One of the most important components of a laptop is its graphic card. A graphic card handles all the computer graphics and visual output. It is imperative for a laptop to have a good graphics card to support the demanding needs of today’s modern graphic design software or AAA+ games.
An external graphics card is the best way to improve the graphics performance of your laptop. They are more powerful than ordinary integrated graphics cards of laptops. These cards will help you get more out of your laptop’s hardware and provide better visuals for games, videos, and multimedia content.
One of the benefits of buying an external graphics card is that it provides a lot more flexibility and flexibility than a laptop graphics card upgrade. With external GPUs, you can choose from a range of options in terms of size and type, giving your laptop the ability to handle different types of tasks with ease. It can be used for gaming purposes, video editing purposes, or just everyday work such as browsing the internet.
When you need to put together a presentation for work, crunch some figures, or binge-watch your favorite Netflix episodes, ultraportable laptops are your best bet.. Graphically demanding games, on the other hand, as well as VR headset support, remain a pipe dream. Is that the case, or is it not?
A Thunderbolt 3 (or Thunderbolt 4) connector on your laptop may allow you to connect an external GPU (eGPU), giving you all the benefits of an Nvidia or AMD graphics card without having to carry around a large notebook computer. It’s also possible to get high-resolution PC gaming on a MacBook with the help of an additional box.
What is the eGPU?
When you hear the term eGPU (external graphics processing unit), you probably think of it as a single-cable external graphics card that plugs into your laptop. eGPUs are similar to external hard drives in that they add additional storage capacity as well as processing power to graphics. As a result, your laptop’s internal GPU will be relieved of some of its workloads, and the external graphics card will take over.
Your laptop’s graphics processing unit (GPU) is what creates the images you see on your screen. You may now connect your graphics card to the motherboard with a single cable thanks to recent improvements in laptop connections like Thunderbolt 3 and USB-C.
Using an external GPU enclosure is the only way to get desktop-level performance out of a highly functioning yet lightweight laptop. The eGPU is not required to have a GPU pre-installed. A simple case with the necessary interface is all that’s needed here.
Will an eGPU be of any use to me?
While an eGPU can be used with either a laptop or a desktop computer, it is with a laptop that the device’s form factor is greatly enhanced. Due to the limited space on laptops, decent graphics cards aren’t as powerful as those found in desktop computers.
You can still use your laptop as a portable device when you need to, but you’ll be able to connect it to an external graphics card when you do. Compared to a standard desktop setup, this one will take up a lot less room.
An eGPU is the ideal solution if you want to utilize your laptop for graphics-intensive gaming. Instead of lugging about a bulky gaming laptop, you may utilize your laptop as a portable device during the day. Higher frame rates and smoother gameplay will be provided by the eGPU.
If you use special effects, color grading, editing, or rendering software, an eGPU is a must. It can aid in streamlining processes and providing better graphics at the same time.
An eGPU can lessen the burden of upgrading technology by providing a significant increase in power for laptops. All-in-one desktop computers like the iMac can benefit from these upgrades as well.
What do I have to do in order to get an eGPU up and running?
Many high-demand computing jobs now require the use of an external graphics card adapter or GPU enclosure, and this technology is constantly evolving to meet the needs of laptop users who require more power (than what their laptops’ integrated graphics can provide). To be on the safe side, make sure your laptop/computer has an eGPU support model number handy, or look into purchasing a new one that does.
Thunderbolt 3 can now share a physical port with USB-C for the first time. Thunderbolt 3’s greatest selling feature is its flexibility and ease, and as a result, it has become the standard input/output for external graphic solutions. An extra graphics card can turn a laptop that’s meant to be carried about on a daily basis into powerful gaming or workstation.
When it comes to operating systems that enable external graphics, Windows is head and shoulders above the competition. Most Windows Thunderbolt 3 systems don’t require any kind of manual configuration. Once connected, Windows will automatically recognize and install the proper graphics card drivers for the external graphics enclosure.
Thunderbolt 3 is well supported in recent Linux distributions as well. The main problem is the installation of the drivers and the setting of the screen output. MacOS now offers better eGFX support thanks to work done by Apple. In order to use Mojave 10.14, you’ll have to use AMD’s graphics card. Windows on a Mac in Boot Camp mode isn’t supported by Apple either.
There are presently over a dozen Thunderbolt 3 eGFX products available. For laptops with Thunderbolt 3 connections, they share the same core components, allowing for an external GPU. Instead of discussing the main host computer, this article focuses on eGPU boxes.
How about eGPU performance?
