With the growing popularity of laptops with Thunderbolt 3 ports, more manufacturers are developing graphics amplifiers which can connect your otherwise ordinary computer to a powerful discrete GPU. At Computex, Zotac showed off a prototype of its first graphics amp, which will stand out because of its relatively-affordable sub-$400 price when it ships toward the end of the year.
The as-yet-unnamed Zotac graphics amp can accommodate graphics cards that are up to 9 inches long, which is enough space to fit in one of the company's new mini GTX 1080 or 1080 Ti GPUs, but it doesn't leave room for a lot of longer cards.
In addition to a Thunderbolt 3 port for connecting to your computer, the device has a plethora of output ports, including multiple USB Type-A connectors and DVI, HDMI and DisplayPort out.
Zotac's amp has a gunmetal gray plastic exterior with a rounded top edge that makes it look a little like a large toaster. Though the device is made from plastic, its brushed texture makes it look like aluminum at first glance.
There's a large window on the amp's right side which allows you to view the video card inside. The prototype we saw had a PCB visible beneath it, but a Zotac rep said that the board will be hidden on the final model and that there will be a set of customizable RGB lights in its place.
However, the most important thing about Zotac's amp is not its looks, but its price. While the company hasn't determined a final MSRP, a rep told us he expects it to come in at under $400, perhaps well under $400. By comparison, the Razer Core, which is the only major-brand Thunderbolt 3-graphics amp on the market, is $499. Alienware's graphics amp is under $200, but only works with that company's laptops.
We look forward to seeing how the Zotac graphics amp performs and how much it costs when it comes out sometime in Q4.
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