MicroStar International (MSI) has introduced its new high-performance GS30 Shadow 13.3” laptop that comes with a special dock for external graphics cards. The dock can be equipped with its own power supply unit and will support all graphics cards possible, thus, wedding high-performance gaming with portable sizes of a notebook.
The MSI GS30 Shadow laptop (which we previewed last year) features a 13.3” display with 2560*1440 resolution and is powered by Intel Core i7 “Haswell” microprocessors with integrated Iris Pro graphics, thus, offering four cores and generally decent performance for modern video games. The system can be equipped with up to 16GB of DDR3L memory and two M.2 solid-state drives, which should enable plenty of high-performance storage, something all gamers need. Like most modern notebooks, this one sports 802.11ac Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.0, Gigabit Ethernet, USB 3.0, 720p HD webcam, SD/MMC card readers and so on. The laptop weighs only 1.3 kilograms and is 19.8mm thick, which makes it portable and easy to carry.
While the GS30 Shadow seems to be a very nice notebook with a good display, its main selling point is support for a special Gaming Dock that is compatible with all available graphics cards and can be equipped with a dedicated power supply unit. The dock and the notebook feature a special interface that lets the laptop to connect to a desktop-class graphics card using full-bandwidth PCI Express x16 bus. The dock can also hold an additional 3.5″ hard drive, it contains a USB 3.0 hub, Qualcomm Atheros Killer Gigabit Ethernet network adapter and even speakers.
The MSI GamingDock is not the first external graphics solution for notebooks, but it is clearly the most powerful one: it supports fully-fledged PCI Express 3.0 x16 interface and thus allows the notebook to take advantage of any graphics card without bandwidth limitations. There is a catch, though, whenever external graphics card is used, an external display will be required too.
Unfortunately, just like predecessors, the MSI GamingDock is not ideal. It is only compatible with the MSI GS30 Shadow laptop. Therefore, once the notebook becomes obsolete, the dock will likely become obsolete too because other notebooks will need to maintain the form-factor of the GS30 Shadow in order to maintain compatibility, something that will unlikely happen.
The target launch time for the GS30 Shadow and the GamingDock is January, 2015. Pricing is unclear.
EDIT 8th January: You can see our preview on this over HERE.
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KitGuru Says: If you are in the market for a truly portable 13.3” laptop with great gaming capabilities, then the MSI GS30 Shadow with the GamingDock is probably the best choice today. However, keep in mind that the GamingDock – which will likely cost a significant sum of money – is hardly an investment that is going to last longer than the notebook itself.