External Graphics Card for Laptop: Why and How to Use?

external graphics card for laptop

Are you an avid gamer? Have you been thinking about getting a new PC or laptop to elevate your gaming experience? Well then, you’ve done yourself a huge favor and saved yourself a lot of unnecessary expenses. You’re in the right place and at the right time! Buying a new PC to have a more immersed gaming experience is definitely an option. However, why spend so much money on buying a new PC for gaming when you can just opt for an external graphics card for laptop. Not only will you have an enhanced gaming experience, but you’ve also saved yourself a lot of money! Keep reading to find out all about having an external graphics setup for your laptop.

What is an External Graphics Setup? 

PC gaming is a great recreational activity. It is quite apparent for a gamer to want a high-resolution display to indeed have proper gaming experience. The PC or laptop you may already possess may not fulfill your needs for an authentic gaming experience. In such a case, instead of buying a PC or laptop engineered exclusively for gaming, the option of merely powering up your laptop is both pocket-friendly as well as efficient. Setting up an external graphics card with your laptop will enable you to have that authentic gaming experience. All you need to do is a bit of research on how to set it up as well as which graphics card to purchase.

The integrated graphics of a laptop which has not primarily been designed for gaming won’t make the cut for a great gaming experience. Simpler and older versions of PC games such as Diablo III can still be enjoyed on a PC or laptop, which has not been designed for gaming. However, the modern games available now are much more graphics-intensive, and playing such games on an ordinary laptop won’t be a great experience. This is where an external graphics card comes into the picture.

DIY Graphics Setup

It is most definitely possible to set up on your own. Such installations will connect your laptop with a desktop graphics card. This connection is established through mPCIe or ExpressCard slots. You can play games through this setup on an external monitor. This is not difficult to configure. In recent times, connecting desktop graphics cards with a laptop has become quite easy to execute. Thunderbolt 3 is widely available now. External graphics card docks are also available. Owing to the easy availability of both these items, the process of establishing an external graphics system has become relatively simple.

These DIY setups involving the use of ExpressCard or mPCIe or Thunderbolt 3 slots result in a plug and play gaming experience. This setup requires very little or no modifications at all. The end result of this setup is absolutely fantastic. The quality of the installation will be dependent on the graphics card you choose to purchase. This is an excellent alternative to building a new gaming desktop. Another great advantage is that your laptop’s portability is still intact because you can easily disconnect the eGPU hardware.

Graphics Card Docks 

Graphics card docks are very important in your external graphics setup. This is because they establish the connection between your external graphics card and laptop. It is very important to buy great quality graphics card dock. Thunderbolt 3 (TB3) by Intel, is a very high-speed external output and input connection. It has a very high speed of approximately 40GBps and requires a compatible USB-C port for establishing the connection between your laptop and external graphics card.

Graphics card docks are very important for gaming purposes as they boost the performance of your laptop. The Thunderbolt 3 graphics card docks are great for the purpose of connecting your laptop with an external graphics card because of the speed. There are many companies that provide graphics card docks that are TB3 based along with other necessary supplies. These additional supplies include power supplies, graphics card slots as well as additional ports. All you will require is a new notebook that has a TB3 compatible USB-C port. Thunderbolt 3 comes with excellent compatibility technology. This has to be enabled by PC makers.

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Graphics Card Enclosures

A crucial step in the process of setting up your external graphics card with your laptop is to thoroughly research whether the laptop model you have is compatible with graphics card enclosures. Once you’ve ensured that your laptop is compatible with the graphics card enclosure that you’re planning to purchase, you can go right ahead and buy yourself a graphics card enclosure. A few sound graphics card enclosure options are:

Razer Core And Razer Core X

The original Razer Core was one of the first TB3 graphics card enclosures that gained immense popularity in the market. Although it was initially being engineered Razer Blade laptops, it can function in other TB3 compatible laptops. There are now two models under Razer Core- Core X and Core V2. The Core V2 is as expensive as the original Razer Core. However, this model has four USB 3.0 ports. These ports are all for the purpose of gaming. It also comes with an Ethernet and an internal power supply of 500W. It has an aluminum exterior as well as a Chroma RGB lighting system. The Core X is less expensive than the original model and Core V2. It has a high power supply of 650W. However, it does not come with ethernet and USB ports.

PowerColor Gaming Station

This is another excellent enclosure system to purchase. However, this one is not quite easy to find. The preferred enclosure by PowerColor is named Gaming Station. It comes with a paper supply of 550W, five 3.0 USB ports as well as ethernet. You should be careful to check the list of host systems and graphics cards supported by PowerColor before purchasing it.

