External GPU Buyer’s Guide: 2018 Best eGPU Enclosures Reviewed

eGPU Reviews

Below are the current best Thunderbolt 3 eGFX enclosures on the market. Hands-on reviews are linked off  the 2nd row from the bottom.

 

  Thunderbolt 3 – eGFX   Thunderbolt 3 – PCIe
  Thunderbolt 2   mini PCIe   Expresscard 2.0   NGFF/M.2   ▲Top
Thunderbolt 3
Enclosures

Zotac Box
Mininew

AKiTiO HOT
Node
Sonnet Breakaway
350 | 550 | 350D
HP Omen Accelerator PowerColor
Devil Box
Asus XG
Station Pronew
Mantiz
Venus

Asus ROG
XG Station 2
Razer
Core V2
Sonnet Breakaway
Puck
Aorus HOT
Gaming Box
Appearance
Included GPU1 ✖       ✖  |   ✖  | RX580
RX560 | RX570 GTX1070 | GTX1080
Price US$
$220 $260
$249 | $313 | $699
$342
$300
$330 $399
$550
$500 $399 | $599
$570 | $700
Max PCIe bandwidth 32Gbps  32Gbps 32Gbps 32Gbps 32Gbps 32Gbps 32Gbps 32Gbps 32Gbps 32Gbps 32Gbps
PSU location-type2
external-AC  internal-SFX internal-SFX internal-ATX internal-fATX external-AC internal-SFX internal-fATX internal-fATX external-AC internal-fATX
PSU max power 180W 400W 350W | 550W | 350W
500W 500W 330W 550W 680W 500W 160W | 220W 450W
GPU max power3
150W
375W 300W | 375W | 225W
300W 375W 300W 375W 500W 375W 225W
Power delivery (PD)4
15W 15W 15W | 87W | 60W 60W 60W 15W 87W 100W 65W 45W 100W
USB-C controller
TI83 TI83 TI83 TI83 TI83 TI83 TI83 TI83 TI83 TI83 TI83
TB3 USB-C ports5 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1
Ports max bandwidth5 5Gps 5Gbps 5Gbps 10Gbps 5Gbps 5Gbps 5Gbps 5Gbps
USB3.0 ports (+C type)5
4 4+1 4+1 0
5 4 4 3
Ethernet port5
SATA port5
Other ports USB-C 3.1
USB-B 3.0 3xDP,HDMI QC,HDMI,DP,2xDVI-D
Size (in/mm, LxWxH)
[ visual comparison ]

9.06 x 3.90 x 7.20
230 x 99 x 183
16.85 x 5.71 x 8.94
428 x 145 x 227
13.38 x 7.25 x 8.00
340 x 185 x 202
15.75 x 7.87 x 7.87
400 x 200 x 200
15.75 x 6.77 x 9.53
400 x 172 x 242
14.76 x 4..21 x 8.07
375 x 107 x 205
12.99 x 6.42 x 8.46
330 x 163 x 215
17.95 × 6.22 x 10.94
456 x 158 x 278
13.38 x 4.13 x 8.60
334 x 105 x 218
6.00 x 2.00 x 5.12
152 x 51 x 130
8..35 x 3.78 x 6.38
212 x 96 x 162
Max GPU len (in/cm)
7.87/20.0 12.60 / 32.0 12.20/31.0 11.42/29.0 12.20 / 31.0 12.24/31.1
13.00 / 33.0
12.20 / 31.0 11.81/30.0 6.65 / 16.9
Weight (kg/lb) 0.85/1.87
4.90/10.78 3.20/7.10 5.50/12.10 ~3.60/7.92 2.95 /6.50
3.60/7.92
5.10/11.22 4.95/10.89 2.38/5.25 2.35/5.19
Updated firmware6 26.1 ✔ B1-25+4.3.3 25.2 | 25.2 | 25.1 ✔ 25.25 25.101 25.1 v25 26.1 ✔ 25.1 ✔ F1.0 | F1.0
TB3 cable length (cm)7 50 50 50 50 50 150 50 50 50 50 50
Vendor page link
link link link link link link link link link link | link
Review unbox
link link link user preview link link link link link | link
Implementations
link link link link link link link link link

