Although it may sound strange, owning a regular laptop and not a gaming one, doesn’t necessarily mean you have to give up on serious gaming. Now, thanks to external GPUs, you can enjoy the benefits of the desktop graphics on your notebook. eGPUs only require a Thunderbolt 3 connection, and all the traffic and communication between the two devices is done through it.
Since this is a relatively new type of hardware, without much of previous experience, finding the best eGPU might present a bit of a problem. However, with a few instructions and guidelines, it should be achievable.
How to Choose the Best eGPU
As mentioned, finding the best eGPU, might be a problematic experience, especially if you have never encountered this type of device. Nevertheless, there are a few characteristics that make the biggest difference and allow you to determine which devices you should avoid, and which ones you should seriously consider, and they include the following:
Supported Card Size
The last thing you need is to purchase an expensive external GPU enclosure and realize your planned GPU cannot fit inside. Therefore, before the buy, do thorough research and find the enclosure that can accommodate the desired card.
Higher PSU wattage means that your enclosure will be able to provide more power for both your notebook and the card. In other words, insufficient power wattage may prevent you to use a certain card or notebook. For that reason, go for as high numbers as possible.
When talking about external graphics cards enclosures, one of the most important aspects is definitely their cooling, especially if you are into overclocking. For that reason, go for the devices that are equipped with large fans or support installation of liquid cooling. That way, you will both protect your hardware, and save yourself from a lot of trouble.
More connectivity ultimately leads to more versatility, which is always good, regardless of the type of device are you dealing with. For that reason, a variety of additional connection options is definitely something you should go for.
10 Best External Graphics Cards
Razer Core X Chroma
An eGPU Enclosure Dedicated to a Great Gaming Experience
Razer Core X Chroma is a device that combines good connectivity, high PSU wattage and great GPU compatibility (it can board a triple-wide PCIe GPU) into one of the best eGPU enclosures available.
The chassis is equipped with Razer Chroma RGB lighting, which guarantees a visually pleasing experience and offers good airflow design, and backed by a 120mm fan, which successfully prevents heat buildup.
This device offers good connectivity, with four USB3.0 ports and one Thunderbolt 3 port, used for the connection to the laptop. Also, there is a one GbE port and one Ethernet port that is responsible for faster downloads and latency lowering.
This eGPU is fitted with a 700W PSU, which is good enough for charging a 100W laptop, as well as about 500W for powering graphics cards.
Razer Core X Chroma can be used as a both an external GPU chassis and a dock (for connecting your peripherals, such as mouse or keyboard) and overall represents a good option for laptop owners that want to fully enjoy your gaming adventure.
- Great power
- Variety of ports
- Eye appealing RGB Lighting
- Thunderbolt 3 bottlenecks graphics cards
OWC Mercury Helios FX
A More Budget-Oriented GPU Enclosure
For those looking for a decent eGPU, with basic functions, at a fair price, OWC Mercury Helios FX might be a good choice. This device doesn’t offer any advanced functions and has limited connectivity options, but more importantly, it does a fine job of improving your laptop’s video performance.
OWC Mercury Helios FX is equipped with 550W PSU, which can provide up to 87W for laptop charging and up to 375W for powering a GPU and is large enough to accept full-length, double-width cards. Also, it offers quiet operations and decent heat management that involves a 120mm fan and a good chassis airflow, which will save you from heat problems.
This external eGPU comes with a sleek design and a three-year warranty and overall represents a solid external GPU option for those looking to improve their basic system. It works straight from the box with Apple MacBook and other Thunderbolt 3-compatible computers and overall presents one of the best eGPU chassis for the price.
- Easy to install
- Good overall value
- Plug and play functionality
- Lacks the connectivity options
An Ideal eGPU Companion for Your Mac or PC
If you are searching for a premium quality eGPU that will deliver top-notch performance and offer great overall value for you, ASUS XG-Station-PRO is a perfect option.
This fair-priced eGPU is equipped with two 120mm, super-quiet (they produce 0dB) fans that can be fully managed over the Asus GPU Tweak II software and that offer an excellent cooling performance – among the best in the class.
