Strange things afoot in the world of graphics

Today I’ve been reading about not one, but two rather retro developments in the wacky world of graphics cards, and both have left me scratching my head.

Strange things afoot in the world of graphics

The first is the re-announcement by Asus of its XG Station, which brings external graphics to laptops. It was first “launched” early last year, as a way to get GeForce 7-series desktop gaming power via the ExpressCard slot on a laptop – but we didn’t recieve a review sample, and it soon became clear it would never see the light of day in the UK.

This, the rebranded Republic of Gamers (ROG) XG Station, comes with an 8600 GT inside, so it won’t exactly set the world of Crysis alight. But it’s a huge step up from integrated graphics, and will outperform an equivalent mobile 8600 chip with ease. Whether that’s enough is a different question, as surely the type of consumer who’ll buy this sort of thing is going to want fairly high-end gaming – a 9600 GT at the very least.

xgstation-300x151An Asus rep tells us it won’t be upgradable, although he did hint at the possibility of a new model on the horizon – we’d imagine this will include a 9-series card. But as the XG Station uses a PCI Express 1X bus to communicate with the laptop, even fitting the latest 16x top of the range card won’t get you the framerates you’d expect from an equivalent internal card.

It does give other benefits though, such as a pair of DVI outputs and support for Dolby Headphone, Dolby Virtual speaker, Dolby Digital Live, and Dolby Pro LogicIIx. It also has dials for tweaking fan and clock speeds, as well as four USB ports, so it could be considered more of an entertainment upgrade than just a gaming accessory.

Despite the last model never arriving, the Asus RoG XG Station is slated for release in the UK in June, and we’ll get a sample in for testing when it launches.

The other slightly odd announcement involves PCI graphics cards. Yes, you did read that correctly, and no, it’s apparently not a joke. Albatron is hardly a huge player in the graphics market, but it’s obviously trying to tap into a niche that others haven’t spotted – if it exists at all.

The manufacturer will be launching a range of converted GeForce 8-series cards, that can surely only be intended to add HDMI functionality to an old or PCI Express-less PC. We’d imagine you could do a bit of older gaming on an 8600 at PCI bus speeds, and we can just about see the logic for those building a media PC using old or incompatible parts. But, again, it’s tough to see how many consumers will be desperate to upgrade the graphics card on a PC so old that it doesn’t even have an AGP slot.

We’ll wait and see if they arrive in the UK, but in the meantime let us know what you think. Genuinely useful or laughable novelty?

Disclaimer: Some pages on this site may include an affiliate link. This does not effect our editorial in any way.

Todays Highlights
How to See Google Search History
how to download photos from google photos