There may be a growing number of laptops designed for gaming, and they may be getting thinner and lighter. But they’re still pretty expensive… and quite frankly, overkill for non-gaming activities.

So over the past year or so we’ve also seen the rise of a new class of PC accessory: the graphics dock. Basically plug one of these big boxes into any notebook and you can use a desktop graphics card with a computer that wouldn’t otherwise have one.

HP’s entry into this space is one of the most affordable to date. The Omen Accelerator is coming in August for $300.

Here’s what you get for that price: a big box that plugs into any PC with a Thunderbolt 3 port.

Inside the box there’s room for an NVIDIA or AMD graphics card and a bay for a 2.5 inch hard drive or SSD. The graphics dock also features an Ethernet jack, four USB 3.0 Type-A ports, a USB 3.1 Type-C port, and a 60W charging cable that can supply power to your laptop when it’s connected to the accelerator.

The Omen Accelerator has a 500 watt power supply and supports graphics cards up to 300 watts.

Keep in mind, the $300 price tag is just for the Omen Accelerator itself. HP will allow you to buy a model that comes with up to an NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1060 or AMD RX580 graphics card and up to 256GB or solid state storage or up to a 1TB hard drive. Or you can supply your own graphics card and storage, but it’ll cost extra.

While this type of solution is a lot less portable than buying a laptop with built-in discrete graphics, it does allow you to upgrade to a different graphics card in the future, which could let you hang onto an aging laptop longer.

Aorus recently unveiled a $599 Gaming Box graphics dock that comes with an NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1070 graphics card, Zotac has its own solution on the way, and Razer has been selling one since last year.

 

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3 replies on “HP’s $300 Omen graphics accelerator lets you use desktop graphics with a notebook”

  1. it is best to have a dedicated cable for external graphics. thunderbolt 3 is already a bottleneck and adding a hub and/or hard drive will only further knock external graphics performance

    1. That has its own tradeoffs like having to restart when connecting to the dock. I don’t know about you but I treat my TB3 dock like a charger, plugging and unplugging without a moment’s thought.

      A dedicated cable has been an option for ages, eGPUs using mini PCI-E have been cheap and possible for years (they’re $75 on ebay). They haven’t taken off in any great numbers though. TB3 provides more convenience and bandwidth than those solutions and that’s exactly what they needed to become mainstream.

      Alienware’s Graphics Amplifier I don’t see lasting since it is itself a half-assed upgrade from the mini PCI-E solutions, it should provide a full 16 lanes of PCI-E 3.0 but doesn’t. The only thing that would is an MXM to PCI-E adapter yet despite MXM being commonplace on high end laptops for the last decade or so, it doesn’t exist.

      Sorry, the nay-saying makes me angry. This is more bandwidth than ever before and it gets PCI-E out of a laptop in a manner sleek enough for Apple to use it. If you need more bandwidth, that’s fair enough and I agree more will be useful. We shouldn’t abandon the convenience though, it’s vital.

      1. I suppose it is good to keep things in perspective, but I agree that this can only be a good thing. Since manufacturers seem stuck on not wanting us to upgrade our laptops ourselves, I see this as a good way to extend the life of some laptops that might be a little long in the tooth.

        Just as good as a top of the line tower you built yourself? Maybe not, but it isn’t really about that. A new gpu and ssd and maybe there is one less machine in a landfill.

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