I don’t play videogames as much as I used to, but that doesn’t mean that from time to time I don’t want to play them.
Unfortunately that’s the usual situation in my case: I’ve got a Dell XPS 13 (9343). A great machine for almost everything, but not for gaming. No laptop is suitable for this, in fact. Convertibles, Ultrabooks and even more resourceful notebooks can’t cope with really demanding games, and in this cases if you don’t have a good discrete GPU you’ll suffer a mediocre experience.
So if you want to really enjoy the gaming experience in a PC, you’re out of luck: you must have a desktop computer with a great discrete GPU, because even gaming laptops are not meant to enjoy the same visual detail and frame rates that a full desktop PC can.
We had a pretty inspiring view at the future of this market last CES in Las Vegas. Razer launched there its Razer Core external GPU enclosure, and the smart use of Thunderbolt 3 and USB-C connector allowed its new Ultrabook -the Racer Stealth- to become a chamaleonic machine: one that could work as a conventional ultrathin laptop but also as a full-fledged gaming PC when needed.
The idea seems to have inspired AMD as well: one of their marketing directors, Robert Hallock, mentioned a few days ago how this kind of solution could be the future for many users:
Gaming notebooks are great for gaming, but nobody in their right mind wants to carry one all the time. Ultrathin notebooks are awesome to carry, but nobody in their right mind would confuse one for a gaming notebook.
But there’s still a HUGE appetite for thin notebooks that can game.
External GPUs are the answer. External GPUs with standardized connectors, cables, drivers, plug’n’play, OS support, etc.
AMD is bound to try to democratize these kind of solutions, but once again hurdles will have to be avoided. Will AMD adopt Thunderbolt 3, a standard created by its arch rival? Will it work with NVIDIA in order to set a really universal standard? Will prices make us think this is a better solution than a full gaming PC?
I hope their answer is the right one. We’ll probably have more information in the next few days: GDC 2016 starts March 14th, and I’m pretty sure AMD will talk about this on that event. The PostPC era could open a new chapter after all.
Oh, and don’t forget: this systems will allow us to enjoy virtual reality experiences in laptops, something not possible (in almost all cases) nowadays according to requirements published by Oculus and HTC.
That’s what I would call an interesting turn of events for the demise of the desktop PC.
Update (10/03/2016): AMD XConnect has just been announced with the collaboration of Razer and the Intel Thunderbolt group. Promising. Very.