4 best USB-C external GPUs [2021 Guide]
The popularity of USB-C has grown like wildfire over the past year. Whether it’s high-end laptops, desktop computers, smartphones, or tablets, nearly every major manufacturer now offers at least one model with a USB-C port. This trend has been spurred by the fact that USB-C offers a superior charging and data transfer experience compared with the standard USB ports found on all other devices. However, since there are currently very few USB-C-enabled GPUs on the market, many users have been locked out of enjoying these advantages until now. Luckily, this is about to change.
**Please note that the current release date for USB-C external graphics cards is unknown. I will report back when I have more information.**
An external graphics card, also known as an eGPU, allows you to host and connect a desktop graphics card to your laptop so that you can run applications or connect an external monitor with a desktop graphics card. Today, eGPUs can harness the full power of desktop GPUs with the latest technologies, such as Thunderbolt 3, which offers up to 40 Gbps throughput. All the major companies have released their eGPU boxes to make the best external graphics card on the market. Before the advent of the Thunderbolt interface in many high-end laptops, eGPUs had no chance of success due to the bandwidth limitations of using USB 2.0 to connect a laptop to an eGPU. But now Thunderbolt 3 offers four times the bandwidth of USB-C. Here are five of the best eGPUs you can find on the market today that have USB-C ports.
How we chose the best USB-C external GPUs
Our team of expert testers has tested all notable devices to arrive at the results presented in this guide. The team, which has over 15 years of hardware testing experience, carefully selected the finalists for this list after rigorous testing at various levels. The tests were carried out both with regard to the capabilities of the individual device and in comparison with similar devices. Editor’s Tip: To make sure you choose the best GPU for your case, here are some things to consider: ➡ Compatibility with your PC ➡ Processing speed ➡ Number of Thunderbolt ports ➡ Cooling efficiency ➡ Noise level ➡ Design. The above list ensures that whatever you choose after reading this guide, you will always get one of the top rated and best performing USB-C external GPUs to take your graphics processing power to the next level.
What should I look for when choosing the best eGPU?
As with choosing any peripheral for your PC, the most important thing to consider is whether it is compatible with your system. That way, you don’t invest your hard-earned money in a device that turns out to be useless. Our list includes compatibility information for Windows and macOS PCs so you can make an informed decision.
What would a graphics processing unit (GPU) be if it didn’t provide the efficient speed to process the graphics you need? The processing speeds of the eGPU not only ensure that there is no lag when running demanding graphics programs, but also that your gaming experience is smooth. Photoshop lag can be annoying if you play online games professionally, and literally every second can mean the difference between life and death for your character.
Number of Thunderbolt ports
If processing speed is a very important element, connectivity is next. This element is also extremely important because it is the bridge that connects the processor to your PC. If you don’t have enough Thunderbolt ports, connectivity will definitely be compromised, and the efficiency of the overall setup will suffer.
If your eGPU heats up too much under extreme GPU load, the quality and fluidity of your gaming experience will drop drastically. Some units use water cooling elements to solve this problem, while others use powerful fans to greatly reduce heat generation. However, not all cooling systems are the same, and in the next section you will see why that is.
While it is very important to control the temperature of the eGPU, the method used to do so will also affect the sound of your machine. With water cooling systems, the whole process is much quieter and the cooling capacity is the same as with other options. If your unit is equipped with a fan cooling system, the noise of the unit running at full speed may be annoying in some cases.
