Gigabyte AORUS GTX 1070 Gaming Box Review - Tiny but Mighty
 
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Gigabyte AORUS GTX 1070 Gaming Box Review - Tiny but Mighty  

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itsage
(@itsage)
Illustrious Member Admin
Joined: 4 years ago
 

 

Gigabyte AORUS GTX 1070 Gaming Box next to 4 Mac laptops

Introduction

Conflict makes life interesting. For eGPU enthusiasts, this could not be more true. We want thin and light ultrabooks to fit our mobile lifestyle and at the same time demand capable gaming laptops or workstations wherever we want. This wish is slowly coming to fruition, but the cost is high. The average price of an eGPU enclosure is $300, and the majority of enclosures currently available are rather bulky, negating the portability of an ultrabook. Naysayers would deem such a setup a waste and claim the money could be better spent on a proper gaming desktop.

Enter the AORUS GTX 1070 Gaming Box, the newcomer to a growing list of external graphics options. Gigabyte's goal with its external GPU solution is to lower the eGPU entry price and minimize its physique. It accomplishes this by building a Thunderbolt 3 eGPU enclosure around a Mini ITX-sized GTX 1070 graphics card. Gigabyte manufactures both the enclosure and GPU so it can afford to undercut the competition. Priced at $599, it's about $100 less than building a comparable eGPU with a GTX 1070 ($400) and Thunderbolt 3 enclosure ($300). The GTX 1070 Gaming Box is featured through AORUS, Gigabyte's premium brand that caters to gamers.

Hardware Specifics

Aorus GTX 1070 Gaming Box - retail box
Specifications  compare 
Price US$
$599
PSU location-type
internal-fATX
PSU max power 450W
GPU max power
225W
Power delivery (PD)
100W
USB-C controller
TI83
TB3 USB-C ports 1
Ports max bandwidth 5Gbps
USB3.0 ports (+C type)
3+0
Ethernet  & SATA port
Other ports QC,HDMI,DP,2xDVI-D
Size (in/mm, LxWxH)
8..35 x 3.78 x 6.38
212 x 96 x 162
Max GPU len (in/cm)
6.65 / 16.9
Weight (kg/lb) 2.35/5.19
Updated firmware F1.0
Vendor page link
Implementations
link

Having been accustomed to handling regular size external GPU enclosures, my first reaction upon seeing the AORUS GTX 1070 Gaming Box was to wonder where the rest of the components went. It's significantly smaller than the other enclosures on the market. For example, the AKiTiO Node is more than four times the metric volume of the GTX 1070 Gaming Box. The second smallest eGPU enclosure, Razer Core, is more than twice the size. Gigabyte AORUS GTX 1070 is by far the lightest eGPU as well.

How did Gigabyte manage this? It starts with the light and rather flimsy construction of the inner metal frame. This component serves as the base that wraps around the front and back and is secured at the top by a 6mm wide metal retaining bar. It takes a steady hand with a light touch not to break things when handling the internal components of this box. The enclosure was clearly not meant to be user-serviceable. The outer case reinforces the whole unit, and the enclosure feels much sturdier with it on. The sides are 90% mesh to allow sufficient airflow. This is essential to prevent thermal buildup and overheating given the tight space inside.

The graphics card is an off-the-shelf Mini ITX variant of Gigabyte GTX 1070 GPU offerings. The exact part number is GV-N1070IXOC-8GD. Due to current high mining demand, this graphics card alone commands at least $500. I commend Gigabyte for committing a good quantity of these GPUs for the AORUS Gaming Box launch. Miners, you are more than welcome to buy these boxes. Make good use of the GTX 1070 GPU then sell the Thunderbolt 3 enclosures to us for $100 a piece. Everybody wins!

Gigabyte's PCB expertise shows in the arrangement of the Thunderbolt 3 board. It was able to fit not only the crucial components for a Thunderbolt 3 eGPU main board but also additional rear I/Os and a strip of LEDs. On the top side I spotted the usual suspects, a TI83 USB-C controller and DSL6450 Intel Thunderbolt 3 controller. Flipped to the bottom I found another old friend, the Winbond EEPROM. Nando suggested this EEPROM stores the enclosure's firmware that dictates Thunderbolt eGPU functionality and USB-C power delivery. Further study of this component would help us understand more about Thunderbolt 3 devices in general and eGPU use in specific.

