External GPU Buyer’s Guide: Top 2017 eGPU enclosures compared

 

  Thunderbolt 3   Thunderbolt 2   mini PCIe   Expresscard 2.0   NGFF.M2   ▲Top
Thunderbolt 3
Enclosures
AKiTiO new
Thunder3 |
Node Lite
AKiTiO
Node

Sonnet new
Breakaway
Box 350 | 550
HP new
Omen Accelerator 
PowerColor
Devil Box
Mantiz
Venus
Razer
Core
Apple eGPU new
Development
Kit
Aorus new
Gaming Box
Asus ROG
XG Station 2
Appearance
Price US$-release
$242  & | $269-Q3 $269  &
 $299  & | $349-Q3
$299-Q3
$450 ~$469-shipped $499 $599 $599  & $630
Included GPU optional RX 580 GTX 1070
Max PCIe bandwidth 32Gbps 32Gbps 32Gbps 32Gbps 32Gbps 32Gbps 32Gbps 32Gbps 32Gbps 32Gbps
PSU location-type
external-AC
internal-SFX internal-SFX internal-SFX internal-1U
internal-SFX
internal-custom
internal-SFX internal-fATX internal-custom
PSU max power 72W 400W 350W | 550W
500W 500W 550W 500W 350W 450W 600W
GPU max power
25W 375W 300W | 375W
300W 375W 375W 375W 225W 225W 500W
Power delivery (PD)1
15W 15W 15W | 87W 60W 60W 87W 45W 60W 100W 100W
USB-C controller23
TI82 | TI83
TI83 TI83 TI83 TI82 or TI83 TI83 TI82 TI83 TI83 TI83
TB3 USB-C ports45 2 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1
USB 3.0 ports5
4 4 5 4 3 4
Ethernet port5
SATA port5
Other ports5 DP USB-C 3.1 USB-C 3.1
QC 3.0 USB-B 3.0
Size (in/cm)
9.17 x 5.87 x 2.99
23.3 x 14.9 x 7.6
16.85 x 8.94 x 5.71
42.8 x 22.7 x 14.5
13.38 x 8.00 x 7.25
34.0 x 20.2 x 18.5
?? 15.75 x 9.53 x 6.77
40.0 x 24.2 x 17.2
13.38 x 8.50 x 6.45
33.4.x 21.6 x 16.4
13.38 x 8.6 x 4.13
33.4 x 21.8 x 10.5
13.38 x 8.00 x 7.25
34.0 x 20.2 x 18.5
8..35 x 6.38 x 3.78
21.20 x 16.20 x 9.60
17.95 × 10.94 x 6.22
45.6 x 27.8 x 15.8
Max GPU len (in/cm)
7.87 / 20.0 12.60 / 32.0 12.20/31.0 ?? 12.20 / 31.0
13.00 / 33.0
12.20 / 31.0
12.20/31.0 6.65 / 16.9 12.20 / 31.0
Weight (kg/lb) 2.00/4.39 4.90/10.78 3.20/7.10 ?? ~3.60/7.92 3.60/7.92 4.95/10.89 3.20/7.10 2.35/5.19 5.10/11.22
Updated firmware6 |
B1-25+4.3.3 ✔ 25.2✔ ?? v102 ✔ 25.1 ✔ 25.1✔ v25
Vendor page link | link link link link link link link link link link
Review link link preview user link link user user
 Implementations
link  &  link link link link link link link

1 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.
2 On macOS: TI82 enclosures require TB3-enabler, a kext system file modification tool, to allow eGPU detection. Note: this fails on High Sierra.
3 As of 21-July-2017, TI83 (in red) enclosures deliver only half their TB3-specced host-to-device bandwidth and are awaiting a firmware fix.
4 2nd TB3 port can be used for daisy chaining, as a USB-C 3.1 or Displayport. Note: Intel disallows a 2nd TB3 port on eGPU enclosures. It’s only for PCIe enclosures.
5 port’s use reduces eGPU bandwidth by up to 31.2%, except for (i) Displayport devices (ii) XG Station 2 whose ports are hosted via a separate USB switch & cable.
6 Allows eGPU detection in Windows for systems reporting “external GPUs supported: no” in the Intel Thunderbolt software.