Many factors influence the real performance of your laptop when used with an external graphics card. Many laptops now support Thunderbolt 3 connectivity, thanks to Intel’s 6th generation U and H processors. Using the right processor and graphics card combination will help keep your CPU from becoming overloaded. When gaming, an external graphics card will typically perform at 80% of a desktop’s level. Many cases show an extremely minor loss or no loss at all when an application is intended to make use of an external graphics card when using an external GPU.
CPU Architecture — A CPU with four cores helps to keep the system running smoothly. It is suggested that you use a laptop with an Intel 8th generation or newer CPU.
PCIe Lane – a Thunderbolt 3 to PCIe x4 connection offers maximum bandwidth. H-CPU systems benefit from direct CPU attachment for optimum performance.
External GPU enclosure cooling and Thunderbolt 3 connection via the system PCH and CPU must be included into the cooling system.
Full 40Gbps bandwidth and 100W power dissipation are provided with a passive 0.5m Thunderbolt 3 cable. Longer lengths of active wire have the same bandwidth as shorter lengths.
Well-optimized software and games make the most use of the eGPU.
What to look for when buying an eGPU?
Graphic cards/eGPUs are available in a wide range of price ranges. There is no doubt that the power output of any graphics card used in conjunction with an eGPU configuration is important. Using the Razer Core X Chroma as an example, it has a 700-watt power supply, making it capable of supporting graphics cards with a watt power demand.
Most eGPUs have a power supply that can run low and midrange GPUs with a supply of 300-400 watts. As a result, the eGPU you pick will have an impact on your graphics card options. For future upgrades, we advise purchasing an eGPU with a power supply of at least 400 watts.
As new high-end GPUs hit the market, eGPU makers quickly follow up with their own versions that are backwards compatible. As a result, the Mantiz MZ-03 Saturn Pro II EGPU is capable of running the latest RTX 3090 graphics card.
5 Best External Graphics Card (EGPU) Enclosure for Laptops
1# Razer Core X Aluminum External GPU Enclosure
Razer Core X Aluminum External GPU Enclosure (eGPU): Compatible with Windows & MacOS Thunderbolt 3 Laptops, NVIDIA /AMD PCIe Support, 650W PSU, Classic Black
The Core X, Razer’s latest Thunderbolt 3 external GPU enclosure, is specifically targeted at the North American market. As with fast food burgers, success is achieved by quickly and easily serving up a juicy thick-cut patty. Greater space and more Power Delivery are available in the Razer Core X compared to its previous brothers, the Core and Core V2.
This new eGPU container has a lot going for it. The 650W power supply boosts PD’s power up to 100W with a single output. One of the few Thunderbolt 3 enclosures capable of supporting a graphics card as powerful as the RX Vega 64. In terms of graphics processing units (GPUs), it’s compatible with just about any GPU now on the market. Lastly, the Razer Core X has been tested and approved as an eGFX for use on both Windows and Mac.
It’s been amplified many times over! Razer accomplished this in all three dimensions. As previously stated, the Core X is more than twice as large as the original Core. The Razer Core’s black anodized aluminum body, robust hinged grip, and vertical bar front fascia all carry over to the Blade. Even though it’s heavier than the Core V2, it’s still a lot of fun. Because of the Core X’s enormous size, graphics cards up to 3 slots wide can be installed, giving the impression of an almost limitless length and height. With the exception of the chipsets, it has nothing in common with the original Core or Core V2. There are no RGB or extension ports on the Razer Core X. Cuts in features and reduced portability come with price reductions.
The ATX power supply is the first thing you’ll notice when opening the Razer Core X. The OMEN Accelerator is the first Thunderbolt 3 eGFX container that include such a power supply. According to the label on the power supply, it’s a 12V multi-rail system. Maximum power is 100W when 5V and 3.3V outputs are combined. The maximum output 12V current is 600W. AMD Radeon RX Vega 64 and Pro WX 9100 are among the graphics cards that can be powered by this PSU, according to Razer. Only the Sonnet Breakaway Box 650 and the ASUS XG Station 2 have this feature. Two 6-plus-2-pin PCIe power cables are provided with the Core X wire harness in addition to the 24- and 4-plus-4 EPS power lines.
It’s excellent and well-made, but it comes at a high price. It does the job and appeals to a wide range of tastes while also being reasonably priced. A sub-$400 price tag and a quieter power supply are two things that were on the wish list for the Core V2 processor. In order to meet these requirements, we had to sacrifice the thin design, RGB effects, and expansion I/O options. Yet, Razer has cut the priced its new enclosure down while also increasing the Power Delivery, internal enclosure volume, and GPU max power capabilities. The Core X is now the go-to eGPU enclosure for Thunderbolt 3 laptops and graphics cards with a single I/O port.
