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External Graphics Cards (eGPU) is a box-like device with an open PCIe slot, a desktop power supply unit, and a graphics card. It is primarily used for laptop connection so as not to interfere with its modern, sleek design. Fast connection standards like USB-C and Thunderbolt 3 make it possible to use eGPU. Most eGPUs are compatible with Ethernet and USB input connectivity. They mostly use complex drivers that allow the computer to use the external graphics card rather than their in-built one. To rip off the full features of external GPUs, you should use a fast and latest connection like Thunderbolt 3 or USB-C. Otherwise, using older connection versions like Thunderbolt 2 and USB 2.0 may result in slower data transmission between the external graphics card and the laptop.
External GPU is mostly hooked in a dock with a PCIe port where the graphics card is put. The interface has either a USB-Type C input port or a Thunderbolt 3 input port. The external GPU works simply. The laptop or the PC sends graphics requests to the external graphics card rather than the in-built GPU. Using the external GPU instead of the in-built one results in more graphical power that enables laptops and desktop computers to play games that require high graphics performance. The benefit of using an external GPU is that it offers better graphics performance from your laptop. This feature allows you to play high-power games and use applications that would otherwise not work on your laptop. External graphics cards are standard on laptops, although you can also use them with desktop computers.
3 Top External Graphics Cards
You'll want nothing less of a Razer Core X if you're looking for an excellent external GPU. This external GPU enclosure supports Thunderbolt 3 connectivity that offers fast data transfer from the graphics card to the laptop or computer.
This is a top-performing GPU built to boost the graphical performance of your system. To use it, you are supposed to have a compatible video card, a Thunderbolt 3-compatible computer, and a Thunderbolt 3 cable.
This is an external graphics game that will enhance your graphics card performance for your gaming needs. It has a perfect and appealing exterior design that gives it the characteristic of a PC extension. This feature enhances the aesthetics of your working space.
The seven best external graphics cards are listed below.
Gigabyte AORUS Gaming Box
Asus ROG XG Station 2
Razer Core X
Sonnet EGFX Breakaway Box
Razer Core X and Razer Core X Chroma
Alienware Graphics Amplifier
Best External Graphics Cards (eGPUs) Reviews
1. Razer Core X
You'll want nothing less of a Razer Core X if you're looking for an excellent external GPU. This external GPU enclosure supports Thunderbolt 3 connectivity that offers fast data transfer from the graphics card to the laptop or computer. The fast data transfer between the external GPU and the laptop ensures a high graphical performance needed to run graphically intensive games and heavy applications.
The enclosure comes empty, without a graphics card, but has great potential when installed with a suitable graphics card. It is compatible with both AMD and NVIDIA graphics cards.
Razer Core X Features
The Razer Core X features are listed below.
The external GPU has 3 PCI-E slots supporting full-sized graphics cards.
It has an in-built power supply unit with a power supply of up to 650W and can charge your monitor at a fast speed (100W).
It is compatible with RS45 and also AMD and NVIDIA graphics cards.
It also supports High Sierra 10.13.4 or later versions.
It measures 9.1 x 14.7 x 6.6 inches and has an average weight of 14.3 lbs.
You can install the Razer Core X by following the list of instructions given below.
- Unlock the casing by pulling the lever out.
- Remove the compartment from its enclosure.
- Detach the tape and remove the protective foam.
- Peel off the thumbscrew holding the PCI-E in place and remove the cover.
- Insert the graphics card into the PCI-E port
- Put back the PCI-E thumbscrew.
- Connect the power connectors to the graphics card. Ensure the power cables are away from the fan.
- Put back the compartment to fit back in position and lock it by pushing the lever.
- Connect the power cord to the Razer Core X and plug it into the power supply.
- Connect the Razer Core X and the Thunderbolt 3 external graphics system using the Thunderbolt 3 port.
- You can connect the Razer Core X to a portable monitor through the DisplayPort port of the graphics card you've installed.
- Update your windows system to the latest version. Windows OS needs Windows 10 RS5 or later versions. Ensure your system is compatible with Thunderbolt 3 external graphics card, Intel Thunderbolt 3-enabled eGPU, and ensure it has the latest BIOS update. macOS users will need macOS High Sierra 10.13.4.