 

Do-not-buy Thunderbolt 3 enclosure list

 

Reference material

hereTB3, TB2 or TB1 eGPU candidate notebook list
here ◄ Interface Performance Reference Table

 

 

 


 

  Thunderbolt 3   Thunderbolt 2   mini PCIe   Expresscard 2.0   NGFF.M2   ▲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$
$217 $234 $269 $298 $799 $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/cm)
9.17 x 5.87 x 2.99
23.3 x 14.9 x 7.6
10.29 x 6.49 x 2.28
26.1 x 16.5 x 5.8
8.63 x 5.63 x 3.50
22.0 x 14.3 x 8.85
9.21 x 4.53 x 2.91
23.4 x 11.5 x 7.4
15.94 x 10.20 x 3.82
40.5 x 25.9 x 9.7
14.60 x 7.87 x 4.33
37.1 x 20.0 x 11.0
Release date Q3-2014 Q3-2014 Q3-2014 Q1-2015 Q4-2013 Q1-2014
Vendor page link 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.

 

Do-not-buy Thunderbolt 2 enclosure list


Reference material

hereTB3, TB2 or TB1 eGPU candidate notebook list
here ◄ Interface Performance Reference Table

 

 

 


 

  Thunderbolt 3   Thunderbolt 2   mini PCIe   Expresscard 2.0   NGFF.M2   ▲Top
mini PCIe
adapter
Generic x1 to x16 Extender EXP GDC Beast 8.4d BPlus PE4C-PM060A 3.0
Appearance
Price US$
$8-ATX  & $8-DC  & $42  & $85
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, PCIe or DC jack ATX, Dell DA-2 or DC jack ATX, Dell DA-2 or DC jack
Cable type socketted socketted soldered
Internal wiring
extension avail?
YES
USB port1
Spare cable US$2 extension mPCIe EC M.2
Vendor page discuss (eGPU.io) Cloud Hero (CN) BPlus (TW)
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

 

Reference Material

here ◄ Interface Performance Reference Table

 

mPCIe eGPU implementation video

 


 

  Thunderbolt 3   Thunderbolt 2   mini PCIe   Expresscard 2.0   NGFF.M2   ▲Top
Expresscard 2.0
adapter
EXP GDC Beast 8.4d BPlus PE4C-EC060A 3.0
Appearance
Price US$
 $47  & $128
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 socketted soldered
USB port
Spare cable mPCIe EC M.2
Vendor page  Cloud Hero (CN) BPlus (TW)
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

 

Reference Material

here ◄ Interface Performance Reference Table

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

  Thunderbolt 3   Thunderbolt 2   mini PCIe   Expresscard 2.0   NGFF.M2   ▲Top
NGFF.M2
adapter
Generic x1 to x16 Extender EXP GDC Beast 9.0b
BPlus PE4C-M2060A 4.1
Appearance
Price US$

$10 | $8 (x1)

$56 (x1)
$109 (x4) | $145 (x4) | $95 (x4)
$175 (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 ATX, Dell DA-2, or DC jack ATX, Dell DA-2, or DC jack
Cable type socketted socketted soldered
Spare cable USB 3.0
mPCIe EC M.2
Vendor page Cloud Hero (CN)  BPlus (TW) 
Implementations
link

Pros

  • a M.2 port (x1) is a common interface used to host a WLAN card in the latest notebooks
  • a M.2 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 over 20% as seen here

 

Cons

  • use of a M.2 drive port (x4) for eGPU use is often impractical unless have a secondary drive slot/port. Spare M.2 slots are limited to only a few workstation and NUC systems.
  • error 43 with M.2 eGPUs using when GTX10xx cards on this non-hotpluggable interface
  • requires cumbersome underside system M2 port access
  • M.2 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

 

Reference Material

here ◄ Interface Performance Reference Table

 

 


 

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