An external Graphics processing Unit or simply EGPU is an excellent option if you have a limited budget and you are not planning to buy a very expensive gaming laptop (which is actually quite expensive). Because an EGPU greatly boosts the performance of your device and provides excellent and high-quality graphics. .You can easily and conveniently convert your old laptop into a gaming paradise using this device.
So, You want a good EGPU and want to find the best external graphics card out there, In this ultimate buying guide , there are our hand-picked graphics cards for your gaming PC, From budget to mainstream to high-end
Before Reading: What I Really Think Of the Current External GPU
A GPU is basically an acronym for Graphics Processing Unit. It can be used to get desktop quality graphics on your laptop. GPU is a device which can be connected to a laptop to improve the performance of the device and get high quality and excellent graphics on the laptop itself. These high-quality graphics are good enough to even play an intense video game too. An external graphics processing Unit is a brilliant idea to convert your ordinary laptop into a gaming console and get the best gaming experience ever without even bothering to spend too much. This means that you can start gaming wherever you want with great graphics.
Current cutting-edge technology
An external Graphics Processing Unit is the latest trend. It is one of the best options for gamers in the market who are stuck with the problem of a limited budget or want to upgrade the graphics of their laptops to get out of their gaming sessions. All you need to do is some research and find the best ones that suit your needs. Just a little bit of efforts and you will find yourself in your own gaming paradise.
What is an external GPU?
External GPUs are new additions as accessories that high end gamers and video editing experts can avail of. External GPUs help to improve the random access memory capabilities of computers. Those who have old laptops or PCs and need to step up the computational power of these devices, as well as game hard core on these systems, require that extra edge that is provided by external GPUs. With external GPUs speed, processing power and performance is extended to such systems. This becomes an attractive alternative than having to overhaul an existing system entirely.
Razer Core X- Thunderbolt3: Easy In And Easy Out
This is Razer Core X. This is the new model from Razer, which though does lack a good customer care support is crazily famous to gaming fans worldwide. It breaks, literally into each part and is configurable very easily. You can easily get in and every bit of it feels brilliant. The chassis is designed well, smooth and nice texture all around it and the logo sits on the fan grill on the side. This external GPU for laptop is small and compact, good to carry around and show off to friends. And, it does not have ethernet but it is very affordable at just $300.
Short answer time: Know pros & cons
The price is reasonable considering it is Razer build. Though Sonnet and AKiTiO have much cheaper alternatives, they do look and feel cheap too. Yes, we have lots more for that $100 too, and here we go.
First, you have a Super Powerful 650W ATX power supply and 100W laptop charging. The cheaper models above have 350W or 400W power controller. So, this doesn’t just give more power to run a higher-end card, you can also charge your power hungry gaming laptop with up to 100W power delivery through the Thunderbolt3. This is an amazing external GPU for laptop at $3000. What more?
- Support for full-length, up to 3 slot-wide PCIe desktop graphics cards
- 2 HDMI, 2 USB A, 1 DVI and that is all
- A dedicated power switch on the back
- The Windows 10 systems require external graphics (eGFX) support and RS1 or later and compatible NVIDIA or AMD graphics card. So, remember it.
- Also, Macs require MacOS High Sierra 10.13.4 or later and compatible AMD graphics card. So, the AMD is for Mac and NVIDIA or AMD for Windows.
The overall recommendation is built for good quality and since it does not come with a graphics card you are free to choose your own without having to stick with what comes as default. 100W power delivery is great and the 600W total is fantastic too. You have to buy the Thunderbolt3 wire though.
Great build quality
It is built with CNC finished aluminum for better durability and dissipation of heat. The exterior is completely metal, aluminum with no plastic business. It really looks and feels a premium at just $300. More than that you have easy and tool-less installation of graphics cards with a Quick Release Handle at the great just above the power switch. All this makes it really worth the price. And, don’t forget you have up to 650W of raw power inside.
