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Best External Graphics Card 2019 (eGPU) – Complete Buyer’s Guide and Reviews

You’ve undoubtedly heard of external HDDs and SDDs, but did you know external graphics cards exist, too?

Indeed, external graphics cards are a thing, and there are several reasons as to why you might want to get one, but the most common one?

They make gaming on a laptop easier than ever!

In essence, an external GPU is an independent enclosure containing a power supply and a desktop version of a graphics card that is connected to a laptop or PC via a Thunderbolt port.

Now, whether you wish to play games on your laptop or just don’t have any motherboard space to spare on a powerful GPU, we will give you a list of the best external graphics cards of 2019!

Top 8 Best External GPUs For 2019

eGPUSupported GPU sizeWeightPSU 
Mini ITX4.4 lbs (2 kg)450W
Full-length
Full-height
Double-width
7.7 lbs (3.5 kg)460 W
Full-length
Full-height
Double-width
15.2 lbs (6.9 kg)400W
Full-length
Full-height
Double-width
8.6 lbs (3.9 kg)600 W
Full-length
Full-height
Double-width
6.5lb (2.95 kg)330W
Full-length
Full-height
Triple-width
14.29 lb (6.48 kg)650W
Full-length
Full-height
Double-width
10.89 lb (4.93 kg)500W
Full-length
Full-height
Double-width
7.1 lbs (3.2 kg)350W-650W

Gigabyte AORUS Gaming Box

About the Product

Unless you’re completely new to the world of computer hardware, then you definitely know about Gigabyte. It was founded back in 1986 and is one of the leading hardware manufacturers today. Moreover, they are a licensed manufacturer of both Nvidia and AMD graphics cards, and these are often some of the best graphics cards that you can find on the market.

The AORUS Gaming Box is an external GPU case that comes complete with Gigabyte’s own Mini ITX version of the GeForce GTX 1070 graphics card. It is a fairly compact metal box with a transparent mesh openly displaying the front of the graphics card itself and further accentuating it with the use of LED lighting.

Review

External Gpu

As mentioned above, this external GPU case ships with a Gigabyte GTX 1070 Mini ITX, a graphics card with all the capabilities of its full-sized counterpart. However, due to its diminutive size and compact cooler, its overclocking potential is more limited and it gets a bit loud when under load. Nonetheless, it is still wholly capable of taking on both 4K and VR gaming.

Design-wise, there is not much to say – the exterior is clean and minimal, while the RGB lighting on the front which illuminates the front of the graphics card lends it that particular gaming flair. Using Gigabyte’s AuraSync software, the lighting can be easily controlled and customized, and there are several of the usual RGB effects that can be used – static, flashing, breathing, and color cycling.

External Graphics Card

When it comes to connectivity, there’s no lack of variety here. The case boasts a single Thunderbolt 3.0 port which is used to interface with a laptop or PC, while the GPU itself comes with one HDMI 2.0 port, one DisplayPort 1.4, and two Dual Link DVI-D ports. In addition to these basics, Gigabyte takes the case a step further and gives it four USB ports, three of which are regular USB 3.0 ports, with the fourth one being a quick charge port.

Ultimately, the case is rather light, weighing only 4.4 pounds (about 2 kg). This, combined with its small frame, makes it one of the most portable eGPU cases that can be transported with ease and placed comfortably on top of a desk without being too conspicuous. To make things even better, Gigabyte also packs a neat little carry bag designed specifically for this enclosure, which really does cement this eGPU as the most portable one currently available.

eGPU

Ultimately, the only real problem with this external graphics card enclosure is that it’s a bit limited when it comes to upgrading it. Of course, the Gigabyte GTX 1070 that comes with the box can be removed, but the small frame only allows it to host Mini ITX graphics cards. As such, the future upgrade options are a bit limited with the Gigabyte Gaming Box.

The Bottom Line

All things considered, the Gigabyte Aorus Gaming Box is quite a deal. It is not overly expensive and ships complete with a great GPU that can comfortably handle 1080p and 2160p gaming, as well as VR, though 4K might be a challenge in most cases. In addition to that, the convenient extra USB ports and the bundled carry bag both contribute to making the Gaming Box a very appealing eGPU.

