Zotac Graphics Amp Will Upgrade Your Laptop's GPU for a Reasonable Price

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.

Avram Piltch
Online Editorial Director
The official Geeks Geek, as his weekly column is titled, Avram Piltch has guided the editorial and production of Laptopmag.com since 2007. With his technical knowledge and passion for testing, Avram programmed several of LAPTOP's real-world benchmarks, including the LAPTOP Battery Test. He holds a master's degree in English from NYU.