The MacBook Air is an incredible laptop for many reasons, none of those being “good for gaming”. But this geek hero just straight up refused to accept the limitations of the 11-inch MacBook Air, and made it hum like a gaming laptop — with the help of a little creativity.
The MacBook Air stinks at gaming for the same reasons it’s wonderful for everyday people: It’s small, lightweight, and is powerful enough for the average user without any extraneous heft to bog you down. It’s supposed to be less than ideal for gaming. You know, unless you’re an insane person with a ton of spare hardware lying around.
As we learn from Larry Gadea, a chain of adapters will allow you to get the extra cycles you need for heavyweight games from a NVIDIA GTX 570 eGPU (an external graphics card). In the Borderlands 2 demo above, Gadea is getting some pretty impressive 90 fps performance out of just a MacBook Air (on its admittedly meager 1366×768 display).
How does he do it? Here’s the chain: NVIDIA GTX 570 eGPU — > PE4L PCI Express bridge — >Sonnet ExpressCard Pro — >MacBook Air Thunderbolt I/O. The total cost of the GPU and adapters is about $US250. (Unfortunately, it looks like his forum post explaining the setup on Tech Inferno is down right now.)
While this little project is super fun and clever, it’s not exactly the most practical solution in the world. The cumbersome mess of cables and adapters isn’t going to travel as well as your MacBook Air, and that 1366 x 768 screen is hardly optimised for a gorgeous rendering engine. But that’s the entire point! There is no reason at all zero none in the world for this to exist. And yet, here it is! Yes, the Thunderbolt connectivity makes this thing easy enough to plug and unplug, as though that makes it make any more sense. This thing is wonderful, in that oh-god-what sort of way most insane things are. [Twitter via MacRumors]