Gigabyte AORUS GTX 1070 Gaming Box Review – Tiny but Mighty

Gigabyte AORUS GTX 1070 Gaming Box 4 Macs

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

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.

As a welcoming gesture to the eGPU community, Gigabyte US has extended an AORUS GTX 1070 Gaming Box giveaway for eGPU.io members and /r/eGPU subreddit subscribers. If you’d like to participate in this giveaway, please leave a comment in the discussion thread of this review. The lucky winner will be chosen at the end of August.

 

See also

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234 Comments on "Gigabyte AORUS GTX 1070 Gaming Box Review – Tiny but Mighty"

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Eightarmedpet
Member

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

Oh best sub too…

ludalex
Member

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 😀

precision01
Member

Yes, I can confirm it works flawlessly on your setup. Both on internal and external display. Particularly I recommend using a external display to limit the performance drop to around 10 – 14%

jim_survak
Member

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.

JPBOSS97
Member

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!

geaguirre80
Member

Excellent review @theitsage, 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.

nando4
Admin

@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.

Guest

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?

thendless
Member

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.

alvinsong
Member
Hi I just got one of these and im trying to get it work on bootcamp windows 10 after succeeding in mac os, My laptop is the late 2016 Macbook Pro 13″ with touchbar and only the cpu integrated graphics, i7 and 16 rams. Everytime I plug it in the bootcamp system(either plug and reboot or hot plug), it either freaks out with blue screen and crash, restarts, or it does nothing and doesnt recognize it at all. Can you give me a guide on how to fix that? awesome review btw, thx a lot, I’ve been looking foward to… Read more »
v7z7v7
Guest

I really like this eGPU. I’m hoping to pair it with a Zenbook Deluxe or Pro for a nice professional laptop for school and gaming when I’m not studying.

MEJazz
Member

Anxiously waiting fir firmware update to enable full host-to-device speed to purchase…

mattlee
Member

Been following the release of the gaming box since its announcement. Hoping for one with an radeon card as I have a monitor with freesync. Please count me in for the draw!

peroksid
Member

Love these sff eGPUs. I hope more competitors would go this way (I don’t even mind an external power brick, if that’s what it takes to go really small). Breaking a leg for the giveaway … 😉

fleon
Member

I’ve been entertaining the idea of an eGPU to go with the XPS 13. This is probably enough to convince me to pull the trigger. It’s so small! Giveaway would be unreal!

Mitch
Member

I am currently working with the akitio node. It’s good but its big and sometimes noisy. Giveaway Yeeesss! The portability is incredible…

nlx
Member
Great review with a lot of helpful information. I’m from Denmark and studying to become a sustainable energy engineer. I have been looking into eGPU’s for quite some time now because this would boost my CAD, CFD and overall work efficiency, as well as my gaming experiences, while still maintaining mobility. So count me in on the competition😊 (I will gladly pay the shipping expenses to Europe if I’m the lucky winner). Hopefully Gigabytes firmware update will give further improvements but other than that the AORUS GTX 1070 Gaming Box seems like the best eGPU solution currently available. Keep up… Read more »
juniordiscart
Member

I was on the fence of buying one of these, but I’d like to see indeed some firmware fixes first to know that it will work properly. But, a giveaway gift is always welcome. 😉

Guest

Love the development of eGPU. Looking forward to use this enclosure soon as I travel a lot for work, but need strong GPU for 3D rendering. 17inch gaming laptop =heavy back ache. Have to find laptop that has good CPU but is light and has TB3.

harugane
Guest

Great review. Was the 45.7 C temp readings under heavy load? If so that’s pretty great. Also with the new firmware update expected from Gigabyte, what is the expected gain on bandwidth?

hAWt1019
Guest

great stuff!! now i want one…:)

sekator
Member

I wonder how noisy the box really is.  Any chance to measure in dbs? Or compare it to,say, a macbook under idle/load? Alternatively, is it realistic to replace the fan to a quieter one?

apleks
Guest

Used to have a Razer Core, returned it because stupid idle noise was bothersome to me. I secretly hoped the Gaming Box could produce less fan noise on idle, I guess my expectations were too high.

If I ever get one, I think I might want to replace those little fans with silent ones, or if possible, add speed controller switch PWM style, I guess, unless that can be controlled via software somehow?

Thanks for the giveaway, if I win it tho, I will stop complaining about noise I promise 🙂

dirtyuzbek
Member

Great review! Fingers crossed for the giveaway!

