GPD is crowdfunding a new compact external GPU docking station that can both boost the gaming capabilities of some laptops and gaming handhelds and help anchor them to a desk for mobile workers (via Lilliputing).
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 called Oculink (more on that in a bit).
GPD says it’s “the world’s smallest mobile graphics card expansion dock,” measuring just over one inch (29.8mm) thick, about nine inches (225mm) long and four and a thirds (111mm) deep ) — all with integrated power supply.
GPD isn’t exactly a household name, but the Shenzhen, China-based company has made a name for itself among PC gamers enamored with the recent handheld gaming boom. This market is currently held strongly by Valve’s Steam Deck, and there is strong interest in Asus’ upcoming ROG Ally, but GPD has been giving up for years.
Those in the know point to other gaming handhelds such as GPD’s Ayaneo 2S and Win Max 2, and both companies will sell versions of them that feature 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 their own devices – although it says you can use Thunderbolt 3, 4 or USB-4 if not do mind less bandwidth.
The concept of a combined docking station and external graphics card (or eGPU) is not new. Alienware helped pioneer the idea with its external “Amplifier” chassis, which housed both a high-profile desktop graphics card and a USB hub for simple setup, and eGPU.io is home to a buyer’s guide for the devices that followed. More recently, Asus introduced painfully expensive but compact ROG XG graphics docks with Nvidia RTX 3080 and 3090s that cost up to $2000.
Both the Alienware Amplifier and the ROG XG have one thing in common: they avoid standardization by using different proprietary connectors that only work with their own matching laptops. Meanwhile, the Framework is creating a new backslot ecosystem that supports add-on GPUs. So does GPD want to adopt a real standard in comparison? Well, kind of!
The G1 is unusual in that it uses Oculink, which is a PCI-Express connector that you’d more often see in enterprise server racks. If your laptop has an additional internal M.2 port, it can be equipped to use this connector and attach the G1 – potentially giving you reliable and better GPU performance (GPD claims up to 63Gbps bandwidth) compared to more the widely supported USB4 and Thunderbolt-based (up to 40Gbps) eGPUs. Weak desktops can also get in on the action with an Oculink adapter card.
One problem with Oculink, besides not being available in most laptops or notebooks, is that it doesn’t carry the power and data you need to fully charge a computer. So you’ll probably not just plug in the Oculink, but a USB-C connector to give your laptop or handheld up to 60W of power and access to the three USB-A ports and SD card reader.
Of course, the G1’s GPU and dock will need its own power supply, but thankfully it doesn’t have a massive 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 the mobile chip can beat a desktop RTX 3070 GPU in most games. GPD says it’s testing a 7600M paired with the same Ryzen 7 7840U you’d find in the latest gaming notebooks against a 3070 paired with a desktop Ryzen 5600X. This is actually the same desktop that my editor Sean Hollister runs and he was amazed to see it.
If true, this could make for a remarkably powerful desktop PC that you can fit in a small messenger bag — with one gaming handheld, one eGPU the size of a gaming handheld, and three cables (Oculink, USB-C, and AC ), plus your mouse and keyboard.
The G1 is on Indiegogo, but the campaign hasn’t started yet at this point. GPD is seeking HK$20,000 to fund the project, but will receive the money even if the target is not met. Still, given that GPD has successfully funded almost every product that’s been delivered this way, we expect the G1 to see the light of day. Word is mum on how much the G1 will cost.