Enclosure & Hardware Discussions
Razer Core V2 Review - Think Inside the Box
 

Razer Core V2 Review - Think Inside the Box  

  RSS

itsage
(@itsage)
Illustrious Member Admin
Joined: 3 years ago
 

Introduction

Released in spring 2016, the original Razer Core was the first certified Thunderbolt 3 eGFX. Razer scored another first with the updated version of this handsome-looking enclosure, the Razer Core V2. It’s currently the only available enclosure to sport a dual Thunderbolt 3 controller setup. This design separates external GPU and expansion I/O workload. Two TB3 controllers run in parallel and are daisy-chained through a single Thunderbolt 3 connection to the host computer.

The Razer Core V2‘s outer shell remains the same as the V1, but its inner carrier has more room to accommodate larger graphics cards. Other refinements inside the box include the TI83 USB-C controller for better macOS compatibility and higher Power Delivery.

Razer Core V2

Razer Core V2 + AMD Radeon Vega 56

Specifications  compare 
Price US$
$500
PSU location-type
internal-fATX
PSU max power 500W
GPU max power
375W
Power delivery (PD)
65W
USB-C controller
TI83
TB3 USB-C ports 1
Ports max bandwidth 5Gbps
USB3.0 ports
4
Ethernet port
SATA port
Size (in/mm, LxWxH)
13.38 x 4.13 x 8.60
334 x 105 x 218
Max GPU len (in/cm)
11.81/30.0
Weight (kg/lb) 4.95/10.89
Updated firmware 26.1 ✔
TB3 cable length (cm) 50
Vendor page link
Implementations
link

Hardware Specifics

Razer’s claim of dedicated PCIe lanes for both eGPU and expansion ports is misleading. While one DSL6540 Thunderbolt 3 controller hosts the external GPU and the other hosts the I/O, they can only share at most 4 PCIe lanes via a single Thunderbolt 3 cable. Intel Thunderbolt Software shows two Thunderbolt 3 devices both named “Razer Core” daisy-chained together through one port. The Thunderbolt tree in macOS System Information confirms this daisy-chain arrangement. The main benefit of this new dual TB3 controller design is to stabilize I/O traffic during high eGPU use. Mouse freezing while connecting to the eGPU is a common issue for the Razer Core and other Thunderbolt 3 enclosures that have expansion ports.

There is a performance trade-off for scenarios when both the eGPU and expansion ports are fully utilized. Unlike the previous generation of the Razer Core that prioritizes external graphics, the I/O ports can now use up to 17Gbps out of a maximum 22Gbps Thunderbolt 3 data transmission bandwidth. As shown in HWiNFO64 screen capture above, there are two ASM1142 USB hubs (8Gbps) to handle four USB 3.0 ports (5Gbps each) and a third ASM1142 USB hub to handle the Ethernet port (1Gbps). With that said, the chance of using all 17Gbps via the expansion ports is unrealistic. Most will occupy two USB ports with low-bandwidth peripherals such as a mouse and keyboard. An external SSD for game storage is one device that may saturate the 5Gbps per USB port.

Razer Core V2 Thunderbolt 3 main board

Razer Core V2 Thunderbolt 3 main board

The main board is clearly labeled as to where each connector and component is supposed to go. One of the main reasons we didn’t recommend the original Razer Core to Mac users was due to its macOS incompatible USB-C controller, the TI82. The Core V2 remedies this issue. It now uses the Texas Instrument TP865983 USB-C controller (highlighted in green) as found in all Thunderbolt 3 eGPU enclosures released in 2017. The dual DSL6540 Thunderbolt 3 controllers (highlighted in orange) are placed right by the PCIe slot and I/O slot. The I/O TB3 controller is mounted facing the bottom of the main board. The Winbond EEPROM chipset (highlighted in yellow) sits next to the TB3 controller that hosts the GPU.

Visually the only way to distinguish the Razer Core V2 from its previous iteration is to look at the back of the enclosure. The Core V2 has all rear exhaust vents arranged horizontally across the top. Another subtle change is seen in the base of the V2. Its platform is lowered to provide more headroom for the graphics card. This results in the Thunderbolt 3 port placement under the power plug rather than above it like in the V1.

