TB-equipped Airs with external gfxcard feasible?

Discussion in 'MacBook Air' started by Stingray454, May 17, 2011.

  1. Stingray454 macrumors 6502a

    Sep 22, 2009
    I have been thinking.. :eek:

    It's quite likely that the next version of the Air will have a Thunderbolt port. With transfer speeds of 10gb/channel it should outperform PCIe (I think at least, I believe those operate at 8 gbit/s, correct me if I'm wrong).

    Could this mean that we will see external graphics boards for the Air in the future?

    A dream scenario for me would be using my Air when travelling, for meetings and such, and then when I get back home, docking it to mouse / keyboard / cinema display with an external gfxcard, giving me a much more competitive working station when docked. Could this become a reality in the near future? What do you guys think?
  2. johnhalsted macrumors member

    Nov 3, 2010
    I guess it could be done but its not the speed of the connection its the latency that would be a problem, a chip soldered onto the board will transfer data quicker compared to a external card. Although the external will transfer slower it will be able to transfer a higher amount... I think thats how it would work anyway. It may happen sometime possibly

    Edit: was just thinking if it got knocked or accidentally unplugged or anything like that the whole computer would crash, so its actually unlikely i guess
  3. altecXP macrumors 65816

    Aug 3, 2009
    It's 100% do able, external GPU's are nothing new. A company would just have to be willing to make a housing with a power supply for the GPU and an TB cable for the data transfer. Apple would also have to allow the display to get a feed FROM the TB port. Which as far as I know require a HW revision.
  4. martinm0 macrumors 6502a

    Feb 27, 2010
    There are some other threads on this topic already out there. Sonnet Tech makes a TB case for PCIe cards.


    However, TB is significantly slower than an internal PCIe slot (TB is roughly equivalent to the speeds of AGP slots, while PCIex16 does upwards of 64Gb/s), and ultimately, will not provide any real graphical improvements (i.e. not gonna get gaming FPS out of it, but it might allow you to connect an additional monitor). You're better off using the internal GPU as that will be the fastest video option.
  5. cirus macrumors 6502a

    Mar 15, 2011
    T-bolt is connected through pci express. That said the latency would be much higher and the use of a thunderbolt pic express card would eliminate any chance of a dedicated gpu (or at least make it more difficult) in the air.

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