Best eGPU Enclosures of 2023 – our top external GPU enclosure picks
If you’re looking for the best eGPU enclosures, you’ve come to the right place.
Until recently, desktop gaming was considered the gold standard for high-performance gaming. Powerful desktop GPUs blew all mobile graphics processors out of the water. Anyone looking to game seriously would need a desktop set-up and laptops were pushed to the side.
However, advancements in technology have made it more feasible than ever to play graphically intensive games on a laptop. While mobile GPUs still can’t compare to desktop cards, another option has emerged: eGPU enclosures.
With the advancement of connection standards, it has become possible to connect a desktop GPU to a laptop to bolster its performance. This is where eGPU enclosures come in. eGPU enclosures are external machines that hold a desktop graphics card and provide power to it. They connect to your laptop and give it the juice it needs to run more demanding games. Some even have the option to fit an HDD or an SSD, giving you additional space to store games.
In this guide, we will cover the best external graphics card enclosures currently on the market. Then we’ll go over everything you need to know to make the best eGPU purchase for your situation.
Products at a Glance
Best eGPU Enclosures of 2023 – our top external GPU enclosure picks
- Aggressive RGB-heavy design
- Spacious Interior
- Very Expensive
If you’re a gamer who strongly values the aesthetic appearance of your hardware and peripherals, then the Asus RoG XG Station 2 will appeal to you. This eGPU is sleek, angular, and comes fully rigged with RGB lighting in the plasma tube on the front; it honestly looks like one of the alien vaults in Mass Effect: Andromeda.
It is rather spacious and supports full-size graphics cards. It is compatible with a variety of newer GPUs from both Nvidia and AMD. Included within are several internal fans to assist in cooling.
Another strong suit for this eGPU enclosure is its connectivity. It obviously comes standard with a Thunderbolt 3 port, but also has four USB 3.0 ports, a USB Type B, and even an ethernet input.
However, the downside of this eGPU’s ample space and aesthetic is the size. It is heavier than many other enclosures and more difficult to move. This may be in part due to its monstrous 600W power supply, which should be able to handle almost anything you can throw at it.
- Supports a wide range of GPUs
- Sleek design with RGB lighting
The Razer Core X Aluminium looks sleek and smooth but also performs superbly under the hood. The design is not overly aggressive but instead goes for a more clean, minimalistic look. If you are looking to jazz it up though, you’ll have to add your own RGB lighting.
This eGPU can house full-size graphics cards and fits up to double-width cards as well. For a full list of compatible cards, be sure to check the official product page.
On the back, there are four USB 3.0 ports, in addition to an Ethernet port and the ever-present Thunderbolt 3 input.
Unfortunately, this eGPU also suffers in the area of portability due to its size and weight. It comes with a 650W power supply, which is more than enough for most uses.
- Clean and simple design
- Compatible with a wide range of GPUs
- Fairly light
- Average connectivity
The Sonnet eGFX Breakaway Box is an affordable option that comes in multiple models with varying wattages. If your GPU is not too power-hungry, then purchasing the 550W model won’t break the bank.
The exterior of the enclosure is rather simple, with a clean design featuring the company logo lit by LED’s.
Moving to the interior, it is relatively spacious and will fit and support various full-size GeForce, Quadro, and Radeon cards. We appreciate that, despite its large interior, it still comes in relatively light, giving you the ability to transport it easily.
For connectivity, this eGPU offers just one Thunderbolt 3, which is fine for the price.
- Ample space
- Understated design
- Fairly large, heavy
- Single Thunderbolt 2 port
Visually, the Akitio Node Duo is not very striking, almost resembling a small computer case rather than an eGPU. Its large size provides it with some upsides and some downsides. Overall, it is a no-frills, simple machine designed to get the job down.
At 15 pounds, it is certainly the largest enclosure on this list. This means there is enough interior space to house any graphics card. It supports Nvidia and Radeon GPUs, including models from the GTX 900 series and onward, as well as some Nvidia Quadro GPUs. On the Radeon side, it supports some R9 and RX cards.
While the ample space is great for housing cards, it makes moving it a much more difficult task. There is a carry handle included, which helps somewhat in this regard, but it is on the back meaning if you only carry by that, you will be awkwardly tilting the device forward. The Node also brings a 400W power supply to the table, enough to get the job done.
Disappointingly, the Node only comes with one Thunderbolt 3 port, so you won’t be daisy chaining these. Considering its massive size, this is rather lacking.