It has a clean design and can accept full-sized graphics cards, such as GeForce GTX 1080 Ti or Radeon RX Vega 64. Unfortunately, its power supply has only 330W and if you decide to use it with the previously mentioned GPUs or similar, you will have just between 35W to 80W for powering your laptop, which seriously limits the potential Macs or notebooks you will be able to use.
On the other hand, ASUS XG-Station-PRO provides easy use and setup and is a much more compact device than its predecessor. Also, it is equipped with one USB3.1 port and a Thunderbolt 3 connection and provides support for AURA Sync.
All in all, this is a premium product and probably one of the best eGPUs for Mac or Windows-based notebooks that money can buy.
- Great cooling
- Easy use
- Competitive price
- Its PSU lacks the Wattage in certain configurations
A Decent-Performing eGPU for More Budget-Oriented Users
Akitio Node is one of those external GPU chassis that offer good compatibility and decent performance at a fair price.
This device has no advanced features and its options are limited to the basics. There is a Thunderbolt 3 connection, as well as integrated 400W PSU and enough space for a full-length, double-width card. Also, there is a decent cooling solution, which involves a pretty loud 92mm front fan and a practical handle that adds to the device’s overall portability and practicality.
Akitio Node is fully aluminum-built and comes with a two-year warranty, but more importantly, it is simple both to use and install. However, it is a bit large and its front panel is made out of material prone to mechanical damage, but those are just the minor remarks if you observe the wider picture.
Overall, this is a decent external GPU enclosure, which will do a proper job, but not the best eGPU, because of its limited features and altogether performance.
- Easy to use
- Decent performance
- Loud fan
Sonnet eGFX Breakaway Box 550W
An Ideal eGPU Chassis for Overclocking Devotees
Finding a premium quality, external GPU enclosure that will offer great cooling capabilities and decent performance at an affordable price is not that easy. However, they do exist, and one of such products is definitely Sonnet eGFX Breakaway Box 550W.
As its name suggests, this device comes supplied with 550W PSU, which provides up to 375W for GPU powering and up to 87W for your laptop charging. This eGPU also supports full-length, double-width PCIe cards and provides very good cooling management, with 120mm fan and a decent air-flow design. Moreover, its setup allows for the installation of the 120mm liquid cooling system, which will offer even better cooling results and surely be welcomed by overclocking fans.
Its performance is pretty quiet, with noise levels between 6.9 and 16 dB, while its connectivity is limited only to Thunderbolt 3.
In other words, Sonnet eGFX Breakaway Box 550W doesn’t really offer anything flashy or super-cool, compared to the competition. However, if you are looking for a good combination of cooling, performance and price, this is pretty much the best external GPU you can find.
- Quality performance
- Very good cooling options
- A couple of issues with Macs
Mantiz Venus MZ-02
A Top eGPU with Great Connectivity
A good combination of connectivity and performance is what makes Mantiz Venus MZ-02 stand out from the competition, and makes it a winning deal.
This eGPU doesn’t only come with great features and capabilities, but it also brings attractive looks, with a full aluminum anodizing case that also adds to the overall sturdiness of a product. Furthermore, this eGPU is fitted with a nice 550W power supply, which produces enough juice to power various graphics cards (up to 375W) and laptops (up to 87W). Moreover, it is compatible with full-height, full-length GPUs and offers easy use and setup, at least in the case of Windows-based notebooks.
Mantiz Venus MZ-02 combines a large case fan and a PSU fan into a very efficient cooling solution, which maybe isn’t among the best, but surely does a good job and produces a reasonable amount of noise (34dB), which is noticeable, but not too annoying.
When it comes to connectivity, Mantiz Venus MZ-02 is one of the best external GPUs for laptops and offers five USB3.0 ports, one Gigabit LAN, one SATA connector, and of course, Thunderbolt 3, which offers fast and reliable connection.
All in all, this is a good-quality device, with great versatility and overall top performance, which will ultimately satisfy most consumers.
- Sturdy construction
- Great connectivity
- Easy setup
- A bit tricky install on Macs
Lenovo G0A10170UL Thunderbolt 3 Graphics Dock
One of the Best External GPUs Available
With its G0A10170UL graphics dock, Lenovo has offered consumers a highly versatile and feature-rich device that, in a contrast to other similar type devices, offers integrated graphics (NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1050) and eliminates the possibility for future upgrades. Although this may sound like a big no-no to many people, the reality is that that there are a lot of customers, especially corporate ones, that will like this type solution and will gladly grab all of its advanced connectivity, portability and an overall great list of features.
