GPD working on compact external GPU dock for laptops and handheld consoles

In brief: The Steam Deck handheld console has inspired a lot of clones, but all of them come equipped with integrated graphics, and so do a lot of ultraportable laptops. A Shenzhen-based company called GPD is working on a pocket-friendly eGPU dock that can boost the graphics performance for many of these niche devices using an AMD Radeon RX 7600M XT laptop GPU.

GPD is mostly known for building a variety of handheld and ultraportable gaming PCs. However, one of the biggest shortcomings of these devices is that they all use integrated graphics. And that’s because it’s hard to fit a dedicated graphics solution without sacrificing things like battery size or having to deal with higher power consumption and heat output during use.

One solution to this problem is to use external graphics docks via Thunderbolt and USB4 ports that offer 40 Gbps worth of bandwidth, allowing you to leverage the power of a discrete GPU. Some of GPD’s upcoming devices will come with Oculink ports that offer a 63 Gbps data connection, so hardware manufacturers can come up with more powerful eGPU solutions.

In the case of GPD, the Chinese company has also been working on its own compact eGPU docking station called GPD G1. As with all of its past products, GPD is teasing the upcoming device using a crowdfunding campaign. The GPD G1 integrates an AMD Radeon RX 7600M XT GPU, which has 32 graphics compute units, 32 megabytes of Infinity Cache, and eight gigabytes of GDDR6 memory. Connectivity options include an HDMI 2.1 port and two DisplayPort 1.4 outputs.

Not much is known about the real-world performance of this GPU. Some Chinese reviewers who have been able to get their hands on laptops equipped with the RX 7600M XT found its performance to be roughly in line with that of Nvidia’s RTX 4060 and the RTX 3070 Laptop GPUs. It’s by no means a high-end GPU, but how well it will perform inside the compact GPD G1 dock will also depend on how it handles thermals during prolonged gaming sessions.

One thing is for sure – it won’t be starved for power. The configurable TGP range for the RX 7600M XT is 75 to 120 watts, and GPD says the internal GaN power supply in the G1 dock is rated at 240 watts. The idea is to also have room to send up to 60 watts of power to the device connected to the dock, so it should be able to easily power mini PCs like the GPD Win Mini and the GPD P2 Max.

Another advantage of the GPD G1 would be that it will also work with devices that are equipped with a USB4 or Thunderbolt 3/4 port, with the obvious drawback being the lower bandwidth. That’s important because a majority of laptops and ultraportable PCs on the market today don’t support Oculink, which is essentially a cable interface for PCIe that’s mostly used in the server space.

This approach is also better than that used for similar products like Asus’s ROG XG Mobile and Dell’s Alienware Amplifier docks, which use proprietary connectors that only work with specific laptop models. However, one limitation of the GPD G1 is that you won’t be able to upgrade the GPU inside it like you would on traditional eGPU docks.

There’s no word on pricing or a release window for the GPD G1, but some speculate it will cost around $700. As for the size, GPD says it’s the world’s smallest eGPU dock at 225 mm x 111 mm x 29.8 mm. It’s not exactly pocket-friendly, but it is more compact than traditional eGPU solutions.

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