11" MacBook Air Owner Connects High-End Graphics Card With Complex Thunderbolt Setup

Discussion in 'MacRumors.com News Discussion' started by MacRumors, Jul 30, 2013.

  1. macrumors bot

    MacRumors

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    [​IMG]


    Larry Gadea, a user on the Tech Inferno forums, has shown off a unique setup whereby he connects a graphics card to the 11" MacBook Air via a series of adapters.

    He uses a Thunderbolt to Express Card adapter, then connects an ExpressCard to PCI-Express adapter, and finally to a Windows-compatible video card. The final result is somewhat bulky but seems to provide an excellent gaming experience.

    [​IMG]
    The full article goes deep into frame rates and benchmarking a variety of games, noting that -- though users need to use Boot Camp to run Windows because of graphics card driver requirements -- advanced PC gaming on the MacBook Air is workable with a little technical know-how.

    Because his setup can be easily unplugged, it is especially useful for gamers who want to play games on a desktop-screen but still have a lightweight notebook for traveling. It could also conceivably be used on other Thunderbolt-equipped Macs, including the iMac and the upcoming Mac Pro.

    Thanks Eli!

    Article Link: 11" MacBook Air Owner Connects High-End Graphics Card With Complex Thunderbolt Setup
     
  2. macrumors regular

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    #2
    Quick someone make an enclosure and monetize this and then...

    [​IMG]
     
  3. macrumors 6502a

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    #3
    LOL that's literally my favorite line ever from Breaking Bad, a show with many a great line. :D
     
  4. elppa, Jul 30, 2013
    Last edited: Jul 30, 2013

    macrumors 68040

    elppa

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    Apple could make a polished solution, something like Sony did with the Vaio Z.

    [​IMG]

    The Vaio Z was thinner and half a pound lighter than an MacBook Air, but had full voltage processors (up to quad core i7) like a Pro. The external case isn't just for the Blu-Ray reader/writer – it also housed a AMD graphics card.
     
  5. pk7, Jul 30, 2013
    Last edited: Jul 30, 2013

    pk7
    macrumors 6502

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    This goes against the whole point of a MacBook Air.

    Someone who buys an MBA in the first place is presumably wanting portable productivity. They are probably not looking to do this type of high-end gaming on it.

    EDIT: I agree wholeheartedly with all the posters the saying that this would be an at-home solution. I admit to overlooking that part. This I would not mind even for my MBP's crummy Radeon 6490M.

    But seeing as I play older games and that my MacBook Pro already has a dGPU which handles them ok, I guess I just didn't see the justification of cost for something like this.

    I speak as a MacBook Pro owner so I'm not going to make any presumptions of how MBA owners would feel about this. If this seems right for you, then by all means.
     
  6. macrumors 6502a

    ConCat

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    Nifty, but expresscard does hurt thunderbolt's performance. I suppose it's going to be much cheaper than a thunderbolt-native version though.
     
  7. lordofthereef, Jul 30, 2013
    Last edited: Jul 30, 2013

    macrumors 604

    lordofthereef

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  8. macrumors 6502

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    So is this on the mac OS or windows?
     
  9. macrumors 68000

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    #9
    not much of a gamer/ not an MBA owner

    But this is a very, very cool.

    Kudos!!!
     
  10. macrumors 6502

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    Wowza, nice work! Hopefully this will become more mainstream if OEM's see it.

    Couldn't help but think of this:

    [​IMG]
     
  11. macrumors 68020

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    This is what I imagined would be done when the 2011's introduced Thunderbolt.

    it's a perfect use for it. Allowing your average performing laptop to have average performing graphcis capabilities while docked, leveraging the Thunderbolt bandwith.

    The fact that its' taken years to come to fruition is a bit sad, and I feel Apple has completely missed the boat with leveraging thunderbolt. Right now, it's effectively just a interconnect being used for drive arrays, but it's capable of so so so much more.
     
  12. macrumors regular

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    that's really cool. im sure countless people said this wasn't possible, but i'm glad someone persisted until it worked.
     
  13. TMay, Jul 30, 2013
    Last edited: Jul 30, 2013

    macrumors 68000

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    #13
    It was way too early regrettably. Used a USB connector for TB before TB standardized on mDP so it is completely not standard.
     
  14. macrumors newbie

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    #14
    Wow

    Must.have.this
     
  15. macrumors 601

    gotluck

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    #15
    haha this is awesome
     
  16. macrumors 68000

    keysofanxiety

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    You are right, but as you said ... having the option of potentially gaming with insane frame-rates when you want to, this would be incredible if Apple could do something like this.

    Imagine it: a super sleek, thin laptop with amazing battery life. Then if you want to have a nice little LAN party, carry along a small caddy as well, and you're fragging in Ultra quality at 60fps.

    I would love if Apple did this. It would be an insta-buy for me, no question about it.
     
  17. macrumors 6502a

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    That's great now can we actually have some decent games released for mac os so we don't have to switch to windows every time.
     
  18. macrumors 6502a

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    I cannot believe that actually works, lol. What's next, plug that into a VGA adapter and then run it on an old monitor? lol
     
  19. macrumors 6502

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    I thought it was the original plan too with the Mac Pro and its expandability using its thunderbolt ports.
     
  20. macrumors 6502a

    HitchHykr

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    I read "Lady Gaga, a user on the Tech Inferno...."
     
  21. macrumors Nehalem

    GoCubsGo

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  22. macrumors 603

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    This would be perfect for me. I want the convenience of having one machine that can be portable, yet still play games well at home. Right now, I make do with a MBP and Hackintosh.

    However, the tech isn't quite there yet. Thunderbolt, even 2, can't compare to a dedicated PCI slot in terms of speed. I suspect he's getting away with it because of the low resolution of the 11".


    Yes, but not this use case, obviously. Its gpus are more powerful than anything you could connect to it.
     
  23. elppa, Jul 30, 2013
    Last edited: Jul 30, 2013

    macrumors 68040

    elppa

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    Yes - not standard, but Sony did this in 2011… It is also innovate and useful use of the technology (Light Peak/Thunderbolt).

    For me it is also a far more interesting vision of a modern PC than the transformers/convertibles Microsoft insists on everyone making.
     
  24. macrumors Core

    Dagless

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    #24
    An "excellent gaming experience" is not looking down on an 11" display!
     
  25. macrumors regular

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    #25
    Why use a MacBook Air for this?

    As another poster said, why use an ultra-thin laptop for this kind of setup if a user is only going to bulk it up with adapters and extra hardware so that it can accept a PC graphics card? And, more importantly, how does this affect the MBA's battery life? I am sure that this is a battery-guzzler and would kill the machine before even the first level of a game is finished...
     

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