Many of these issues are actually fixed with the Akitio Node Pro. It is lighter (~10 lbs), has more Thunderbolt 3.0 connectors, its handle is on the top of the case meaning it is easier to carry, and its PSU is graded for an extra 100W (500W total). Obviously, all of these things mean it costs more, so it isn’t really a budget option at that point, but it is still a good price considering some of the more expensive enclosures on the list.
What to look for in a GPU enclosure
Simply put, an eGPU enclosure allows one to get all the horsepower and graphical capabilities of a powerful desktop PC while using a light and sleek laptop. eGPUs are a relatively new tech to hit the market but are quickly becoming more common, especially now that Thunderbolt 3.0 USB-C is becoming a more standard connection interface on laptops.
Typically, eGPUs are best for tech enthusiasts who are already familiar with configuring their own computers and want a way to play the latest games on their laptops. eGPUs are also very useful for professionals who work in graphic design and need to get around frequently. An eGPU is a great choice for graphic designers who need something graphically powerful but do not want to shell out all of the money for an expensive desktop.
If you are serious about gaming on a laptop, then finding the best external video card enclosure for your personal needs is a great idea. Before buying, take into consideration the following features to find the best eGPU enclosure.
First and foremost, you have to make sure you buy an eGPU enclosure that your GPU will fit in. Desktop GPUs tend to be larger and heavier than dedicated laptop GPUs, so an eGPU case for a desktop GPU will be larger. Most available eGPU cases can fit a standard double-width GPU with no problem, but some cases run smaller than others.
The size of the enclosure also determines where you can put it on your desk. Most of these cases come in at around a foot long so make sure to mark out a dedicated space on your desk to place it while in use.
Also, pick your brain to see if you want a more portable eGPU casing. Some cases have a handle for carrying but most of them are designed to stay put and not be moved around too much.
eGPUs work by providing an external rig to do the heavy work required to run a desktop GPU. They then transmit graphical data to the computer. In other words, an eGPU “offshores” the graphical processing aspect of computing which can let even a modest laptop take advantage of a powerful GPU. To do this effectively, the computer needs the right kind of interface that has a high bandwidth that can handle large packets of graphical data.
The most common interface in these eGPU cases is the Thunderbolt 3.0 connection interface which can communicate up to a whopping 40 Gbps. Thunderbolt 3.0 interfaces tend to be found on high-end laptops. USB 3.0 offers only 5 Gbps. This is nowhere near enough to transmit the required data.
Certain eGPU enclosures have proprietary connectors, like the Alienware Graphics Amplifier, making the pool of compatible devices smaller. So it is a good idea to check and make sure that the enclosure you want can communicate with your laptop fast enough to take full advantage of your powerful desktop GPU.
Some eGPU cases also double as external mounts for HDD or SSD devices. Adding an external SSD can turn an eGPU case into an almost functional rig, only requiring the laptop’s processor to run games and other apps.
It is also worth mentioning that many current models of eGPU enclosures are tailored to Windows devices and have trouble running on Macs, especially older models. Luckily, more and more manufacturers are starting to make eGPU cases that can work with Macs just fine.
You also should check product reviews to make sure the eGPU power supply is strong enough to fully use the graphics card inside. If the power supply unit on your eGPU enclosure is not up to snuff, then it won’t be strong enough to use the full power of your graphics card. Typically, for a good eGPU enclosure, you should aim for a power supply wattage between 300-500W. Higher wattages in general offer better performance, but at the cost of eating up more energy.
Ask yourself what you will mainly be using the eGPU for. If you just want a decent rig that can play games well, then you might be better off just building your own desktop PC. That will be cheaper than buying an eGPU, a laptop with the right interface, and a separate graphics card.
eGPUs are best suited for tech enthusiasts who need a flexible set up that can potentially be moved around. As a general rule of thumb, an eGPU is about 10% less efficient than it would be if you used the card on a regular PC. Be sure to weigh your options carefully and figure out what equipment best suits your needs. As we said, you may find your best option to be just building a desktop from the ground up.
Are eGPUs worth the money
How much performance is lost with an eGPU?
So, which is the best eGPU enclosure? Well, in our opinion, it has to be the ASUS ROG XG Station 2. The aesthetics make a bulky bit of kit actually look appealing on the eye and will fit perfectly into a gamer’s setup. Additionally, it’s spacious and supports full-size graphics cards which others do not, making it a fantastic all-rounder. Yes, it is expensive but we think it’s worth the extra cash.