Laptops are portable and are great for when you want to give a presentation, crunch some numbers, binge-watch your favorite shows. But when it comes to high-end gaming that tax the graphics card, most laptops just can not keep up. External Graphic Cards (eGPUs) have brought the world of high-end gaming to laptops.
With an external GPU, you do not need to upgrade your entire gaming setup to get the best out of your graphics. On the chance that you have a laptop with a Thunderbolt 3 Port, you can very well attach an external GPU (eGPU), which will provide all the benefits of an Nvidia or AMD graphics card. There are some that can be connected to MacBooks also.
Gaming laptops have been introduced into the market. Yet they have been known to suffer from the increased weight, poor cooling, and sometimes inferior graphics. Until the recent technological advancement, most laptop gamers had to pick between the best gaming experience and mobility.
An external GPU means you can have the best of both worlds. The external graphics card connects to the laptop and provides it with the performance and power of any modern GPU on the market.
GPUs are majorly used for three purposes; media, gaming, and recently cryptocurrency mining. Desktop users will be more familiar with the graphics card as it has a great effect on graphical fidelity while gaming.
An external GPU is the industry designation for a special chassis with proprietary software and cooling properties in which an internal GPU is inserted into. This chassis is then plugged into a Thunderbolt 3 port where it will run the GPU at full-power. The external GPU provides the best possible environment to run an Internal Graphics card.
Basically an eGPU is an external plug and play case for your GPU. Getting one of these external GPUs can be a bit tricky, which is why we created this guide. It will walk you through the basics of each graphics card so you can make an informed decision when deciding which is best for you.
What You Should Consider When Getting an External GPU for Your Laptop
Some models have restrictions on their compatibility. For example, Razer eGPUs operate best with Razer laptops and struggle to match the same performance on other laptops. When selecting an eGPU, look for one that supports your laptop.
Graphic cards produce a lot of heat which makes external chassis to be fitted with fans or other cooling technology to cool the cards down. Sufficient colling will enable your card to have a long and healthy product life.
Some cards are long in length with the Nvidia GTX 10-Series running from 11-12 inches in length. It is absolutely necessary to pick an external GPU that can house your card. Make sure to double-check this before purchasing or you might find yourself needing another chassis.
All External GPUs have a power supply that helps in the running of the GPU as well as charge your laptop. Make sure your card is compatible with the electrical properties of your external GPU and laptop. Most cards will run well with the eGPUs on the list below.
Most external chasses come with an extra port to plug-in peripherals, monitors, ethernet, etc. These could come in as very useful as you can make a docking station from an eGPU.
Some external GPUs are very easy to open up and others are incredibly sturdy. Durability should be an important factor when considering an external GPU.
Graphics Card to Get For an External GPU
Below are the listed graphic cards you should consider getting. No AMD cards are on the list due to the boom in cryptocurrency mining. This boom has made AMD cards really hard to find.
· GTX 1080 Ti
This is the most powerful consumer GPU in the market right now. It is the best card for 4K definition gaming. This card will allow your laptop to play the best games at full settings
· GTX 1070 Ti
This card is designed for 2K gaming. It has the best price for performance trade-off. This GPU is designed as a mid-level enthusiast Graphics card.
It might be a bit pricey but it will serve for a long time.
· GTX 1060
This is the best budget card in the market and was the most popular card back in 2017. It comes in two sizes, the 3GB and 6GB.
Best External GPUs for Laptops 2020
Without further ado, here are the best external GPUs that will give you top of the line graphics
Razer Core X
Best Overall eGPU for gaming laptops
Features: Supports any PCIe GPU, Plug and play, Top of the line cooling
With its price range at $300 the Razer Core X offers a large chassis which is perfect for installing large GPUs like the Nvidia GeForce GTX Titan V. This is one of Razers first eGPUs to be compatible with the MacBook. The Razer Core X is bigger, affordable, and more streamlined.
The eGPU comes with neither USB nor ethernet ports like its predecessors. It only comes with the Thunderbolt 3 port and a power input along the rear of the chassis. It is made from Jet-black CNC aluminum with a large silver emblem on the left side and a see-through grate on the right side.
Like its predecessor, the Core V2 it is compatible with dual and quad-lane Thunderbolt 3 notebooks. At its value and performance, it is easily the best eGPU out there..
Asus ROG XG Station 2
Second Best eGPU
Features: Support for 1 full-length dual wide PCIex 16 Card, 5 USB 3.0 Peripheral ports, Plug and play,600 W power supply, Designed to pair with the Asus Transformer 3 and UX series Zen Books, ROG Epic RGB lighting
It has a big size and the only thing bigger is its price. Coming in at a range above $500, once you get past this initial shock you will see an eGPU that is easy to open and has sufficient ports to support a sizeable gaming setup.
Its ports include four USB 3.0 ports, one USB 3.0 Type-B port, a Thunderbolt 3, a Gigabit Ethernet, and a power port, which can all e found at the ear of the eGPU. With a powerful GPU, it can support VR gaming.
It is one of the easiest eGPUs to open and is immediately recognized by gaming laptops
AORUS GTX 1070 Gaming Box
Best Value eGPU
Features: Comes with a built-in GTX 1070 GPU, RGB lighting, 3 USB 3.0 ports, Plug and play, Easy to carry
With its price range at $600, it is the best value eGPU in the market when you factor in that it comes with a GPU of over $300 built-in. And while the graphics card is pre-installed, it can be swapped out later. It is also the smallest chassis on this list.
Despite its small size, the Gaming Box comes with a lot of ports. It has 3 USB 3.0 ports, an HDMI port, a DisplayPort, an orange quick-charge USB 3.0 port, a pair of DVI-2 ports, a Thunderbolt 3 port, and a power jack.
Its best feature has to be its portability as it is small enough to be carried around for gaming on the go. Also, the fact that you don’t have to spend more money on a GPU makes this the cheapest option in the long run.
Best Budget and minimalist eGPU
Features: Not locked into a specific manufacturer, 4 Lane PCIe 3.0 compliant, AMD OSX support, carry handle for easy transportation.
The AKiTiO Node runs on many different setups including some Macs. It can fit a full-sized card and also has a good cooling system. Its carry handle makes it a good option for taking on the road and it has a low price range of $300.
It comes with only a Thunderbolt 3 port and a power port. It has grates on the front and right side, so whatever card placed in it will have a lot of air. Measuring 16.9 x 8.9 x 5.7 inches, it is a very big eGPU.
Alienware Graphics Amplifier (9R7XN)
Best Alienware eGPU
Features: 4X PCIe, Monitor Support, 4 USB 3.0 ports, 460 W, Proprietary PCIe cable.
It is the oldest external GPU on this list but still very much affordable. Alienware with this devised an external GPU that works like a docking station. An older Alienware laptop will get continued life by using this graphics amplifier.
It is only compatible with Alienware devices but it is a great solution. With any cheap midrange GTX, it works extremely well and you can be playing games in high settings. It is a proprietary device and will only work with Alienware products.
It is not Plug and Play, therefore you will have to restart your laptop every single time you plug or unplug the 9R7XN. It is still a great external GPU if you have an Alienware device and do not plan on moving around a lot.
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