External GPU Buyer’s Guide: Top 2018 eGPU enclosures compared

 

 Thunderbolt 3 – eGFX Thunderbolt 3 – PCIe  
  Thunderbolt 2 mini PCIe Expresscard 2.0 NGFF/M.2 ▲Top
Thunderbolt 3
Enclosures
AKiTiO HOT
Node
Sonnet Breakaway
350 | 550 | 350D
HP Omen
Accelerator
PowerColor
Devil Box
Mantiz
Venus

Asus ROG
XG Station 2
Razer
Core V2new
Sonnet Breakaway
Pucknew
Galax/KFA2
SNPRnew
Aorus HOT
Gaming Box
Appearance
Included GPU1     ✖   |    ✖    | RX580
RX560 | RX570GTX1060 GTX1070 | GTX1080
Price US$
$249
$249 | $349 | $549
$300
$200AR
$399
$490
$500$449 | $599
$570 | $700
Max PCIe bandwidth32Gbps32Gbps32Gbps32Gbps 32Gbps32Gbps32Gbps32Gbps 32Gbps32Gbps
PSU location-type2
internal-SFXinternal-SFXinternal-ATXinternal-fATXinternal-SFXinternal-fATXinternal-fATXexternal-ACexternal-AC internal-fATX
PSU max power400W350W | 550W | 350W
500W500W550W680W500W160W | 220W230W
450W
GPU max power3
375W300W | 375W | 225W
300W375W 375W500W375W
225W
Power delivery (PD)4
15W15W | 87W | 60W 60W60W 87W100W65W45W45W100W
USB-C controller
TI83TI83TI83 TI83TI83TI83TI83TI83 TI83TI83
TB3 USB-C ports56111111111
1
Ports max bandwidth6
5Gbps5Gbps5Gbps5Gbps5Gbps
5Gbps
USB3.0 ports (+C type)6
4+14+15443
Ethernet port6
SATA port6
Other portsUSB-B 3.03xDP,HDMI HDMI,DP,DVI-D
QC,HDMI,DP,2xDVI-D
Size (in/mm, LxWxH)
[ visual comparison ]

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
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
6.50 x 2.87 x 6.16
165 x 73 x 157
8..35 x 3.78 x 6.38
212 x 96 x 162
Max GPU len (in/cm)
12.60 / 32.012.20/31.011.42/29.012.20 / 31.013.00 / 33.0
12.20 / 31.011.81/30.0 –6.65 / 16.9
Weight (kg/lb)4.90/10.783.20/7.105.50/12.10~3.60/7.923.60/7.92
5.10/11.224.95/10.892.38/5.25~2.48/5.462.35/5.19
Updated firmware7B1-25+4.3.325.2 | 25.2 | 25.1 ✔25.2525.10125.1v2525.1 ✔
F1.0 | ✔
Vendor pagelinklinklinklink linklinklinklinklink
link | link
Reviewlinklinklinkuserlinkunboxuserlink previewlink | link
Implementations
link link linklink linklinklink 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 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.
6 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.
6 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.
7 Allows eGPU detection in Windows for systems reporting “external GPUs supported: no” in the Intel Thunderbolt software.

 

 

 Thunderbolt 3 – eGFX Thunderbolt 3 – PCIe
  ▲Topderbolt 2 mini PCIe Expresscard 2.0 NGFF/M.2 ▲Top
Thunderbolt 3
Enclosures
AKiTiO
Thunder3
AKiTiO
Node Lite
AKiTiO Node PronewNetstor
Hercules HL23T
Appearance
Included GPU
Price US$
$220$246US$369
$435
Max PCIe bandwidth 32Gbps32Gbps32Gbps32Gbps
PSU location-type2
external-ACexternal-ACinternal-SFXinternal-fATX
PSU max power72W72W500W300W
GPU max power3
25W25W400W300W
Power delivery (PD)4
15W15W60W x215W
USB-C controller5
TI82TI83TI83TI83
TB3 USB-C ports672222
Ports max bandwidth7
10Gbps10Gbps10Gbps10Gbps
USB3.0 ports (+C type)7
Ethernet port7
SATA port7
Other portsDPDPDPDP
Size (in/mm, LxWxH)
[ visual comparison ]

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)
7.87 / 20.07.87 / 20.012.60 / 32.012.60/32.0
Weight (kg/lb)2.00/4.392.00/4.39??2.70/5.94
Updated firmware8B1-25+4.4.3 25.1✔
Vendor pagelinklinklinklink
Reviewpreviewlink
Implementations
link & linklink 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 usually noisy under load.  Separate external-AC PSUs are not included in product 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.

