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External GPUs in 2020

Hey, as the title suggests I’m curious about how External GPUs are doing in 2020.

I need to upgrade my laptop, and my current consideration is buying a nice, light “ultrabook” that doesn’t have a dedicated GPU and then buying an external GPU solution (hopefully upgradeable) and using that when I’m at home.

If memory serves, eGPUs had some pretty funky and random issues last time I checked. In addition to some “native” issues connected to latency and plug-n-play.

The Razer Core X Chroma looks pretty well built, but it’s also a $500 thing that doesn’t do much of anything on its own. According to this der8auer video it seems like a decent solution. I wish there was a less “apples to oranges” comparison for the desktop and laptop. A 9900K is obviously going to perform a lot better than a laptop CPU.

That said, going from my current laptop’s 45W 6700HQ to a 15W 10501U, the new low power CPU is stronger. So, I’d be getting a faster and longer-lasting device. I’m excited about that.

I mostly want a GPU for gaming, but I am starting to do some projects that need video editing. I have some (casual) plans down the line that might use a GPU for computation, too.

I’m primarily intending to use Windows, but might use Linux at some point, too.

Are there any better-value options for external GPUs? Do you have any hands-on experience with them? Is the user experience normally fine?

The Akitio Node comes to my mind, it’s cheap and seems reliable from reviews. You can use any card you want with it. It’s a big box though.

I really wish manufacturers made eGPU enclosures with MXM cards - they’d be really small and mobile cards these days are powerful enough for almost anything, especially with proper cooling and power supply. But so far, there are none :confused:

The biggest problem is simply the connection. Thunderbolt 3 is PCIe3 x4 instead of x16 in a full size slot. So you get one quarter the bandwidth. And if you want to display that on the laptop instead of a display connected to the eGPU, all the pixels have to travel back through the same cable as well. In games that will cost you a bit performance, in editing or other workloads … it might be more than just a bit.

Look at the level of performance that you get with a thin and light and try to match that in desktop parts. (Because that would be the best case scenario for your gaming experience, right?) Then look at the price of those eGPU cases again. Then remember that all of those problems I mentioned simply wouldn’t happen because you’re not running through thunderbolt … aaand I guess at that point it’s pretty clear where this is going. :wink:

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Back when eGPUs were just an amateur project, they used PCIE x1!

PCIE 1.x was noticeably slow, always stuttering. x1 2.x-3.x actually ran really well considering the bandwidth, only dropping to low FPS occasionally on high settings. Rendering ran perfectly from reports.

I guess for the newest cards, x4 might not be enough if you want to get the most performance/quality in games, but it may still run fine on slightly lower settings. People seem to like their eGPU boxes.

I’m the last person to say “you can’t like that”, just trying to be a voice of reason. I mean, I’m writing this on a maxed out 2009 mac pro with a Vega64 while my 3900X is collecting dust. xD

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@AdminDev did it for a little while and seemed to enjoy it.

I did. I used a ThinkPad T480 with a Sonnet eGPU enclosure with an Nvidia GTX 1080.

Windows 10 Professional and Kubuntu 18.04 were the operating systems I used. World of Warcraft, Final Fantasy IX, Elder Scrolls Online, and Overwatch worked flawlessly.

Had a bit of an issue with Uplay games, but it got sorted with some weird hacks.

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