Asus ROG XG Station 2 is ready to spread its wings

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.

Comments closed
    • pyro_
    • 3 years ago

    Will be interested to see more details on this as I just ordered one of the machines on list this week. Will be most interested to see if it could be used in addition to the current built in gtx 1060 in the laptop as I could use some additional monitors hooked up to the laptop and this might be a way to do that

    • Chrispy_
    • 3 years ago

    It’s trying so hard to avoid being a compact efficient cuboid.

    Why is everyone trying to avoid the best, most obvious, cheapest-to-make, most space-efficient shape?

    [i<]"Hi, I need a small box please" "Sorry, we don't have those. We have aztec death jaws, robot testicles, and steampunk mechanical whippets"[/i<]

      • derFunkenstein
      • 3 years ago

      “Do you have any ominous spheroids?”

        • EndlessWaves
        • 3 years ago

        No, but we do a nice [url=http://www.silverstonetek.com/images/products/ft03-mini/FT03B-Mini-Side.jpg<]black monolith[/url<].

          • derFunkenstein
          • 3 years ago

          I’LL TAKE A DOZEN

    • DPete27
    • 3 years ago

    No, just no.

    • Ninjitsu
    • 3 years ago

    Just make it look normal and functional. Keep price low. $$$.

    • Voldenuit
    • 3 years ago

    These ASUS plastic cases with their etched details may look [i<]passably[/i<] decent in product pics, but every one I've seen looks like schitt in real life. -someone with a ROG Swift monitor, which also has these tacky design details on it.

      • caconym
      • 3 years ago

      I like how in the last photo the two halves don’t even meet in the middle evenly. The left one sticks up a couple mm. Plus all the weird wobbly injection molding artifacts …

        • Voldenuit
        • 3 years ago

        They probably lined up in production but the right half has 3 40mm fans hanging off it, which is why it sags.

        Then again, who wants 3 40 mm fans running on their desk? Industrial deafness, here we come.

    • derFunkenstein
    • 3 years ago

    WHAT MANNER OF HERESY IS THIS

    • christos_thski
    • 3 years ago

    External graphic boxes are a great idea, so long as they’re priced lower than a capable gaming desktop. If you’re going to pay as much as a full-on desktop for a GPU box along with the graphics card, on the other hand…. they’re just silly.

      • derFunkenstein
      • 3 years ago

      Warning: this is long. I hear you, really, but it’s just not possible.

      Desktops small enough to not fit discrete graphics have a price premium. Pretty much every notebook with a CPU worth gaming on has a price premium. A [url=https://ark.intel.com/products/88199/Intel-Core-m7-6Y75-Processor-4M-Cache-up-to-3_10-GHz<]Core m7 6Y75[/url<] can't drive a GTX 1080 to its full potential. Skylake Core i3 CPUs have higher clocks than even the fastest dual-core mobile processor. So let's load up a Skull Trail NUC, because that's the only desktop system worth considering. $699 + $60 for 16GB of DDR4 SO-DIMMs and $130 for a 525GB MX300. That's about as good as it's going to get. Notebooks let you subtract the monitor but quad-core notebooks with a display you'd want to look at and no discrete graphics are in that same price range. These enclosures have a price premium just by virtue (or vice) of having to exist in the first place - the plastic and metal from which they're built, the power supply that's required, and the bridge hardware. To say nothing of the add-on features this one has, with its fancy ethernet and USB stuff. It costs more than $0 even without the GPU. So to buy the Skull Trail NUC and the required RAM and storage is going to be $900. The GPU is going to cost whatever the GPU costs. It's also going to take up whatever space it's going to take up - this thing is enormous, but even the smallest eGPU enclosure these days is already encroaching on the size of a typical mITX build. That $900 also buys you the same 16GB of memory, the same 525GB SSD, the same Core i7 (actually, a faster Core i7-6700K), mini-ITX mobo, case, and power supply - even if you splurge a bit - and has a few bucks to spare. If an enclosure costs more than a dollar, it's a liability. I just don't see how we get out of "small size = price premium" soon, if ever. The limited audience for this is a 15" system with a nice display and no discrete graphics. So basically a 2013/14 MacBook Pro (something Jeff mentioned on Twitter this morning, and I can't think of a similar PC notebook) with theoretical TB3 ports. [b<][i<]TL;DR[/i<][/b<]: the market will never get to a point where smaller with equivalent performance is cheaper than full-sized, so these aren't going to catch on with desktops.

        • RAGEPRO
        • 3 years ago

        You’re not wrong — at all — but you did sorta miss his point. His complaint is that GPU+eGPU box costs “as much as an entire gaming desktop”, and that’s a problem. If you could pick up a very basic eGPU enclosure (one without anything but the TB3 connection and power for the graphics card) as cheap as you could pick up an external HDD enclosure we’d be in a good place I think.

        But $499 for the Razer box, $349 for the Powercolor Devil Box… Even the Akitio Node, which I [url=https://techreport.com/news/30966/akitio-node-makes-thunderbolt-3-graphics-card-docks-attainable<]wrote about before[/url<], and which is exactly what I'm talking about, but they want $299 for it. It's nonsense. For $299 I can pick up [url=https://pcpartpicker.com/list/KJZWJV<]most of the rest of a system.[/url<] And that Core i3-6100 will -- as you pointed out -- have better gaming performance than basically any laptop CPU. (I've tested this exhaustively recently.) $99 is a price where we might start to see eGPU docks make some headway. Maybe $129, or $169 with some extra goodies tacked on. $299 for a metal box with a power supply, a fan, and a TB3 connection is not going to fly.

          • derFunkenstein
          • 3 years ago

          Ugh, I should just stop posting. Twice today I’m failing English comprehension.

          I think you’re probably right about the price point where this starts to become common. $100, even if I have to provide my own ATX PSU (I have spares, and I think lots of enthusiasts do), is probably where a utilitarian metal box needs to wind up. Plus somebody needs to make full-fat quad-core notebooks that use only integrated graphics but come with TB3 ports and displays that don’t look like ass.

        • cygnus1
        • 3 years ago

        If these could be had for a decent price, I’d buy one to go with my HP Spectre x360 (assuming HP released a compatible firmware as well). It’s got a decent enough CPU for most gaming, especially if it’s full power budget can go toward CPU and basically turn off the iGPU.

        I would definitely do away with the dedicated desktop if these were a reasonable, available option.

      • Shobai
      • 3 years ago

      Well, if you take careful note of the [quote<]Upgraded Gaming Performance[/quote<] section of the product page, you'll note that the 'capable gaming desktop' Asus says is [quote<]priced similarly[/quote<] has an i7-5960X processor and a GTX 1070, as opposed to the i7-6500U and GTX 1080 combo of the ASUS Transformer Book Pro & ROG XG Station 2... Make of that what you will...

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