What We Loved

  • Excellent high-end GPU included
  • Most portable eGPU around
  • USB hub on the back

What We Didn’t Like

  • Limited upgrade options

Alienware Graphics Amplifier

About the Product

Although Alienware was started in 1996 as an independent company, it only reached its glory days after it was acquired by Dell in 2006. For the most part, the name Alienware had become synonymous with (expensive) gaming laptops, so it is only natural to see some external graphics solutions from them.

Now, the Alienware Graphics Amplifier is a GPU case designed to work specifically with Alienware laptops, using the company’s proprietary port instead of the usual Thunderbolt 3 port as a means of connection. The priority here was to design an eGPU case that would house a powerful full-sized graphics card, so portability is not this product’s strong suit.

Review

Best eGPU 2019

Boasting a sleek black plastic exterior with a heavily detailed front and a conspicuous Alienware logo, the Alienware Graphics Amplifier definitely looks like an Alienware product. As mentioned above, it is quite bulky and has a considerable footprint, but this isn’t too big of an issue considering that it wasn’t meant to be a portable eGPU enclosure to begin with.

The case doesn’t ship with a graphics card, but according to Alienware, it supports all full-sized graphics cards that go as far back as the GTX 600 series and the Radeon HD 5000 series. Furthermore, the 460-watt power supply can handle cards with a TDP of up to 375W.

Laptop External Graphics Card

As mentioned above, the Alienware Graphics Amplifier comes with a proprietary Alienware port instead of a Thunderbolt 3 port, limiting its compatibility to the following laptops, as listed on the official product page:

  • Alienware 13 R1, R2, and R3
  • Alienware 15 R1, R2, and R3
  • Alienware 17 R2, R3, and R4
  • Alienware X51 R3
  • Alienware Alpha R2

What’s more, it has four super speed USB 3.0 ports that allow for the convenient connecting and charging of certain peripherals.

In the end, the two biggest issues with this eGPU case are the limited compatibility and its size, so unless you have one of the aforementioned Alienware laptops that come with their proprietary connector and don’t mind the lack of portability, you will probably want to give the Graphics Amplifier a pass.

The Bottom Line

At the end of the day, the Alienware Graphics Amplifier is a great choice for Alienware laptop owners who want to give their gaming laptop some extra performance at home. It is quite unfortunate that it is only limited to Alienware laptops, though, as it is relatively cheap compared to most eGPU enclosures out there – quite unusual, as far as Alienware products are concerned.

What We Loved

  • Supports a great variety of GPUs
  • Easy to upgrade
  • Four super speed USB 3.0 ports
  • Fairly cheap for an eGPU case

What We Didn’t Like

  • Only compatible with certain Alienware laptops
  • Not very portable

Akitio Node

About the Product

Akitio is a name many are likely to be unfamiliar with. It is an international company headquartered in California which deals primarily in storage solutions and external expansions chassis. Their design philosophy prioritizes practicality, reliability, usually boasting clean and minimal exterior design, as we will see with the product at hand.

The Akitio Node is a spacious and adaptable external GPU case, though from the looks of it, it’s more reminiscent of a full-fledged Mini ITX computer case, more so than any of the other products on this list. Ultimately, this comes with certain advantages and disadvantages.

Review

External Graphics Card For Laptop

As can be seen from the pictures, the Node comes with a simple and generally unremarkable design, built mainly of simple sheet metal. And contrary to what its weight might imply, it does not come with a graphics card included. On the bright side, with its 400W power supply and ample interior, it can support any graphics card out there, as far as size is concerned.

In terms of GPU compatibility, it supports both Nvidia and Radeon GPUs, including models from the GTX 900 series and onward, as well as several Radeon R9 and RX cards. On top of that, it even supports several Nvidia Quadro GPUs. You can see the full list of compatible graphics card models here.

USB Graphics Card

On the connectivity front, the Node keeps things simple. It comes with only a single Thunderbolt 3 port, which is a bit underwhelming considering its size and price.

Speaking of size, the Akitio Node is simply massive. It weighs a considerable 15.2 pounds (roughly 7 kg), and that’s not counting the graphics card that will eventually go inside it. Needless to say, this is not an eGPU case that can be lugged around easily, and the folks over at Akitio were clearly well-aware of that when they added a convenient handle on the case’s upper back that is bound to make your life a bit easier if you ever have to take the Node anywhere.

Apart from its size and weight, there are no glaring issues with the Node, although we would have liked to see a USB hub thrown into the mix, mainly because the case is on the pricey side.