An eGPU enclosure this size necessitates a tiny power supply and little fans. This is the weak point of the AORUS GTX 1070 Gaming Box in terms of noise level. The 40mm fans inside this enclosure are not excessively loud, but they run at higher speeds and therefore have a high-pitched buzzing noise. The power supply is an Enhance Flex ATX 450W unit that features a single rail 12V. Its custom wiring harness provides one 24-pin power cable for the Thunderbolt 3 board and one 6 + 2-pin PCIe power cable for the graphics card. There's no power switch on the PSU. The AORUS GTX 1070 Gaming Box turns on when there's communication with a Thunderbolt 3 host.

The RGB LEDs are on-board and placed in a rather unfortunate location. They're at the outside edge of the Thunderbolt 3 PCB, in direct view when you look at this enclosure from the side. The default settings are very bright. In order to change the brightness or completely turn them off, you'll need AORUS Gaming Engine software in Windows. I set the LEDs to Monitoring mode which changes colors based on the GPU temperature. In this RGB mode, Green means "Go" and Red means "Stop." It confirms my distaste for RGB in computer peripherals especially when they remind me of traffic laws and cops.

Testings & Benchmarks

Shortly after the news broke on this Gigabyte AORUS GTX 1070 Gaming Box, many eGPU.io members expressed interest in using it with Macs. I obliged and paired this 1070 Gaming Box with four Mac laptops that span across three Thunderbolt generations. The featured B&W photo you see starts with the Gigabyte AORUS GTX 1070 Gaming Box on the far left, mid 2015 11" MacBook Air, mid 2017 13" MacBook Pro, late 2016 15" MacBook Pro, and late 2011 17" MacBook Pro. The good news is they all work with this gaming box in macOS Sierra 10.12 using goalque's automate-eGPU script. In fact it was a very easy process, and I was up and running with this eGPU within 10 minutes (YMMV; I've only done this hundreds of time in the past year).

Power delivery and additional USB ports are nice features for Thunderbolt 3 MacBook Pros. There are four standard USB ports in the rear of the box, one of which is orange and serves as a charging port for mobile phones. It has Quick Charge support (QC 3.0) but does not transmit data. The other three USB 3.0 ports can be used with peripheral devices. Power delivery (PD 3.0) is as promised at 100W when connecting with the supplied half-meter long Thunderbolt 3 cable. I tried a 2m Thunderbolt 3 cable, and PD drops to 60W.

Regarding the next macOS release High Sierra 10.13, the verdict is still out whether Nvidia GPUs will receive external graphics support from Apple. Recent news of Nvidia officially joining the eGPU market suggests the company does not want to miss out on the action. I will be trying this AORUS Gaming Box Thunderbolt 3 board with an RX 470 to confirm whether it works in 10.13 beta. We've also made suggestions to Gigabyte US and AMD to join forces and introduce a Radeon option. We got confirmation RX Vega cards have native eGPU support in High Sierra. My wishful thinking is that we'll see an AORUS RX Vega Nano Gaming Box by the end of the year.

On the Windows side of things, I'd say this enclosure is my go-to recommendation for most eGPU gamers. It's a ready-to-go solution right out of the box and feels complete with extras such as the carrying bag and AORUS Gaming Engine software (read my unboxing post for more details and photos). I've tried this GTX 1070 Gaming Box with my Z170 Thunderbolt 3 Test Bench, XPS 9550, and XPS 9250 2-in-1 alongside the Mac laptops in Bootcamp.

It's essentially plug-and-play for the PC Thunderbolt 3 hosts. The Mac laptops are more challenging, and the degree of difficulty varies depending on whether there's a discrete graphics card. The 13" Thunderbolt 3 Macbook Pro was fairly simple because it only has an iGPU, Intel Iris Plus Graphics 640. The 15" Thunderbolt 3 MacBook Pro presents multiple challenges for an eGPU implementation in Windows via Bootcamp. I won't go into details in this review because we're working on a comprehensive Bootcamp eGPU setup guide for Thunderbolt 3 MacBook Pro.

One performance flaw we observed with this Gigabyte AORUS GTX 1070 Gaming Box is the Host-to-Device speed. This is a well-documented issue we found with other Thunderbolt 3 eGPU enclosures. Intel has approved newer firmware to remedy this issue. It's disappointing to see Gigabyte has not implemented the newest Thunderbolt firmware prior to launch. We contacted Gigabyte about this, and it's working on releasing the Thunderbolt firmware update soon. The launch units have firmware version 25.25 as shown in macOS System Information under Thunderbolt tree.

To present a consistent set of performance data, I decided to run all benchmarks through the Z170 Thunderbolt 3 Test Bench. It was paired with a 4K external display so that we can see the GTX 1070 eGPU performance at 1080, 1440, and 4K. I tried to emulate internal display acceleration mode by feeding output to the 4K display through the Test Bench's on-board HDMI rather than display ports on the eGPU. Unfortunately Nvidia Optimus doesn't work very reliably for this mode. I've had better success using AMD XConnect on this Test Bench.

