Gigabyte laptop has graphics-boosting dock

While most laptop docking stations are content to prop the computer up and charge its battery, Gigabyte’s latest creation provides a graphical punch as well.

On its own, the Gigabyte Booktop M1305 uses Intel’s integrated GM4500MHD video chip, putting it in line with many other thin-and-light notebooks that stress battery life over performance. However, when you plug the Booktop M1305 into its included, albeit fairly chubby, docking station, you get discrete NVidia GForce GT220 graphics for gaming and high-definition video.

The docking station also provides a whopping six USB ports, so you’d have no problem hooking up an external keyboard and mouse, along with external hard drives and game controllers.

gigabytebooktop

The Booktop M1305 is otherwise similar to other 13-inch thin-and-lights from Asus, HP and others. It uses an Intel Core 2 Duo ultra-low voltage processor and has a 13.3-inch screen, 4 GB of RAM and either a 320 GB or 500 GB hard drive. An included DVD drive is completely removable, though I would prefer an external DVD drive in exchange for a slimmer notebook, or better yet, a drive in the docking station itself. As it stands, the notebook measures roughly 1.15 inches thick.

The external discrete graphics is a cool idea, but its time may be short. Asus’ UL80vt (which, in the interest of disclosure, I just bought) manages both integrated and discrete graphics on the notebook itself, and maintains roughly the same thickness as the Booktop, though it is larger with a 14-inch screen. As with the Booktop, the idea here is to give users maximum battery life on integrated graphics, but more video muscle with discrete graphics when necessary. I think the ability to switch will catch on as users look for long-lasting laptops that can still handle HD video and moderate gaming.

As for the Gigabyte Booklet M1305, there’s no word yet on pricing or availability.