Razer Core X Review - Thick and Juicy
 
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Razer Core X Review - Thick and Juicy  

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itsage
(@itsage)
Founder Admin
Joined: 6 years ago
 

Introduction

Razer fully catered to the tastes of the American market with its latest Thunderbolt 3 external GPU enclosure, the Core X. The recipe for success is similar to that of a fast food burger; deliver a juicy, thick-cut patty quick and easy. The Razer Core X grew larger in size and provides more Power Delivery than its older siblings, the Core and Core V2.

Razer Core X Blade Stealth Featured

Razer Core X next to original Core and Blade Stealth

There's a lot to like about this new eGPU enclosure. First is its $299 price tag compared to the $499 Core V2. The 650W power supply amps up PD to a maximum 100W. It's also one of the few Thunderbolt 3 enclosures that can withstand the extreme power demands of the RX Vega 64 graphics card. Internally it can accommodate virtually any GPU currently available on the market. Last but not least, the Razer Core X is a certified eGFX for both Windows and macOS.

Hardware Specifics

Razer Core X Gtx 980 Ti Hybrid Blade Stealth

Razer Core X + Blade Stealth + GTX 980 Ti Hybrid

Specifications  compare 
Price US$
$299
PSU location-type
internal-ATX
PSU max power 650W
GPU max power
500W
Power delivery (PD)
100W
USB-C controller
TI83
TB3 USB-C ports 1
Size (in/mm, LxWxH)
14.72 x 9.06 x 6.61
374 x 230 x 168
Max GPU len (in/cm)
12.99/33.0
Weight (kg/lb) 6.48/14.29
Updated firmware 33.1 ✔
TB3 cable length (cm) 50
Vendor page link
Implementations
link

Supersize it! That's what Razer did in all dimensions. The Core X is easily twice the volume of the original. Its black anodized aluminum outer shell, sturdy hinged handle, and vertical bar front fascia continue the Razer Core design lineage. It's chubbier than the Core V2, but thin enclosures don't get to have all the fun. In the case of the Core X, its tremendous girth allows fitment of 3-slot wide graphics cards with seemingly unlimited length and height. Component wise, it shares nothing with the original Core or Core V2 except for the chipsets. The Razer Core X has neither RGB nor expansion ports. In other words, axing the price means a cut in features and portability.

Razer Core X Component Takeapart

Razer Core X Component View

Accessing the inner carrier and swapping the GPU is intuitive, requiring no tools. The enclosure handle sits flush to the body in lock position. Unlocked mode is engaged by an outward pull of this handle. By continuing this same motion you can slide the carrier out of its enclosure. The sliding mechanism operates smoothly thanks to the two plastic rails mounted on the bottom of the carrier and a wide plastic base on the enclosure.

Without an installed graphics card, the Core X's inner carrier is deceptively light. This is due to fewer components and sheet metal construction. One of the omitted components is the expansion I/O daughterboard. The Razer Core X's sole I/O is the Thunderbolt 3 port. This may be good for overall eGPU performance and stability during heavy load. We've learned enclosures with expansion ports such as the original Core often suffer from USB lagging/stuttering. The Razer Core V2 came with a clever fix for this issue by adding a second DSL6540 Thunderbolt 3 controller to handle expansion ports. Another solution is to use a separate USB or Thunderbolt 3 hub for other peripherals.

Razer Core X Handle Opened

Razer Core X Handle Opened

Razer Core X Component Placement

Space for 3-Slot GPU + ATX PSU + 120MM Fan

The first component and one that features prominently inside the Razer Core X is the ATX power supply. This is only the second Thunderbolt 3 eGFX enclosure that comes equipped with such a PSU, the first being the OMEN Accelerator. The power supply's label indicates it's a 12V multi-rail unit. 5V and 3.3V outputs combine to provide at most 100W. The total current through 12V outputs tops out at 600W. Razer claims this PSU is capable of hosting AMD Radeon's most powerful graphics cards such as the RX Vega 64 and Pro WX 9100. The only other enclosures with this capability are the Sonnet Breakaway Box 650 and ASUS XG Station 2. The Core X wiring harness provides one 24-pin power cable, one 4+4 EPS power cable, and two 6+2-pin PCIe power cables.

