MSI has unveiled a new gaming laptop which it hopes can tempt those looking for something a little more portable than usual, thanks to its smart GamingDock accessory.
At first glance, it's hard to imagine why MSI claims the new GS30 Shadow is a gaming laptop. While it might have a top-tier Intel Core i7 processor in its surprisingly svelte chassis, it relies entirely upon the Iris Pro integrated graphics processor (IGP) to render the on-screen action. While Iris Pro is the very best of Intel's IGP hardware, it pales in comparison with the performance available from the sort of dedicated graphics processing unit (GPU) you'd expect to see in a gaming laptop.
MSI's secret? The GamingDock, a bulky desktop chassis onto which the GS30 Shadow can sit. When it does, the laptop gains access to a desktop graphics card, connected over what MSI claims is a full-bandwidth PCI Express x16 port. During docking, the machine will perform exactly the same as a desktop machine - allowing for the difference in performance between Intel's desktop and laptop Core i7 chips, of course. Once portability is required, the unit can be disconnected from the GamingDock and used as a standalone laptop.
It's not the first time we've seen docking stations that allow desktop PCIe cards to be connected to laptop devices, but recent increases in the bandwidth of laptop peripheral ports mean it could be the first time such devices actually deliver on their promises. MSI claims that there is no performance degradation through using the GamingDock, and hints that users will be able to open it up and upgrade the graphics card themselves.
The remainder of the laptop's specifications are less surprising: a 13.3" anti-glare screen offers an impressive 2,560x1,440 resolution, up to 16GB of DDR3L memory is supported, and storage is taken care of by a pair of M.2 SSDs in MSI's Super Raid configuration. The keyboard is back-lit, there's HDMI, gigabit Ethernet, and two USB 3.0 ports, an SD card reader, and Intel 802.11ac and Bluetooth v4.0 wireless connectivity. A four-cell battery is charged via a 65W power adapter, and the whole package - minus PSU and, obviously, GamingDock - weighs 1.3kg.
Full details are available on the MSI website
. The laptop and GamingDock are expected to launch in January next year, with pricing yet to be announced.