2# Razer Core X Chroma Aluminum External GPU Enclosure
Razer Core X Chroma Aluminum External GPU Enclosure (eGPU): Compatible with Windows & MacOS Thunderbolt 3 Laptops, NVIDIA /AMD PCIe Support, 700W PSU, 4x USB 3.1, 1x Gbit Ethernet, Chroma RGB, Black
What can be done to increase the dominance of the market’s best-selling eGFX? Razer’s response is to overachieve and outpace the competition. Razer Core X Chroma appears identical to the Core X at first glance. To combat this, Razer equipped the Chroma with an additional Thunderbolt 3 controller as well as RGB illumination. Better interior customisation has been made possible by modifying the brackets that hold the various components in place during assembly.
Because of these enhancements, the Core X Chroma now works with nearly all Thunderbolt 3 hosts and graphics cards, including older models. Additionally, it now features extension I/Os enabling one-cable connectivity and Chroma synchronization with other compatible Razer devices. That being said, there’s more to it.
When placed next to the Razer Core X Chroma, a 32-pound jackfruit looks like it would be a good size comparison. As a side dish, it serves a dozen people well. It can also provide enough food to sustain one guy and his two dogs for several days. The Core X Chroma, on the other hand, weighs about 14 pounds when empty. It can hold any graphics card you choose, with dimensions of 374 x 230 x 168mm A closed-loop, all-in-one liquid chiller is probably the best fit for this use case.
Unexpectedly, the updated 120mm fan mounting bracket worked with the RX Vega 64 LC GPU without needing to be modified at all! Also, even with the graphics card overclocked, the PSU’s output of 700W is more than adequate to power it.
The new Razer eGPU box has Chroma support, as the name suggests. With the ability to sync with compatible Chroma devices, each of the device’s two RGB lighting zones can be customized individually. As for the controller, it’s Razer Synapse 3 on Windows right now. To illuminate the sides, there are 13 LEDs, and to illuminate the front underneath, there are 15. Although I’m not a fan of RGB, Razer has always done a good job of showcasing their products.
Expansion ports, in addition to Chroma, are another upgrade over Core X’s original configuration. Ultrabook users may benefit from a single-cable solution provided by expansion I/O in eGPU enclosures. However, they have drawbacks in terms of performance. When under a lot of stress, enclosures using a single Thunderbolt 3 controller have been known to have mouse/keyboard lag difficulties.
Thunderbolt 3 enclosure firmware can be used to restrict device-to-host bandwidth. As a result, the Thunderbolt 3 connection’s already-limited bandwidth (22Gbps) is further lowered. Fortunately, another option exists. Razer was the first to add a second Thunderbolt 3 controller to the Razer Core V2’s main board to address mouse/keyboard lag. Similar to this Core X Chroma, they tinkered with it as well.
There are no noticeable differences in size between the expansion daughter board and an ordinary x4 PCIe add-in card. NVMe M.2 adapter and Thunderbolt 3 ALPINE RIDGE AIC were used to see how well they fit. It’s feasible that a Thunderbolt 3 AIC or an NVMe SSD card can be used instead of the included expansion card. Please let us know if you’re able to get an AIC to function with eGPU in this slot.
The new Core X Chroma‘s mounting bracket for the cooling fan is an upgrade that may go unnoticed, but it is well worth mentioning. Due to the power supply being flush with the outer carrier, Razer opted to shift it to the inner carrier’s edge. This frees up space in front of the power supply unit and behind a graphics card that is already in place on your system. This new bracket is specifically built for AIO liquid-cooled GPUs. The 3-pin header on the mainboard can power the front-mounted intake fan, or it can be controlled by a separate fan controller.
A small change was made to the power supply to increase the output to 700W. (up from 650W). It’s a 12-volt, three-rail power supply. There are four power cables included with this power supply unit. The graphics card is powered by a pair of 6+2-pin PCIe cables, while the mainboard is powered by a 24-pin and an 8-pin ESP cable pair. One of the few flaws in the Core X Chroma is the cooling fan. Despite its ATX size, the power supply exhausts air through a single 60mm fan mounted on the back of the enclosure. In my experience, operating noise isn’t a problem. That the PSU fan keeps running even when the host PC is off irritates me.
The rest of the system is identical to the Core X. The rear inner carrier can now be seen clearly after a small adjustment was made to the PSU mounting. When replacing out the stock power supply with a quieter one, this is a lifesaver. In terms of physical dimensions, the Thunderbolt 3 main board has grown by one PCI slot. JHL6540 Alpine Thunderbolt 3 controller (2x), Winbond EEPROM chip (2x), as well as the Texas Instrument TPS65083BA USB-C controller are all included in this kit.