Finally, the appearance of your device can make a big difference to the overall impression. Since this element depends on your specific preferences, there are no specific recommendations to discuss. In addition, the seamless enclosure of your eGPU makes it more stable and robust, and the side vents increase the efficiency of the integrated cooling system. At the same time, the vents and their design allow you to see into the eGPU. Tips for the buyer: ➡ To give you the best chance of your system being compatible with your chosen eGPU, the Sonnet eGPU Breakaway Box 750 and the Razer Core X Thunderbolt 3 stand out in this list. These options ensure broad compatibility with macOS- and Windows-based systems, as well as with a wide range of GPUs. ➡ The entire list of devices presented here has a very good graphics processing speed. So if you choose one of these devices, you will get enough speed to work smoothly with games and graphics programs. ➡ When choosing an eGPU with cooling, it comes down to your acceptance of the noise of the device. All the devices on this list have very powerful cooling systems, but the most powerful and efficient will be the system used in the Sonnet eGPU Breakaway Box 750, even though it may make too much noise for your taste. To get around this problem completely, we’ve brought to you the Gigabyte AORUS RTX 3080, which uses a state-of-the-art water-based cooling system that completely reduces noise. Taking all these elements into account, let’s discover the conclusion reached by our experts after thorough testing of the many devices currently available on the market.
- High frame rate
- Ideal for graphics-intensive games
- Special effects, rendering and editing
- Speed- and temperature-controlled fan
Sonnet’s Breakaway Box 750 eGPU delivers the power of a dedicated GPU to your system without the need to purchase additional GPU slots for your PC. Since this awesome external GPU works with any PC, the days of having to upgrade your motherboard to install a better GPU are over. Add a compatible graphics card, connect your Thunderbolt 3 system with the included Thunderbolt 3 cable, and you’re ready for desktop-level gaming performance and video acceleration. One of the quietest and coolest eGFX enclosures on the market, the Sonnet Breakaway Box 750 eGPU features a large, temperature-controlled, variable-speed fan. This slim GPU is fully compatible with both Mac and Windows systems and includes a wide range of models for both hardware types. This awesome eGPU supports AMD Radeon VII, RX, RX Vega, Pro W and Pro WX; and NVIDIA GeForce RTX series, TITAN and Quadro. In addition to stunning performance, it also supports one of the best customizable cooling systems that allow for variable speeds and control GPU temperatures with extreme precision. In addition, this fan is very quiet compared to other models without compromising on design or performance. As you can see, you can’t go wrong with Sonnet’s eGFX detachable unit, no matter what your initial system configuration is.
- Compatibility : Windows and macOS
- Boosts the performance of Thunderbolt 3 laptops
- 700W ATX power supply with 100W Thunderbolt 3 load for laptops
- Supports maximum GPU power of up to 500W
- Noisy power supply fan
- Heavy truck
The Razer Core X Aluminum External GPU Unit (eGPU) allows you to add NVIDIA GeForce, NVIDIA Quadro, or AMD Radeon external graphics cards up to 40Gbps to your Windows PC or Mac. Please note that the graphics card is sold separately. This amazing device allows you to use up to 3 complete desktop graphics cards to maximize your video processing capabilities. To keep your Razer Core X GPUs running at full speed, this awesome unit includes a 650W ATX power supply that also has a powerful 100W laptop charging port. The Razer Core X is fully compatible with Windows and macOS devices. In the case of Windows, you need Thunderbolt 3 eGPU support with RS45 (or higher) and of course a compatible Nvidia or AMD graphics card. As for macOS compatibility requirements, the Razer Core X works great with High Sierra 10.13.4 or later, Thunderbolt 3 compatible. You also need an AMD compatible graphics card, Nvidia is not supported. In addition to its outstanding features and stability, the Razer Core X impresses with its CNC aluminum casing that fits perfectly to the device with no visible seams. Razers iconic silver logo can be found on the cooler on the side of the device. To get the most out of it, you can use the layout of the cooling panel to control the graphics processor.
