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Asus XG Station: External graphics card

Crank your gaming up to 11 with the Asus XG Station, an add-on graphics processor that plugs into your laptop's ExpressCard slot

See that pointless ExpressCard slot on the side of your laptop? Rubbish, isn't it? Well, not any more. Asus has come up with a use for it, and a pretty good use at that. Behold the XG Station, an external graphics card that transforms your weak, non-games-playing laptop into a polygon-munching monster that can eat an Alienware laptop for breakfast.

The XG Station incorporates a proper desktop graphics card, in this case Asus' own Nvidia GeForce EN7900GS, and connects via a cable to your laptop's ExpressCard slot. The model we saw has dual DVI output ports, though Asus says future revisions will feature even faster cards that also support HDMI and HDCP -- which you'll need if you want to watch encrypted HD DVD or Blu-ray flicks. The device also features enhanced audio functionality, specifically Dolby Headphone, which gives you 5.1 surround sound in, you guessed it, your headphones.

The front of the unit houses a large LED screen that shows info such as GPU (graphics processing unit) clock speed, GPU temperature, Dolby Headphone status, current frames per second and GPU fan speed. Best of all, there's a large silver knob you can twist to overclock the graphics card in real time -- you literally crank up the performance as desired.

The XG Station is one of those products that makes you wonder why it wasn't released ages ago. It's perfect for anyone who wants a thin and light laptop for daytime use and a monster gaming rig for the home. Expect a full review before its February 2007 release date. -RR