Lenovo G0A10170UL comes supplied with a ton of connectivity options that, among others, include two USB3.0 ports, one USB2.0 port and one Thunderbolt 3 port. Also, there is also Gigabit LAN, one HDMI and two Display Ports and even a 3.5mm audio. In other words, everything that an advanced user might need is there, including three-display support and compatibility with Windows Mixed Reality.
Altogether, Lenovo G0A10170UL is a quality device with great potential, and the perfect option for both gaming and professional work, such as video editing. In other words, this is one of the best external GPU options for both corporative and gaming world.
- Supports for up to three displays
- NVIDIA GTX 1050 graphics
- No GPU upgrade
- There are some issues with drivers
AORUS RTX 2070 Gaming Box
An External GPU that is Every Gamer’s Dream
If you are after the best external graphics cards, AORUS RTX 2070 Gaming Box might be a great choice for you, mostly because it combines integrated GeForce RTX 2070 graphics. with a great set of features. It also offers very impressive performance that is just some 10 to 15 percent lower than of regular GeForce RTX 2070 placed in a PC, according to 3DMark benchmark.
Unfortunately, the price of AORUS RTX 2070 Gaming Box isn’t that low, but, considering the great connectivity (three Display Ports, one HDMI, four USB3.0 ports, one USB-C, and of course, Thunderbolt 3 port) and performance, followed by unique RGB lighting and good portability, it is fair.
This external GPU is supplied with 450W (90% efficient) PSU, offers Ray-tracing and is compatible with RGB Fusion 2.0. Moreover, it can be synchronized with other AORUS devices, and it provides a quick charge, great cooling with the help of its 130mm fan, and on top of that, comes with a support for up to four displays.
All in all, this is a superb device dedicated to pure gaming pleasure.
- 130mm fan
- GeForce RTX 2070 inside
- Quality RGB
- Good connectivity
Sapphire Gearbox (34263-02-51G)
An Affordable, Good, All-Around External GPU Chassis
Sapphire Gearbox (34263-02-51G) is a device that offers a decent set of features and modest performance at an affordable price. As mentioned, its performance won’t impress you; however, it will surely provide a drastic improvement over your laptop graphics.
This eGPU has a 500W PSU and provides up to 60W for laptop charging and up to 300W for powering graphics cards. It can accommodate full-length, dual-slot cards, and it offers decent connectivity, which includes two USB3.0 ports, one Thunderbolt 3 port and one Gigabit Ethernet port.
Along with that, Sapphire Gearbox (34263-02-51G) has a good cooling solution, which involves the deployment of two 120mm fans that efficiently exhaust all the excessive heat, but unfortunately, produce too much noise.
However, its price is acceptable, which, on the other hand, cannot be said about its… a bit complicated GPU installation. Nevertheless, if you want a decent performing eGPU, which has no tendency to be among the best eGPU devices, but has a low price, Sapphire Gearbox (34263-02-51G) is an ideal option for you.
- Decent features
- It works only with macOS and Windows 10
Sonnet eGFX Breakaway Puck Radeon RX 570
A Highly Portable and Compact eGPU Enclosure
If you are searching for a tiny external GPU enclosure, which will be highly portable and capable of providing a good graphics performance, Sonnet eGFX Breakaway Puck Radeon RX 570 is a perfect device for you.
It offers great connectivity (three Display Ports, one HDMI and one Thunderbolt 3), has multiple display support (up to four) and offers good data transfer speeds. Moreover, it is easy to set up and can provide up to 45W for laptop charging, which kind of limits the number of compatible laptops but is still acceptable.
On the other hand, its price is a bit high, but considering that this eGPU enclosure has an integrated Radeon RX 570 card, it seems quite reasonable. Altogether, although it cannot be placed at the sheer top of the offerings as a one of the best eGPUs available, this device is still a decent option for many, and overall a good deal.
- Multiple display support (up to four)
- Nice performance
If you are thinking about upgrading your laptop game, consider getting yourself an eGPU. We have given you suggestions about the best ones available on today’s market, and now it’s up to you to choose your best fit. Good luck and have fun!