In exchange for effortless portability, MacBook Air users accept that their sliver-thin machines will never be able to play graphical powerhouses like Borderlands 2 or Crysis…unless they stitch together a litany of video cards and transfer cables like Larry Gadea did:
As he mentions in the video, Gadea plays on maximum settings and still achieves 90 frames per second, a feat of 3x performance benchmark improvement he repeats in other games (including Witcher 2 and Bioshock Infinite) in his original post on the TechInferno forums.
Gadea, a former software engineer at Google and infrastructure engineer at Twitter, constructed his rig out of a video card–specifically, the nVidia GTX 570 GPU, which retails for about $250–and $250 of electronics store parts.
As Gadea mentions, due to Intel’s shutting down of a MacBook-friendly Thunderbolt-to-PCI Express Bplus adapter ($180), the rig requires a slightly pricier double-jump from Thunderbolt-to-ExpressCard adapter ($134) and ExpressCard-to-PCI Express adapter ($70), but as you can see in the above video, it doesn’t affect performance. Gadea Bootcamps Windows simply out of game and GPU compatibility, but using the Thunderbolt cable and accompanying software means his setup can theoretically work on any MacBook with the appropriate PCI.BAT file.
As GearBurn asks, why spend the dough on this setup ($1,200 MacBook Air, plus $350-$500 video card rig) when you could buy a MacBook Pro with Retina Display? Despite the mess of cables and clunky shoebox-size setup, Gadea’s rig performs better–after all, the MacBook Pro still suffers from the internal Intel HD Graphics 4000, which barely breaks 10 frames per second when running Bioshock Infinite. More than that, though, is the simple liberation from Apple laptop purgatory that gamers have yearned for since the MacBook hit shelves. Bravo, dude.