The Bottom Line

When all is said and done, the main advantage of the Akitio Node is also, arguably, its biggest disadvantage: the size. It can house any GPU, but it is also the least portable case on this list. Other than that, it is definitely on the expensive side, but if you need an external GPU for use at home, then the Node would definitely be a good choice.

What We Loved

  • Can accommodate GPUs of any size
  • Carry handle helps with portability

What We Didn’t Like

  • Large and heavy
  • No USB ports
  • Pricey

ASUS RoG XG Station 2

About the Product

Asus is a company that hardly needs any introduction.  This Taiwanese giant has expanded into almost all parts of the hardware industry over the years, during which time the Republic of Gamers brand was created. As the name implies, this series of products caters specifically to the gaming community.

One of the products in the RoG lineup is the RoG XG Station 2 which takes the aggressive and attention-grabbing design which is a staple of RoG products and applies it perfectly to an external GPU case. But what does it offer in practical terms?

Review

As mentioned above, the Station 2 boasts a highly aggressive design: angular, replete with details, and of course, equipped with RGB lighting in the form of the conspicuous ‘plasma tube’ on the front of the case. And despite what you may think when you look at the price tag, the standard Station 2 doesn’t come with a GPU included, though Asus does offer versions which do.

Considering its size, it obviously supports full-sized graphics cards, and it is compatible with GTX 900 series cards, Radeon R9 series cards, as well as the newer generations. Furthermore, it even has several internal fans that help with the cooling.

Asus Rog XG Station 2

Now, the RoG XG Station 2 takes the connectivity a bit further than most eGPU cases. Naturally, it comes with a standard Thunderbolt 3 port, but it also includes four USB 3.0 ports, one USB Type B port, as well as an Ethernet port.

Now, much like the Akitio Node and the Alienware Graphics Amplifier, this is a bulky case. It’s on the heavy side and is difficult to move, but that’s not the biggest issue with the RoG XG Station 2. Rather, the biggest problem that will be a deal-breaker for most people is its price. Namely, it costs over $500 at this point, and needless to say, this is more than most would be comfortable paying for an enclosure that doesn’t even come with a GPU included.

The Bottom Line

While the Asus RoG XG Station 2 is a great-looking case, at least for those who like this kind of design philosophy, it doesn’t offer anything substantial compared to the more affordable eGPU cases that come at half its price. As such, this case will only be appealing for those who either really care about appearances or those who simply have the cash to burn.

What We Loved

  • Aggressive RGB-heavy design
  • Spacious interior

What We Didn’t Like

  • Extremely expensive
  • Not very portable

ASUS XG Station PRO

About the Product

If the XG Station 2 is not your cup of tea, be it because of the pricing or the overly aggressive design, then you might appreciate the Asus XG Station Pro. Despite what the name may suggest, it is actually a fair share cheaper than the above model – in fact, it is almost half its price.

Now, you’ll notice that the XG Station Pro is not a RoG product, so the design is a lot cleaner. In place of the complex patterns and aggressive angles, we have a sleek aluminum chassis that is bound to appeal to a wider customer base.

Review

As mentioned in the introduction, the XG Station Pro doesn’t overdo it in regards to design, and it is more reminiscent of the likes of Akitio Node than the flashy bombast of the XG Station 2. It is less spacious than its RoG counterpart, however, though it is still quite capable of fitting a full-sized graphics card.

This case also doesn’t come with a GPU included, and it is officially compatible with Nvidia GeForce GTX 900 series cards and onward, including the latest RTX GPUs, some Quadro GPUs and a couple of Radeon models.

Best External Graphics Card 2019

The XG Station Pro keeps the connectivity options simple, and only has one extra USB 3.1 Gen2 port apart from the usual Thunderbolt 3 port.

Seeing as it is constructed out of aluminum, the XG Station Pro is quite lightweight for a case of this size, which is a definite plus when portability is concerned. On the downside, even though it is substantially cheaper than the XG Station 2, it is still rather pricey.

The Bottom Line

At the end of the day, this eGPU has two key things going for it: it has a sleek design and it is very lightweight, all thanks to the aluminum construction which allows it to weigh less than most eGPU enclosures, all the while retaining the spaciousness of a larger case.

If you’re looking for a sleek and lightweight eGPU case, then this one just might be worth the money. It definitely would be a good choice if you’re a MacBook user, as the aluminum exterior would complement the laptop’s design very nicely.