Razer Core V2 next to Razer Core

The gap between the bottom of the graphics card and the RGB light strip is also minimized, necessitating a clever PCIe slot release handle. This handle starts at the back of the PCIe lock and extends to the other side of the inner carrier for ease of GPU removal. All other eGPU enclosures on the market have the typical PCIe lock release that requires extra effort to locate and free the GPU.

One carryover component is the power supply. It’s the same Enhance ENH-2350 500W, single rail 12V PSU as the original Razer Core. The wiring harness provides one proprietary main board connector and two 6 + 2-pin PCIe power cables. In the Razer Core V1 these two PCIe power cables come straight to the GPU. In the V2 all three power cables go from the power supply to the main board. Razer added a pair of removable PCIe power cables to draw power from the main board to the GPU. The attachment point is at the front of the main board with connectors that look the same as 6-pin PCIe plugs. The other end to the GPU is 6 + 2-pin connectors.

While I see the appeal in removing one PCIe cable for graphics cards requiring a single cable, I’m not clear on the benefits of this rerouting. Perhaps this arrangement allows for increased Thunderbolt 3 power delivery to 65W vs. 45W in the Razer Core V1.

Similar to the original Core, the Core V2 has a total of five cooling fans. There are two 40mm fans, one in the front and the other in the rear of the fATX power supply, that produce a high-pitched noise. The base of the inner carrier contains three 60mm fans. The front 60mm fan is housed inside the PSU front shroud to channel cool air from the bottom of the enclosure directly into the power supply. The other two 60mm fans sit in the middle and rear to assist with airflow up and out through the top vents. With more space inside, airflow should be better than the original Core. Noise emission remains very similar to the V1. During operation the noise registers around 48dB from half a meter away.

Razer used fewer components to build the Core V2, so it’s slightly lighter. It’s also marginally better to service when issues arise. I had a hard time taking apart the original Razer Core. This time around it was a bit easier. I manged to cut my finger pulling the white power connector that’s firmly attached to the main board. One observation of the inner carrier base is that the bottom vents and fans are likely to accumulate dust over time.

Razer Core V2 components

Razer Core V2 components

Testings & Benchmarks

A notable refinement in the Razer Core V2 is the increased Power Delivery. It provides 65W to all Thunderbolt 3 laptops with PD 3.0. This is a huge improvement over the first version that was designed primarily as an accessory for the 12″ Razer Blade Stealth that requires 45W. The majority of TB3 laptops need 45W to 65W of PD. One outlier is the 15″ MacBook Pro. It has an 87W power adapter but should be able to charge through the Razer Core V2, albeit at a slower rate.

Thunderbolt firmware version 26.1 is the newest we’ve seen to date. Intel freshly baked this version to manage the dual TB3 controller design in this Razer Core V2 and newer eGPU enclosures yet to be announced in 2018. As mentioned earlier, the use of TI83 USB-C controller allows for macOS Sierra and High Sierra compatibility. Thunderbolt 3 enclosures with the TI82 such as the Core V1 require a workaround for macOS.

In Windows, detection issues are often caused by older BIOS, Thunderbolt firmware, and/or Intel Thunderbolt Software on the host computer. It’s important to update to the latest BIOS and Thunderbolt firmware from your computer manufacturer’s support website. Be careful with Intel Thunderbolt Software though. I’ve found the very outdated and very recent versions to cause the most challenges for eGPU detection.

All expansion USB ports have full compatibility in both macOS and Windows. The Ethernet port works right away in Windows but needs drivers to work in macOS. A quick search for AX88179 brought me to AXIS AX88179 – USB 3.0 to Gigabit Ethernet product page. Here’s the link to the macOS drivers installer.

The Razer Core has more tasteful RGB than other eGPU enclosures I’ve tested. There are two lighting zones, one LED strip by the mesh window and another under the front of the enclosure. In order to change the RGB mode, you need to install Razer Synapse in Windows. There’s not much functionality with this software other than switching lighting modes and colors.

