Fancy an external graphics card?

vaio z

Tired of jemmying the side of your case off every time you want to upgrade your graphics card? Sony's latest invention could be what you've been waiting for. The new Sony Vaio X is a hyper-expensive-but-paper-thin laptop, and comes with a Mac-like Light Peak port for attaching hard drives, monitors and... a graphics card.

In principle, this is nothing new. Manufacturers have been talking about external upgrades for a decade, and ASUS was hawking around a device called the XG-Station a few years ago which promised the same thing, although I don't recall it ever actually going on sale. Dell demoed something similar at CES in 2009, based on an ExpressPort connection, but again, didn't make it available to customers in the end.

The idea, however, of having an ultra thin laptop by day which can morph into a powerful crime fighting games machine at night has clearly not going away. Sony's 13inch Vaio Z is slimmer than a MacBook Air (and if I ever see that phrase in a press release again, I will take the rifle to the rooftops) and has an optional dock, inventively called the 'Advanced Docking Station'. Laptop connects to dock via Light Peak (aka Thunderbolt in Applespeak), and gets more hard drive space and a discrete GPU to supplement it's Core i5/i7 Intel HD graphics.

Sony's choice of GPU is a little uninspiring. The AMD HD6650M will be better than the Intel graphics, but not by much. It may bode well for the future, though, if the idea proves popular. Light Peak certainly has the bandwidth to support high end graphics power, so who knows?