- External graphics
- 40 Gbps Thunderbolt3 interface
- PCI Express slot x16
- USB Power Delivery for charging compatible laptops up to 87W
- PCIE for one location
- Very noisy when running on high power
PowerColor Gaming Station Thunderbolt EGPU graphics enclosures utilize AMD XConnect technology and high-speed Thunderbolt 3 connectivity for an enhanced gaming experience. The 40 Gb/s Thunderbolt 3 interface delivers surprisingly fast processing speeds that don’t slow down, no matter what kind of graphics-intensive applications you’re testing it with. It is very easy to connect it to one of the following graphics chipsets: AMD Radeon RX 500/400 series. AMD Radeon R9 Fury/Nano/300/290X/285. NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1080/Ti. NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1070/60. NVIDIA GeForce GTX Titan X/Xp. NVIDIA GeForce GTX 980/Ti. NVIDIA GeForce GTX 970/60/50. The wide range of compatible features in this beautiful box will make your friends more than curious to find out what it’s all about, and what’s more, your PC can easily handle very high quality graphics. In addition, the PowerColor Gaming Station offers you the option of multiple input/output ports. This includes 5 USB 3 Type-A ports, one Gigabit Ethernet (RJ-45) port and one Thunderbolt Type-C port. This ensures that you always have a connection, no matter how you want to use it. The energy efficiency of this unit is simply unmatched! The 550W power supply ensures that every drop of power is efficiently used by your GPU. A three-phase thermal management system ensures fast and efficient power transfer and can be configured for fanless, silent and cooling modes, so it looks attractive in any environment.
- Graphics card included
- External graphics processor with water cooling
- Dual Thunderbolt 3 controllers
- Discreet cooling system
- Low mobility
- Limited compatibility
The Gigabyte AORUS RTX 3080 offers excellent real-time ray tracing and intensive gaming capabilities. This powerful external GPU is the best water-cooled unit of its kind in the world, making it a must-have for those who focus on custom devices. Even though it’s the first of its kind, that doesn’t mean the features aren’t impressive. In fact, Gigabyte’s Aorus RTX offers the same features as high-end products of its kind, and at a lower price. The dual Thunderbolt 3 controllers provide faster, higher-quality connections than any other Thunderbolt port for high performance. All major components of the graphics card use a quiet WATERFORCE cooling system, making this one of the quietest external GPUs on the market today. If unnecessary noise bothers you, this is the device for you. In addition to all this, the Gigabyte AORUS RTX 3080 offers support for RTX Studio. This technology combines GPU acceleration technology with advanced Studio drivers to enhance all graphic design programs. Some of the most popular software that can make use of this advanced technology are Adobe Photoshop, Illustrator, Premiere Pro, etc. If you want to take your creative work to the next level, this external GPU will be a big help. Not only does this amazing device look great and operate absolutely silently to cool your system efficiently, but it also has a built-in network chip that allows you to connect it to your wired network, so your PC won’t have any problems with that either. To get started with this powerful machine, simply install the AORUS engine and RGB Fusion 2.0 and enjoy stunning, customizable RGB lighting effects for a complete gaming experience.
In addition to the eGPU options that made the list after our rigorous testing, other devices also proved their capabilities. While they are not directly comparable to the options we have chosen for this list, they may still be a good option for some users: Cooler MasterCase EG200 This device didn’t make the top 4 list because of the lack of Thunderbolt support, but it’s still a versatile and useful option. The 550W power supply and 60W laptop charging cable come in handy, while built-in slots for a hard drive and SSD can be used to expand your PC’s capabilities. PowerColor Mini Pro RX570 In addition to its lower weight and size, this miniaturized eGPU offers a number of useful features that can benefit a wide range of users. It features an 8GB AMD Radeon RX570 integrated graphics card and offers plug-and-play functionality for Macs, Mac Minis and MacBooks running Mac OS High Sierra 10.13.4 or higher. Unfortunately, it is not compatible with Windows-based devices, so it received a lower score for the compatibility element. Akichio’s Knot Despite acceptable features, Akitio Node only offers AMD support in macOS High Sierra and should work fine on Windows-based systems. The integrated SFX 400W power supply is enough to power your eGPU without interruption, but only supports GPUs with a single PCIe slot (x16). These are some of the best eGPUs with USB-C ports that can definitely unlock the true potential of your laptop for graphics work like rendering, but especially for gaming. All of these eGPUs ensure the future of your laptop by allowing you to upgrade your GPU, and all of them can reduce the chances of you being stuck with an outdated laptop. Choose your favorite option on Amazon based on your preferences. Frequently asked questions Not enough details. It’s hard to understand Other Contact an expert Take part in the discussion
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