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Portable Watchout Display Computer- Laptop?


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Hello Everyone,


My main Watchout display rig works perfectly, except it is big, heavy and on my last trip, the airlines banged it up badly enough that it requires repairs. (fortunately on the return flight!!)


I wanted to see if anyone could come up with technical reasons against an Alienware 15 i7 6700HQ 2 SSDs on Win 7 with a graphics amplifier housing an AMD Eyefinity graphics card and two thunderbolt 3 UltraStudio MiniRecorders for Live video capture and PPT capture.  


Any input would be greatly appreciated. 


Kind Regards,



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Not sure about the Thunderbolt 3 part (I've never tried) but my main concern would be because Watchout can only use ONE graphics card, and with a laptop, there would be two - mainboard + the gfx amplifier - Watchout may default to the mainboard's gfx even if one sets Windows to default to the gfx amplifier. With a desktop pc, the mobo's gfx can be disabled in BIOS, and a 3rd party gfx would work with Watchout. Now if a laptop's BIOS could disable the mainboard's gfx, Watchout should then theoretically work (Having said that, I'm now curious, and will have to shut this laptop down and boot into BIOS to check!)


I've tried this with my laptop (no power house) which has a Nvidia 840M for one extended output, and Watchout would not use/'see' the Nvidia even when Nvidia and Windows 10 are set to default to it. Reset back to the mainboard gfx, and viola, the laptop would work as a Display PC (single output though). This is with Windows 10, not tried with a Windows 7 laptop.



My laptop's BIOS has a choice of which gfx option to boot up with - Discrete or motherboard's. Chose 'Discrete' and connected HDMI out to 2nd monitor. Ensured Windows sees 2nd monitor as Extended. Under Windows 10, Watchout 6.x still would not load Watchpoint. Back to booting up with motherboard gfx option instead of the Nvidia, and Watchpoint loaded up properly and displayed fine without problems.


It could be Win10. Suggest you try the Alienware and the external gfx amp with Watchpoint before buying, or at least have a refund-if-does-not-work-with-your-intended-application policy in place with the seller.

Edited by Thomas Leong
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Wow. Alienware can get Thunderbolt 3 to work with Windows 7.

Thats impressive.


Providing that Alienware/AMD driver fully supports Thunderbolt 3 under DirectX9,

you should be able to get four 4k60p DP1.2 outputs from the two Thunderbolt 3 outputs.

The hardware to make that happen is just emerging in the market, caveat emptor.


Eyefinity is not used by WATCHOUT, but it is an indication of capability just the same.

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Hi Guys,


Thanks! You guys are good and make some great points. Windows 10, Kaby Lake and Watchout 6 still make me nervous, that is why I was looking at the Skylake option so that I could revert to Windows 7 if necesarry. 


@Morgan - I would like to have 6 but 4 is the minimum


@Benoit - I looked into the Watchpax 4 but video capture of 2 to 3 sources is essential. I read elsewhere on the forum that you cannot add USB capture


@Thomas I am going to ask on the Alienware forum to see how the external graphics amplifier changes system settings. I was thinking of getting a relatively inexpensive Expresscard to E-GPU adaptor to see how Watchout handles external enclosures and though I don't think it is the same it would be a less expensive loss if it doesn't work. I read that the external PCIE enclosure bypasses the onboard graphics. Would this be the same as Intergrated intel graphics on a desktop and then a GPU in a PCIE port?


@jfk The thunderbolt 3 would be for video capture. I thought it might handle more than one capture device better than usb3 (maybe a combination of the two would work while we are speaking hypothetically one USB3 on the laptop and another USB3 on the thunderbolt bus so they are not sharing resources). The Blackmagic website states that the Ultrastudio mini recorder is Windows7 Compatible, which doesn't inspire much confidence. The port is Thunderbolt 3 but I think the devices are of a previous incarnation (Thunderbolt 1?). 


As I understand it, the graphics amplifier port on the back of the laptop is a proprietary PCIE connector - here are a few snippets that I found that might shed more light.