Rob27shred
Guest
Wow, pretty surprised with how GB went about making this eGPU. All in all I would call it a winner despite it’s lower quality parts compared to other eGPUs. Really I think this is the smartest way about going for an eGPU box. It’s well known that there will be a performance hit using an eGPU so I always found it kinda crazy other companies made such huge eGPU enclosures with top of the line components. I’m sure all that eeks another few FPS out of the eGPU but to me an extra $100 to $200 is not worth an… Read more »
Medi47
Member

Excellent review @theitsage, I’m considering buying one this month, I have Intel NUC Skull Canyon, do you think the AORUS GTX 1070 Gaming Box will be better choice than Akitio Node + GTX 1070 in performance ?! 
Another question, could I change the small fans with this noctua model NF-A4x10 FLX ?!
Thanks in advance for your response.

brockhold
Member

This box is pretty great; my brother bought one for use with his Thinkpad X1 Carbon. Setup was as painless as your experience, though the internal screen is doing some strange things a 2017 MacBook Pro. After installing Windows and the Nvidia drivers, it boots up and is happily usable — except the internal screen just displays the Windows bootup logo, overlaid with some glitchy static. The framebuffer for the intel integrated chipset appears to be fubar. It doesn’t impact use of the external monitor, and it feels stable despite this.

Flint Ironstag
Member

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 run a Vive with a Supermicro box roughly equivalent to Mac Pro 5,1 + GTX 1070 FE.  Runs everything on high settings so far.  I’ve spent a bit checking out all the games and experiences – it crushes them all smoothly at high settings.
Will be testing on 6,1 and High Sierra beta once I get it installed.

Bac0n01
Guest

Fantastic review, the future of egpus is looking bright, hopefully this provides much needed competition in the space!

Snorex
Member

Best review I’ve seen for this egpu! A giveaway sounds awesome!

Guest

Great review. I hope we’ll eventually see better Nvidia support in macOS 10.13, but sadly not yet. ¯_(ツ)_/¯

yangsta999
Member

Awesome in-depth review, really leaves not much to be wondered. I’d love to be counted in for the giveaway seeing as where I’m from the price of everything is jacked up + international shipping

Member

Great review, especially looking forward to more details in the boot camp guide. I’d love to win this in the giveaway to pair with my 15″ MBP

ViDtje
Member

Great review!
Would love to win this and make it work with my late 2016 15″ MacBook Pro.

Guest

This is a pretty interesting looking device. I’d love to give it a try!

VxD
Member

Thanks for the review and the giveaway!
Do the LED settings stick on a reboot to, say, macOS?

academicbadger
Guest

Thank you for the review. I’ve been lurking for a while now and waiting for egpu.io review of this box. I’m hoping it’ll drive some more competition into the ultra small and portable range.

Are there any further rumours of higher spec cards such as 1080ti coming as mini tax varients yet? (Can only find 1080 mini tax at present.

Guest

Exactly the thing I was looking for for my Macbook!

Dudlileif
Member

This really seems like a good contender in the generally expensive eGPU market, at least when the H2D issue gets fixed.

Patrick Dee
Guest

Hi, dear author one question:

I just got one 1070 gaming box last week and the loud high pitched buzzing under load is nearly unbearable.
Is it just my card or is it, as you mentioned a bad solution of the fans?

Is my card broke or is this a general issue? Thinking about giving it back and ordering a different one?

saschamt
Member

Awesome review. Count me in for the giveaway!

loci
Member

Please enter me in the giveaway!
As a periodic traveller the small size and weight is very interesting.  
Is replacing the buzzing 40mm fans (with better ones) a reasonable idea?  Assuming there are better fans out there…
I am guessing a person could simply disconnect the LED jumper?  
Thank you so much for the review.

mambo99
Member

Thanks very much for this review @theitsage – please count me in for the giveaway!

Hoping to pair this with a Zenbook Pro as a portable VR rig for the university I’ll be working at – looking forward to hearing about the results of your test with the Oculus!

htkeyes
Guest

looks awesome!

koen
Member
Thanks for the great review! I am really excited for the future of eGPUs. It is nice to finally see officially supported eGPU solutions coming onto the market. Software support is also coming along nicely, with Apple even releasing an external graphics development kit. For me personally, this Aorus gaming box seems to be the best solution. It is much cheaper and more portable than a Razor Core or Akito Node. The portability is also a great advantage. You could easily take it to the office for example, if you want to do some VR development. It’s also nice to… Read more »
Robot Ripper
Member

I’m surprised to hear that it was easier to get the eGPU working on macOS than Windows (for the 15″).
Hopefully the dGPU being an issue is a short lived problem!

PS: Enter me in the giveaway please!

dailymetanoia
Member

Just starting to read into the whole eGPU thing (considering one for my 2017 15″ MBP). So, if Gigabyte sends out the new firmware, is there any idea how much the gap between the dGPU and eGPU benchmarks would be? I’m debating if I should get the AORUS with the 1070 or if I should just keep the 970 I have around and buy a Breakaway 350/550…

baris3
Member

Please let me in for the giveaway I need it

baris3
Member
Posted by: Antharsious Posted by: baris3 hello, I am thinking about buying Auorus GTX 1070 gaming box, I have 15″ RMBP with 750m. There seems to be to much hassle just to get it work with W10. Can I get it work without installing rEFInd ? I have W10 installed, can’t I just plug and play with few modifications ?  And would it only run external monitor with W10 ? Is it possible to run only with external without doing modifications or fewer modifications ? And If I do use external display only, would the graphics performance be equal to… Read more »
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