7 Best External Graphics Cards For Laptop (Top eGPU Reviewed)

Best External Graphics Card For Laptop

Desktop and laptop both can be used for gaming, but the thing which gives desktop machines an advantage over the laptops is the future upgrades options. With time, we can upgrade our desktop machines with new processors and graphics cards, but this thing will not happen on laptops soon.

With time the manufacturers make laptops getting some future upgrades, but that’s only limited to hard drives or memory modules. There we can’t leave laptops because they are portable and allow us to do gaming from our bed to college and on the park bench. 

There is a frequently asked question: how can we upgrade our laptop’s graphics card to play some modern titles? Or at least some Esport games? The simple answer to this is that we can’t upgrade the existing graphics card but can attach external ones to get more performance out of them. 

We are there with some of the best external graphics cards for laptop machines that you can consider buying, and they will enhance your gaming experience. You might already know the importance of a graphics card in any gaming machine. When we see the laptop specifications, the latest generation high-end models even come with integrated graphics cards. 

Before checking out the graphics card raisers, let’s check out what we need to consider before buying an external graphics card box. 

Graphics Card Support:

The first thing we need to consider in any external graphics card box is the support for different graphics cards. Some market models don’t support Intel graphics cards, which some don’t handle AMD GPUs very well. I’ve seen some users willing to install workstation graphics cards with these raisers, but lack of compatibility disappoints. All you need to do is check if the raiser box supports Nvidia or AMD graphics cards.

Power Supply Unit:

The power supply is another major thing to check because the graphics cards we need to install require cables like 8-Pin or 6-Pin etc. There we need to make sure that the pre-installed power supply can handle our graphics card or not, or it has all required cables or not. Some models come with 350 W PSUs; that’s not enough to run high-end graphics cards, so consider this. 

Portability:

Of course, if you own a laptop, you don’t attach it with some external display and play games. Most users consider laptops because they are portable and allow you to carry them anywhere you want. Make sure if you have to take your computer outside, your eGPU box is compact or not. There are some specific boxes for those who like to carry them in bags as they are small and have batteries installed.


List of Best External Graphics Card For Laptop

Here are few selected eGPU racks for an immense and dedicated graphical boost to your portable gaming machines.

AwardeGPUPrice
Best eGPU by Alienware
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Mid Range eGPU
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E-Sports Class eGPU
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Best Budget eGPU
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Best embedded eGPU
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Premium eGPU
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Enthusiastic eGPU
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Alienware Graphics Amplifier

Alienware Graphics Amplifier (9R7XN)

Alienware is known for manufacturing actual gaming laptop machines; of course, they will not perform and upgrade options like desktops but are relatively equal to them. Most of the laptops from Alienware give more than average gaming performance, and if you compare the top gaming laptops of 2020, this brand stands first in the list.

The company is not only known for gaming laptops but some other hardware too, and today we’ve got an Alienware Graphics Amplifier, which allows you to connect external graphics cards with any Alienware machine. It comes with a power supply and a PCIe x16, which will enable you to install any graphics card. 

This box’s primary use is to give you some extra space for some external graphics card, and you can connect it with your laptop to get a significant performance boost in it. We can use it with desktop or laptop machines, and the installation process of this one is damn easy.

While checking some reviews on Amazon, I’ve got that many users criticize the design of this eGPU box, and that’s true because there are some more attractive options in the market. This eGPU box’s shape seems like a bread toaster with some vents on the top and front sides. 

The good thing in this eGPU box is that it’s a bit old but still supports every latest graphics card and doesn’t limit the performance. You can install any Nvidia or AMD graphics card on it, and the most commonly used ones are Rx 470 or GTX 1070 from Nvidia. If you have some more budget for graphics cards, you can even go to Turing based cards. 

There are a few more things in this small box, including four USB ports, a built-in 450 W PSU, some RGB lights with significant effects, and more.

Specifications:

ModelAlienware Graphics Amplifier (9R7XN)
Power Supply450 W
Fans2x
Graphics CardNot available
Box Weight7.7 pounds
Dimensions16.1 x 7.3 x 6.8 inches
RequirementsThunderbolt 3
Pros
  • A significant upgrade for Alienware machines.
  • The casing looks like a mini-desktop.
  • Very easy and straightforward to connect.
  • GPU installation is not a problem at all.
Cons
  • A bit pricey than other competitors.
  • Compatible with Alienware 13, 15, and 17 machines only.
  • The vents make it look outside the other side.