For performance benchmarks, I chose the three Thunderbolt 3 host computers below to emphasize the importance of having the right eGPU host. The worst-case scenario is with a laptop such as the XPS 9360. Dell crippled this otherwise excellent ultrabook by assigning only 2 PCIe lanes for the Thunderbolt connection and setting the OPI in low-power GT2 mode. The best-case scenario is with a laptop like the 15″ MacBook Pro that has its Thunderbolt 3 connection attached directly to a quad-core processor via 4 PCIe lanes. The Spectre X360 represents a good eGPU host for ultrabook users. It only has an integrated graphics card for the best portability and battery life while featuring a quad-core CPU, 4 PCIe lanes, and high-performance OPI GT4 mode.

  • Late 2016 15″ Apple MacBook Pro | iGPU & dGPU| 6th gen Intel quad-core i7-6700HQ | x4 PCIe 3.0 Thunderbolt 3 to CPU
  • Early 2017 13″ Dell XPS 9360 | iGPU only | 7th gen Intel dual-core i7-7560U | x2 PCIe 3.0 Thunderbolt 3 to PCH | OPI GT2
  • Late 2017 13″ HP Spectre X360 | iGPU only | 8th gen Intel quad-core i7-8550U | x4 PCIe 3.0 Thunderbolt 3 to PCH | OPI GT4
13″ Dell XPS 9360 13″ HP Spectre x360 15″ Macbook Pro
Razer Core V2XPS9360 InternalXPS9360 External13X360 Internal13X360 External15MBP Internal15MBP External
Unigine Valley2,6762,9942,9242,9843,0073,035
Unigine Heaven1,5461,8111,7271,7851,7881,866
Unigine Superposition9,68211,17411,29711,54611,68611,660
3DMark Time Spy3,8415,8815,7775,5655,2336,076
3DMark Fire Strike11,64518,62817,01217,56916,60319,122
Tomb Raider 201384.9 FPS122.5 FPS109.3 FPS114.7 FPS112.0 FPS124.2 FPS
Shadow of Mordor76.6 FPS104.7 FPS92.9 FPS103.2 FPS89.7 FPS98.7 FPS
Dirt Rally47.6 FPS75.6 FPS67.0 FPS90.7 FPS69.3 FPS93.8 FPS
Hitman63.2 FPS65.6 FPS62.0 FPS66.9 FPS67.0 FPS68.7 FPS

Conclusion

At $500, the Razer Core V2 is one of the most expensive eGPU enclosures on the market. The value proposition Razer wants you to consider is that you’re getting a Thunderbolt 3 docking station daisy-chained to a Thunderbolt 3 eGPU box. This eGFX caters to convenience-minded buyers rather than performance seekers. If you’re in the latter group, an eGPU-only enclosure and a separate Thunderbolt 3 dock, each with dedicated 22Gbps bandwidth, would yield the highest performance.

Our wishlist from the original Razer Core was a TI83 controller, a quieter power supply, and a sub $400 price. The V2 came up short with only a macOS compatible TI83 controller. However its handsome design, premium build quality, and usability refinements make it a more palatable purchase.

 

 

See also

This topic was modified 1 week ago

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


3RYL, goalque and nando4 liked
ReplyQuote
DANgerous25
(@danfalconar)
Estimable Member
Joined: 3 years ago

ReplyQuote
(@dale_mellott)
New Member
Joined: 2 years ago
 

I may a missed it, what card did you use in the core? I see it listed as Vega gfx900 in the adia64.

Pending: Add my system information and expected eGPU configuration to my signature to give context to my posts


ReplyQuote
itsage
(@itsage)
Illustrious Member Admin
Joined: 3 years ago

ReplyQuote
ikir
 ikir
(@ikir)
Prominent Member
Joined: 3 years ago
 

Great review. Nice update, and awesome design as before.


MacBook Pro 2018 Touch Bar i7 quad-core 2.7Ghz - 16GB RAM - 512GB PCIe SSD
my awesome Radeon VII eGPU
my Mantiz Venus extreme mod with Sapphire Nitro+ RX Vega 64


ReplyQuote
wimpzilla
(@wimpzilla)
Honorable Member
Joined: 3 years ago
 

You can also find the Hardware Unboxed review of the Razer V2.

2012 13-inch Dell Latitude E6320 + R9 [email protected] (EXP GDC 8.4) + Win10
E=Mc²


ReplyQuote
Technomad
(@technomad)
Eminent Member
Joined: 2 years ago
 

Will the v2 take a 2.5 slot card, such as the Asus GTX 1080Ti Poseidon?

