1. A Quick Introduction
You’re a graphic designer, web developer or professional photographer. You’re constantly moving around. One day you’re at a local cafe, and the next you’re back at work. Working a full time job and running your own small business means you need to be able to pick up and go; and so you have a laptop.
The only problem with laptops nowadays is that if you want a portable computer that is capable of doing some heavy lifting, they either cost $3,000, run extremely hot, look way too gamer-oriented, or all three. Until recently.
2. What is the item, exactly?
Introducing the Akitio Node, the solution to making your laptop as powerful as desktop workhorse PC; the external graphics card. Well, a housing for one, at least. Obviously, video chips are located inside of laptops in a very small form factor, usually Intel branded or very toned down versions of desktop class video cards, with lower clock speeds and voltages.
The external GPU (as it as more commonly referred to) is housed in a specially designed compartment the size of a very, very small form factor PC that has its own power supply. Some variants, to save space, come with external power bricks, but the external GPU enclosure that we’re looking at today includes its own 400 watt power supply.
3. What can it offer?
The node requires a full size video card and Thunderbolt 3 compatible device to function. There are a lot of video cards that will fit the bill perfectly, and there are many to chose from at varying price points. 4k file encoding, rendering, and real time video editing can be extremely taxing on computers, and especially laptops. Because of this, it becomes almost impossible to do unless your laptop or ultra book is a very premium product.
What the Node allows you to do is hook up a full size graphics card to your laptop via Thunderbolt. It gives you the performance of a full desktop when you’re at home, but still retain the portability and class of the laptop. The alternative to this is to spend $3,000 on a thick and heavy laptop with weak battery life.
4. The GPU housing, compared to its competition
The product that we’re specifically looking at comes in at a decent price for what you’re getting. Buy a good graphics card, not something particularly crazy (but still good) and combine that with the specifications of a semi-new ultrabook and the speed at which you render or export those files will increase significantly. This product is aimed at people who are always on the go, and don’t want a thick, heavy, expensive gaming laptop to get work done. It strikes the perfect balance between portability, form factor, and performance.
There is definitely competition from big brand companies such as Razer and Alienware, but those two external enclosure are aimed at their own products, since they both make ultrabooks and other kinds of laptops. For instance, Alienware’s graphics amplifier (which is just a fancy name for the same product) is only compatible with their own devices, even though it is much cheaper.
5. What about compatibility?
One thing you will have to keep in mind, though, is that because it requires a Thunderbolt 3 port, it requires a device (PC, laptop, etc, mac) that is compatible with Thunderbolt 3. Right now, there aren’t a whole lot of devices that offer support for the newest Thunderbolt, but they are definitely out there. Any Windows laptop will work, but keep in mind that if you have a Mac, only AMD graphics cards are currently supported, although that will change in the future, we hope.
Having an external graphics card for laptop is definitely the way to go, and the choices that there are for you to choose range from sub $200 more budget oriented card all the way up to a $1000 or so card, such as the new GTX 1080 Ti, which is an absolute beast. All in all, we recommend this particular external graphics card housing, because it is built well and isn’t locked to any particular brand, as we’ve seen with Razer and Alienware. It’s on sale now at Amazon.com.
Before purchasing, do your research and make sure that this product is what you need. Here are a few tips.
- Are you looking to purchase a premium laptop that does not require any external graphics power? If so, are you sure that having an external graphics card is something you need?
- Are you looking for a powerful stationary machine that will meet all of your needs, and have the potential to upgrade in the future? If so, you should look into getting a PC.
- If you already have a Razer or Alienware ultrabook, you should purchase the officially supported external graphics card housings.
That’s our overview! Definitely take a look at it. If you do decide to purchase it, you won’t regret it. If you don’t… well, we won’t hold it against you.