Sonnet eGFX Breakaway Box 650

Sonnet eGFX Breakaway Box 650 (GPU-650WOC-TB3)

Unlike the Alienware Graphics Amplifier, this one is not limited to one brand, but you can use it with any laptop machine and install any AMD or Nvidia graphics card. If you are looking to get some more gaming performance in your laptop or tired with lags and shuttering in games, that’s a great hardware piece.

Gaming laptops are quite expensive than any regular machine, and most users prefer the cheapest machine. In this case, this GPU raiser is great enough to play Esports and some modern titles without spending a lot of money. Also, it’s not heavy so you can take it anywhere you want. 

This box’s thermal design is no doubt impressive as in an eGPU box; we need much cooling because of the small casing. Sonnet eGFX Breakaway Box comes with some pre-installed fans while there is also some space to install AIO cooler radiators for better cooling of the graphics card. 

Non-techies found it hard to change the graphics cards in these boxes, but you can easily do it by pulling off the top cover. Those who are willing to overclock the graphics card in this box will also find it an excellent choice because of its perfect thermal design. 

These raisers’ performance is slightly lower than using the graphics cards on the desktop machines as the company claims that it has a data transfer speed of 4GBPS. This gives you a great gaming experience without facing any lag stuttering in modern titles.

Some fans and a 350 W PSU come pre-installed with this eGPU box, and you can change them according to your own power needs. 

Specifications:

ModelSonnet eGPU Breakway Box Thunderbolt 3 GPU 350W
Power Supply350 W
Fans1x AIO Supported
Graphics CardNot available
Box Weight7.1 lbs
Dimensions18.5 x 34.0 x 20.2 cm
RequirementsThunderbolt 3
Pros
  • A single fan radiator is a plus point for the eGPU box.
  • It comes with a pre-installed power supply.
  • The installation process is straightforward.
  • Aesthetically good.
  • Enough room for GPU inside.
Cons
  • The 350 W PSU is not enough for bug graphics cards.
  • Some GPUs don’t work with it.
  • Installation processes on Mac devices are a bit complicated.

HP OMEN Accelerator Shell GA1 1000

HP OMEN Accelerator Shell GA1 1000

Again we’ve got a brand-specific graphics card raiser box, but this one is much better than the previous one as that one was an old model. HP OMEN Accelerator Shell GA1 is portable, and it will help you get some more performance from your machine. This box is built for hardcore games that don’t want to compromise on graphics card performance. 

As you know, this product is directly coming from HP, so we don’t have to worry about the build quality or this box’s performance. Though it’s slightly more expensive than other raiser boxes in the market, I recommend you get this one if you can afford it because of its remarkable features and design. 

This box supports every single AMD and Nvidia graphics card, and that’s what makes it a better option over others. However, some cards might not work with it, so it’s good to check out the manufacturer website first to get its compatibility list. The company claims that this eGPU box has support for more graphics cards than any other competitor. 

The installation of a graphics card on this box is better and comfortable than any other box as it comes with a door, and you can easily slide in-and-out the GPU from it. There is a pre-installed power supply in this box that comes from HP itself, and it can easily handle any graphics card you can think of in your mind. 

Some other notable features of this box are a slot for 2.5 inches of SATA drive, and you can install an SSD drive. There are few USB Type-A ports on this box, too, which works when you connect this box with your laptop. 

Overall it’s a fantastic product from a very reputed brand, and we can consider buying this for our laptop to get some more performance out of it. 

Specifications:

ModelHP OMEN Accelerator Shell GA1 1000
Power Supply500 W
Fans2x
Graphics CardNot Available
Box SizeCompact / Portable
Dimensions15.7 in, 7.9 in, 7.9 in
RequirementsUSB 3.1, Thunderbolt 3
Pros
  • Plug and play drive and very easy to install.
  • Supports three fans graphics cards too.
  • Have space to install 2.5 inches HDDs or SSDs.
  • The pre-installed fans are very quiet even under high load.
  • With all of these features, it is worth the money.
Cons
  • Don’t work with workstation graphics cards.
  • Bit expensive than other competitors.
  • Don’t come with embedded graphics cards.

Akitio Node Thunderbolt 3

Akitio Node Thunderbolt 3 eGPU for Windows

When it comes to buying the cheapest eGPU box in the market, there might be no other better option than the Akitio Node Thunderbolt 3. This external graphics card box is cheap, but you don’t have to compromise on features with it as it has everything you need. The graphics card has a pre-installed 400 W power supply, which gives continuous power to the GPU installed.

This amount of power is enough for any mid-range graphics card but don’t expect installing RTX based graphics cards on it as they demand 600W of power. This eGPU box’s compatibility is excellent enough as it supports most of the Nvidia and the AMD graphics cards in the market. 

