By Andrew Liszewski
As powerful as today’s laptop computers are they still tend to lag behind desktop systems. One area in particular is with graphics cards. Since they’re limited in size they just can’t compete with some of the huge desktop models from ATI or Nvidia. A company called Magma though is now selling an easy to use device that will allow most ‘desktop-only’ PCI Express cards to be used with a laptop.
The ExpressBox1 is like an external drive enclosure except that it’s designed to hold a PCI-E graphics card. There’s a smaller version that supports cards up to 6.6 inches in length and a pro version for cards up to 12.28 inches in length. They connect to a laptop via the ExpressCard/34 module and a PCI-E cable and Magma claims there is no latency in the connection since there’s a theoretical maximum throughput of 2000Mbps (or 250 MegaBytes per second) in each direction. At the moment the ExpressBox1 is only designed for single-width video cards needing a maximum of 55 watts of power. However double-width cards that require auxillary power will be supported later this year.
Of course performance has never come cheap in the PC world. The standard version ExpressBox1 is available on the Magma website for $729 (that’s without a graphics card) while the Pro version is available for $749.