Mid-2017 MBP 15”/3.1GHz, Razer Core v2, EVGA GTX1080Ti, LG 34UM95, HTC Vive, Samsung Odyssey, MS Hololens.


ReplyQuote
itsage
(@itsage)
Illustrious Member Admin
Joined: 3 years ago
 

A GPU wider than 2-slot doesn’t fit the Razer Core/V2 unfortunately.

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


ReplyQuote
Flint Ironstag
(@flint-ironstag)
Estimable Member
Joined: 3 years ago
 

Node Pro will take 2.5 slot.

MP 6,1 | 4c | d700
MP 6,1 | 6c | d500


ReplyQuote
joevt
(@joevt)
Prominent Member
Joined: 2 years ago
 

For the ASM1142 (which is a controller, not a hub) when you say 8Gbps do you mean the PCIe 3.0 speed of 8 GT/s? It's confusing because PCIe's 8 GT/s is twice as fast as USB's 5Gbps but it doesn't seem that way when you call it 8Gbps. I don't know why only PCIe calls it a GT/s.

The ASM1142 supports USB 3.1 gen 2 (10 Gbps). The ASM1142 may be using a firmware that makes it not report 10 Gbps capability so that the OS only uses 5 Gbps. This helps compatibility with macOS versions prior to 10.12 which did not support USB 3.1 gen 2. Apple's eGPU support only started with 10.13 so there's no reason for the firmware not to be the 10 Gbps version. A firmware updater exists.

If the ASM1142 are using the 10 Gbps firmware, there is a bug where the xHCI reports a devices as connected at 5 Gbps when benchmarks show it is actually connected at 10 Gbps.

Mac mini (2018), Mac Pro (Early 2008), MacBook Pro (Retina, 15-inch, Mid 2015), GA-Z170X-Gaming 7, Sapphire Pulse Radeon RX 580 8GB GDDR5, Sonnet Echo Express III-D, Trebleet Thunderbolt 3 to NVMe M.2 case


ReplyQuote
quetzacoatl
(@quetzacoatl)
Active Member
Joined: 1 year ago
 

Is there any chance of replacing the fans with noctua ones? They make both 40mm and 60mm fans so there may be a chance to make the V2 quieter.

Pending: Add my system information and expected eGPU configuration to my signature to give context to my posts


ReplyQuote
Eightarmedpet
(@eightarmedpet)
Noble Member
Joined: 3 years ago
 
Posted by: quetzacoatl

Is there any chance of replacing the fans with noctua ones? They make both 40mm and 60mm fans so there may be a chance to make the V2 quieter.

Also interested din this but for my V1... the noise doesn't bother me really but quieter the better!

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


ReplyQuote
(@reinhard1004)
Eminent Member
Joined: 2 years ago
 

Dear @itsage (or any other expert on the matter :))

This is really interesting - great article! 🙂

In the eGPU buyer‘s guide you wrote that the core v2 does not flakey behavior under load, as all previous eGPU cases seem to.

Background: I run a Mantiz Venus and recently connected an Oculus Rift (2 sensors for now), which is doable with lots of tweeking, but still sometimes has flakey USB behavior; lags and short disconnects. Once the third sensor arrives, it‘s too much for the Venus I think.
Now I am wondering if the Razer Core V2 could have a fully stable connection to all 3 sensors + the headset?
Would you recommend such a switch? Did you try this out?
In other forums people also report flakey USB behavior with Razer Core V2 ... so I am wondering.

Late 2016 15" MBP w/ Radeon Pro 460, 2m CalDigit TB3 cable, Mantiz Venus eGPU case, NVidia GTX 1080ti.


ReplyQuote
itsage
(@itsage)
Illustrious Member Admin
Joined: 3 years ago
 

@reinhard1004 The sensors on the Oculus require them to be on separate USB buses from what I recall. I don’t think running the Core V2 would help eliminating the flakey USB behavior when adding a third sensor.

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


ReplyQuote
(@reinhard1004)
Eminent Member
Joined: 2 years ago
 

@itsage Thanks. And yes, think so too. Bottleneck seems to be TB3 already as 3 sensors would require 3x full 10Gbit/s USB 3.1 gen II, next to the eGPU itself.

