On Thursday AMD announced XConnect, a new feature of Radeon Software Crimson Edition that makes it easier to pair external Radeon graphics cards with a compatible notebook using Thunderbolt. This was the technology we saw at CES in the Razer Core enclosure. With AMD cards, XConnect allows you to switch from internal to external graphics without a system reboot.
Rather than buying a bulky gaming notebook, XConnect allows you to use an external graphics enclosure along with a compatible card that connects over Thunderbolt 3. Thunderbolt uses a small, reversible USB-C connector that delivers up to 40Gbps of bandwidth. Currently, the supported GPUs for XConnect are the R9 Fury and Nano, all R9 300 series cards, and the R9 290X, 290, and 285.
The Razer Blade Stealth is available today, a brand new ultrathin notebook that’s compatible with XConnect. It’s a 12.5-inch ultrabook with a 4K touch display that has a chassis just 0.52-inches thick. As for the specs, it has an Intel Core i7-6500U processor at 2.5GHZ with a boost core speed of 3.1GHz. If you’re not using an external graphics card, it’s got an Intel HD Graphics 520. The Razer Blade Stealth has 512GB of PCIe SSD storage, and 8GB of dual-channel memory.
Prices for the Razer Blade Stealth start at $1000.
The big question with XConnect is still adoption. Will other hardware companies make their own enclosures, or release laptop BIOS updates to support external graphics? Or will this be a one-off, like every external GPU solution before it?