Lenovo Thunderbolt 3 Graphics dock review: Small device with bigger performance boost

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The mobile GPU docks are becoming more and more common nowadays, and due to abundance, the price is getting down too. Earlier this month we saw Blackmagic’s eGPU dock specifically made for the new MacBook Pro laptops that can provide serious performance boosts to the laptops. Now Lenovo has also announced their mobile docking station that can not only provide the much-needed graphical overhaul to your Notebooks but also allows you to connect your laptop with three 4K displays at once with other functionality too. Let’s take a closer look at the device and see how it compares with other GPU docks.

What is it?

Even though the device is a GPU dock, it does not have the bulky, flashy gaming looks that we are accustomed to seeing in the GPU docks from Razor that show precise “gaming” looks. Instead, the device has a stealthy and simple outlook while having an incredibly thin body which makes it prominent and increases the ease to carry it around the places. The device weighs around 15-pounds without the charger socket, and it has a full GTX 1050 inside it. The build size is exceptional, but it lacks the quality of a premium device since it is mostly made of plastic, the plastic body looks cheap, but it helps in keeping the weight down. Due to its smaller form factor, it can easily fit into many bag packs and suitcases in case if you want some performance boost in another location.

Image: windows central
Image: windows central

Specifications and I/O

                As mentioned earlier the device has Nvidia GeForce GTX 1050 with 4GB of VRAM, the basic specifications of a GTX 1050 are the same except increased amount to VRAM to support more displays and to avoid the VRAM bottlenecking as most games require more than 2GB of Graphics memory. Additionally, it has a 170 W charger to provide the necessary power that will run the device. The I/O includes a USB 2.0 port, two USB 3.0 ports, 2 Display port 1.4, an HDMI port, a Gigabit Ethernet connector, an audio port and the Thunderbolt 3 port to connect the device to your laptops. The dock supports not only laptops but also a desktop PC too if it has the necessary port.

Image: windows central
Image: windows central

Lenovo made this device so one might say that it would work well with the Lenovo laptops that have the Thunderbolt 3 ports. Instead, it works fine with any laptop that has a Thunderbolt 3 port in it. Due to the immense amount of I/O you can do so many tasks at the same time and with the additional ability to connect 4K displays will enable you to play lightweight games alongside video editing, while charging your device through a single Thunderbolt port.

Who’s it for?

The device ideally is for the people who want some graphical boost over their Notebooks since GTX 1050 is not the best Graphics card that you can find in the market, for gaming. You can play many games at 1080p resolution, but then the 4k functionality goes out of the window. So, if you are a hardcore gamer and want to buy a Graphics card for your Notebook then something like Razor Core V2, or Razor Core X would be better for you as you can choose whatever Graphics card you want to install, the only downside in these is the price as they are much expensive and come without a Graphics card.

Image: windows central
Image: windows central

For Graphics performance the GTX 1050 is slightly better than the retail version, and it scored 75000 points on Geek bench four which is not bad for light-weight gaming. The esports titles such as FIFA 18, Overwatch or Fortnite can be played easily with the highest possible settings and smooth framerates. While if you want to play the high-end AAA titles, you may want to low some settings if you want the smooth 60 FPS experience. For more details on the Graphics card, head over to our detailed review of Nvidia GeForce GTX 1050, here.

Disadvantages

The device has many advantages but unfortunately, it is not a perfect device, it has its shortcomings and limitations. You cannot upgrade or change the Graphics card in the device unlike many other GPU docks, and the thermals can be a bit high too as the fans in this device are very small. Other than these you can get the most out this dock with regular use as it is primarily for IT fellows.

Image: windows central
Image: windows central

Conclusion

So, in $399, you are getting a desktop grade Graphics card, plethora of connectivity options and mobility at the same time which seems like a good deal but hold on you can get this device cheaper. You can get this dock at around 370 dollars through corporate discounts, and if you decide to buy it through Lenovo, you may also get a discount of 50 dollars. So, the GPU dock with a graphics card and this kind of features at $349 is a very good deal.

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