What We Loved

  • Great-looking aluminum chassis
  • Lightweight

What We Didn’t Like

  • On the expensive side

Razer Core X

About the Product

And now, we come to another name that every gamer is most likely already familiar with – Razer, a company known for their great and overly expensive, gaming products.

They currently sell two external GPU cases and the first one we’ll be taking a look at is the new Razer Core X which leaves very little to be desired.

Review

External GPU Case

You might not peg the Core X for a Razer product at the very first glance, as its exterior design is actually quite clean, with no RGB to speak of. Its spacious interior can accommodate even triple-width graphics cards, which is great if you’ve got your eyes on a bulkier model. What’s more, with a 650-watt power supply, you can rest assured that even the most power-hungry card won’t give it any trouble.

Now, the Razer Core X officially supports the Razer Blade, Razer Blade Stealth, and Razer Blade Pro laptops, though it is compatible with any Thunderbolt 3-equipped laptop that supports external graphics cards.

As for the graphics cards themselves, it is compatible with a wide range of GeForce, Quadro, and Radeon cards, all of which are listed on the official product page.

Thunderbolt 3 External GPU

In regards to connectivity, the Razer Core X keeps things simple, much like the Akitio Node – it only has a single Thunderbolt 3 port and there are no extra ports to speak of, unfortunately.

In the end, we have nothing bad to say about the Razer Core X, other than the usual lack of portability that comes with a spacious and heavy eGPU case and the lack of a USB hub. Surprisingly, it is not as expensive as most Razer products, at least relatively speaking.

The Bottom Line

All in all, the Razer Core X is a very viable external graphics card enclosure, mainly because it supports a wide range of GPUs and is actually not much more expensive than most products of this kind. Sadly, it has no USB hub, but if all you need is a case to hold a full-sized graphics card that you don’t intend of moving from your desk, then the Razer Core X would definitely be a good buy.

What We Loved

  • Supports a wide range of GPUs
  • Can house triple-width graphics cards
  • Clean and neutral exterior design
  • Good value

What We Didn’t Like

  • On the pricey side
  • Limited portability due to size and weight
  • No extra ports

Razer Core V2

About the Product

We’ve mentioned that Razer currently sells two eGPU cases, and here’s the second one: the Razer Core V2. This one is quite similar to the above Razer Core X in terms of dimensions and weight, though it has a couple of extra features that its slightly larger counterpart lacks.

Review

External Graphics Card For Laptops

From the get-go, we see that the Core V2 is quite similar to the Core X in terms of design. There’s the same general approach as before, although the Core V2 implements Chroma RGB lighting, an aesthetic feature missing from the Core X.

Compatibility-wise, the situation is more or less the same as well, since the V2 is designed to house full-sized graphics cards as well, though triple-width cards are not supported, unfortunately. As before, a full list of the compatible GeForce, Quadro, and Radeon cards can be seen on the official product page.

Best External Graphics Card 2019

Now, apart from the Chroma RGB lighting, another feature that the Core V2 has that the X doesn’t is a USB hub. Namely, this case has four green-colored USB 3.0 ports on the back, as well as an Ethernet port, in addition to the usual Thunderbolt 3 port.

In the end, the Razer Core V2 is quite similar to the Razer Core X. It is slightly smaller and a bit lighter, but still not very portable, though the biggest difference between the two is definitely the price, as the V2 comes with a considerable $500 price tag attached, as opposed to the Core X’s more modest $300.

The Bottom Line

When everything is taken into consideration, the Razer Core V2 doesn’t quite seem like a wise investment unless you’re really hell-bent on having a USB hub and RGB lighting in your external GPU case, as those are the only notable features that it has which the notably cheaper Razer Core X does not.

What We Loved

  • Supports a wide range of GPUs
  • Sleek design with RGB lighting

What We Didn’t Like

  • Very expensive
  • Limited portability due to size and weight

Sonnet eGFX Breakaway Box

About the Product

Following up, we have an eGPU case from a relatively obscure company named Sonnet that was actually founded all the way back in 1986 and deals mainly in expansion cards, Thunderbolt-equipped products, and other non-essential computer peripherals and accessories.

Now, the Sonnet eGFX Breakaway Box is a fairly simple and relatively affordable eGPU enclosure that comes in multiple versions that differ mainly in regards to the wattage, with the cheapest 350W model definitely being one of the more affordable products of this kind that you can get right now.

