Crazy external GPU setup enables high-end gaming on 11-inch MacBook Air


A user on the Tech Inferno forums has posted a gaming setup unlike any other: An 11-inch MacBook Air connected via Thunderbolt to a dedicated Nvidia graphics card.

But as you can see in the image above, it isn’t exactly just a Thunderbolt cable connecting the two devices. To make this entire thing work, Larry Gadea had to use the Thunderbolt to connect to an ExpressCard adapter,  then an ExpressCard to PCI-Express adapter and finally to the Nvidia GTX 570. The game also had to be run through Windows via Boot Camp.

It might sound like a lot of work, but as you’ll see in the video below, the results are pretty impressive:

The full step-by-step guide can be found here. Hopefully companies will start providing official products that do just this.

[via MacRumors]

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  1. Enrique Manalang

    [@WildCat] Awesome, thanks for the additional info!

    It also reminded me of what Sony did with one of its Vaio Z laptops. It had an external dock that housed a Bluray drive/writer and an AMD GPU. Kept the laptop thin and light.

    If only more OEMs would do this. It’d be nice to have the option for more power for gaming without having to sacrifice size and weight.

  2. WildCat

    Pretty interesting work there. Lucid – the company who makes Lucid Logix Virtu and MVP- has been working on an external plug & play, without having to reboot, eGPU using a Thunderbolt based external graphics solution, which seems better than this.

    Idea really isn’t new. Back in 2006(?) ASUS announced the XG station. Which was meant as an external heavy duty graphics card solution for NoteBooks / Laptops via express card connectors. However it never made it to the mainstream retail market.
    Serious DIYers have probably been doing this since 2008(?), if not earlier. Though back then, for some of these ‘solutions’ for the same price as this type of eGPU setup, they could have just built themselves a GOOD gaming PC.

    Even now, with the price of the chassis ($299 MSRP?), Thunderbolt: or ViDock: PLUS a video card, one could still build themselves a decent ‘budget’ gaming PC.

    Even after having said all this, still a pretty cool achievement on this guys part.