This box is compatible with both Windows and Mac devices, but on Mac, you may see some performance difference compared to Windows. The performance loss of this box is minimal, and you will see the same performance of the graphics card installed on Windows. When this box is connected with Mac devices, you can only use AMD graphics cards with it. 

As we have seen that the EVGA graphics cards are bit wide and use more than two slots on the back, so this box has an advantage in such cases as its side panel is removable, and you can install 2.5 slot graphics cards on it. This case’s portability is also excellent as it has a carrying handle on the top, and you can carry it wherever you want. 

The main thing to see in an eGPU box is its performance, and with this one, you will use the Thunderbolt 3, which has a data transfer speed of 40GBPs. So a cheap but yet great option with such features makes this eGPU box best in this list. 

Specifications:

ModelAkitio Node Thunderbolt 3 eGPU for Windows
Power Supply400 W
Fans2x
Graphics CardNot Available
Box SizePortable / Compatible
Dimensions42.8 cm, 14.5 cm, 22.7 cm
RequirementsThunderbolt 3
Pros
  • Very cheap option to consider.
  • Has a 400W PSU.
  • Supports two-slot graphics cards.
  • Bunch of fans and side glass.
Cons
  • Build quality is cheap.
  • 400 W PSU is not enough for some GPUs.

Gigabyte AORUS Gaming Box GTX 1070

Gigabyte AORUS Gaming Box GTX 1070 Graphic Card

Users who are very brand conscious can try the Gigabyte Graphics Card box, which comes in a great looking design and fantastic build quality. This external graphics card box gives better performance than any other in the market. It comes with a pre-installed GTX 1070 graphics card, much better than the integrated graphics card. 

With the 8 GB of dedicated memory, you can get the best performance in any game and max out most of the titles. Though you might need to make some compromise on the in-game resolutions for some modern titles. Its performance gigabyte also worked well on the size of this graphics card and its compact with much portability.

This small size of this hardware doesn’t compromise its performance, and you can enjoy the performance as same as the other eGPU boxes. Those users who are conscious about the box’s design might be disappointed with this one as its looks are very straightforward. There are a few orange color lights in this box which gives excellent aesthetics. 

Gigabyte didn’t cut off the display output ports, and you are going to see all of the ports found in the founder edition of the GTX 1070 graphics card. The gigabyte engine software is also available with this box, which will help you change some settings of the box and the RGB lights. The looks of this box inside and outside are immaculate, and you will not mess up with wires. 

The performance of this graphics card varies from system to system as you will experience different performance. 

Specifications:

ModelGigabyte Aorus Gaming Box With GTX 1080 GPU
Power Supply4‎50 W
Fans2x
Graphics CardGTX 1070 Embedded
Box SizeCompact
Dimensions2‎12 mm, 96 mm, 162 mm
RequirementsThunderbolt 3
Pros
  • Decent price with this performance.
  • Comes with GTX 1070 pre-installed.
  • Compact design and much portable.
  • Works with Thunderbolt 3 port.
Cons
  • May shows some performance difference.
  • The quality difference between laptop display and external display.

ASUS ROG XG Station 2

ASUS ROG XG Station 2 Thunderbolt 3 Graphics Dock

Another grand entry from a well-reputed brand and yes is the ASUS ROG XG Station 2, which comes with Thunderbolt 3, having data transfer speed up to 40 GBPS. This small box allows you to max out in-game settings at high resolutions if you own a good graphics card, and it’s coming straight from ASUS, so no need to worry about the hardware inside it. 

Previously we’ve seen eGPU boxes with detailed looks, but this one looks more attractive than the others because of the red and black color combinations and some cuts. It has some beautiful finish on the front side and an RGB light, making it more appealing. This box’s design gives a feeling of ASUS Rog series graphics cards because of the color and detail. 

When you open the case of this box there, you will find some space from two slots graphics cards and a 2.5 inches SSD drive. It also comes with a 600W power supply, which is enough to handle the latest RTX 2080 Ti graphics card, so what else do you want from this raiser box. 

Most of the users found it hard to set up the graphics card in these external graphics card boxes, but for this one, you need to open it from the top button, and you will be able to see everything inside it. All you have to do is install the graphics card on the PCIe x16 slot and you are done with it. 

Asus also worked well on this box’s thermal design as it has enough room and airflow to cool down the latest graphics cards at high loads. However, these raiser boxes can’t minimize the noise of the fans of graphics cards very well.

