Ultrabooks are by far the most popular category of laptops and offer enough performance for everyday tasks in a compact, portable form factor that you can carry between home and office. But there is one crucial task that these thin-and-light machines are unable to do, and that is hardcore PC gaming.
Most people who want to play games on their PC will consider some options. Desktop PCs are the best choice from a price and performance perspective, but not portable. A desktop requires an external monitor and peripherals and simply cannot replace what a laptop does.
Gaming laptops are a portable equivalent and will surely get better, but for the most part they're always bigger and heavier than an ultraportable for decent levels of performance. They are also quite expensive.
In recent years, a new option for PC games has been introduced: external graphics boxes that connect to a laptop and offer the performance of a full graphics card when you are sitting at your desk.
With an external box, you can take your favorite laptop with you on the go. So far, several options have come onto the market, the proprietary Alienware graphics amplifier and the Razer Core. The problem with these is outrageous pricing.
The Razer Core is particularly interesting because it is compatible with many laptops via Thunderbolt 3, but costs a whopping $ 499.99 without a graphics card. This makes the total cost of external laptop graphics a very expensive proposition, especially if you want decent performance from a GeForce GTX 1070.
This is where the new Aorus GTX 1070 gaming box comes into play. It offers features similar to the Razer Core – it's an external desktop graphics card case that connects to laptops via Thunderbolt 3 – but costs $ 600 if a GTX 1070 is included. The Razer Core with equivalent hardware will bring you back at least $ 300 more.
The GTX 1070 gaming box is also much more compact. Use the GTX 1070 Mini ITX OC from Gigabyte together with a slim 450W 80Plus Gold power supply. While this limits the upgradeability of the device, it keeps it small and portable.
With a weight of only 2.4 kg, you can easily transport the entire unit with the included carrying bag. The small footprint is suitable for any desk configuration.
I really like the design of the gaming box with metal on all sides and large ventilation slots on the left and right. There is even RGB lighting. On the back you will find all I / O: AC inputs, Thunderbolt 3, four USB 3.0 ports (one supports Quick Charge 3.0) and all display outputs on the graphics card, in this case DisplayPort, HDMI and two DVI.
Setting up and using the gaming box is extremely easy. To be honest, I was expecting it to be less easy, but all you have to do is connect the power cord, connect it to your laptop via Thunderbolt 3, and your laptop's Thunderbolt 3 driver utility to pair the device with a few Have prompts set up. Then install the Nvidia GeForce graphics driver. That's it.
From there, the gaming box works exactly as you expect. When a game is running, it automatically switches from using internal graphics to the external GTX 1070 and returns the display signal to the laptop's display. If you connect an external monitor, it works even better with a small performance advantage. Of course, you can also use the rear USB ports to connect the keyboard and mouse.
The device is completely plug and play without an on / off switch. Connect the gaming box and the device will turn on automatically and your setup will switch to external graphics if necessary. Disconnect the Aorus Box from the computer and you can easily use integrated graphics again. Thanks to the power supply via Thunderbolt 3, the gaming box charges your laptop while it is connected (if supported) with up to 100 W juice.
I was expecting to find it difficult to use this device for gaming or a plug and play problem, but that was not the case at all. It worked perfectly with my Kaby Lake Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon.
Oh, and here's a quick note on the noise and thermals generated by the gaming box. The box is quite quiet under load thanks to the large ventilation slots on both sides and ensures sufficient airflow so that the fans do not have to rotate significantly. Unfortunately, the power supply wails a bit, which is noticeable when the GPU is fully loaded. At temperatures, the GPU is comfortably around 70 ° C under load, which you would expect from this card in a desktop PC.