- Switch on the power switch. At this point, the Razer Core X should light up.
- Install the drivers for the graphics card.
- Note: The system must detect the external graphics card before installing the driver. You may also need to install the latest drivers for the internal graphics card of your PC for the external graphics card to function.
- Install an AMD or NVIDIA latest graphics card driver.
2. Sonnet EGFX Breakaway Box
Sonnet's eGFX Breakaway Box is a top-performing GPU built to boost the graphical performance of your system. To use it, you are supposed to have a compatible video card, a Thunderbolt 3-compatible computer, and a Thunderbolt 3 cable. It has a wide chassis, sufficient wide room for cooling, and enough space for larger GPU installations. This eGPU has an internal power supply of 550 W, enough to power the graphics card and peripherals connected to it.
Sonnet EGFX Breakaway Box Features
The Sonnet's eGFX Breakaway Box features are listed below.
It is compatible with the Thunderbolt 3 connector, which has a high bandwidth range of up to 40 Gbps for fast data transfer and charge.
This eGPU is compatible with macOS, Linux, and Windows.
It has an easy setup as you only need to plug and play it to use.
It is compatible with several GPUs, including AMD Radeon RX Vega 56, GTX Strix 1080 Ti, and AMD Radeon WX 7100. It is also compatible with other x16 full-length PCIe cards supporting USB-C and Thunderbolt inputs.
The eGPU measures 17.1 x 11.5 x 10.8 inches and has an average weight of 2.6 lbs.
You can install a graphics card into Sonnet's eGFX Breakaway Box using the set of instructions given below.
Check for your laptop's compatibility with the external graphics card.
Select a graphics card compatible with your computer. Ensure the graphics card you have has enough power for the graphics card you've selected.
Update the BIOS to its latest version. Seek help from your computer's manufacturer if you have problems updating it.
Update the Thunderbolt bus driver to the latest update, probably version 188.8.131.525 or later.
Install the compatible graphics card to the Sonnet EGFX Breakaway Box, then connect it to the laptop.
Install the graphics card's latest drivers.
You shouldn't connect or disconnect the external graphics card when the laptop is in sleeping mode. Also, you shouldn't reconnect the external graphics card to the PC after disconnecting it until you hear a disconnection notification sound. Lastly, always close running programs on the external graphics card before disconnecting it from the laptop.
3. Razer Core X and Razer Core X Chroma
The Razer Core X and Razer Core X Chroma is an external graphics game that will enhance your graphics card performance for your gaming needs. It has a perfect and appealing exterior design that gives it the characteristic of a PC extension. This feature enhances the aesthetics of your working space.
It features a Thunderbolt 3 port with a wide bandwidth range for fast data transfer, suitable for external graphics card connection. It is also big enough to accommodate larger video cards, besides offering enough space for sufficient cooling.
Razer Core X and Razer Core X Chroma Features
The Razer Core X and Razer Core X Chroma features are listed below.
It has a high power supply with a voltage of 650 W, sufficient for hardcore gaming.
It has three slots of wide PCI-E full-size graphics cards.
It has an in-built power supply unit with a 700W ATX PSU and a 100W device charging on Thunderbolt 3. The maximum power supply to the graphics card is 500W.
It has 16.8 million colors that customize the RGB lighting.
It is compatible with Thunderbolt 3 external graphics with RS45. The graphics card should be AMD or NVIDIA graphics card.
It also supports four USB connection ports for peripheral connectivity.
The eGPU measures 14.7 x 6.6 x 9.0 inches and has an average weight of 15.2 lbs.
You can install the Razer Core X and Razer Core X Chroma by following the list of instructions given below.
Pull out the lever to unlock the casing out.
Detach the compartment from the enclosure.
Detach the tape and remove the protective foam.
Peel off the screw holding the PCI-E in place and remove the cover.
Insert your video card into the PCI-E port
Replace the PCI-E thumbscrew.
Connect the power connectors to the graphics card. Ensure the power cables are away from the fan.
