Laptops and tablet hybrids have long had one Achilles heel - poor graphics performance. While most people can get by doing all sorts of productive work from video editing to programming to working spreadsheets and databases on a laptop or tablet hybrid like the Microsoft Surface Pro, few can claim to really enjoying a premiere gaming experience on their expensive ultrabooks and two-in-ones.
That led to the idea of hooking these mobile devices up to an external graphics solution that lets you use the same mobile computer you take up and out of the house as your gaming powerhouse once you get back home.
ASUS just unveiled their ZenFone 3 series, but they have more to offer. ASUS' latest offering comes in the nick of time as the Virtual Reality bubble has begun to form with its Republic of Gamers XG Station 2.
The XG Station 2 is basically a powered box with a 680W power supply, four USB 3.0 ports, an Ethernet port and a slot for you to plug in your choice of poison of the latest, baddest desktop GPU you can find. It uses a Thunderbolt 3 connection over a pair of USB-C ports to hook up with your mobile device, and ASUS claims that its exclusive proprietary connector allows the XG Station 2 to deliver an extra 15% more graphics performance out of your card.
That's great news for Virtual Reality enthusiasts, because solutions like the Oculus Rift and HTC Vive require at the minimum a GeForce GTX 970 to fluently provide a good VR experience. The XG Station 2 allows you to put in something as powerful as the new GeForce GTX 1080.
The XG Station 2 is the successor to an earlier device ASUS released back in 2007, the original XG Station. Unlike the XG Station 2, the original one only used an ExpressCard port, which didn't have the bandwidth to really make full use of a desktop-class GPU. It also had two USB slots and could fit a GeForce 8800 GTS at best - an 8800 GTX was too long to fit inside. ASUS announced the XG Station 2 alongside its ZenBook 3 devices, leaving little doubt as to what ASUS' plans are for this device. The beauty of this little ecosystem is how the docking station also charges your laptop or tablet simultaneously using the USB Type-C connectors while you game, and it's hot-pluggable, meaning you can plug it in and out even while the laptop is running and just activate the GPU instantly without needing to reboot.
It's an exciting time for laptop and tablet users who also happen to be power gamers on the side.