Hands-on with ASUS XG Station Pro Thunderbolt 3 Enclosure
ASUS started 2018 by announcing a new Thunderbolt 3 eGPU enclosure, the XG Station Pro. I'm at CES 2018 and visited ASUS suite in the Wynn hotel (part of Tech West). The ASUS XG Station Pro was displayed in the ROG section. I got in prior to the opening day rush and had some hands-on time with this new external GPU enclosure.
The first thing I located was the external power brick. It’s very similar in size to the Dell DA-2. I didn't get to to feel how heavy the unit was. It was tucked away neatly under the display area. The 330W power adapter has a proprietary connector. This Delta ADP-330AB PSU is a shared component from the GX800 gaming laptop.
The overall dimensions of this XG Station Pro are close to the Razer Core and much smaller than the XG Station 2. The outer panels are made of aluminum. The inner cage feels like sheet metal. ASUS noted they collaborated with In Win to produce this enclosure. Sliding the latch in the top rear of the enclosure to the right releases the top panel. Once this panel is removed, you can slide the two side panels up and out. On display ASUS had only the top panel attached. I played around with these panels. They're well-built with a sturdy feel to them.
Pressing the Power button in the back of the enclosure turns on the small status light in the front, but everything else remains off. Once there’s an active connection with a Thunderbolt host computer, the rest of the components power up alongside the LED strip under the GPU.
The cooling fans are two In Win Polaris 120mm units. They are positioned side by side, adjacent to the backplate of the graphics card, and are tasked with removing heat through the large vented side panel. I put my ears up close and could barely hear the fans. This is a drastic improvement over the XG Station 2.
The pair of 6 + 2-pin PCIe power cables draw power from the main board. The installed GPU was an ASUS ROG Strix GTX 1080 Ti. For those concerned about whether the 330W external power brick could handle power-hungry cards like the GTX 1080 Ti, this is a relief. There is a trade-off though. I noticed the laptop's second Thunderbolt 3 port was plugged into a power adapter. Therefore it’s likely this XG Station Pro does not provide any more than 15W PD.
ASUS used a ZenBook 3 Deluxe as the Thunderbolt 3 host computer. It ran the latest Nvidia drivers, GeForce 390.65 WHQL, that add better eGPU support. Right away I noticed the disconnect and connect notification at the bottom right of the taskbar. ASUS also installed a Fan Utility software that was set on Silent Mode.
I had a quick chat with Ernest Cheng, ASUS' Manager of Product Marketing. The XG Station Pro will be available in North America in Q1. Canada is to receive it first, and the US will follow shortly after. I will request a media sample after CES 2018 to find out how this new eGPU enclosure stacks up against the competition.
Interesting that Canada is getting them first instead of a North American release. Does this mean there will be subtle differences in different regions?
Mid 2012 15" MacBook Pro > Thunder2 > GTX 1070 > 34" 2560x1080 Ultrawide
Mid 2017 15" MacBook Pro > Thunder2 > GTX 1070 > 34" 2560x1080 Ultrawide
Very high wife / corporate acceptance factor as long as it's sub $400.
MP 6,1 | 4c | d700
MP 6,1 | 6c | d500
Thanks @theitsage, I guess it may have been difficult to tell given where it was but do you have any view on the kind of noise from the power brick and the unit itself?
@dangerous25 the enclosure itself and the fans were running very quietly. You can see in one of the screen captures the fans were set in quiet mode. My guess is that the GPU fans may be louder than the case fans.
So this was providing graphics to the internal laptop display not an external monitor? If so what was the performance like?
If anyone was curious, the Pro has finally released in the US!
I honestly don't know how long it's been out. I've been checking Google, Amazon, and here basically every other day for the past couple weeks for signs of its release. The only reason I finally found out is because I checked out an ASUS Valentine's Day post that had "XG Station Pro" tagged. It had a corny ad for the product with the Newegg link.
Can't believe I'd forgotten to check Newegg the whole time, hahaha.
Anyway, I braved Newegg's ridiculous shipping prices and ordered one to arrive Wednesday. I'll be out of town this weekend and won't have much time to play around with it, but if I remember, I'll try to post some first impressions with some pics Thursday or Friday.
I'm especially interested to investigate the effectiveness of its dual-fan exhaust system, the quality of the extra long active-Thunderbolt 3 cable (its inclusion being a key part of the value, for me), and how it handles a GTX 1080 Ti (the reason I returned my Node).
I might be the only one who was eagerly waiting for this but I hope some more impressions help anyone else in the market for a new (or their first) eGPU enclosure this Spring.
@casey_toney keep us updated please! Agreed nice looking case. Hope UK pricing isn't stupid....
How'd you go with your order? I'm really interested to see how this performs! Particularly whether it provides any power delivery over USBC. I know that's not in the spec, but I'm hoping it'll charge when the power load allows but they just didn't want to advertise it.
2016 13” nTB MacBook Pro (2.0Ghz, 8GB Ram, 256GB SSD)
Dell U2715H - Samsung T5 External SSD 500GB