Razer Core V2
CAN RAZER’S GRAPHICS CARD ENCLOSURE REALLY TURN LOWLY LAPTOPS INTO MINING OR GAMING RIGS?
Want to turn an ultraportable laptop into a full-powered mining or gaming rig? Then check out Razer’s Core v2. This graphics-card-enclosure-cumdocking station is super solid, consisting of two, well-ventilated slabs of metal which slide apart to allow for the easy insertion of a full-sized, desktop graphics card. Even the longer, wider varieties like the Nvidia GTX 1080 Ti are compatible. The interior compartment, which holds the electronics, is unlocked with a gratuitously-large lever that gives everything a sense of blacksmith-hewn solidity. All connections are toolless and plugging in a card is intuitive and takes seconds.
A kettle lead provides power to a built-in 500W PSU but almost everything else passes through the ThunderBolt 3 cable (note that the bundled one is very short). It will work with any device that is ThunderBolt 3 compatible AND supports the associated external graphics standard, plus has had all relevant firmware and BIOSes updated. The graphics drivers come with existing AMD-and-Nvidia packages, while plugging it in will activate a laptop’s Thunderboltrecognition system, which you only need to enable once. We tested with Razer’s own laptops and everything just worked when we plugged the cable in. Impressive. The connection also transmits up to 65W of power, so it can simultaneously charge your laptop.
But what of performance? Razer recommends using an external monitor for optimal performance as looping back to your laptop’s own screen generates lag. The results are interesting. A Razer Blade Pro laptop with integrated GTX 1060 graphics scored 5,124 (24fps) in a Full HD Fire Strike Extreme 3DMark test. The same test using a Razer Blade Stealth Ultraportable plus Core v2 (with a desktop GTX 1060 card) on an external monitor was just one per cent slower. In a straight Fire Strike test, the Blade Pro laptop scored 9,656 (50fps). This dropped to 45fps using the Core v2 and Stealth on an external monitor and 43fps when using the Stealth’s own display. Ultimately, while there can sometimes be slight drop in framerate, gaining the ability to play the latest games on an ultraportable is transformative. (sadly, you can’t create an SLI connection using Thunderbolt 3 – PCIe only).
We also mined cryptocurrency, which punishes GPUs and makes gaming laptops (plus, in some cases, desktops) overheat and slow down. Here the open housing of the Core v2 meant that mining performance was maximised thanks to the wellventilated sides! However, the many air-vents mean that dust is an issue and there’s no muffling of your graphics card’s fan – which can get noisy.
Other features include a four-port USB 3 hub and Gigabit Ethernet – so it can act as a straight docking station. It is lit up with Razer’s RGB system which can be controlled and customised with its Synapse software.
Weighing 5.5KG, the Core v2 isn’t particularly-portable and you should cover it up when not in use to avoid dust. Nonetheless, we loved how it transformed an ultraportable into a gaming rig so if you can afford the whopping $600 price tag it’s a great buy.
“The connection can simultaneously charge your laptop”
Fits single double-wide, full-length, PCI-Express x16 graphics card • GPU max power support: 375 watts (internal PSU 500 Watts) • USB 3.0 X 4, Gigabit Ethernet 10/100/1000, Thunderbolt 3 (for connection to PC)
$600 • www.razer.com