Here at Loaded Cart Gaming, it's pretty safe to say that the majority of our game playing takes place on computers. And there has been some news lately that's been pretty quiet and under the radar that has the potential to change the future of PC gaming.
And I don't mean that as a hyperbole or just saying it to create a stir. I mean that there has been a major step in the normally boring world of input and output that will potentially have HUGE long-term effects on how computers and laptops are made for the foreseeable future.
Intel has announced that they are going all in on Thunderbolt 3, and will be including it on the processors they make from now on, eliminating the need for 3rd Party Motherboard manufacturers to decide whether or not they want to include this "premium" feature on their products. At the time of writing, it is uncertain which of their processors will get this added feature, but I think it's fairly safe that the Core iSeries of processors (m, i3, i5, i7, etc) will see this feature coming to them in the near future.
This removes almost every hurdle that USB Type-C with Thunderbolt 3 faces to become the new standard for I/O on every computer and laptop going forward. Intel will be able to make the protocol faster and improve power consumption with each revision of the processors. It also saves manufacturers $5-8 in licensing fees that it normally takes to include Thunderbolt 3 to a device. Which can be a surprisingly big reason for someone to not include it. (This is why FireWire never caught on mass-market despite having better performance in many ways than USB.)
But there was an even bigger announcement as a part of all of this, over the next year Intel has plans to offer the "Thunderbolt protocol specification available to the industry under a nonexclusive, royalty-free license." Which will remove probably the last great hurdle for its mass adoption. Right now, the big manufacturers are hesitant to pull the trigger, because they're afraid the Intel (who owns everything when it comes to Thunderbolt 3) will raises all their prices and fees once the protocol becomes the standard. But if it's royalty-free, it means that everything associated with Thunderbolt 3 (cables, adaptors, etc) can be made without crazy expensive licensing costs (ever wonder why iPhone cables are so expensive?). It will also encourage more mobile device manufacturers to include the new USB Type-C standard for their new phones and tablets.
But what does this mean for gaming? One of the amazing things you can do with this protocol is run an external graphics card with a laptop. There are two devices that embrace this idea already:
If you're unfamiliar with how these work, basically it allows someone to build what is basically an ultrabook. A super thin and portable laptop, with a good processor and onboard graphics. Something that gets awesome battery life and is good for everyday work. And then when you get home, you plug in a single USB Type-C plug and it hooks up to a box at your desk which has a desktop class GPU in it to run games.
The best of both worlds in "one device."
There are some limitations right now, there is a performance hit right now because of the bottleneck of the 40Gbps transfer rate of the protocol (which is split between upstream and down). It's enough to do 4k gaming, but it will be at a slightly lower framerate.
If you want to take a look at what these setups are currently capable of here's a handful of really good videos from a couple of my favorite YouTube tech channels:
- Dave2D - Razer Core Things You Need to Know
- Dave2D - Razer Core Review - The Best External GPU?
- Linus Tech Tips - Desktop Graphics For Any Laptop
- Linus Tech Tips - Razer Core Revisted - All Questions Answered
So what do you think? Do you think this is the wave of the future? Are you interested in a setup like this? I know I am. Let us know what you think in the comments below.
** CHOP'S eSPORTS GAME OF THE WEEK **
With the Mid-Season Invitational over, professional League of Legends gets a couple weeks off before the summer half of the season goes into full swing. So I want to let you know about an interesting esports tournament you might want to check out this weekend.
eLeague's Street Fighter V Invitational Tournament goes into playoffs mode today. So starting at 5pm Eastern you'll be able to catch some great Street Fighter action on their YouTube and Twitch channels.
But even more interesting, is that thanks to a partnership with Turner, starting at 10pm tonight, there will be coverage of the event on TBS. Which is pretty awesome. So if you like fighting games, this could be a fun one to watch.