Razer Core X Psu Label

650W ATX PSU Label

Razer Core X 120mm Fan Bracket

120mm Enclosure Fan + Mounting Bracket

The Razer Core X and Sonnet Breakaway Box share similar component layout. The PSU's self-contained fan is a 60mm unit, mounted towards the rear. This small fan produces the most noise when idling. It's the weak link of an otherwise competent eGPU enclosure. The other cooling fan is 120mm and sits near the front of the enclosure. There's a metal bracket for mounting the enclosure fan. It seems possible to modify this bracket in order to fit graphics cards with AIO liquid coolers. As a proof of concept, I used velcro squares to attach the radiator of an EVGA GTX 980 Ti Hybrid. The result didn't look too bad.

Razer Core X Velcro Squares Radiator

Velcro Squares on Radiator

Razer Core X Gtx 980 Ti Hybrid Top View

GTX 980 Ti Hybrid Top View

Razer Core X Gtx 980 Ti Hybrid Mounted

GTX 980 Ti Hybrid Mounted

The Thunderbolt main board has a simple layout with two power connectors. The first is a common arrangement, 24-pin power receptacle. The second connector is one I've never seen before in a Thunderbolt 3 enclosure. It's an 8-pin EPS connector. I believe this EPS connector carries one of the four 12V rails. This is to distribute the load and prevent Over Current Protection shutting down the PSU. For eGPU use we prefer single-rail PSU because the primary power draw is from the single graphics card. The three crucial ICs are located near the Thunderbolt 3 port. The usual suspects are the TI83 USB-C controller, JHL6540 Thunderbolt 3 controller, and Winbond EEPROM.

Razer Core X Ti83 Usb C Controller

TI83 USB-C Controller

Razer Core X Jhl6540 Thunderbolt 3 Controller

JHL6540 Thunderbolt 3 Controller

Razer Core X Winbond Eeprom

Winbond EEPROM

Missing from the Core X's main board is an LED strip and RGB effects under the enclosure as in the Core V2. As a matter of fact, there are no lights at all. This makes for a clean, understated look more appropriate for work settings. Mac users may find this non-feature more appealing compared to the original Core and Core V2. The RGB in those enclosures can only be adjusted/turned off through Razer Synapse utility software in Windows.

Testings & Benchmarks

Connecting to my 2016 15" MacBook Pro showed power delivery is 100W as claimed. Unlike the Thunderbolt firmware version of the Razer Core V2 at 26.1, this Razer Core X comes with version 33.1. There's no official statement as to what benefits this newer Thunderbolt firmware provides. The good news is all Razer eGPU enclosures so far have firmware that yields the most performance out of Thunderbolt 3 eGFX bandwidth (capped at 22Gbps).

Late 2016 15 In Macbook Pro Razer Core X Power Delivery

Razer Core X Power Delivery

Late 2016 15 In Macbook Pro Razer Core X Thunderbolt Firmware

Razer Core X Thunderbolt Firmware

An improvement in this Razer Core X versus its older siblings is airflow. Due to the minimal space inside the original Core form factor, Razer had used three 80mm fans placed on the bottom to dissipate hot air through the top. The Core X takes a different approach in moving air horizontally. Intake air goes in on the side of the graphics card. Exhaust air flows out the side of the PSU and cooling fan as well as the rear. In my observation, this approach helps the eGPU run cooler and emit less noise overall.

The Razer Core X is plug and play in macOS 10.13.4+ when paired with an RX Vega card and a Thunderbolt 3 Mac. Nvidia eGPU and older Macs don't have support from Apple and require the use of workarounds. Mac_editor wrote a script to unblock Thunderbolt 1 and Thunderbolt 2 Macs for eGPU access. Goalque improved his automate-eGPU.kext to add external GPU compatibility for two dozen AMD graphics cards. Fr34k is developing an all-in-one automated script to enable Nvidia eGPU support in 10.13.4. I used fr34k's solution to enable the GTX 1070 via this Razer Core X.

