GPD is crowdfunding a new integrated external GPU docking station that can boost the gaming capabilities of some gaming laptops and PCs, and even help install it on a desk for mobile workers (via Lilliputting).
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 expansion dock,” at just over an inch (29.8 mm) thick, about nine inches (225 mm) long, and four-and-a-half inches (111 mm) deep—all with an integrated power supply.
GPD isn’t exactly a household name, but the Shenzhen, China-based company has been somewhat making a name for itself among PC gamers impressed by the recent mobile gaming boom. Currently, Valve’s Steam Deck is holding that market firmly, and there’s strong interest in Asus’ next ROG ally, but GPD has been slipping away for years.
People in the know are interested in other portable PC games like GPD’s Ayaneo 2S and Win Max 2, and both companies will sell versions of them that feature the Oculink connector. The Steam Deck isn’t designed to support external graphics, so GPD hopes the G1 graphics dock will be a big differentiator for its own hardware — though it says you can use Thunderbolt 3, 4, or USB-4 if you don’t mind less bandwidth. .
The concept of an integrated docking station and external graphics card (or eGPU) isn’t new. Alienware helped pioneer the idea with its “Amplifier” exoskeleton that houses both a high-end desktop graphics card and USB hub for your simple setup, and eGPU.io is home to a buyer’s guide for the hardware that followed. Recently, Asus has been pumping out its expensive but compact ROG XG graphics docks with Nvidia RTX 3080 and 3090s that come in at $2,000.
The Alienware amplifier and ROG XG have something in common: They avoid standardization by using different proprietary connectors that only work with their matching laptops. Meanwhile, the Framework creates a new slot-back-end ecosystem that supports additional GPUs. Is GPD looking to adopt a true benchmark by comparison? Well kind of!
The G1 is unusual in that it uses Oculink, which is a PCI-Express connector that you might typically see on enterprise server racks. If your laptop has an additional internal M.2 port, it can be configured to use this connector and tether G1 – giving you better and more reliable GPU performance (GPD claims up to 63Gbps bandwidth) than the widely supported USB4. Extensive and Thunderbolt-based eGPUs (up to 40Gbps). Underpowered desktop computers can also get in on the action with an Oculink adapter card.
One problem with Oculink, besides not being available on most laptops or mobile devices, is that it doesn’t carry the power and data you need to fully dock and charge a computer. So you could potentially connect not only the Oculink but also a USB-C connector to give your laptop or notebook up to 60W of power, access to its three USB-A ports and an SD card reader.
Of course, the G1’s GPU and dock will need its own power, but thankfully it doesn’t have a bulky power adapter like some other eGPU solutions. Instead, the G1 integrates a 240W GaN power supply within its own chassis.
GPD quotes the RX 7600M’s impressive performance, 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 find in its latest gaming laptops, against the 3070 paired with a desktop Ryzen 5600X. This is the same desktop my editor Sean Hollister has been running, and he was amazed to see.
If true, it could make for a remarkably powerful desktop that you can fit in a small messenger bag — with one handheld game console, one gaming laptop-sized eGPU, and three cables (Oculink, USB-C, and AC), plus a mouse and keyboard. .
G1 is on Indiegogo, but the campaign hasn’t started yet as of this writing. GPD is seeking HK$20,000 to fund the project, but will receive the money even if the target is not met. However, given that GPD has successfully funded every product shipped this way, we’d expect the G1 to see the light of day. Mom is the word for the cost of the G1.