Wondering what an ideal setup would be:
* Are the latest MBP 15” able to provide three full USB 3.1 gen 2 ports via its other TB3 ports in Windows? (late 2016 model crashes in windows with any additional connection, except on left side with x8 lane disabled [then it’s a powered usb 2.0 only]).
* Or is a switch to the HTC Vive the only proper solution for now, as it requires only one powered USB 2.0 port? 🙂
* Or are there other options for a 3-sensor Rift with MBP/eGPU?

Late 2016 15" MBP w/ Radeon Pro 460, 2m CalDigit TB3 cable, Mantiz Venus eGPU case, NVidia GTX 1080ti.


ReplyQuote
IanB
 IanB
(@ianb)
New Member
Joined: 12 months ago
 
Posted by: Eightarmedpet
Posted by: quetzacoatl

Is there any chance of replacing the fans with noctua ones? They make both 40mm and 60mm fans so there may be a chance to make the V2 quieter.

Also interested din this but for my V1... the noise doesn't bother me really but quieter the better!

Not sure if you're still looking for details, but I stumbled across this (v1) specific guide:  http://forum.notebookreview.com/threads/razer-core-disassembly-fan-location-guide.802000. Sounds like the PSU's fan is the best (and easiest?) to be replaced. I ordered a 40x20 Noctua myself for my v2 and gonna try and open it up to see how easy it is. The Core v2 is lovely, but the noise... :_(

Pending: Add my system information and expected eGPU configuration to my signature to give context to my posts


ReplyQuote
Eightarmedpet
(@eightarmedpet)
Noble Member
Joined: 3 years ago
 
Posted by: IanB
Posted by: Eightarmedpet
Posted by: quetzacoatl

Is there any chance of replacing the fans with noctua ones? They make both 40mm and 60mm fans so there may be a chance to make the V2 quieter.

Also interested din this but for my V1... the noise doesn't bother me really but quieter the better!

Not sure if you're still looking for details, but I stumbled across this (v1) specific guide:  http://forum.notebookreview.com/threads/razer-core-disassembly-fan-location-guide.802000. Sounds like the PSU's fan is the best (and easiest?) to be replaced. I ordered a 40x20 Noctua myself for my v2 and gonna try and open it up to see how easy it is. The Core v2 is lovely, but the noise... :_(

Cheers for that, and please update me with how it goes, looks pretty daunting to me, if anyone is London based I would be happy to bribe/pay/ply with beer for someone to do it for me/help.

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


ReplyQuote
(@bellerophon_chimera)
New Member
Joined: 8 months ago
 

Awesome review! 🙂
Can you make a how to for disassembling the core v? A video of it is also a great help...

Pending: Add my system information and expected eGPU configuration to my signature to give context to my posts


ReplyQuote
Technomad
(@technomad)
Eminent Member
Joined: 2 years ago
 

Having used the Core v2 intermittently for over a year, under MacOS and Bootcamp, here are a few points that I haven't seen on other reviews:
1. Razer doesn't seem to have been consistent in the PCIe power cables it ships: most v2s seem to have 2 * 6-pin->6+2 pin connectors, whereas mine came with 1 * 6-pin->6+2-pin and 1 * 6-pin->6-pin. That was OK when I was running a GTX1080Ti, but screwed me when I moved to a Radeon VII, until I could find an adapter cable.
2. Electrically, the thing is incredibly noisy, no matter which GPU is installed. I run a high-quality (Meridian) USB DAC from my system: if I connect its USB to the Razer, a high-pitched whistle is injected into the sound. If I connect directly via another thunderbolt/usb adapter, a huge level of hashing noise is injected. Either way, it's unusable.
3. The built-in AX88179 Gigabit Ethernet connection is hopeless: I've been in touch with ASIX for over a year now, trying to get it work: no matter which driver version I use, it works for five minutes, then packs up.
On the basis of my experience, I certainly will neither be recommending Razer products or, having moved to something else, will not be buying anything else from them.

Mid-2017 MBP 15”/3.1GHz, Razer Core v2, EVGA GTX1080Ti, LG 34UM95, HTC Vive, Samsung Odyssey, MS Hololens.


ReplyQuote