Put back the compartment to fit back in position and lock it by pushing the lever.
Connect the power cord to the Razer Core X and plug it into the power supply.
Connect the Razer Core X and the Thunderbolt 3 external graphics system using the Thunderbolt 3 port.
You can connect the Razer Core X to an external monitor through the DisplayPort port of the graphics card you've installed.
Update your windows system to the latest version. Windows OS needs Windows 10 RS5 or later versions. Ensure your system is compatible with Thunderbolt 3 external graphics card, Intel Thunderbolt 3-enabled eGPU, and ensure it has the latest BIOS update. macOS users will need macOS High Sierra 10.13.4.
Switch on the power switch. At this point, the Razer Core X should light up.
Install the drivers for the graphics card.
Note: The system must detect the external graphics card before installing the driver. You may also need to install the latest drivers for the internal graphics card of your PC for the external graphics card to function.
Install an AMD or NVIDIA latest graphics card driver.
4. Gigabyte AORUS Gaming Box
The Gigabyte Aorus Gaming box is the best external GPU you'll get in the market. The eGPU has robust power for excellent graphics performance and has rich input connectivity, with HDMI, DisplayPort, USB, and DVI-D input connectivity. The box also has a wide range of both AMD and NVIDIA graphics cards. This external graphics card is cost-effective as Gigabyte manufactures the external GPU and its hardware.
Gigabyte AORUS Gaming Box Features
The Gigabyte AORUS Gaming Box features are listed below.
The eGPU is comp[atible with Thunderbolt 3 that allows for plug and play.
It has a small light size that makes it portable.
It has 100V to 240 V AC power supply specifications.
The external GPU can support an 8K display resolution at a 60 Hertz refresh rate.
Its power supply unit has a 450W tally with a 90% efficiency.
It is compatible with three USB 3-0 and two DisplayPort version 1.3 input ports allowing for peripheral connections.
The eGPU has up to 16.8 million colors.
Its graphics coprocessor is the NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1070.
Its RAM is GDDR5 with a storage space of 8 GB.
It has a PCI-E graphics card interface.
The eGPU measures 6.4 x 3.8 x 8.4 inches and is on average 4.42 lbs.
It has a memory clock speed of 8008 MHz.
You can install the Gigabyte AORUS Gaming Box on your laptop by using the set of instructions given below.
- Plugin the power cord.
- Connect the gaming box to your laptop using the Thunderbolt 3 or USB-C cable. Thunderbolt 3 has a broader bandwidth range of up to 40 Gbps, allowing faster data transfer. The interface also allows for fast laptop charging of up to 100 W
- The gaming box should then light up and produce a notification sound to show that the laptop has successfully connected with the gaming box.
- Follow the on-screen instructions to finalize your Gigabyte AORUS Gaming Box connection.
- Download NVIDIA driver to finish up the installation process.
Note that a quick unplug and replug of the cable from the laptop may cause a system failure. If you unplug the cable, wait until you hear the disconnection sound before replugging the cable.
5. Alienware Graphics Amplifier
Alienware graphics amplifier is an external graphics card compatible with Alienware laptops. Adding it to your gaming accessories will present the best experience a gamer would ever imagine. The external GPU supplies sufficient GPU power that can run graphically-intensive games.
This external graphics card is compatible with full-length graphics cards with power requirements not exceeding 460W. It is also a more affordable external GPU alternative.
Unlike other external GPUs, the Alienware graphics amplifier does not support Thunderbolt 3 input. Instead, it has four USB ports for peripheral connection.
Alienware Graphics Amplifier Features
The Alienware graphics amplifier has the following list of features.
This external graphics card is a full-length graphics card, less than 10.5 inches long.
It has an in-built power supply of 460 W.
It doesn't have a GPU, so you'll have to buy one.
It features four in-built USB version 3.0 ports.
It has a PCI-E x16 graphics card.
It is compatible with a graphics card of 375W voltage power requirements.
It also supports NVIDIA GeForce GTX 600 and AMD Radeon HD 5000.
The eGPU measures 16.1 x 7.3 x 6.8 inches and has an average weight of 7.7 lbs.