With your ultrabook
This is a great companion for your ultrabook. You can practically get a premium $600 ultrabook that is thin and lightweight but has the latest 8th gen processors such as the i7 and pairs it up with this eGPU. In a second you have incredible power under the hood to run the most demanding games and AAA titles in 2018. The best bet is the card you choose and if it is compatible with Thunderbolt3.
The ultrabooks have great benefits like long battery life. You can find up to $8 hours in a moderate $500 laptop from Acer. But, you need to find one that has a Thunerbolt3 first. Do not forget about it.
Desktop class performance
The great thing about external GPU for laptop is the ability to run full-sized desktop cards. This eliminates to produce smaller and less powerful mobile versions of these graphics cards and does no justice to the price you pay for your laptop. This Razer X allows NVIDIA GeForce and AMD XConnect enabled Radeon cards. And, not just that, but mobile developers can now harness the power of compatible NVIDIA Quadro cards for professional graphics performance.
Compatible with anything
Now, this is a great external GPU for laptop. The Razer Core X is incredibly versatile, in that sense. It is compatible with Thunderbolt 3 systems running Windows 10 RS1 or later and Macs running MacOS High Sierra 10.13.4 or later. Again, it has a gentle reminder to use a card that is compatible too by checking official sites. And, your laptop must also have a Thunerbolt3, and that must also support eGFX cards. Look for the specs.
So, to sum it up Razer X is upgradable anytime with any desktop-class GPU with the 650W power controller. The cooling is a bit off, but okay. You must remember the compatibility items mentioned over and over again. The build and look are awesome. And, all that for just $100 more is justified. If you are a game enthusiast, professional game developer, professional graphics designer, 3D modeling and artwork, this external GPU for laptop is a great addition.
Sonnet eGFX Breakaway Box 350 Bundle AMD RX 580 – Great Value For Money Purchase
Why do we need GPUs inside a laptop? The basic thing is to crank up the graphics, visualizations, multimedia, and games. Well, these days Intel is making its integrated graphics to compensate for mediocre graphics so that ultra-portable and power-efficient laptops can do without a discrete GPU like those from NVIDIA and AMD. So, that is why we need external GPU for laptop.
In this article, we explore this topic a little bit more with some concrete examples too.
Short answer time: Know pros & cons
This is the Sonnet eGFX Breakaway Box 350. This is something that you have been looking for all the time. And, Sonnet has done it. The price tag is really lesser than those from Asus and Razer even though it actually includes the whole desktop GPU card. The others come with just the case. Further, you have lots of goodies inside it too. For example, the Breakaway Box has one Thunderbolt 3 port and includes a 0.5m 40Gb Thunderbolt 3 cable. Yes, you don’t have to buy one separately. An external GPU for laptop means you have to either carry it around or can play only when you are at home. You only need to consider picking it up and running around since it is really over 16 pounds.
- GTA 5 at 60 FPS
- Rise of Tomb Raider 99 FPS
- Project cars 61 FPS
- Fallout 4 87 FPS
- The Witcher 3 57 FPS
- Battlefield 1 67 FPS
- Far Cry Primal 65 FPS
- It has no ethernet port
- Average FPS at Very High Settings
In all, this is a great value for money purchase. If you happen to own a mediocre laptop with just a great 8th gen CPU, something like an i7 with 4 cores clocked at 2.9 or 3 GHz with integrated graphics. You have all you need when you pair it up with another $500. So, you have some great setup costing you under $1000. In comparison, for a complete package under $1000, you can get very little on the GPU side.
Not to miss that this Breakaway Box has one Thunderbolt 3 port and includes a 0.5m 40Gb Thunderbolt 3 cable. This means that your laptop has to have a Thunderblt3 USB Type C. And, you don’t have to worry about graphics because it is included. It supports Thunderbolt 3 Macs with MacOS High Sierra; however, Boot Camp is not supported. One important thing to mention is that on MacOS, you can run up to two Breakaway Boxes simultaneously. This is really awesome for an external GPU for laptop.