1 For macOS 10.13.4: AMD RX480/580 & these are supported. Nvidia support can be added with an app workaround with good success.
2 Flex-ATX (fATX) PSUs have a tiny 40mm high RPM cooling fan that is noisy under load. Separate external-AC PSUs are not included in product’s size.
3 Meet or exceed your intended video card’s peak power requirements. See TechPowerUp card reviews, eg: GTX1080Ti to find this.
4 Meet or exceed your TB3 notebook’s charger wattage for the TB3 enclosure to be a single-cable solution that includes charging. eg Macbook USB-C chargers.
5 ports’ use reduces eGPU bandwidth by up to 31.2% @10Gbps, 15.6% @5Gbps. Except for (i) Displayport devices (ii) XG Station 2 that hosts ports off a separate USB-B cable.
5 If used on a TB2/1 system via a
US$49 Apple TB3-TB2 adapter, USB ports are not visible in Windows (inc Aorus’ fan control). They do appear in macOS. Ref: theitsage.
6 Allows eGPU detection in Windows for systems reporting “external GPUs supported: no” in the Intel Thunderbolt software.
7 If require a longer TB3 cable, consider these:  US$55 Choetech 200cmUS$60/$50 Cable Matters 200cm/100cm.

 

Reference material

hereTB3, TB2 or TB1 eGPU candidate notebook list
here ◄ eGPU Port Bandwidth Reference Table

 

 

  Thunderbolt 3 – eGFX   Thunderbolt 3 – PCIe
  Thunderbolt 2   ▲Top   Expresscard 2.0   NGFF/M.2   ▲Top
Thunderbolt 3
Enclosures
OWC Mercury
Helios 3
AKiTiO
Thunder3
AKiTiO
Node Lite
AKiTiO Node Pronew Netstor
Hercules HL23T
Appearance
Included GPU1
Price US$
$200 $220 $220 US$360
$435
Max PCIe bandwidth 32Gbps 32Gbps 32Gbps 32Gbps 32Gbps
PSU location-type2
external-AC external-AC external-AC internal-SFX internal-fATX
PSU max power 90W 72W 72W 500W 300W
GPU max power3
25W 25W 25W 400W 300W
Power delivery (PD)4
15W 15W 15W 60W x2 15W
USB-C controller5
TI83 TI82 TI83 TI83 TI83
TB3 USB-C ports67 2 2 2 2 2
Ports max bandwidth7
10Gbps 10Gbps 10Gbps 10Gbps 10Gbps
USB3.0 ports (+C type)7
Ethernet port7
SATA port7
Other ports mDP DP DP DP DP
Size (in/mm, LxWxH)
[ visual comparison ]

9.70 x 3.20 x 5.30
245 x 82 x 134
9.17 x 2.99 x 5.87
233 x 76 x 149
9.17 x 2.99 x 5.87
233 x 76 x 149
14.06 x 5.31 x 10.47
357 x 135 x 266
14.60 x 4.30 x 7.87
371 x 110 x 200
Max GPU len (in/cm)
7.75 / 19.6 7.87 / 20.0 7.87 / 20.0 12.60 / 32.0 12.60/32.0
Weight (kg/lb) 1.40/3.08 2.00/4.39 2.00/4.39 3.40/7.40 2.70/5.94
Updated firmware8 B1-25+4.4.3 25.1✔
TB3 cable length (cm)9 50 50 50 50 100
Vendor page link link link link link
Review user link link
Implementations
link & link link link link