Buyers of eGPUs can now be divided into two categories, depending on their priorities: those who purchase the Razer Core X Chroma in the summer and those who purchase the previous generation. You can’t go wrong with Razer’s latest eGPU unless you’re looking for the quietest or smallest option. In terms of liquid-cooled GPU compatibility, the additional expense is certainly worth it.
This eGPU enclosure is destined to become a dominant player in the market. As a result of Razer’s Core X and Core X Chroma, the competition is stunned. Unless other eGFX manufacturers improve their offerings soon, Razer’s eGPUs will continue to dominate our buyer’s guide well into 2022.
3# Mantiz MZ-03 Saturn Pro II EGPU
Mantiz MZ-03 Saturn Pro II EGPU -Thunderbolt 3 MacOS/Windows/Intel Thunderbolt Certified External GPU with SATA3 2.5 SSD/HDD,SD,USB 3.0 Gigabit LAN Dual TB3 chip Manage GFX & Extra IO (Space Grey)
Having taken a one-two punch from the Razer Core X, Mantiz was forced to step up its game with its newest opponent. An all-in-one docking solution and aluminum build mark the Mantiz Saturn Pro II as the successor to the Mantiz Pro, a chiseled heavyweight with a chip on its shoulder. To date, no eGFX has offered more power, more features, or better value for the money than this. This new eGPU enclosure blows away the opposition hands down.
Mantiz’s Saturn Pro II eGPU enclosure is the company’s next generation. Larger ATX power supplies, graphics cards, and better cooling all require a larger system footprint. It’s much easier to get to the interior components of the Mantiz Venus thanks to its greater proportions. While the design is unique, it does the job of preventing the graphics card ports from being blocked when the handle is fully extended.
The Mantiz Saturn Pro’s II enclosure is visually appealing from nearly every angle. Instead, it uses a monochromatic color scheme, like the Mantiz Venus. Modern Macs benefit from a sleek and professional style, and this case is no exception.
The row of USB-A and SD card expansion ports on the front fascia is well-proportioned for ease of use. Silver, space gray, and black are the available anodized finishes. The textured brushed aluminum looks beautiful and feels great in the hand.
The external graphics box’s construction quality is among the best that I’ve seen. The outer shell is made of a lightweight material yet is incredibly rigid. Instead of employing two separate aluminum sheets for the top and sides, Mantiz used a thermoplastic foundation to link them at the bottom. With a huge rubber pad on one side and a plastic bottom, it’s an innovative design.
Inner cage slides and opens similarly to Razer Core X/Chroma, thanks to two rails on the inner cage’s underside that connect to a small plastic base located within outer shell. This design does not require any lubrication to operate smoothly.
Mantiz’s power supply outperforms Razer’s on the Saturn Pro and Core X/Chroma. With a rating of 80+ Gold, it is a 750W single-rail power supply that delivers 100W upstream and 550W to the graphics card at its maximum. Compared to the 650/700W multi-rail unit in the Core X/Chroma, this is the most powerful PSU for an eGPU container.
A massive graphics card may be powered by the Saturn Pro’s power supply with 3x 6+2-pin PCIe connections (Nvidia RTX 3090 & beyond). In addition to the 24-pin connector to the motherboard, there are SATA and Molex cables for the hard drive and another component like the fan controller.
Mantiz was able to squeeze two 120mm cooling fans inside the Saturn Pro because to the Saturn Pro’s greater footprint. On a metal stand, they are stacked one above the other, with the PSU fan at the top. The GPU’s rear is cooled with a second 120mm fan. Most AIO liquid-cooled GPUs can use a 120mm radiator with the enclosure fan bracket.
Mantiz added an SD card reader and hosted all extension I/O on a secondary Alpine Ridge Thunderbolt 3 controller to an already well-appointed offering (5x USB, 1x SATA, and 1x Ethernet in the Venus). Only the Saturn Pro has an SD slot, making it the first and only one on the market. Users of Macs and ultrabooks will be happy to know about this new feature. Other components on this board include firmware Winbond EEPROM chips and a USB-C controller from Texas Instruments (TPS65983BA).
Offering outstanding performance and value for money, the Mantiz Saturn Pro eGPU enclosure is priced to be the most economical full-featured eGPU enclosure available on the market. As Thunderbolt 3 eGPU technology evolves, so does this device. The Saturn Pro is the undisputed king of the ring because to its unique blend of good looks, unparalleled expansion ports, and outstanding versatility.