Connectivity on the go
There is no shortage of connectivity here. The power cable gives you 350W of power, where your laptop can draw up to 60W from the lightning port. This is power delivery or PD as Sonnet calls it. The back side has 2 USB, 2 HDMI, and 1 DVI output and, houses the sole Thunderbolt3 port too. The fans and temperature controlled with variable speed. There are vents on the side and front and back for cooling purpose.
Developer edition for Macs
This eGFX Breakaway Box (Developer Edition) for MacOS High Sierra supports the bundled AMD Radeon 580 out of the box. This box is not a huge and chunky piece, but measures the size of a Mac Mini of the order of 10 x 10 x 8 inches. To give some perspective, the Asus ROG Station measures 18 inches tall and costs $529 with just the case, while this comes with 8 GB RX 580. It is a screamer on the field. Once again, the Developer Edition is supported on Thunderbolt 3 Macs using High Sierra (Beta).
Affordable more than ever
The huge money on this product goes into the money factor. This is so well-priced and does really well on the field. It has really nice cooling something that you often don’t find in even premium laptops. The box comes with a Thunderbolt3 compatible card from AMD. SO, you are saved from installation or bricking up something. All you need to do it connect it to your Windows 10 laptop over the Thunderbolt3 port.
The only thing that can be said about this is that it can be a little boring to look at, aesthetics wise. But, for a beginner, you can play all latest AAA titles, do content creation, and graphic design for your assignments by external GPU for laptop. It is really affordable for students like you and myself.
The AKiTiO Node External GPU: Goodness Packed
The benefit of carrying around ultrabooks that have the best processors such as 4 core i5 or i7 is a lot more. It turns out to be the best thing you can do if you have a Thunderbolt 3 External GPU and a USB port that supports Thunderbolt 3. The main reason gaming laptops are popular because they have GPUs inside them. But this comes at a price: heavy and reduced battery life. The Akitio Node – Thunderbolt3 eGPU comes with great power.
Short answer time: Know pros & cons
To begin with the good things about this product, it supports both Windows and Mac OS. And, the support over Windows extends to a variety of NVIDIA cards. And, over Mac, it supports AMD cards. That has been a great combination for gamers. A good power supply is a necessary thing for eGPUs, and this model does it really well. You cannot complain about the price factor. When we put all that you get and the price, everything seems a really good deal.
Over the cons that sound like a limitation is using NVIDIA Cards on Mac OS. For the past few years when Mac shifted to using inbuilt NVIDIA cards, not one, but two of them, they have been a part of the family as a whole. But, to be frank, the top of line 23″ iMac all have and had AMD high-end graphics. So, this product is not leaving you out completely. Other downsides may be a limited number of ports, though the complete casket is easily upgradable.
- Built-in 400W SFX power supply to provide extra power to the GPU
- Multiple GPU cards supported over Windows
- Thunderbolt™ 3 for lighting fast transfer speeds up to 40 Gbps
- 1 PCIe (x16) slot supporting full-length, full-height, double-width cards
- PCIe x16 slot supplying up to 75W of power
- 4 lane PCI Express 3.0 compliant interface
- Cooling could have been great
- 1 PCIe (x16) slot supporting full-length, full-height, double-width cards
- Currently only supports AMD on MacOS High Sierra
- Weight is on high side
For an overall consideration, the value for money is spot on. You get a lot of things and a great power supply for higher end cards up to 400 Watts. The weight is okay and you can carry it with the handle. Of course, it helps your laptop stay ultra-portable.
Extra power to you
The inbuilt chassis supports multiple power supply units. There are the main unit and backup units for higher demands. The regular inbuilt unit provides enough power AKiTiO Node (~10W). In any case, you have upgraded it to use an NVIDIA 1050 Ti, and the 75W through the PCIe slot is falling insufficient, you can use the two extra pairs of 8-pin (6+2 pin) power connectors. They are available right inside the AKiTiO Node so that it can be connected to the eGPU, and providing a total of about 390W. That is an SFX 400W power to you.
