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

 

  Thunderbolt 3   Thunderbolt 2   mini PCIe   Expresscard 2.0   NGFF/M.2   ▲Top
Thunderbolt 3
Enclosures
AKiTiO new
Node Lite
AKiTiO
Node
Sonnet Break – new
away Box 350 | 550
HP Omen new
Accelerator 
Netstor new
Hercules HL23T
Mantiz
Venus

Apple eGPU new
Dev Kit
Aorus new
Gaming Box
Asus ROG
XG Station 2
Appearance
Price US$-release
$269 $269  &  &
 $269  & | $349-Q3
$300  &
 $342 $389 $599 $590  & $630
Included GPU ✖  RX 580 GTX 1070
Max PCIe bandwidth 32Gbps 32Gbps 32Gbps 32Gbps  32Gbps 32Gbps 32Gbps 32Gbps 32Gbps
PSU location-type
external-AC
internal-SFX internal-SFX internal-ATX  internal-fATX internal-SFX
internal-SFX internal-fATX internal-1U
PSU max power 72W 400W 350W | 550W
500W  300W 550W 350W 450W 600W
GPU max power
25W 375W 300W | 375W
300W  300W 375W 225W 225W 500W
Power delivery (PD)1
15W 15W 15W | 87W 60W  15W 87W 60W 100W 100W
USB-C controller23
TI83
TI83 TI83 TI83 TI83  TI83 TI83 TI83 TI83
TB3 USB-C ports45 2 1 1 1 2 1 1 1 1
Ports max bandwidth5
10Gbps 5Gbps 10Gbps  5Gbps 5Gbps ??
USB 3.0 ports5
4  ✖ 5 3 4
Ethernet port5  ✖
SATA port5  ✖
Other port5 DP USB-C 3.1  ✖
QC 3.0 USB-B 3.0
Size (in/mm, LxWxH)
[ visual comparison ]

9.17 x 2.99 x 5.87
233 x 76 x 149
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
14.60 x 4.30 x 7.87
371 x 110 x 200
12.99 x 6.42 x 8.46
330 x 163 x 215
13.38 x 7.25 x 8.00
340 x 185 x 202
8..35 x 3.78 x 6.38
212 x 96 x 162
17.95 × 6.22 x 10.94
456 x 158 x 278
Max GPU len (in/cm)
7.87 / 20.0 12.60 / 32.0 12.20/31.0 11.42/29.0 12.60/32.0
13.00 / 33.0
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 5.50/12.10 2.70/5.94
3.60/7.92 3.20/7.10 2.35/5.19 5.10/11.22
Updated firmware6 B1-25+4.4.3 B1-25+4.3.3 ✔ 25.2✔ 25.25 25.1✔  25.1 ✔ 25.1✔ F1.0 H2D v25
Vendor page link link link link  link link link link link
Review link link preview  link link
user link user
 Implementations
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.
3 TI83 enclosures mentioned require a firmware fix to achieve maximum performance otherwise deliver only half their TB3-specced host-to-device bandwidth .
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 ports’ use reduces eGPU bandwidth by up to 31.2% @10Gbps, 15.6% @5Gbps. Except (i) Displayport devices (ii) XG Station 2 that hosts ports via a separate cabled USB switch.
5 If used on a Thunderbolt2/1 system via a
US$49 Apple TB3 to TB2 adapter  USB-based ports are not visible in Windows. 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.

 

Do-not-buy Thunderbolt 3 enclosure list

 

Reference material

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

 

Retired TB3 enclosures (reason highlighed)

Thunderbolt 3
Enclosures
AKiTiO
Thunder3
PowerColor
Devil Box
Razer
Core
Appearance
Price US$-release
$230  & $390 $499
Included GPU
Max PCIe bandwidth  32Gbps 32Gbps 32Gbps
PSU location-type
external-AC internal-1U
internal-custom
PSU max power 72W 500W 500W
GPU max power
25W 375W 375W
Power delivery (PD)1
15W 60W 45W
USB-C controller23
TI82 TI82 or TI83 TI82
TB3 USB-C ports45 2 1 1
Ports max bandwidth5
10Gbps 5Gbps 5Gbps
USB 3.0 ports5
4 4
Ethernet port5
SATA port5
Other port5 DP USB-C 3.1
Size (in/mm, LxWxH)
visual comparison ]

9.17 x 2.99 x 5.87
233 x 76 x 149
15.75 x 6.77 x 9.53
400 x 172 x 242
13.38 x 4.13 x 8.6
334 x 105 x 218
Max GPU len (in/cm)
7.87 / 20.0 12.20 / 31.0
12.20 / 31.0
Weight (kg/lb) 2.00/4.39 ~3.60/7.92 4.95/10.89
Updated firmware6 v102 ✔
Vendor page link link link
Review user link
Implementations
link  &  link link link

 


 

  Thunderbolt 3   Thunderbolt 2   mini PCIe   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$
$217  &  & $234 $219 $279 $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/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 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/M.2   ▲Top
mini PCIe
adapter
PCE164P-N03 EXP GDC Beast 8.4d BPlus PE4C-PM060A 3.0
Appearance
Price US$
$7  &
$40  & $118
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 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 videos

 

 

 


 

  Thunderbolt 3   Thunderbolt 2   mini PCIe   Expresscard 2.0   NGFF/M.2   ▲Top
Expresscard 2.0
adapter
EXP GDC Beast 8.4d BPlus PE4C-EC060A 3.0
Appearance
Price US$
 $46  & $118
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/M.2   ▲Top
NGFF/M.2
adapter
PCE164P-N03 EXP GDC Beast 9.0b
BPlus PE4C-M2060A 4.1
Appearance
Price US$

$8   &   (x1)

$56 (x1)
$109 (x4) | $145 (x4) | $95 (x4)
$140 (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 US$2 extension
mPCIe EC M.2
Vendor page eGPU.io (discuss) 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 M.2 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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