1. What you need

Prime X Edition National Instruments. Razer Blade. Razer Blade Pro. Razer Blade Stealth.

AKiTiO Node. Akitio, an OWC brand. Blackmagic eGPU.

A Mac CAN Game! External NVIDIA Graphics Card on iMac

Galaxy Microsystems Ltd. Mantiz Venus MZ Mantiz Innovation Ltd.

What You’ll Need

Other World Computing, Inc. PowerColor Devil Box. TUL Corporation. PowerColor Mini Pro.

High performance Thunderbolt 3 external graphics processors!

Razer Core. Razer Core V2. Razer Core X. RX Gaming Box. Sapphire Technology Limited. Sonnet Technologies, Inc. The top pops right off of the Node Pro, making it easy to install a graphics card.

Two Great Models

That said, the Node Pro worked just fine with every single one of our test graphics cards and test computers, and it never seemed excessively hot or loud even during long benchmarking sessions. Many owners, professional reviewers, and YouTubers say they have used the Node Pro with multiple graphics cards with no problems.

The Core X Chroma measures about 6. But the most noticeable bit of design flair is its series of Razer Chroma LEDs , an array of programmable multicolored lights on the front of the enclosure. Getting into the Core X Chroma is easy. A handle on the back of the enclosure unfolds—pull on it, and the entire inside comes out, so you can very easily install a graphics card and organize your cables. These ports make the Core X Chroma a handy docking station if you use a lot of external peripherals or prefer a wired network connection when gaming.

The Breakaway Box is a plain 7. Opening the Breakaway Box is also like opening a cheap mini-ITX computer case: After removing three thumbscrews, you pull the top of the case back and then lift to expose the inside of the enclosure. You then need to remove one more thumbscrew and two regular screws to install your card. The Breakaway Box is a no-frills enclosure with no extra ports on the back.


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Working on the Breakaway Box is more like working on a small desktop PC in a cheap case. Compared with setting up the Node Pro or Core X Chroma, taking it apart and putting it back together involves more work. This version of the Breakaway Box can also provide up to 87 W of power to a connected laptop, enough to power any or inch laptop that charges over USB-C. A Thunderbolt 3 enclosure limits your speeds in two ways:.

eGFX Breakaway Box for AMD and NVIDIA GPUs | Sonnet

Those are the main reasons we recommend having a laptop with at least a quad-core Intel Core i5 or i7 processor, and why we recommend against buying hugely expensive high-end graphics cards. To demonstrate the real-world impact of these performance bottlenecks, we also ran all of our tests using the same graphics cards in a desktop system with a six-core AMD Ryzen 5 processor and 16 GB of RAM—not a cutting-edge system, but a representative midrange gaming desktop that currently costs only a few hundred dollars to throw together and is fast enough to show the benefits of a desktop processor and more PCI Express bandwidth.

But regardless of the GPU, the laptops scored between 8 and 12 percent lower than the desktop. The GFXBench tests, meanwhile, demonstrated how processor bottlenecks could affect faster cards more than slower ones. For both the RX Vega 56 and the RTX , however, the p version of the test ran significantly better on the desktop than on the laptops. The more intense Shadow of the Tomb Raider benchmark showed the limits that laptop processors would have with modern high-end games, even when paired with midrange graphics cards. The benchmark measured CPU and GPU performance individually as well as general performance, so we could see much more clearly where the processor limited even the performance of the slower GTX The desktop system ran the game at more than 60 frames per second on average, even with the midrange GTX ; the laptops had trouble clearing the mids, even with expensive graphics cards.

And while the processor remains the most important thing overall, the Tomb Raider benchmark also showed us how Thunderbolt 3 bandwidth can be more of a factor for games—the faster processor in the version of the Dell XPS 13 allowed that laptop to post slightly higher CPU scores, while the GPU performance of the version of the Dell XPS 13 was a little better because it had more bandwidth. You can see an even clearer difference on laptops that have only two processor cores instead of four—systems like the current MacBook Air, or two- or three-year-old laptops that include sixth- or seventh-generation Intel laptop processors.

Because of its smaller physical size and smaller power supply, however, you can use only shorter, mini-ITX-style graphics cards in it—cards as powerful as an RTX are available in this size, but your options are more limited and you sometimes pay more than you do for a standard-length card. But the biggest problem we found with this enclosure was that the included cooling fan was extremely noisy, and the included external power brick is bulky and ugly.

We recommend running the latest version of macOS available to maximize GPU compatibility and performance. Full-length graphics cards are typically just over 12 inches long.

7 Best eGPUs in 12222

Half-length cards are just under 7 inches long. John Poole, Geekbench 4 , Geekbench blog, August 29, Our pick.


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Upgrade pick. Budget pick. Everything we recommend Our pick. We talk more about the specific performance tests we did below, but here are our general recommendations: These enclosures work best with a quad-core eighth-generation Intel Core i5 or i7 processor or better. Not all Thunderbolt 3 ports are created equal; manufacturers sometimes allocate only two lanes of PCI Express bandwidth to the Thunderbolt 3 port, rather than the maximum of four. In our tests, the processor was almost always the limiting factor, but you should still use a laptop with four lanes of PCIe bandwidth for its Thunderbolt 3 ports.


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The article also discusses an even more obscure spec called OPI, which dictates how quickly components inside your laptop can communicate with one another. All of the enclosures we tested came with a short, roughly 1-foot passive Thunderbolt 3 cable. But depending on your desk setup, you may find this cable limiting.

But you might consider paying a bit more if an enclosure is exceptionally small or stylish, or if it includes extra ports or other features.