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Dell will begin certifying XPS notebooks for external graphics: Frank Azor

Azor tweeted that though they would begin certifying the XPS series for eGPUs, it will take at least a month to assess feasibility. (Source: Twitter)
Azor tweeted that though they would begin certifying the XPS series for eGPUs, it will take at least a month to assess feasibility. (Source: Twitter)
Alienware and XPS GM Frank Azor has stated that due to demand from customers, they will start to seek external graphics certification for their popular XPS line of notebooks. Without certification, newer graphics enclosures with the TI83 controller will not be able to connect.

Spurred by a flood of interest on twitter, Alienware and XPS General Manager Frank Azor has stated that they will begin the process of certifying the XPS 15 "now". He followed the tweet up by saying that there was no guarantee that they would ultimately be supported, but they would look into it due to customer demand.

The XPS 15 (9550 and 9560) both have Thunderbolt 3 (TB3) ports, which means that they have the hardware bandwidth needed to connect to external an Graphics Processing Unit (eGPU) via a TB3 enclosure such as the Razer Core, AKiTiO Node and Thunder 3, PowerColor Devilbox, or Asus XG Station 2. Despite not being officially "eGPU certified", the XPS 13 and 15 work with earlier GPU docks like the Razer Core and AKiTiO Thunder 3 as they use a slightly older controller, the TI82.

However, newer eGPU enclosures such as the Asus XG Station 2 and AKiTiO Node use the TI83 controller. Where the TI82 controller allowed compatibility, the TI83 is unable to connect an eGPU to computers that have not explicitly allowed the feature. In some cases it seems possible that the eGPU manufacturer can release a firmware update to allow the enclosure to work on non-whitelisted notebooks—AKiTiO and Powercolor have done this, but Asus has not. Having the computer certified would simplify the compatibility a great deal.

It isn't an issue with the hardware on the XPS—the Intel Skull Canyon NUC has the same controller as the XPS 15 but explicitly allows eGPUs. It's unclear why Dell did not whitelist the XPS as Intel did the Skull Canyon NUC, but it may have something to do with high licensing fees that Intel is charging.

Though Azor did again stress there is no guarantee that the XPS 15 will end up with support, it is nice to see that at least someone at the company is listening to some customer feedback.

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> Notebook / Laptop Reviews and News > News > News Archive > Newsarchive 2017 02 > Dell will begin certifying XPS notebooks for external graphics: Frank Azor
Douglas Black, 2017-02-10 (Update: 2017-02-10)
Douglas Black
Douglas Black - News Editor
Douglas Black is a technology analyst, teacher, writer, and DJ. He is also Managing Editor of UltrabookReview.