What Is An eGPU? Does My Laptop Support eGPU?

CPUs and GPUs have made great advancements in the semicith industry which allow them to become more powerful and efficient over time. Gone are the days when raw power was not necessary and the pursuit of smooth 1080P gaming at 60 frames per second. Now, 8K at 120fps is new. These advancements really show in the NVIDIA RTX 4090 and the Radeon RX 7900 XTX GPU that make processing a piece of cake.

Graphics processing units (GPUs) are a portable way to upgrade any computer. They convert laptops into powerful gaming machines in seconds. In this guide, let’s look at what an eGPU is, how they compare to traditional GPUs, whether your laptop supports them, and if you should buy one. With manufacturers cramming up the space in laptops and trying to make them as thin and light as possible, modern ultrabooks miss out on powerful GPUs – which creates the need for eGPUs.

What Is An eGPU?

It is used to connect your laptop to a graphics card. If your laptop’s graphics chip isn’t enough for what you need, you can buy an external GPU, use the laptop’s ports (we talk more about this below), plug the external GPU into an outlet, and start gaming. This way, you get the portability of a thin and light laptop at work and powerful performance during playtime.

An eGPU is made of a casing that houses a graphics card found in PCs. It connects via Thunderbolt or USB4 Type-C ports if your laptop has one (Including USB4 ports, which are backward compatible with Thunderbolt 1, 2, and 3). And since both USB4 and Thunderbolt 4 are closely tied together you’ll be able to use USB4 with your Thunderbolt 1, 2, and 3 devices.

eGPUs: The Good and the Bad

External GPUs can be a huge benefit, but they are relatively expensive. The average laptop cost $1000 and doesn’t run any of your favorite games or applications well enough. This means you’ll need to spend at least $300 on an external GPU enclosure and another $100-$200 on a graphics card, which will cost you approximately $500-$600 total.

You could spend around $700 on an eGPU enclosure and GPU if you buy them second-hand, considering that it’s a smarter long-term investment and will allow you to play AAA titles. You’ll also need to make sure that your laptop has USB4 or Thunderbolt 4/3 ports, which are the latest generations of USB technology.

Does My Laptop/PC Support eGPU?

If you have a laptop with a USB4, Type-C Thunderbolt 4, Thunderbolt 3, Thunderbolt 2, M.2 NVMe slot, Mini PCIe, or an ExpressCard slot there is a chance it can support eGPU. A majority of laptop eGPU enclosures plug into the laptop via a Thunderbolt 3 port. EGPU plugs into some laptops via the Thunderbolt 2 interface. Apart from that, you can also use any vacant M.2 NVMe slots on your laptop/PC or the mini PCIe slot where the Wi-Fi card resides.

Should You Buy An eGPU?

eGPUs are best for portability but don’t buy one if you need high-end gaming performance. If your laptop has a Thunderbolt 3 port and you want an eGPU, get an enclosure and a GPU separately. Buying a high-end GPU for an eGPU is pointless because it will be less powerful than the machine’s built-in GPU. For high-end graphics, build a PC instead of buying an eGPU.

Hamza Waseem

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Hamza Waseem

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