1 For macOS High Sierra: AMD RX480/580 & these are supported. Nvidia support can be added with an app workaround with variable success.
2 Flex-ATX (fATX) PSUs have a tiny 40mm high RPM cooling fan that is noisy under load. Separate external-AC PSUs are not included in product’s size.
3 Meet or exceed your intended video card’s peak power requirements. See TechPowerUp card reviews, eg: GTX1080Ti to find this.
4 Meet or exceed your TB3 notebook’s charger wattage for the TB3 enclosure to be a single-cable solution that includes charging. eg Macbook USB-C chargers.
5 On macOS: TI82 enclosures require TB3-enabler, a kext system file modification tool, to allow eGPU detection.
6 2nd TB3 port can be used for daisy chaining, as a 10Gbps USB-C 3.1 or Displayport. Note: Intel disallows a 2nd TB3 port on eGFX enclosures. It’s only for PCIe enclosures.
7 ports’ use reduces eGPU bandwidth by up to 31.2% @10Gbps, 15.6% @5Gbps. Except for (i) Displayport devices (ii) XG Station 2 that hosts ports via a separate USB-B cabled USB switch.
7 If used on a TB2/1 system via a US$49 Apple TB3-TB2 adapter, USB ports are not visible in Windows (inc Aorus’ fan control). They do appear in macOS. Ref: theitsage.
8 Allows eGPU detection in Windows for systems reporting “external GPUs supported: no” in the Intel Thunderbolt software.
9 If require a longer TB3 cable, consider these:  US$55 Choetech 200cmUS$60/$50 Cable Matters 200cm/100cm.

 

Do-not-buy Thunderbolt 3 enclosure list

 

Reference material

hereTB3, TB2 or TB1 eGPU candidate notebook list
here ◄ eGPU Port Bandwidth Reference Table

 

Retired TB3 enclosures (reason highlighed)

Thunderbolt 3
Enclosures
Galax/KFA2
SNPR
Razer
Core
Appearance
Included GPU GTX1060
Price US$
N/A N/A
Max PCIe bandwidth 32Gbps 32Gbps
PSU location-type
external-AC internal-fATX
PSU max power 230W 500W
GPU max power
375W
Power delivery (PD) 1
45W 45W
USB-C controller23
TI83 TI82
TB3 USB-C ports45 1 1
Ports max bandwidth5
5Gbps
USB 3.1 ports6
4
Ethernet port5
SATA port5
Other ports HDMI,DP,DVI-D
Size (in/mm, LxWxH)
6.50 x 2.87 x 6.16
165 x 73 x 157
13.38 x 4.13 x 8.6
334 x 105 x 218
Max GPU len (in/cm)
12.20 / 31.0
Weight (kg/lb) ~2.48/5.46 4.95/10.89
Updated firmware6
Vendor page <a href=”http://www.galax.com%

 

  Thunderbolt 3 – eGFX   Thunderbolt 3 – PCIe
  Thunderbolt 2   ▲Top   Expresscard 2.0   NGFF/M.2   ▲Top
Thunderbolt 2 Enclosures AKiTiO Thunder2 HighPoint RS6361A Sonnet Echo
Express SE 1
OWC Mercury Helios
Sonnet Echo
Express III-D
Netstor NA211TB
Appearance
Price US$
$209 $234 $206 $230 $899 $849
Max PCIe bandwidth 16Gbps 16Gbps 16Gbps 16Gbps 16Gbps 16Gbps
PSU location-max power
external-60W
external -50W
external -60W
external-120W
internal-300W internal-300W
Graphics max power 25W 25W 25W 75W 150W ~290W
Daisy chaining
Size (in/mm)
9.17 x 2.99 x 5.87
233 x 76 x 149
10.29 x 2.28 x 6.49
261 x 58 x 165
8.63 x 5.63 x 3.50
220 x 143 x 885
9.21 x 4.53 x 2.9
234 x 115 x 74
15.94 x 3.82 x 10.20
405 x 97 x 259
14.60 x 4.33 x 7.87
371 x 110 x 200
Release date Q3-2014 Q3-2014 Q3-2014 Q1-2015 Q4-2013 Q1-2014
Vendor page link link link link link
Implementations link & link link

Note: better value Thunderbolt 3 enclosures work with TB2/TB1 Macs in macOS and with PC notebooks via a US$49 Apple TB3 to TB2 adapter. See examples.