Akitio

Akitio offers three models of graphics card enclosures, namely, the Node Pro, Node Lite, and the Node. Except for the original model by Akitio, that is, the Node model, the other graphics card enclosures, are not certified as eGFX peripherals by Intel. The Node model has a 400W power supply but does not come with any extra ports. The Node Lite, on the other hand, is PCIe certified and comes with a TB3 port as well as a DisplayPort port. You will, however, still need your own power supply. Both these models support full-height, double-width as well as half-length cards. The Node Pro model is more expensive than both the Node original and the Node Lite. The Node Pro has a high power supply of 500W and offers a TB3 port and DisplayPort input. It is also portable because it comes with a sturdy handle, which is retractable.

Basic Components Of eGPU

There are vital components in an eGPU setup. In order to set up the eGPU system on your own, there are five items you will require: an external graphics card, a laptop, a graphics card enclosure, an external monitor as well as a power supply for your graphics card. A cooling pad for your computer is also a great component to have in case you want to play graphics-intensive games on your computer. Your laptop needs to have an AMD quad-core processor or an Intel processor or a dual-core processor that has four threads. Having a solid-state drive can significantly boost your gaming experience.

However, having an SSD is not mandatory. A PCIe board is also needed as it a piece of specialized equipment that can enhance your gaming experience. PCIe boards are available with multiple slot options such as mPCIe slots, M slots ExpressCard slots. One of the best PCIe boards available in the market is the BPlus’ PE4C v3.0. The board can work over ExpressCard or mPCIe connections. This board also comes with a good stand for supporting your external graphics card. This board enables your external graphics card and laptop to have an interface.

Choosing An External Graphics Card 

After having researched on the kind of hardware you want and you should get for your eGPU set up, you finally reach the step of buying your external graphics card. The nature of the external graphics card you purchase will be dependent upon the kind of eGPU experience that you’re going to have. Remember to thoroughly research on the kind of hardware you have. You need to make sure that your laptop is engineered in a way that supports the plugin and plays experience that you get with a DIY eGPU setup. You can do this by perusing through the reviews of graphic users who have the same laptop as you do. Reading through their experiences will give you a good understanding of the kind of eGPU expertise you will have. This, in turn, will factor in when you are buying your external graphics card for your laptop.

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Best External Graphics Card 

In order to decide which external graphics card you want to buy, not only is your understanding of the kind of eGPU experience that you will most probably have necessary. You will also need to decide on how much money you’re willing to spend in terms of purchasing your external graphics card. To get a good idea of the best option available for you, it is again important to do your fair share of research regarding what is available out there in the market.

  • The price range of the best external graphics cards available in the market above $1000. The GeForce RTX 2080 Ti is one of the best external graphics cards that are available in the market, which costs more than $1200. However, plenty of great external graphics cards are available that range between $200 to $300.
  • A budget of $200 to $300 is great, especially when it’s your first time at attempting to set up an eGPU system on your own. Cards within the aforementioned price range are good options because they’ll be kind enough to support your gaming experience for whatever games will be launched within the next few years. A few tremendous external graphics cards within this budget include the Radeon RX 580, which is around $200. TheGeForce GTX 1660 priced at $220 is another great option because of its comparatively reasonable price tag and excellent performance. The GeForce GTX 1660 Ti is a little over $280 and is another great buying option.
  • In case you’re not willing to spend as much as $200 to $300 on an external graphics card, mainly because you’ll be setting up the system yourself, a more pocket-friendly option is the Radeon RX 570. It costs around $150. It is available for an even lower price of $130 during the sale.

All these aforementioned options are great because they provide a gaming experience resolution of around 1080p. Only a few compromises are involved when it comes to using these cards. You will have a great gaming experience with these affordable options at medium as well as high graphics settings.

Want To Buy A Pricey Graphics Card? 

In case you are willing to pay more money than $200 to $300 for your external graphics card because you want to splurge, then opting for the GeForce RTX 2080 Ti priced at above $1200 is a good option. Higher-end external graphics cards will definitely give better performance and enhance your gaming experience in a more effective way at a higher resolution than the foreign graphics cards costing around $200 to $300.

However, it is crucial that you remember that the performance of the more top-end graphics card will only be observed in laptops having better connections than PCIe x1 or x2. Laptops having PCIe x1 or x2 connection will not be able to indeed allow the higher-end graphics card to perform to their fullest potential. In case you are planning on purchasing a new desktop or laptop in the near future, then purchasing a higher-end external graphics card is indeed a good investment for you.

Go ahead and research thoroughly to turn your laptop into the perfect gaming PC by using an external graphics card! Have fun gaming!

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