By far one of the most expensive accessories you can buy for your laptop, external GPU enclosures are specific devices made for specific people, specifically those who prefer a portable yet powerful gaming device.
While gaming laptops do exist, they have their fair share of problems such as excessive heat, noise, and poorer gaming or graphical performance. External GPU enclosures can give you nearly the full power of a desktop PC’s GPU without ruining your laptop’s battery life, form, weight, or thermals.
They are expensive, of course, since they’re practically metal boxes with beefy power supply units inside with the sole purpose of powering a dedicated GPU. However, they’re the ultimate laptop accessory and they’re still more portable than lugging a whole desktop PC around.
Also, note that the following external GPU enclosures are just that; they don’t include the actual GPUs themselves, those are sold separately.
Razer Core X Chroma
- Stylish RGB
- Comes in black and white
- Compatible with MacOS
- Solid aluminum build
- Supports wide GPUs (2+ slots)
- Restrictive space due to brackets
- PSU Power: 700W
- Dimensions: 14.7 x 6.6 x 9 inches
- Weight: 15.23 Pounds
- Compatibility: Thunderbolt 3 and High Sierra 10.13.4
As always, Razer is leading the pack here with its Core X lineup. You can opt for the regular Core X, but the Core X Chroma and its RGB lighting is a bit hard to pass up, especially since most external GPU enclosures look bland or monolithic.
It comes in white and black colors and sports a beefy 700W PSU which is more than enough for high-end GPUs. It’s also compatible with MacOS laptops and devices though you’ll be confined to using AMD hardware, and even so, gaming performance will be terrible since it’s MacOS.
This device is ideal if you already have a couple of Razer products on your desk; it’s easier to sync Chroma that way.
Akitio Node Titan
- Carrying handle adds better portability
- 3-year warranty
- Only supports up to 2-slot GPUs
- Taller than it needs to be
- Only has one fan
- PSU Power: 650W
- Dimensions: 14.06 x 5.31 x 10.47 inches
- Weight: 3.5 Kilograms
- Compatibility: Thunderbolt 3
It looks like a toolbox with that handle but you’ll be thankful for that thoughtful touch especially if you’re traveling with your laptop bag. The Akitio Node Titan is also a light external GPU case despite the metal chassis and sports a 650-watt PSU.
That’s still enough for even the most high-end RTX 3000 GPUs. One limitation it has is the limited width. It’s more narrow compared to the Razer Core X and can only fit 2-slot cards instead of the monstrous 3-slot cards with their high-end coolers. That’s something to keep in mind.
Sonnet eGPU Breakaway Box 750
- Sleek chassis design
- Quiet fans
- Powerful PSU
- A bit cramped
- Supports is mostly limited to reference designs
- PSU Power: 750W
- Dimensions: 8 x 13.38 x 7.25 inches
- Weight: 12.54 pounds
- Compatibility: Thunderbolt 3
Just to be more confident with your GPU choices, you could always opt for something like the Sonnet eGPU Breakaway Box 750. As the name implies, it comes with a 750-watt power supply, making it slightly better than Razer’s Core X at providing your GPU’s power needs, accounting for wattage spikes and all.
Sonnet promises a cool and quiet operation with its variable speed fans which can slow down depending on the thermal situation. Yet another limit, however, is that your 2.5 or 3-slot GPU might have trouble fitting in since there are only two slots here and the space after that is a bit limited.
Frequently Asked Questions
Do external GPU enclosures provide the full performacne of desktop GPUs?They actually don't. Due to the different connection types and separate connectors, expect external GPU performance to be around 10 percent lower compared to that of GPUs installed internally on desktops. Still, they're more powerful and customizable than laptop GPUs, and the thermals are better.
Do all GPUs fit in external GPU enclosures?No at all of them. Some GPUs are too big and some have OEM coolers that are too big and bulky. You'll have to research further whether a specific graphics card you have or want will fit.