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Early Razer Core tests show poor compatibility with non-Razer notebooks

Razer Core shipping on August 12th for $500 USD
Razer Core shipping on August 12th for $500 USD
Early reviews point to a performance retention of about 85 to 90 percent compared to an equivalent desktop system. Compatibility with other notebooks aside from the Razer Blade and Blade Stealth are also unstable.

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.

Benchmarks

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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> Notebook / Laptop Reviews and News > News > News Archive > Newsarchive 2016 07 > Early Razer Core tests show poor compatibility with non-Razer notebooks
Alexander Fagot/ Allen Ngo, 2016-07- 4 (Update: 2018-06-28)
Allen Ngo
Allen Ngo - US Editor in Chief
After graduating with a B.S. in environmental hydrodynamics from the University of California, I studied reactor physics to become licensed by the U.S. NRC to operate nuclear reactors. There's a striking level of appreciation you gain for everyday consumer electronics after working with modern nuclear reactivity systems astonishingly powered by computers from the 80s. When I'm not managing day-to-day activities and US review articles on Notebookcheck, you can catch me following the eSports scene and the latest gaming news.