I also ran this GTX 1070 as a discrete GPU on this Test Bench. Keep in mind the current Thunderbolt firmware of this 1070 Gaming Box suffers from the half Host-to-Device bandwidth issue. Once Gigabyte releases a firmware update to remedy this, we expect eGPU performance to improve. Here are the numbers.

Gigabyte GTX 1070FHD dGPUFHD eGPUQHD dGPUQHD eGPUUHD dGPUUHD eGPU
Unigine Valley91.6 FPS78.7 FPS55.9 FPS50.9 FPS25.6 FPS24.3 FPS
Unigine Heaven91.1 FPS76.1 FPS54.1 FPS48.1 FPS23.5 FPS22.2 FPS
Unigine Superposition93.4 FPS85.0 FPS60.3 FPS56.6 FPS30.6 FPS29.7 FPS
3DMark Time Spy60.9 FPS35.3 FPS37.6 FPS34.5 FPS17.9 FPS17.0 FPS
3DMark Fire Strike84.1 FPS70.6 FPS49.2 FPS42.7 FPS26.6 FPS24.8 FPS
Rise of the Tomb Raider60.0 FPS55.8 FPS60.0 FPS57.1 FPS44.5 FPS43.7 FPS
Tom Clancy's Ghost Recon91.3 FPS48.6 FPS66.0 FPS40.3 FPS36.2 FPS27.1 FPS
Shadow of Mordor119.9 FPS79.9 FPS78.0 FPS66.4 FPS43.1 FPS38.6 FPS

Conclusion

Conflicts can be good. It motivates us to consider alternatives and find workarounds. The Gigabyte AORUS GTX 1070 Gaming Box is a mighty example of solving eGPU gaming conflicts. It provides the best price to performance ratio and is the most portable external graphics solution available. This tiny external graphics box will be spending countless hours in all corners of the world improving frame rates. It raises the bar for the competition to lower Thunderbolt 3 enclosure pricing.

 

 

See also

external graphics card builds
best laptops for external GPU
eGPU enclosure buyer's guide

 
2020 13" MacBook Pro [10th,4C,G] + RTX 2080 Ti @ 32Gbps-TB3 (AORUS Gaming Box) + Win10 2004 [build link]  


PCMods4Fun, Cyril Pauya, cem2ran and 11 people liked
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Eightarmedpet
(@eightarmedpet)
Noble Member Moderator
Joined: 3 years ago
 

Great write up as ever, more small enclosures please. Fingers and toes crossed for giveaway...

Oh best sub too…

2017 13" MacBook Pro Touch Bar
GTX1060 + AKiTiO Thunder3 + Win10
GTX1070 + Sonnet Breakaway Box + Win10
GTX1070 + Razer Core V1 + Win10
Vega 56 + Razer Core V1 + macOS + Win10
Vega 56 + Mantiz Venus + macOS + W10

---

LG 5K Ultrafine flickering issue fix

 
2017 13" MacBook Pro [7th,2C,U] + RX 5700 XT @ 32Gbps-TB3 (Mantiz Venus) + macOS 10.15.4 & Win10 2004 [build link]  


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ludalex
(@ludalex)
Active Member
Joined: 3 years ago
 

Awesome review, thank you. I'm considering to buy this to game on my 2016 MBP 15" with boot camp Win10 - in the review you mention that it works but with some struggles but can you confirm that it ultimately works reliably?

Also, when you say "I won’t go into details in this review because we’re working on a comprehensive Bootcamp eGPU setup guide for Thunderbolt 3 MacBook Pro."  do you mean that an implementation guide for Aorus + MBP 15" 2016/7 + Win10 will be posted soon? 

PS: entering the giveaway 😀

To do: Create my signature with system and expected eGPU configuration information to give context to my posts. I have no builds.

.

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jim_survak
(@jim_survak)
Eminent Member
Joined: 3 years ago
 

So glad to see a smaller eGPU box out here! Will it run a GTX 980 Ti I wonder...?  😛

I think I'm in love with the Sonnet Breakaway Box myself, but I'd be lying if I said this eGPU enclosure wasn't impressive. I've owned quite a number of Gigabyte products over the years & they always impressed me.