Specifications:

ModelASUS ROG XG Station 2 Thunderbolt 3 Graphics Dock
Power Supply600W 80 Plus Gold
Fans2x
Graphics CardNot Available
Box SizePortable
Dimensions45.6 mm,  15.8 mm, 27.8mm
RequirementsThunderbolt 3
Pros
  • The black color with RED lights gives a great color combination.
  • The PSU installed in it can support big graphics cards.
  • The build quality of this machine is impressive.
  • Price-wise it’s not much expensive.
Cons
  • Not available in some regions.
  • Nothing else.

Gigabyte Aorus Gaming Box With GTX 1080

Gigabyte Aorus Gaming Box With GTX 1080 GPU

Last on our list, we got another Gigabyte Aorus graphics card box, a pre-installed graphics card, and a power supply. You will get a GTX 1080 graphics card in this box, which you know is slightly cheaper than Turing based graphics cards, but its performance is way better than their entry-level models. 

As it has embedded graphics cards, all of the ports for display output are available on it, found on the founder edition of this graphics card. Other than video output, some other ports are on this box, including the three USB ports to connect external keyboard and mice, USB storage mic and headphones, and an Ethernet port. 

Another great feature in this box is that it even works without electricity, as it comes with some batteries. Many users find charging a time-wasting and annoying thing, but this one doesn’t work with conventional charging methods, but a fast charging process is implemented, making the process easy. 

It is a plug and play device, and you don’t have to mess up with wires and settings to install this external graphics card box. This box’s portability is fantastic, and you can easily take it anywhere in your college or school. 

Gigabyte is undoubtedly a great brand, and we don’t have to worry about the build quality of this box. This box’s looks are very straightforward, and you are not going to see RGB light with some significant effects or an RGB fan in it. But for performance, I’m sure it will amaze you because of the GTX 1080 graphics card. 

One thing that might disappoint some users is the support of this box for Apple laptops and desktops machines. 

Specifications:

ModelGigabyte Aorus Gaming Box With GTX 1080 GPU
Power Supply4‎50 W
Fans2x
Graphics CardGTX 1080
Box SizePortable / Compact
Dimensions2‎12 mm, 96 mm, 162 mm
RequirementsThunderbolt 3
Pros
  • Using this is much better than having an integrated graphics card.
  • Very easy to connect with just a single cable.
  • With it, you can do gaming on thin gaming machines.
  • Comes with a compact design.
Cons
  • Fan noise becomes high when running on a 100% load.
  • Upgrades in this box are tough to do.

Conclusion

Gaming on a laptop machine is not a big deal because of the high-end hardware and external graphics card boxes for them. There we’ve reviewed some of the best external graphics cards for laptops you can get and use to replace your integrated graphics card. All you need to do is get a good graphics card and install it in this box, and it gives you enhanced gaming experience. Several models are available, but the one we’ve mentioned there are best in every term and give you more value than others. 

Let’s start from the cheapest model in this list, and this award goes to the Akitio Node Thunderbolt 3 eGPU for Windows, but of course, it lacks some premium features for the low price too. Those who got an Alienware machine can consider getting an Alienware Graphics Amplifier, but it is only compatible with the Alienware 13, 15, and r2 17 machines. If you are looking for something from a well-reputed brand there, we have the HP OMEN Accelerator. Non-techies who are looking for a plug and play device can go with the Gigabyte Aorus Gaming Box, which comes in several different models, including the GTX 1070, GTX 1080, RTX 2060 and more. 

FAQ

Does the external graphics card do bottleneck?

External graphics cards are a new concept for laptop machines to connect a desktop GPU with some raiser cable help. This is much better than using the integrated graphics card on laptops as they enhance your gaming experience without spending a lot of money on gaming laptops. One thing to note there is not every laptop in the market is compatible with this graphics card, and some eGPU is only compatible with manufacturer same as of it.

Are eGPUs better than iGPUs?

Those users who can afford a high-end gaming machine don’t find eGPUs a good thing for their laptops. But if you own a mid-range machine and don’t have enough money to upgrade it to latest-generation hardware, you can use a GPU, and they will allow you to get the same graphics performance as found in the latest gaming machines. The performance loss of external graphics card boxes is very minimal while, on the other side, it allows you to game on thin, lightweight machines.

How does eGPU connect with a laptop?

Almost every eGPU connects to a laptop with Thunderbolt 3, and you might already know that not every laptop has this port. Thunderbolt 3 requires USB 3.1 Gen2 port and a chip to operate. That’s the reason why these external graphics cards are not compatible with every laptop in the market. Though if your computer supports the one you can do it with play and play. 

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