Up to 40 GBps bandwidth
What comes next is the ability to connect to your laptops Thunderbolt3 port. That is the whole idea of the product. This node has an immense GPU inside it. Any Thunderbolt 3 External GPU is supposed to be capable of seamlessly connecting to your laptop’s port and run on Mac or Windows. Now, what is great about AKiTiO is that the four PCIe Gen3 lanes and the Thunderbolt 3 interface are capable of transfer rates up to 40Gbps, providing enough bandwidth even for the most demanding PCIe cards. This is needed so that your games run seamlessly at higher frame rates.
Enough of room
While Thunderbolt 3 brings Thunderbolt to USB-C at speeds up to 40 Gbps. It makes the whole casket compact. This space is used for installing the standard as well as large-sized cards. The PCIe (x16) slot accepts full-length, full-height, double-width cards with enough space available inside the enclosure.
An affordable eGPU
The Thunderbolt 3 eGFX box from AkiTiO is a busy packed inside a small box that delivers quite a punch for the money. The price factor cannot be ignored for the small compromises it makes. After all, you can use your regular ultrabook for 4K video editing, designers, artists and for VR ready applications.
What you get inside this box is incredible the product has received more than average rating from most of the users. So, if you are worried about your workflow, getting a gaming laptop or an ultrabook, you have a middle ground this Thunderbolt 3 External GPU is one of the best for the money.
The Sonnet eGFX Breakaway Box: The Beast
Another entry into affordable Thunderbolt 3 External GPU is this product from Sonnet. It offers a lot to compete with the big giants. The overall architecture, enough room inside and ability to configure it your way is a great bonus for you. Further, you get it in 350W, 550W, and 580W power supply units. The Sonnet eGFX Breakaway Box is just a beast.
Short answer time: Know pros & cons
So let’s talk about what you get for just $199. Yes, that is under the $200 mark and offers a great value for money proposition. The entire chassis is built nicely, feels durable. It supports almost every Thunderbolt3 supported cards out there and that makes it really versatile. You can check from the official store the list of cards it supports. And, even more, that eGFX provides up to 15W of Power Delivery to charge a laptop. The Breakaway Box comes with one Thunderbolt 3 port and a 0.5m 40Gb Thunderbolt 3 cable. Usually, an ultrabook has one or at max 2 Thunderbolt3 port.
With cons in mind, I just have to point out some cooling options here. Though the room is spacy if you put in full-sized cards that draw so much power, keeping it cool is important. It has the coolest, and quietest dGFX configuration on the market, though when the ambient temperature increases, you might feel less warm. But, that is not a problem since your ultrabook is not burning up with a GPU inside of it.
- Low price
- Connects high-performance gpu cards to computers with a thunderbolt 3 port
- Supports avid hdx, red rocket-x, and other full-length x16 pcie cards
- Supports over the 600w desktop power supply requirements for gpus
- 350w power supply supports up to 300w card (up to 8-pin + 6-pin power connectors)
- Extended support for a list of cards
- Cooling problem
So, the bottom line would be that boxes from Gigabyte cost over 3 times its price in the range of $600. So, what you get inside this box is pretty incredible for the money you’re putting into it. If you’re a beginner in graphics and design, video editing and gaming, get an ultrabook for like $600, look at our guides on the website, and this $200 Thunderbolt 3 External GPU. So, you’re all set to go under $800 while some gaming laptops themselves cost $1000, and would perform mediocrely.