2018 Mac mini: Core i3, 8GB RAM, Sonnet 350 (aftermarket 550w PSU)+XFX Radeon RX-480 8GB Black Edition
2012 Mac mini: Core i7, 16GB RAM, Toshiba 1TB SSD, Seagate 1TB HDD
Custom: Ryzen 7 1700, 16GB Corasir DDR4-3200MHz RAM, 2x Corsair 500GB Neutron SSD, Seagate 3TB SSD, EVGA Nvidia 980Ti
YT:


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JPBOSS97
(@jpboss97)
Active Member
Joined: 3 years ago
 

Hello! thanks for this review. I just bought one for my macbook pro 15" 2015. Could someone reply a link how to make it work?

(Retina, 15-inch, Mid 2015)
2,8 GHz Intel Core i7
16 GB 1600 MHz DDR3
AMD Radeon R9 M370X 2048 MB
Intel Iris Pro 1536 MB

EDIT: @nando4 I dont see any aorus in the [implementations] table. sorry but this isn't something I do all the time so my knowledge is minimal. Thanks for the help!

To do: Create my signature with system and expected eGPU configuration information to give context to my posts. I have no builds.

.

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geaguirre80
(@geaguirre80)
Eminent Member
Joined: 3 years ago
 

Excellent review @itsage, this little box is really amazing for it size, I hope it Gn be compatible with other mini GPU cards. Please count me in for the giveaway.

To do: Create my signature with system and expected eGPU configuration information to give context to my posts. I have no builds.

.

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nando4
(@nando4)
Noble Member Admin
Joined: 4 years ago
 

@JPBOSS97, please review other implementations on your system using a TB3 enclosure via a TB3->TB2 adapter at the following URL to get yours going:

https://egpu.io/external-gpu-implementations-table/?table_filter=%22Macbook%20M370X%20%3ETB3%20%22

The same installation procedures used to install other TB3 enclosures on your system will equally apply. Just ignore any mention of firmware updates since they are enclosure specific and need not apply here since the Aorus has a firmware allowing eGPU detection on non-certified hosts.

If you require further assistance, please open a new topic in the Thunderbolt Mac (macOS) or PC (Windows) forum area.

eGPU Setup 1.35    •    eGPU Port Bandwidth Reference Table

 
2015 15" Dell Precision 7510 (Q M1000M) [6th,4C,H] + GTX 1080 Ti @32Gbps-M2 (ADT-Link R43SG) + Win10 1803 [build link]  


itsage liked
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thendless
(@thendless)
Active Member
Joined: 3 years ago
 

Definitely the best implementation of eGPU. Extremely small, capable power supply, 100W power delivery, plug and play, all for a very low price. This is what I have always wanted for an eGPU since I got into it 7 years ago and it is great to finally see something like this implemented. Getting this is a no brainier if you are planning on buying a new card along with your eGPU enclosure. I look forward to more people getting this and testing it out with other cards so we can expand on our options for this  beauty.

To do: Create my signature with system and expected eGPU configuration information to give context to my posts. I have no builds.

.

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Chris Cheng
(@chris_cheng)
New Member
Joined: 3 years ago
 

Best review I've seen so far. Do you have any VR devices such as Oculus Rift or HTC Vive to test and see how well it runs with 90FPS in VR environment?

To do: Create my signature with system and expected eGPU configuration information to give context to my posts. I have no builds.

.

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itsage
(@itsage)
Illustrious Member Admin
Joined: 4 years ago
 
Posted by: ludalex

Awesome review, thank you. I'm considering to buy this to game on my 2016 MBP 15" with boot camp Win10 - in the review you mention that it works but with some struggles but can you confirm that it ultimately works reliably?

Also, when you say "I won’t go into details in this review because we’re working on a comprehensive Bootcamp eGPU setup guide for Thunderbolt 3 MacBook Pro."  do you mean that an implementation guide for Aorus + MBP 15" 2016/7 + Win10 will be posted soon? 

PS: entering the giveaway 😀

The late-2016 15" MacBook Pro has been unreliable in Windows 10 via Bootcamp with this AORUS Gaming Box. I'm trying different methods to find one that works best before publishing the setup guide.

 

Posted by: Chris Cheng

Best review I've seen so far. Do you have any VR devices such as Oculus Rift or HTC Vive to test and see how well it runs with 90FPS in VR environment?

I have the Oculus Rift and will test it soon. I have no doubt it will pass 90 FPS because I've tried a similar eGPU setup before with a GTX 980 Ti.

external graphics card builds
best laptops for external GPU
eGPU enclosure buyer's guide

 
2020 13" MacBook Pro [10th,4C,G] + RTX 2080 Ti @ 32Gbps-TB3 (AORUS Gaming Box) + Win10 2004 [build link]  


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