Currently, the vast majority of graphics cards are internal, at the same time, the majority of systems sold for gaming are laptops. However, barely visible only one external graphics card or simply not to say that we do not see a single one. Besides, it’s like they disappeared, why did it happen? We explain it to you.
The biggest problem with buying a gaming laptop is precisely its graphics capacity and it is that everyone knows that due to consumption and temperature limitations, the same brown beasts that are in computers of the tower cannot be placed. Which would lead us to think that there should be a demand for external graphics cards, however, there isn’t and they will continue to be just an anecdote
Why isn’t there a single external graphics card visible?
The first of the problems when using an external graphics card is the high power consumption they require, so they would need an integrated power supply and not exactly a small one, because we have models that consume several hundred watts run. It also makes it impossible for desktop models to be portable so that they can be taken anywhere due to consumption. Therefore, if we wanted to make them fully portable, we would have to include a battery in the equipment, thus increasing the common cost of the whole equipment to achieve lower performance.
Now, we may have a laptop and want to give it extra graphics processing power for certain applications. A few years ago the graphics cards in these computers weren’t soldered to the motherboard, but used a type of module called MXM which was still graphics cards for laptops and you just had to replace them with a more powerful one if necessary. The problem? They were so expensive and rare that it was more worth buying a tower with the equivalent GPU model inside.
In the end, the best option not only for gaming, but also for professional 3D rendering is to buy a desk top computer, which doesn’t have the limitations of a laptop. However, the reason why external graphics cards have failed to win over users is primarily technical.
The problem is the interface
Our graphics cards today connect to a parallel interface called PCI Express with the ability to transmit tens of gigabytes per second. However, it achieves this by using a large number of pins and a very short distance. One of the reasons why peripherals use serial interfaces is precisely that the connector must be too wide. Those of you who are older will remember the size of the classic printer connector, colloquially known as LPT1, as well as its width and height.
In fact, external PCI Express interfaces exist, but they are based on an optical interface and not on copper to avoid power consumption being triggered by copper resistance when the cabling distance increases. Not in vain, the reason why the connection of the graphics cards is so short, it is for this reason that if it were longer, then it would take more energy to transmit the data and the electricity bill would explode.
However, just look at the size of the connector, in this case it’s an x8 connection and as you can see it takes up a good chunk of the back width of the board. Although although it can be placed on the side, it would be necessary to build a PCB or a dedicated board for this type of interface and we will only solve part of the problem, that of the transfer of information and that of the power supply required to be able to have an external graphics card.
keep it simple
The reason why no one has opted for an external graphics card is because the current model, based on the click on the PC motherboard, allows us to reduce costs, since, among other things, it is not not even necessary a power source. power supply and no box for it. That is to say, it makes things much easier for us and without the need to complicate ourselves with two power supplies, two boxes, etc.
In addition, the policy of 6, 8 and 16 pin connectors to power the graphics cards imposed itself as soon as it was possible to verify that the previous interface, the AGP, was not powerful enough. As a historical curiosity, some models that came out with an integrated power supply should be highlighted.
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