Using the procedure below, you can install a graphics card to the Alienware Graphics Amplifier.
Disconnect all peripheral devices attached to your graphics card.
Remove all cable connections between your devices.
Remove all screws holding the Alienware graphics amplifier casing in position.
Access the PCI-E slot and insert the compatible GPU.
Return the PCI-E slot into position.
Return all screws to place.
Reconnect all devices, cables, and peripherals.
Connect the power cord to the system and connect to the power supply.
Turn on the system.
6. AKiTiO Node
Akitio Node is an external GPU manufactured by AkiTio. The company is a less popular brand but majors in producing storage systems and external chassis. The node is compatible with Thunderbolt 3 input connectivity, allowing fast data transfer. It is compatible with most GPUs, but it is good to check with your manufacturer for compatible GPUs.
AKiTiO Node Features
The Akitio Node features are listed below.
It supports AMD on macOS High Sierra.
It is compatible with several eGPU cards when connected to the Windows Operating System.
It is compatible with Thunderbolt 3, which has a higher bandwidth range of up to 40 Gbps, allowing fast data transmission.
Its supper supply has a 400W power for extra power provision to the eGPU.
One PCI-e (x16) supports full-length, height, and double-width cards.
It has a vast space to house both standard and larger graphics cards.
It has a removable back panel that allows you to connect double-width cards.
This external GPU measures 22.0 x 10.0 x 15.0 inches and has an average weight of 14.67 lbs.
You can install the AKiTiO Node GPU using the procedure given below.
Install your graphics card into the Thunderbolt chassis using the installation guidelines provided.
Update the Operating System to the latest version if you're using macOS. Also, ensure the GPU supports AMD and is compatible with macOS.
If you're using a personal computer, you're supposed to update your computer's BIOS, Thunderbolt firmware, and Thunderbolt driver.
Plugin the power cord.
Connect the AkiTio Node to your laptop using the Thunderbolt 3 cable. Thunderbolt 3 has a broader bandwidth range of up to 40 Gbps, allowing faster data transfer. The cable also allows for fast laptop charging of up to 100 W.
The AkiTio Node should then light up and produce a notification sound to show that the laptop has successfully connected.
Follow the on-screen instructions to finalize your AkiTio Node connection.
Install the appropriate graphics cards drivers.
If you're connecting the GPU for the first time, you should disconnect any other peripheral attached to the laptop.
7. Asus ROG XG Station 2
The Asus ROG XG Station 2 is an external GPU that is portable and 4K resolution supportive. It is also virtual reality-ready GPU AURA Sync ready. The unit has a power supply unit of up to 600W and features large enough to fit larger GPUs. This external GPU allows for flexibility in supporting USB 3.0, USB Type B, and ethernet ports.
Convert your laptop into a gaming beast by adding the Asus ROG XG Station 2 into your collection. What's more about the Asus ROG XG Station 2 is that it has excellent coverage of RGB color range that makes the display more appealing to the eyes.
Asus ROG XG Station 2 Features
The Asus ROG XG Station 2 features are listed below.
This eGPU dock is compatible with one full-length graphics card.
It has a dual wide PCI-e x16 card.
It also has five USB 3.0 input ports that allow you to connect peripheral devices.
The Asus ROG XG Station 2 features AURA Sync ready.
It has a power supply of up to 600W with 90% energy efficiency for enough power supply for the laptop and the graphics card.
This external graphics card dock measures 6.2 x 10.9 x 18.0 inches and has an average weight of 8.56 lbs.
You can install the Asus ROG XG Station 2 using the instructions below.
Open the Asus ROG XG Station 2 by sliding the spring long.
Detach the screws holding the metal screws in place.
Proceed to pull out the metal bracket.
Insert your graphics card into the PCI-E slot. Ensure you align the GPU accordingly to fit into the PCI-E slot.
Bring back the metal bracket and fasten it using the screws you had removed earlier.
Plugin the power cable into the graphics card and power it on.
Attach an AC power cord to the ROG XG-Station 2 and connect it to a 100V-240V power source.
