Wouldn't it be perfect if you could simply use a standard external graphics card to power your laptop's 3D graphics?
The good news is that you can. The suitably technical-sounding PE4H is just that; a passive PCI-e x16 to x1 adaptor, which enables you to plug an external graphics card into a laptop's ExpressCard slot. The dealers of the PH4H cards can be easily found on online stores like ebay or amazon costing you around $80-$100.
I'd like to say it's as simple as that, but this project does have a few sticking points. The first I've already mentioned: a laptop with an ExpressCard slot.
The second is Windows 7, as it handles multiple display drivers far more adeptly than anything else. We're told Windows XP is next best with Vista being least desirable.
Also if your laptop has more than 2GB of memory a 64-bit installation is also required, as otherwise you'll hit the 4GB address space limit hard. The big issue here is that it'll cause the allocation of memory for the graphics card to fail
The PE4H comes with the adaptor itself, an ExpressCard, data cable, Molex power cable and ATX power switch. Alongside this you'll need a suitable power supply, the adaptor can take a 12 to 15v supply but for higher-end cards you'll need a desktop PSU anyway.
The walkthrough below details putting together a system. The main thing to be aware of is before plugging the ExpressCard into the laptop, you will need to have Windows fully booted and to have the graphics card powered up. It's important to do this so Windows can recognise and install the correct drivers. If everything goes smoothly you'll have multi-card, multi-monitor system, where there was none before.
This might not be evident but it has happened, check the Display Properties Control Panel to see if the new display is detected and active.
1. The kit you will need to make your adaptor
The catchy named PE4H from amazon comes with a x16 PCI-e adaptor, the ExpressCard interface, an ATX power switch, plus the necessary Molex power cable and PCI Express data cable.
2. Grab a passive PCI Express adaptor
The adaptor that takes the PCI Express graphics card is called a passive adaptor, which is actually not doing any processing or routing, it's simply connecting two buses together.
3. Connect the GPU to the ExpressCard
4. Get a PSU powering your graphics card
5. Everything hooked up and ready to go
With a basic PCI Express graphics card the set-up looks a little like this (with or without a loop in the cable). At this point you don't want to connect the ExpressCard but you can boot your laptop.
6. Now, power up the pixel pusher
7. Get in on some ExpressCard action
8. Displays ahoy, as far as the eye can see
9. Control, multimonitor is a go
So this is all that is to be done to setup an external grpahic card setup for your new or even old laptop. Just make sure that you stay patient while letting the OS recognize the installation as it an attempt or two.
Do leave a comment if you want to make any suggestions to it & as always your queries regarding the same are welcome.