Great support of cards
When it comes to supporting eGPU cards from corporations like NVIDIA and AMD, it is a great option. The list includes Windows and Mac. The Mac supports AMD Radeon RX 470,480,570,580 on Thunderbolt 3 Macs with MacOS High Sierra. iMacs always had a little something for AMD cards. Also, MacOS is fully compatible with 2 of Sonnet’s Breakaway Boxes. Of course, we cannot leave the list for Windows here. On Windows 10 with a Thunderbolt3 Type C it supports NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1060,1070/Titan X, Xp, V/Quadro P4000, P5000 or AMD Radeon RX 560,570,580/WX 5100,7100.
Great for graphic intensive work and play
Again reiterating our guidelines this 2018, there is no need to spend over $800 or $1000 for gaming laptops that are big and chunky. The Razer Stealth is slim, but also costs over $1500. So, getting an eGPU is the best bet at a low-cost alternative. So, when combined with an ultrabook with Windows 10 or Mac High Sierra that has a Thunderbolt3 Type C, all you need is this Breakaway Box from Sonnet at $199. If you have a laptop that properly supports eGPUs, accelerated graphics can either be displayed on your notebook’s own display panel or on external monitors.
PCIe card list
So, in the industry, only a few OEMs like ASUS, Razer, and Intel reports their compatible computers. Sonnet has compiled a list of compatible computers on our page. You can check with Sonne’s Official Site for the list and purchase the Breakaway eGFX Box. As tested this Breakaway Box enables all the popular GPU cards that support connecting to a computer over Thunderbolt such as AMD Radeon R9 and RX and NVIDIA GeForce GTX7, 9 and 10 series. The 10 series GPUs from NVIDIA are really sweet.
Quiet and cool
With big fans that are temperature controlled with variable-speed options, you can use this breakaway Box at noise-sensitive environments. It stays quiet, almost always.
At the overall consideration, this Thunderbolt 3 External GPU, Sonnet’s breakaway Box is a great deal for the money. You can experiment a lot before getting into serious money into something from Gigabyte that costs $600. It is great for students who need mobility and performance, both.
Detailed Explanation Of Mac, Thunderbolt 3, And External GPUs
With ultrabooks becoming more and more popular and laptops getting thinner, the debate on where to put powerful GPUs comes up every other day. Fortunately, there is the Thudnerbolt3 port. And, this has become the de-facto standard for using GPUs out of the box, literally. Now, the GPUs are not inside the laptop, but outside the box. These are called eGPUs. So, you have Thunderbolt3 External GPU in the market, as they are called. Some common brands are Asus, Sonnet, Razer, and Akitio. Whether to get an External GPU for laptop or deal with all-in-one solutions is totally up to you.
However, the recent trend is shifting towards combining ultrabooks with eGPUs for the best performance needed, in all categories.
What is the deal with Mac?
So, as it turns out the Mac ecosystem does not support the best NVIDIA GPUs out there and traditionally for battery and power management issues, they have always stuck to AMD. And, the current latest MacBook Pro also promotes the same.
AMD or NVIDIA?
The AMD is great for compute, but NVIDIA is better for gaming, and, that is a reality. For the same price and power dissipation, many AMD lineups, especially the latest ones do great. But, for many people in the industry using NVIDIA CUDA for a lot of 3D work is just the standard they have been following, and a slim MacBook is not up to mark.
Advantage of Thunderbolt3
This but does change with the Thunderbolt3. Now, you can attach an enclosure with an eGFX inside it, choose your NVIDIA card. These are external GPU for laptop with desktop-class graphics performance because indeed you have full-sized desktop GPUs inside them.
Why would you want an external GPU for laptop?
Again, reiterating that the latest 15″ MacBook is with the AMD that is not up to the mark. For real work, the graphics are not taking you anywhere. And if you have to deal with it, the best affordable option without getting the latest iMac Pro is getting an eGPU.
