Razer’s external graphics dock is back: The Razer Core V2 – CNET

It’s been my dream for years: an ultrathin, light laptop I could carry anywhere — yet transform into a gaming powerhouse just by plugging it in.

That’s the idea behind the $500, £500 or roughly AU$640 Razer Core, a black aluminum box that can add the power of a full desktop graphics card to the compatible laptop of your choice. Using a single USB-C / Thunderbolt 3 cable, it also adds four USB ports, a wired Ethernet jack, and can charge a Razer Blade Stealth laptop all at the same time. 

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We first saw the Razer Core and Razer Blade Stealth at CES 2016.

Sean Hollister/CNET

But when the Razer Core first arrived in 2016, it didn’t get a lot of traction. While reviews showed the basic concept worked pretty well, some users complained that non-Razer laptops weren’t compatible — and others that the extra USB ports weren’t reliable enough to use. 

With the new Razer Core V2, the company is trying to solve at least one of those issues. The new box adds a second Thunderbolt 3 controller so that the GPU and the extra ports each have their own dedicated PCI-Express lanes, likely meaning no dropped USB connections and more consistent bandwidth for the GPU. 

Plus, Razer’s Travis Furst tells us the redesigned chassis should fit practically any video card on the market. It’s roughly half an inch taller inside now, a move Furst says was made to accommodate oversized graphics cards that don’t technically meet the PCIe standard. Now, if your GPU is under 5.71 inches tall by 1.69 inches wide x 11.81 inches long, it should fit.

Furst says there’s also a special new GPU release lever near the power supply, so you can quickly swap in another GPU without pinching your fingers or poking around with tools.

What about compatible laptops? While Razer technically only certifies its own machines will work with Razer Core — you’ll need to ask your laptop manufacturer to be sure — Furst says he’s seen more and more laptop designs embrace the Thunderbolt 3 external graphics standard, particularly in the months since Intel’s seventh-gen CPUs came out.

Razer Blade Stealth (13-inch, 2017)

The 13-inch Razer Blade Stealth, next to a MacBook Pro. Both now offer quad-core Intel processors.

Sarah Tew/CNET

Of course, Razer is hoping you’ll buy its own Blade Stealth, particuarly now the company’s announced a quad-core version of the 13-incher — one which Furst says actually gets an hour longer battery life than the dual-core we reviewed last month. He says the 8th-gen Intel quad-core chip makes a noticible difference in gaming performance with the Razer Core. We’re hoping to test that soon.

Here are all the GPUs that work with the Razer Core, according to the company:

  • Nvidia GeForce GTX 1080 Ti 
  • Nvidia GeForce GTX 1080 
  • Nvidia GeForce GTX 1070 
  • Nvidia GeForce GTX 1060 
  • Nvidia GeForce GTX Titan X 
  • Nvidia GeForce GTX Titan Xp 
  • Nvidia GeForce GTX 980 Ti 
  • Nvidia GeForce GTX 980 
  • Nvidia GeForce GTX 970 
  • Nvidia GeForce GTX 960 
  • Nvidia GeForce GTX 950 
  • Nvidia GeForce GTX 750 Ti 
  • Nvidia GeForce GTX 750 
  • Nvidia Quadro P4000 
  • Nvidia Quadro P5000 
  • Nvidia Quadro P6000 
  • Nvidia Quadro GP100 
  • AMD Radeon RX 500 Series 
  • AMD Radeon RX 400 Series 
  • AMD Radeon R9 Fury 
  • AMD Radeon R9 Nano 
  • AMD Radeon R9 300 Series 
  • AMD Radeon R9 290X 
  • AMD Radeon R9 290 
  • AMD Radeon R9 285

It’s worth noting new support for Nvidia’s Quadro professional-grade GPUs, but also that the AMD Radeon Vega series is currently lacking. Both the old and new Razer Core will support the same graphics cards today and into the future.

The new quad-core Razer Blade Stealth starts at $1,700 or £1,700 today at Razer’s site, with no availability for Australia yet. Razer says the Core V2 will ship “soon,” but doesn’t provide a specific date. 

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