 

  Thunderbolt 3   Thunderbolt 2   Expresscard 2.0   mini PCIe   NGFF.M2   ▲Top
Expresscard 2.0
adapter
BPlus PE4C-EC060A 3.0 EXP GDC Beast 8.4d
Appearance
Price US$
$128 $40
Max PCIe bandwidth 8Gbps – x1 3.0 (6th gen i-core CPU or newer)

4Gbps – x1 2.0 (2nd-5th gen i-core CPU)

2Gbps – x1 1.1 (1st gen i-core CPU or older)
Input PSU source ATX, Dell DA-2, or DC jack ATX, Dell DA-2, or DC jack
Cable type soldered socketted
USB port
Vendor page BPlus (TW) Cloud Hero (CN)
User implementations
link

Compatibility references

hereExpresscard 2.0 eGPUs – pros, cons and candidate notebooks

 

Known Issues

here[GUIDE] error 12/43 & other detection, bootup and stability problems

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

  Thunderbolt 3   Thunderbolt 2   Expresscard 2.0   mini PCIe   NGFF.M2   ▲Top
mini PCIe
adapter
BPlus PE4C-PM060A 3.0 EXP GDC Beast 8.4d
Appearance
Price US$
$128 $47
Max PCIe bandwidth 8Gbps – x1 3.0 (6th gen i-core CPU or newer)

4Gbps – x1 2.0 (2nd-5th gen i-core CPU)

2Gbps – x1 1.1 (1st gen i-core CPU or older)
Input PSU source ATX, Dell DA-2, or DC jack ATX, Dell DA-2, or DC jack
Cable type soldered socketted
Internal wiring
extension avail?
YES
USB port1
Vendor page BPlus (TW) Cloud Hero (CN)
User implementations
link

1 Notebook mPCIe WLAN ports often do not have the USB port wired, making this a non-feature.

 

Pros

mPCIe is a common interface used to host a WLAN card which here is used to host an eGPU instead

 

Cons

  • error 43 with mPCIe eGPUs when using GTX10xx cards on this non-hotpluggable interface
  • requires cumbersome underside system mPCIe port access
  • mPCIe port can be whitelisted or deactivated by BIOS when no certified WLAN card is detected
  • requires an additional USB WLAN product to then have concurrent WLAN functionality

 

Known Issues

hereNVidia is killing off mPCIe/NGFF.M2 eGPUs : error 43 with 372.90 or newer driver
here[GUIDE] error 12/43 & other detection, bootup and stability problems

 

 


 

  Thunderbolt 3   Thunderbolt 2   Expresscard 2.0   mini PCIe   NGFF.M2   ▲Top
NGFF.M2
adapter
BPlus PE4C-M2060A 4.1
EXP GDC Beast 9.0b
Appearance
Price US$
$175 (x4) $56 (x1)
$145 (x4) | $95 (x4)
Max PCIe bandwidth 32Gbps – x4 3.0 (6th gen i-core CPU or newer)
16Gbps – x4 2.0 (2nd-5th gen i-core CPU)

8Gbps – x1 3.0 (6th gen i-core CPU or newer)
4Gbps – x1 2.0 (2nd-5th gen i-core CPU)
Input PSU source ATX, Dell DA-2, or DC jack ATX, Dell DA-2, or DC jack
Cable type soldered socketted
Vendor page BPlus (TW) Cloud Hero (CN)
User implementations
link

Pros

  • a M2 port (x1) is a common interface used to host a WLAN card in the latest notebooks
  • a M2 port (x4) is a interface used to host a fast PCIe SSD, eg; NVMe in the latest high performance notebooks
  • a 32Gbps-M2 eGPU outperforms a 32Gbps-TB3 eGPU by about 15-20% as seen here

 

Cons

  • use of a M2 drive port (x4) for eGPU use is often impractical unless have a secondary drive slot/port. Spare M2 slots are limited to only a few workstation and NUC systems.
  • error 43 with M2 eGPUs using when GTX10xx cards on this non-hotpluggable interface
  • requires cumbersome underside system M2 port access
  • M2 port can be whitelisted or deactivated by BIOS when no vendor certified device is detected

 

Known Issues

hereNVidia is killing off mPCIe/NGFF.M2 eGPUs : error 43 with 372.90 or newer driver
here[GUIDE] error 12/43 & other detection, bootup and stability problems

 

 

 


 

Please share your thoughts about this comparison of the best eGPU enclosures and adapters available by joining the eGPU.io forum.