In Windows 10, there are more graphics card choices and the setup process is much easier. Razer described the setup process as "plug and game." It really was that easy. You essentially plug the Thunderbolt 3 cable into your Thunderbolt 3 host computer, and Windows installs the drivers automatically. If it's your first time connecting a TB3 enclosure, you may need to grant permission to establish this connection. It's advisable to download the latest graphics drivers from AMD or Nvidia manually to get the best support for newest games. Mac computers running Windows in Bootcamp are an exception. In order to use the 15" MacBook Pro with eGPU internal display acceleration, I followed the steps as outlined in our external GPU Bootcamp setup guide.

To run a set of synthetic benchmarks I paired the Razer Core X with the RX Vega 56 and the GTX 1070. The host computers are the 2016 15" MacBook Pro and the 2018 Razer Blade Stealth. All tests were run through internal display mode in Windows 10 using the latest drivers. It's worth noting the Razer Blade Stealth is one of only a few ultrabooks optimized for external graphics card use. For detailed criteria in selecting the best ultrabook to use with an eGPU, read our buying guide.

Razer Core X15" MBP + RX Vega5615" MBP + GTX 107013" RBS + RX Vega5613" RBS + GTX 1070
Unigine Valley69.8 FPS73.3 FPS69.8 FPS73.3 FPS
Unigine Heaven70.8 FPS68.8 FPS69.9 FPS68.5 FPS
Unigine Superposition85.6 FPS77.1 FPS84.1 FPS76.2 FPS
3DMark Time Spy36.2 FPSerror39.9 FPS33.6 FPS
3DMark Fire Strike69.6 FPS64.5 FPS85.2 FPS63.1 FPS
Tomb Raider 2013111.6 FPS107.2 FPS153. 2 FPS137 FPS
Shadow of Mordor87.5 FPS82.9 FPS85.5 FPS81.8 FPS
Dirt Rally73.1 FPS77.3 FPS64.1 FPS65.6 FPS
Hitman66.2 FPS72.5 FPS55.2 FPS53.4 FPS

Conclusion

The Razer Core V2 is the filet mignon you order at a fine dining restaurant. It's delicious and refined with the price to match. The Core X is more like a Big Mac. It gets the job done, appealing to many palates and satisfying your hunger affordably. The Core X checks off many of the items from the Core V2 wishlist including a sub $400 price point and a quieter power supply. Meeting these demands meant compromising the slender build, RGB effects and expansion I/O. Despite this, Razer not only priced its new enclosure at $299 but also increased the Power Delivery, internal enclosure volume and GPU max power. Effectively the Core X emerges as the go-to single I/O Thunderbolt 3 eGPU enclosure that can pair with almost all graphics cards and Thunderbolt 3 laptops.

 

See also

LinkedIn | Youtube | Instagram
 
external graphics card builds
best laptops for external GPU
eGPU enclosure buyer's guide

 
2021 Gigabyte Z590i Vision D [11th,6C] + RTX 3060 Ti @ 32Gbps-TB4 (Gigabyte Gaming Box) + Win11 [build link]  


bystander, jerry Kansai, goalque and 1 people liked
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Eightarmedpet
(@eightarmedpet)
Famed Member Moderator
Joined: 6 years ago
 

Holy cow the size of that thing! One hell on an enclosure but why are people still making these things so big? The V2 Core looks ideal to me...

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

 
2018 Mac Mini [8th,6C,B] + RX 580 @ 32Gbps-TB3 (AKiTiO Node Lite) + Win10 20H2 [build link]  


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nando4
(@nando4)
Noble Member Admin
Joined: 6 years ago
 

@eightarmedpet, it's 14.45L volume sits it between a US$269 AKiTiO Node (14.09L) and a US$300 HP Omen Accelerator (16.00L).

