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

 

  Thunderbolt 3   Thunderbolt 2   Expresscard 2.0   mini PCIe   NGFF.M2   ▲Top
Thunderbolt 3 Enclosures AKiTiO
Thunder3
AKiTiO Node
Lite new
OWC Mercury
Helios 3
new
AKiTiO
Node
 
Sonnet Breakaway
Box 350 | 500 new
PowerColor
Devil Box
Mantiz
Venus
Razer
Core
Asus ROG
XG Station 2
Appearance
Price US$
$229 & & $269 (Q3-2017)
$280 $269 & $300
 $287 | $316
$450 ~$469shipped $499 ~$699 &
Max PCIe bandwidth 32Gbps 32Gbps 32Gbps 32Gbps 32Gbps 32Gbps 32Gbps 32Gbps 32Gbps
PSU location-type
external-AC
external-AC external-AC
internal-SFX internal-SFX internal-1U
internal-SFX
internal-custom
internal-custom
PSU max power 72W 72W 90W 400W 350W | 500W 500W 550W 500W 600W
Graphics max power
25W 25W 75W 375W 300W | 375W 375W 375W 375W 500W
Charging power
15W 15W 15W 15W 15W | 87W 60W 87W 45W 100W
USB-C controller2
TI82 TI83 TI83 TI83 TI83 TI82 or TI83 TI83 TI82 TI83
Ethernet port1
SATA-III drive port1
USB 3.0 ports1
4 5 4 4
Other ports1 DP DP mDP USB-C 3.1
USB-B 3.0
Daisy chaining1
Size (in/cm)
9.17 x 5.87 x 2.99
23.3 x 14.9 x 7.6
9.17 x 5.87 x 2.99
23.3 x 14.9 x 7.6
9.70 x 5.30 x 3.20 
24.5 x 13.4 x 8.2
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
17.95 × 10.94 x 6.22
45.6 x 27.8 x 15.8
Max GPU len (in/cm)
7.87 / 20.0 7.87 / 20.0 7.75 / 19.7
12.60 / 32.0 12.20/31.0 12.20 / 31.0
13.00 / 33.0
12.20 / 31.0
12.20 / 31.0
Weight (kg/lb) 2.00/4.39 2.00/4.39 1.40/3.10 4.90/10.78 3.25/7.15 ~3.60/7.92 3.60/7.92 4.95/10.89 5.10/11.22
Updated firmware3 ?? B1-25+4.3.3 ✔ v102 ✔ 25.1 ✔ v23p
Vendor page link link link link soon link link link link
Review user link link & user link link user
User implementations
link & link link link link link link

1 port’s use impinges on eGPU PCIe bandwidth, except for (i) Displayport devices (ii) XG Station 2 whose ports are hosted on a separate USB switch + USB-B cable.
2 As of 23-April-2017, TI83 (red) marked enclosures deliver only half their TB3-specced host-to-device bandwidth and are awaiting a firmware fix.
2 On macOS: TI82 specced enclosures require TB3-enabler, a kext system file modification tool, to allow eGPU detection.
3 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

 

 

 


 

  Thunderbolt 3   Thunderbolt 2   Expresscard 2.0   mini PCIe   NGFF.M2   ▲Top
Thunderbolt 2 Enclosures AKiTiO Thunder2 HighPoint 6361A Sonnet Echo
Express SE 1
OWC Mercury Helios
Sonnet Echo
Express III-D
Netstor NA211TB
Appearance
Price US$
$220 $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
User implementations link & link link

Note: Thunderbolt 3 enclosures are confirmed to work on Thunderbolt 2 or 1 Macs in macOS via a US$49 Apple TB3 to TB2 adapter. See examples.


Reference material

hereTB3, TB2 or TB1 eGPU candidate notebook list

 

 

 


 

  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

 

 

 


 

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