Aug 10, 2022
In 2015, I began looking for an external graphics card for my laptop after rekindling an old interest in PC gaming that had lain dormant since childhood.
The ancient Lenovo ThinkPad X220 with an Intel HD 3000 graphics card was my sole PC in 2011 when I needed integrated graphics alone. For PC gaming, that's not good enough. The laptop's tiny 1366728-resolution display is suitable for older games like Diablo III, but a second 1080p monitor is required for today's graphics-intensive games. As a result, I began investigating the possibility of using an external graphics card (or eGPU) instead.
And in reality, I came across whole communities of people making their DIY setups to play games on an external display through ExpressCard or PCIe slots. Using desktop graphics cards on laptops has never been easier than it is now, thanks to the invention of laptops. Thunderbolt 3 and external graphics card docks have greatly improved the life of modern notebook users.
Do-it-yourselfers can use Thunderbolt 3, ExpressCard, or mPCIe to get a plug-and-play experience, but they must first do their homework. Even still, depending on the graphics card you buy, you'll have a PC gaming system that can compete with a new Xbox One S for the same price. You may keep your laptop's portability while saving money on a new gaming PC by disconnecting the eGPU hardware.
If you're looking for the fastest external input/output connection, Thunderbolt 3 is your best bet. Games and other resource-intensive programmes benefit greatly from adding graphics cards.
Even though attempts to develop an external graphics card dock have been made in the past, they have typically been expensive and utilised proprietary connectors. Many companies now offer graphic card docks powered by Thunderbolt 3 and capable of allowing desktop graphics cards to be installed.
However, Thunderbolt 3's graphics performance isn't perfect. Entrances are still excessively expensive compared to the DIY approach we'll examine later. You'll need a newer laptop to use the Thunderbolt 3-compliant USB-C connector. Most Thunderbolt 3 laptops and graphics card enclosures now operate together thanks to Intel's Thunderbolt 3 external graphics compatibility feature, which PC makers must activate.
The Lenovo Yoga 730 and the HP Spectre x360 are excellent laptops that can be docked with an additional graphics card. If you buy a graphics card enclosure, Nando, an eGPU expert and administrator at eGPU.io, advises that you first check your laptop model's compatibility with the enclosure.
Once you decide on a laptop, you'll need to purchase a graphics card dock. Even though almost every major PC graphics card manufacturer is introducing a graphics dock, we won't be able to analyse all of the available options. Still, we'll look at some of the most important ones.
akitio akitio is the node. Akitio's docking options for an external graphics card don't stop at the Node, Node Lite, or Node Pro. Because they are not Intel-certified as eGFX peripherals (except the original Node), Akitio's graphics card enclosures stand apart from its competitors. However, PCIe boxes can be used for a variety of other tasks. You may learn more about the differences between Thunderbolt and USB on Intel's Thunderbolt blog.
At $230 on Amazon, the original Node provides 400W of electricity. It's possible to get a cheaper enclosure with more ports, but this one does not. The price of the Node Lite on Amazon is approximately $224. For the PCIe-certified box, you'll need to supply your power source for DisplayPort and Thunderbolt 3 connections. Any dock can accept cards of two widths and three heights.
We need to define a few concepts before we get started. It's easy to become lost in the eGPU world if you don't know the basic terms. Veteran gamers can skip through to the next part because there isn't much here.
Standard graphics cards fit into the PCIe x16 slot on motherboards. The "x16" component refers to the PCIe slot's ability to transport data over 16 lanes. It is common to reduce the bandwidth of an x16 slot to one or two lanes when using an external graphics card (eGPU). That may sound unfair, but it works rather effectively. Slots in the 1.0, 2.0 and 3.0 generations of PCIe are all compatible. PCIe 3.0, which is backwards compatible with PCIe 2.0, is expected to be the standard for most new graphics cards. PCIe 4.0 is also on the way, albeit slowly. According to AMD's announcement in January 2019, its third-generation Ryzen CPUs will be the first to support version 4, with PCIe 5.0 close behind.