Advantage of an external GPU
Yes, you might think that a 15-inch MacBook Pro can drive a pair of 5K displays. But, when it comes to running an AAA title since 2018, it will give up straight. As modern games and many applications like Adobe Premiere or say AutoCAD 3D all use parallel computing in its software. This is to leverage the parallel computing power graphics cards bring with them. For example, NVIDIA Titan XP is equipped with a mind-boggling 3,840 processing cores. That is some huge power. So, attaching your MacBook to one such eGPU makes total sense. You have your ultra-portability, battery life and do not trade off for power too.
Where can I get one?
Well, as it happens to be some manufacturers have started building eGPUs or enclosures to hook up with your Thunderbolt3 port. The MacBook though supports 20Gbps in two sides. These pretty cheap (starting with $200 without card and $500 with card) supports up to 40Gbps. They have their own power delivery unit and power supply up to 400W. Sonnet and Akitio already support MacOS out of the box and have a list of cards that you can run on them, similarly for Windows.
Through support from Apple is not officially available and these manufacturers also don’t support Bootcamp on Mac. And, you can play only with Mac OS High Sierra. Some manufacturers even support up to eGPUs running in parallel with Mac like the Sonnet and Akitio Node Pro.
So, yeah, you do not have an official eGPU product available from Apple. For Windows, it is all good. You have commendable support for thunderbolt3 external GPU from NVIDIA, AMD including the latest RX and 10 series GPUs.
How is the future with Mac?
As of today, 2018, you have serious options. In early 2013 when the eGPUs were taking everything by storm, Craig Federighi, Senior Vice President of Software Engineering at Apple mentioned that external GPUs are a real thing and they are soon going to offer support for it. The High Sierra currently supports them, mostly the AMD eGPUs for now.
Windows 10 has abundant support for them right out of the box. For a complete list of all MacOS supported eGPU products and the best external GPU for laptop read our dedicated article on that.
How To Connect An eGPU With Thunderbolt3 To A MacBook?
Now, we all know that all Macs have dedicated Intel processors called CPU, but also dedicated, both integrated and discrete GPUs since the early days when NVIDIA 9400M was released. A lot has changed from time to time and currently, a CPU and a GPU, whether integrated or discrete, is the norm.
Announcement from NVIDIA
With NVIDIA announces eGPU drivers for Mac OS for NVIDIA Titan XP and Apple announce eGPU Developer Kit for High Sierra, a lot of companies delved into it right away. Sonnet, Akitio, Razer, Mantiz, and Asus now offer their eGPU fully supported on MacOS High Sierra, without the Bootcamp support. Also, they have the list of cards that you can run from both NVIDIA and AMD.
And, GPUs keep your favorite titles from 2018 games flawless, the Photoshop and 4K video editing on Adobe real quick and easy. They are geared towards graphics processing and all Windows 10 machines today make use of it. For a long time iMac with AMD was the only option available from Apple. But, with NVIDIA is getting much better than AMD, things changed. And, people also wanted out of the box options from Apple in their MacBook to run NVIDIA cards.
Set up your MacBook
Fortunately, to set up your MacBook in 2018 with an external GPU for laptop from any of the above vendors is straightforward. A Thunderbolt3 port on the MacBook is all you need. For detailed guides, you can always check their official sites and YouTube videos. So, you just connect the Thunderbolt3 external GPU using a Thunderbolt3 cable with one end to the eGPU’s TB3 port to the TB3 port of your Mac. And, that is it.
Do we need software configurations?
From the software side and if you need to make any changes for the Mac High Sierra to recognize the eGPU card and other things you can always look online. As mentioned in 2018, Akitio, Mantiz, Sonnet all support cards that Mac High Sierra can run with, seamlessly. You may not need any additional configuration.
Where to find the video guide?
Using a Sonnet eGFX Breakaway Box with your Mac is simple and you can find a complete video guide from Sonnet Official for their RX 580 Bundle. It goes for less than $550. You just need your Thunderbolt™ 3-equipped Mac® running MacOS® High Sierra 10.13.4. Similarly, look for your favorite eGPU and find the guide. We have a list of best Thunerbolt3 eGPU too.