 

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
Razer
Core
Appearance
Included GPU
Price US$
N/A
Max PCIe bandwidth32Gbps
PSU location-type
internal-custom
PSU max power500W
GPU max power
375W
Power delivery (PD) 1
45W
USB-C controller23
TI82
TB3 USB-C ports451
Ports max bandwidth5
5Gbps
USB 3.1 ports6
4
Ethernet port5
SATA port5
Other ports
Size (in/mm, LxWxH)
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)4.95/10.89
Updated firmware6
Vendor pagelink
Reviewlink
Implementations
link

2 On macOS: TI82 enclosures require TB3-enabler, a kext system file modification tool, to allow eGPU detection.
3 TI83 (red) marked enclosures deliver only half their TB3-specced host-to-device bandwidth and are awaiting a firmware fix.
6 Allows eGPU detection in Windows for systems reporting “external GPUs supported: no” in the Intel Thunderbolt software.

 


 

 Thunderbolt 3 – eGFX Thunderbolt 3 – PCIe
  Thunderbolt 2 mini PCIe Expresscard 2.0 NGFF/M.2 ▲Top
Thunderbolt 2 EnclosuresAKiTiO Thunder2HighPoint RS6361ASonnet Echo
Express SE 1
OWC Mercury Helios
Sonnet Echo
Express III-D
Netstor NA211TB
Appearance
Price US$
$209$234$212$279$899$849
Max PCIe bandwidth16Gbps16Gbps16Gbps16Gbps16Gbps16Gbps
PSU location-max power
external-60W
external -50W
external -60W
external-120W
internal-300Winternal-300W
Graphics max power25W25W25W75W150W~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 dateQ3-2014Q3-2014Q3-2014Q1-2015Q4-2013Q1-2014
Vendor pagelinklinklinklinklink
Implementations TB2 |  TB1link & linklink

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 – eGFX Thunderbolt 3 – PCIe
  Thunderbolt 2 mini PCIe Expresscard 2.0 NGFF/M.2 ▲Top
mini PCIe
adapter
PCE164P-N03 EXP GDC Beast 8.4dBPlus
PE4C-PM060A 3.0
Appearance
Price
US$6  &
US$42  US$98
Max PCIe bandwidth8Gbps – 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 sourceATX, PCIe or DC jackATX, Dell DA-2 or DC jackATX, Dell DA-2 or DC jack
Cable typesockettedsockettedsoldered
Internal wiring
extension avail?
YES
USB port1
Spare cableUS$2 extensionmPCIe EC M.2
Vendor pageeGPU.io (discuss)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 – eGFX Thunderbolt 3 – PCIe
  Thunderbolt 2 mini PCIe Expresscard 2.0 NGFF/M.2 ▲Top
Expresscard 2.0
adapter
EXP GDC Beast 8.4dBPlus PE4C-EC060A 3.0
Appearance
Price
US$44US$98
Max PCIe bandwidth8Gbps – 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 sourceATX, Dell DA-2, or DC jackATX, Dell DA-2, or DC jack
Cable typesockettedsoldered
USB port
Spare cablemPCIe 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 – eGFX Thunderbolt 3 – PCIe
  Thunderbolt 2 mini PCIe Expresscard 2.0 NGFF/M.2 ▲Top
NGFF/M.2
adapter
PCE164P-N03ADT R43/R53EXP GDC Beast 9.0b
BPlus
PE4C-M2060A 4.1
Appearance
Price US$
$7  & (x1)$25  & (x4)$56 (x1)
$109 (x4) 
$145 (x4)
$140 (x4)
Max PCIe bandwidth32Gbps – 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 sourceATX4-pin floppyATX, Dell DA-2, or DC jackATX, Dell DA-2, or DC jack
Cable typesockettedsolderedsockettedsoldered
Spare cableUS$2 extension
mPCIe EC M.2
Vendor pageeGPU.io (discuss)ADTCloud 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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