may need to take full advantage of the G1 dock on laptops or desktops.
Image: GPD

Both the Alienware Amplifier and the ROG XGs have something in common: they eschew standardization by using different proprietary connectors that only work with their own matching laptops. Meanwhile, Framework creates a new backend ecosystem that supports add-in GPUs. So is GPD looking for a true standard by comparison? Kind of!

The G1 is unusual in that it uses Oculink, a connector for PCI-Express more commonly found in enterprise server racks. If your laptop has an additional internal M.2 port, it can be equipped to use this connector and connect the G1 – potentially giving you reliable and better GPU performance (GPD claims up to 63 Gbps bandwidth) compared to the more widely supported USB4 and Thunderbolt based (up to 40 Gbps) eGPUs. Weak desktop computers can also join in with an Oculink adapter card.

The G1 has vents and a fan to keep that GPU cool.
Image: GPD

One problem with Oculink, besides not being available in most laptops or handhelds, is that it doesn’t carry the power and data you need to fully dock and charge a PC. So you’re likely not just plugging in Oculink, but a USB-C connector to power your laptop or handheld up to 60W and access the three USB-A ports and the SD card reader.

Sure, the G1’s GPU and dock require their own power, but thankfully it doesn’t have a huge power adapter like some other eGPU solutions. Instead, the G1 integrates a 240W GaN power supply into its own chassis.

GPD cites impressive performance from its RX 7600M, claiming that the mobile chip can beat a desktop RTX 3070 GPU in most games. GPD says it tested the 7600M paired with the same Ryzen 7 7840U you’d find in the latest gaming handhelds, versus the 3070 paired with a desktop Ryzen 5600X. That’s actually the same desktop my editor Sean Hollister uses, and he was stunned to see it.

If true, it could be a remarkably powerful desktop that fits in a small messenger bag – with one gaming handheld, one gaming handheld-sized eGPU, and three cables (Oculink, USB-C, and AC), plus your Mouse and keyboard.

The G1 is on Indiegogo, but the campaign has not started at the time of writing. GPD is seeking $20,000 HKD to fund the project, but will get the money even if the target is not met. But given that GPD has successfully funded nearly every product shipped this way, we expect the G1 to see the light of day. However, Mama has the floor on what the G1 will cost.

Shreya has been with australiabusinessblog.com for 3 years, writing copy for client websites, blog posts, EDMs and other mediums to engage readers and encourage action. By collaborating with clients, our SEO manager and the wider australiabusinessblog.com, Shreya seeks to understand an audience before creating memorable, persuasive copy.

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