Review

On the outside, the Breakaway Box is rather unremarkable, with a clean black exterior and a LED-lit company logo on the front. On the inside, it is quite spacious and supports a wide range of graphics cards, though the case itself is actually relatively light and compact compared to some others listed here.

Graphics Card Enclosure

The case is compatible with a number of GeForce, Quadro, and Radeon cards, and once again, the connectivity options are limited to only the single essential Thunderbolt 3 port, which is understandable considering the low price tag on the base model.

Ultimately, the eGFX Breakway Box is a very solid all-around eGPU case, our only qualm being the high prices on the 550W and 650W variants.

The Bottom Line

All things considered, the Sonnet eGFX Breakaway Box is quite possibly one of the best external graphics card cases to go with if you’re on a tight budget, as the regular 350W version is quite affordable compared to most of the cases out there.

What We Loved

  • Base version is relatively affordable
  • Clean and simple design
  • Compatible with a wide range of GPUs
  • Fairly light

What We Didn’t Like

  • 550W and 650W versions are on the expensive side

How To Pick The Best External GPU For Your Needs

Whenever you’re dealing with a range of different products, no matter how mild the differences, it will always be tough pinpointing the very best one, as it is mostly a subjective matter.

Therefore, before presenting our own take on which of these eGPU enclosures we deem to be the best and why, we will offer some guidelines on how to determine which one would be the best for you.

Are You Gaming On A Laptop Or A Desktop?

external graphics card

True, external GPUs are an answer to the need for better graphics processing in laptops, but there are valid reasons as to why you might seek to use one even if you own a desktop.

Most commonly, those reasons are a lack of space and motherboard incompatibility. If you have a more compact Micro ATX or Mini ITX case, some graphics cards just won’t be able to fit inside it. In addition to that, your motherboard might not have enough space or it might lack a functional PCIe port. Perhaps even your power supply might be insufficient to support a new GPU.

But any of the above scenarios would be quite rare today, and it’s arguably better to save up some money and put together a proper gaming rig, since external GPU cases are quite expensive to begin with, not to mention that Thunderbolt 3 just isn’t as fast as a PCIe connection, so there is always a performance gap between external and internal GPUs.

External GPU For Laptop

Nonetheless, an external graphics card might still be quite appealing if you have both a desktop and a laptop that you want to play games on, as you would be able to switch between the two easily, without seeing any significant loss in performance as long as they both have decent CPU and memory specs.

In addition to that, an external GPU is pretty much a must if you intend on gaming on a Mac, as the GPUs found in Macs are often ill-suited for gaming, be it a MacBook, an iMac, or a Mac mini we’re talking about.

Do You Prioritize Power or Portability?

RTX External GPU

As the saying goes, you can’t have your cake and eat it, too. This applies to external GPUs as well – there simply isn’t one that can reach maximum possible performance potential while maintaining low weight and modest size.

But luckily, it’s quite easy to determine which you should prioritize simply by considering whether you will only be using the eGPU at home or if you intend on taking it with yourself often.

If you plan on gaming primarily in the comfort of your own home, then portability isn’t that big of a deal. In fact, any of the external GPU cases listed here can be moved rather easily within the confines of your own home.

However, if you move around a lot and need an external GPU that you can easily take with you wherever you go, then a lighter and more compact solution would be in order. Sadly, most manufacturers want their enclosures to be compatible with full-sized graphics cards, so the Gigabyte Aorus Gaming Box is definitely the top choice if you’re going for a more portable solution.

Conclusion – The Best External Graphics Card for 2019

external gpu

And now, it’s time to crown the winner.

In our book, it is the Gigabyte AORUS Gaming Box.

While its limited flexibility when it comes to potential future upgrades may be a deal-breaker for some people, this neat little eGPU does everything else right.

The Nvidia GeForce GTX 1070 that comes with this case is a 4K and VR-ready graphics card that won’t go out of fashion any time soon. What’s more, few laptops these days go beyond a Full HD 1080p display resolution anyway, and this particular GPU will be more than sufficient for 1080p gaming unless you plan on using an external display as well.

More importantly, whenever we think of laptops, we think of mobility. Unlike the other external GPUs currently on the market, the Aorus Gaming Box can perfectly preserve that mobility. No other case can come close to it in this regard, as it is significantly lighter and smaller than competing models.

And that would be it for our list of the best external graphics cards for 2019! If you’ve made up your mind regarding which case you’ll get and are now looking for a graphics card, then this list is bound to help.

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