It's given up those somewhat problematic & performance degrading I/O ports for top-of-the range 100W PD and 500W GPU. Feature making it appeal to budget gamers and power pro users wanting Vega64+ cards. 

Priced under $300, Razer could be onto a sales leader and remain synonymous with TB3 eGPUs.  Will the budget volume-selling AKiTiO Node and Sonnet Breakaway 350/550 sharpen their pricing as a response?

See the Buyer Guide for a full comparison:

https://egpu.io/external-gpu-buyers-guide-2018/

eGPU Setup 1.35    •    eGPU Port Bandwidth Reference Table

 
2015 15" Dell Precision 7510 (Q M1000M) [6th,4C,H] + GTX 1080 Ti @32Gbps-M.2 (ADT-Link R43SG) + Win10 1803 // compares M.2 vs TB3 performance inc unoptimized H-CPU BIOS [build link]  


itsage liked
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Eightarmedpet
(@eightarmedpet)
Famed Member Moderator
Joined: 6 years ago

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nando4
(@nando4)
Noble Member Admin
Joined: 6 years ago
 

@eightarmedpet , yes it's big. Hope AKiTiO does some sort of factory upgrade to give their Node Pro out-of-the box Vega64+ compatibility desired by Mac power users. It could then be a better-looking, if pricier, alternative bettering this with 2xTB3 ports.

eGPU Setup 1.35    •    eGPU Port Bandwidth Reference Table

 
2015 15" Dell Precision 7510 (Q M1000M) [6th,4C,H] + GTX 1080 Ti @32Gbps-M.2 (ADT-Link R43SG) + Win10 1803 // compares M.2 vs TB3 performance inc unoptimized H-CPU BIOS [build link]  


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ondert
(@ondert)
Trusted Member
Joined: 5 years ago
 

Even my SG13 with gtx 1080 and ryzen cpu pc was 11.5 liters. Then I bought Sonnet Breakaway and it was 12.7 liters. This thing is even bigger.. but why... I'm going to get Gigabyte's gaming box which is the size they have to. I'm printing a mini itx pc case now capable of fitting a 65w tdp cpu, itx gpu (up to 1080) with flex atx psu at 3.78 liters. With these numbers, why would I buy such a big eGPU enclosure except Gigabyte's model.

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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Haoshiro
(@haoshiro)
Eminent Member
Joined: 4 years ago
 

Will this work with a TB3 > TB2 adapter? I have a 2015 MBP and an XFX RX580 and the Akitio Node I have loves to just shut off (even my replacement node).

I was thinking about replacing the Node with this if it will work.

death to self


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itsage
(@itsage)
Founder Admin
Joined: 6 years ago
 

@haoshiro Not officially in 10.13.4 but you can run this script by @mac_editor to unblock macOS's restrictions.

LinkedIn | Youtube | Instagram
 
external graphics card builds
best laptops for external GPU
eGPU enclosure buyer's guide

 
2021 Gigabyte Z590i Vision D [11th,6C] + RTX 3060 Ti @ 32Gbps-TB4 (Gigabyte Gaming Box) + Win11 [build link]  


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Haoshiro
(@haoshiro)
Eminent Member
Joined: 4 years ago
 

Awesome thanks.  As far as you know, though, this would still work fine with the adapter for Windows 10 (Bootcamp)?

death to self


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itsage
(@itsage)
Founder Admin
Joined: 6 years ago
 
Posted by: Haoshiro

Awesome thanks.  As far as you know, though, this would still work fine with the adapter for Windows 10 (Bootcamp)?

What's the specs of your 2015 MacBook Pro? Check out the build guides to find existing builds that match your setup.

LinkedIn | Youtube | Instagram
 
external graphics card builds
best laptops for external GPU
eGPU enclosure buyer's guide

 
2021 Gigabyte Z590i Vision D [11th,6C] + RTX 3060 Ti @ 32Gbps-TB4 (Gigabyte Gaming Box) + Win11 [build link]  


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