Looking to upgrade the weak graphics of your otherwise rockin' laptop? Before you rip apart the machine to get to its innards in what will most likely result in a failed attempt for more frames per second, take a peek at the Asus XG Station. That's X for external, and G for graphics--the world's first external graphics-card solution for laptops. By freeing up video-rendering resources in your system, ASUS claims the device boosts graphics performance by a factor of nine over integrated solutions.
The XG Station connects via an ExpressCard slot and houses a x16 PCI Express graphics card and a sound card that supplies 5.1 Dolby audio. Asus will ship the XG Station with a GeForce 7900GS card, and there's no reason why you couldn't swap in an 8800 GTS. An 8800 GTX card, however, is too long to fit inside the unit.
The XG Station's control panel provides a variety of system information, from GPU clockspeed, fan speed, and temperature to volume and frames per second. The large dial to the left of the display lets you adjust the settings, including cranking up the GPU's clock speed. With a couple of USB 2.0 ports onboard, you can leave your game keyboard and mouse connected to the XG Station for an instant game docking station--just add laptop.
Asus gave a quick demo of the XG Station, and while a laptop without an XG Station chugged through a game, the same laptop connected to an XG Station provided very smooth gameplay on a huge LCD hooked up to the GeForce card's DVI port. Asus told us it's still working out the pricing details, but expects a 7900GS-equipped XG Station to go for roughly US$599 when it's released overseas in April. No word on local pricing or release as yet.