Switch on the power button of the Asus ROG XG-Station 2. Its plasma tube should light up to confirm a successful connection. If your plasma tube is faulty or needs repair, you should have a qualified technician to repair it.
Close your Asus ROG XG-Station 2.
Plugin the Thunderbolt 3 Type-C cable to your Asus ROG XG-Station 2.
Connect the other end of the Thunderbolt 3 cable to the PC or laptop.
You can connect other peripheral devices such as a mouse, keyboard, and external monitor to the Asus ROG XG-Station 2.
Switch on the computer or laptop. The Asus ROG XG-Station 2 should light up at this point if your connection is correct.
Finalize by installing the recommended graphics card drivers.
You can remove the graphics card by pressing the release tab located near the PCI-E slot, after which you can safely remove the graphics card. Note that you should disconnect the AC power supply before removing the graphics card.
What is the Function of an eGPU?
The function of an eGPU is to supply the extra graphical power to a laptop or a desktop computer. The laptop can run programs and graphically intensive games that would otherwise fail to run on the laptop by supplying the boosted and enhanced graphical power. It is also used in systems that aren't compatible with regular graphics cards.
You can use eGPU on laptops and desktop computers. However, they are more widely used on laptops than desktop computers because PCs have in-built expansion slots for graphics cards. The external GPU supplies power for a boosted graphical performance in both cases.
Does eGPU Increase Performance?
Yes, eGPU increases the graphical performance of a laptop or a desktop computer. The improved graphic performance enables the laptop to play graphically intensive games that would otherwise not play on the computer. It also allows the laptop to run heavy applications that need great graphical power.
However, the graphical power of the external GPU will reduce by a magnitude of between 20 - 30%, becoming less efficient than the GPU on the motherboard. The performance of the eGPU decreases because of the connecting cable bandwidth.
Does eGPU Reduce Heat of Computer?
Yes, an eGPU can significantly reduce the heat of a computer. An external GPU offloads specific tasks from the internal GPU and carries them out. This condition causes the internal GPU to have little to no task, meaning heat production in the computer reduces, thus reducing the computer's heat in the long run. The external GPU also has fans that eliminate any heat produced into the surrounding. By doing so, the computer will have less heat production.
Is eGPU Good for Gaming?
Yes, eGPU is good for gaming. Despite laptops having good gaming performance, they still lag when gaming. The GPU inside the thin-designed laptops has less power to play graphically intensive games. An external GPU comes in to save the situation. It replaces the in-built GPU by dissipating high graphical power to the laptop, allowing it to play such games. Such connections need a Thunderbolt 3 input cable.
What are the Requirements of Using eGPU?
The requirements of using eGPU are listed below.
Desktop graphics card
An enclosure chassis
Power supply unit (separate for the graphics card)
Laptop cooling pad
You'll, of course, need an AMD or Intel quad-core processor or better versions. However, an SSD can be an excellent consideration for gaming needs.
How to Install an eGPU Driver
Install Windows 10 version 1803.
Connect the eGPU on a functioning Windows OS through the Thunderbolt 3 port.
Wait for the system to install the drivers.
Open the Device Manager. The graphics card should appear under Display Adapters.
Right-click on the Disable Device tab, then click the Enabled device tab.
How Much Does an eGPU Cost?
An eGPU can cost from $549.99 to $969.98. For instance, the Asus ROG XG Station 2 costs an average price of $549.99. Aorus GTX 1070 Gaming Box costs $589.99. ROG XG Station 2 cost $419.99, bringing the total sum to $969.98.
Are eGPUs Compatible with all types of monitors?
Yes, eGPUs are compatible with all types of monitors. The types of monitors include:
Cathode ray tube monitors.
Flat-panel monitors (liquid crystal display and gas plasma display).
Touch screen monitors (Resistive Touch Screen, Surface Wave Touch Screens, Capacitive Touch Screen and other types of touch screen monitors).
LED monitors (see top LED monitors)
Digital Light Processing monitors.
Plasma screen monitors.
All these monitors are compatible with eGPUs. The monitor, however, needs to be compatible with Thunderbolt 3 port or USB-C port connectivity.