Asus has been toying with the concept of external boxes for desktop graphics cards for laptops for a long time. The company has been showing the ROG XG Station 2 at trade shows since its January 2016 CES debut. A second peek at the XG Station 2 at Computex this past summer revealed that the proprietary connector had been replaced with a Thunderbolt 3 port. Now, Asus has now announced final specifications and a release window for the external graphics dock.
The final revision of the XG Station 2 retains the Thunderbolt 3 connector, but augments that 40 Gbps link with an extra USB Type-B connection for increased bandwidth between the host machine and the Station. The dock can be connected and disconnected while the laptop stays running for increased flexibility. That flexibility does not extend to the device's compatibility list, however, which contains only five laptops from Asus' ROG Gaming and Transformer Book series. Perhaps the XG Station 2 will become more broadly compatible with time.
The Station contains its own 600W 80 Plus Gold power supply. Asus says this unit can provide up to 500W for a graphics card and 100W to charge the connected laptop. Gamers might not want to dust off those Nvidia GeForce GTX 690s just yet, though. The enclosure can hold 2.5-slot graphics cards, but Asus didn't specify a maximum card length. External dimensions measure 18" x 6.2" x 10.9" (45.6cm x 15.8cm x 27.8cm). All that bulk serves a purpose beyond semi-portable graphics supremacy: the box also sports four USB 3.0 Type-A ports and a Gigabit Ethernet jack for regular docking-station duty.
An Asus ROG product isn't complete without some kind of fancy lighting to go with design language that looks like it belongs on Kylo Ren's personal spacecraft, of course. The XG Station 2 doesn't disappoint with its built-in crackling plasma-tube illumination. RGB LED fetishists won't be let down, either, because the Station's complement of internal RGB LEDs is fully compatible with Asus' Aura lighting control software.
Asus says the ROG XG Station 2 will be available "worldwide in the beginning of 2017." The company did not provide pricing details, though a polished external-graphics package like this one likely won't come cheap.