Early Razer Core tests show poor compatibility with non-Razer notebooks
Thunderbolt 3 allows for a theoretical transfer rate of up to 40 gbps. The speeds are fast enough for users to daisy chain multiple external displays or even external graphics cards. One of the first manufacturers to announce such a docking system is Razer with its Razer Core dock. Unlike the Alienware solution, it utilizes the more universal Thunderbolt 3 port to provide a full PCIe x16 interface and an internal 500 W PSU.
Press reviews are slowly tricking in
Other manufacturers have also announced external graphics solutions including Asus, Acer, and Gigabyte. MSI also has its own proprietary solution via the GS30 Shadow notebook. While the Razer Core can be connected to other Thunderbolt 3-enabled notebooks, it has been designed to run on the Razer Blade Stealth and Razer Blade with specialized GPU Switcher software to disable the internal GTX 970M GPU. Note that the cable connecting the Core dock to the notebook is very short at just 50 cm in length since longer cables could have been problematic.
Other than the Razer Blade and Blade Stealth that the Core was designed for, Lee also tested compatibility with other Thunderbolt 3-enabled notebooks. Unfortunately, issues were found on all tested systems including the Alienware 15, XPS 13, XPS 15, HP Spectre, and Acer Predator. It's worth noting that some of these systems worked with the Razer dock to a degree, but were ultimately unstable. The XPS 15 in particular required several modifications to the BIOS and drivers for the dock to run.
It appears that the main stumbling block is getting the notebooks to deactivate their internal GPUs. Users from the official Razer forum are claiming success in getting the Core to work on the MSI GS40. Presumably, manufacturers should be able to make their notebooks compatible with external docks like the Razer Core through firmware and driver updates should they choose to do so.
Price and availability
The Razer Core retails for $500 USD without any graphics cards included. Competition from Asus and Gigabyte will likely result in lower prices in the future. The current ship date for the Razer Core is August 12 in North America.
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