"The Graphics Amplifier is a desktop enclosure that offers a PCI Express connection to a desktop-class GPU and power supply, along with a four-port USB 3.0 hub, all connected to the laptop through a proprietary port. The Graphics Amplifier works with the laptop, and when connected to the system, registers as the laptop's primary graphics card, bypassing the onboard GPU and offering desktop-class performance for higher frame rates and the option to run one or more external monitors. Unlike past external-GPU solutions, which would cause a system crash if disconnected while the PC was running, this setup simply reboots the system to switch over to the onboard graphics hardware."


"Why not Thunderbolt?

Alienware customers expect the fastest possible performance available in any product that carries the Alienware logo. The Alienware Graphics Amplifier port offers the highest performance connection to an external graphics card. Intel’s Thunderbolt technology offers many benefits and has a growing ecosystem of external devices, but all of those devices share the same bandwidth.

Thanks again and I look forward to more of y'alls valuable insights



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Hi Henry,


I think Watchpax 4 works with USB capture card. I didn't test it by myself but it should work...


Of course, NDI capture announced last week at ISE and available with WO 6.2 will be better for Watchpax 2 and 4 than USB capture…





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HenryBell said: "...I read that the external PCIE enclosure bypasses the onboard graphics. Would this be the same as Integrated intel graphics on a desktop and then a GPU in a PCIE port?"



...The Graphics Amplifier works with the laptop, and when connected to the system, registers as the laptop's primary graphics card, bypassing the onboard GPU and offering desktop-class performance...


The above clause you attached looks promising for Watchout use.

I think on boot up, with the gfx amplifier attached, IF the laptop's own display is blank, and BIOS + Windows' boot process shows up only on the monitors attached to the gfx amplifier (a'la a desktop's behaviour with 3rd party gpu in a slot), that would prove that the gfx amplifier is registered as the laptop's primary gpu, and Watchout would work with that.


I guess, at worse, you could use the purchase as a powerful Production PC.



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The Alienware Graphics Amplifier support PciE x16, but it is only PCI-Express X4 Gen 3.
make sure it match your requirement.

Dimensions (WxDxH) 7.3 in x 16.1 in x 6.8 in

Weight 7.72 lbs

plus one Alienware laptop,

i wont call it "Portable", and you still need to purchase extra Display card without full speed(because x4 only)


why not built a M-ATX mobo PC with sfx power supply?

so you can fully use of Display card & capture card.

use smaller chassis, you still can hand-carry onboard.


not really suggest buy alienware laptop with AGA.

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To be honest, I would also take a closer look at the WATCHPAX 4. You can use both USB 3 ports for external capture devices and indeed the new NDI feature will make capturing of Powerpoint sources much easier. You will see a couple of external NDI converters in the near future which will translate the usual formats into NDI.

The WATCHPAX 4 is really portable and pretty robust.

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  • 1 month later...

Hi Everyone,


I just wanted to follow up on this topic since I got so much great advice here. I was wondering what you all thought about the Zotac Magnus 1060 w/4 video outputs and the option of ssd (OS) and NVme (assets). 210mm x 203mm x 62.2mm 2.65liters


Looking forward to your replies. 

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I know someone who has the Zotac MA760 (AMD cpu with R7 gfx) which has 4 Display Port outputs instead of a mixture. It is relatively cheap barebones (without hd and os) - USD 300-400? Apparently 4-8 x 1920x1080 MPEG2 outputs is not a problem, so usable for us as long as we can control our media.


So if you are willing to step back a bit to an AMD cpu instead of Intel, that is something worth looking at.


Myself, I am still on 4th gen intel CPUs, and using mATX mobos in a low-profile HTPC cheap <USD25 case with low profile Noctua cooling, low profile Magewell capture card, and SFX psu. With a height of <110mm, it all fits into a light aluminium suitcase which we used to use for 35mm film cameras, accessories those days. Very portable but does not have the visual impression of a media server. Now considering adding a X99 mATX, or Z270 mATX, or Ryzen, as a second HTPC-style unit.


Thomas Leong

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  • 1 year later...
Guest DavidA

Hi HenryBell!

I just want to confirm that the WATCHPAX 4 works well with USB capture cards:

The WATCHPAX 4 is quite a powerful small and compact player - it is capable of 4x4K outputs. If you throw in a 4K splitter you can run up to 16 channels (no blend/warp - though) 1080p from the unit. The Dubai video wall is built using WATCHPAX 4 to drive all the 820 screens. :)

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