4# AKiTiO Node Titan
Many facets of daily living have been impacted by the on-demand economy. Mobile computing pushed ultrabooks to the top of the sales charts. However, because to their lack of ports and expandability, they have some drawbacks. Thunderbolt 3 has made it possible to connect these mobile PCs to high-speed PCIe components thanks to their low latency.
The AKiTiO Node Titan is a good example, as a Thunderbolt 3 PCIe extension device, it’s certified by Intel to work with both Windows and macOS. Any PCIe device can be connected to it, including network cards and accelerators like the Red Rocket-X. It is feasible to install a GPU in the Node Titan even though it has not been tested or validated for usage as an external graphics enclosure.
When compared to other Thunderbolt 3 eGFX enclosures, this one utilizes a different firmware and features a daisy-chainable extra Thunderbolt 3 port. You may learn more about the differences between PCIe and eGFX extension on Intel’s Thunderbolt blog.
The Node Titan look very similar to the Node Pro, build with nice and high quality SECC sheet metal. In order to open the case and swap cards, no special equipment is required. Two thumb screws attach the top cover from the back, and two more sit atop the mounting bracket for the PCIe slot. It takes some practice to align these thumb screws correctly when installing a PCIe card with them.
There are one Thunderbolt 3 connection supporting power delivery (PD) up to 85W on the back. A retractable handle hangs from the lid of the container. It’s easy to use and makes traveling with the AKiTiO Node Titan a breeze. There are spring-loaded pop-up hinges on the entire handle assembly. To me, this addition to the enclosure looks and feels like an ammo box, which is both practical and long-lasting. If you put a Vega card in there, you’ll have some real firepower.
The Node Pro’s power supply can be found under the PCIe slot daughter board, hidden from view. It’s a single-rail SFX 650W 12V device. The Thunderbolt 3 ports can give up to 85W of power, and a power-hungry GPU can receive up to 500W of power from this PSU.
When it comes to knowing its consumer base, AKiTiO is an expert. AKiTiO’s PCIe expansion enclosures, such as the Thunder2 and Thunder3, have long been modified by the eGPU community to accommodate external graphics cards. The AKiTiO Titan, one of the first certified eGFX systems, arrived and opened up eGPU to a wider audience. This spawned a slew of rival eGPU cases from other companies. A Thunderbolt 3 enclosure that can do it all has evolved into something even better with the Node Titan.
5# Sonnet eGPU Breakaway Box 750ex
There are an increasing number of Thunderbolt3 external GPU enclosures from Sonnet that were announced at the 2017 NAB Show. Following in the footsteps of the two greats is no easy feat. It’s either the AKiTiO Titan or the Mantiz Pro is an all-in-one docking station for external GPUs that accomplishes everything we need it to. What makes the Sonnet stand out now that the first-mover advantage has been taken? …It stay cool and be quiet.
As the general public becomes more aware of external GPUs, people who aren’t gamers are becoming interested in using them in their workflow. In particular, the professional market is underserved. As long as their needs are addressed, catering to this particular category of customers can be tremendously profitable.
The computer peripherals and accessories offered by Sonnet are clearly designed for work rather than amusement. As a result, building an external GPU solution for professionals is a reasonable next step for Sonnet. The requirements are simple: it must be dependable, have adequate cooling, and contain no distracting features, whether they are deliberate or not.
The Sonnet Breakaway Box is an eGPU enclosure with a single Thunderbolt 3 port that boosts graphics performance at reasonable price. It’s the power supply and the main cooling fan that deserve the most attention in this enclosure. Akasa, a manufacturer of thermal solutions for the electronics sector, designed both. A 750-watt SFX power supply is used to power the synthesizer. The 750ex model integrated hub with four USB 3.2 Gen 1 Type A ports and one Gigabit Ethernet port
The cage’s metal frame is simple, but it’s also strong. As a result of this design, the entire enclosure is incredibly light. Plastic is used to make the matte-finish front fascia. Connected to a Thunderbolt host, the Sonnet logo illuminates to show that power is there. I really like a large built-in temperature-controlled fan that cools graphics card effectively and silently. It is possible to utilize the eGPU Breakaway Box in noise-sensitive working areas.
Instead of carrying about a hefty, loud, and overheated gaming laptop, use a Breakaway Box to add GPU power on-the-fly. It’s that simple. If you have an Intel processor-based MacBook Air or 13-inch MacBook Pro, Ultrabook, or any thin/light notebook computer, a Breakaway Box is suitable for enabling graphically intensive gaming. If you want to see accelerated graphics, you can use an external monitor or your notebook’s display panel. The best part is that you may upgrade the GPU card included in the Box to take advantage of the most recent GPU developments (unlike with gaming laptops).