External GPU enclosures, or eGPUs for short, have been growing in popularity for several years. The strongest impetus behind their growth are; technologies such as the ever more popular Thunderbolt interface, and necessary eGPU configuration driver development and support from the likes of AMD and Nvidia. Pushing the other way gaming laptops can now be thinner and lighter than ever before (and contain discrete GPUs) and integrated graphics are set to improve a lot in 2020.
Gigabyte is promoting its Aorus RTX 2080 Ti Gaming Box, "the first external portable graphics box that is watercooled" at CES 2020. We had a good pretty close look at it back in November though. As a reminder this box includes the most powerful consumer GPU today, and can be used alongside most Thunderbolt 3 equipped computers like laptops and NUCs etc - where you can't simply upgrade the GPU you have installed.
Key features of the Aorus eGPU are as follows:
- WaterForce all-in-one cooling system
- Thunderbolt 3 plug and play
- Supports 3x USB 3.0 for peripheral
- Supports 1x Ethernet port
- Supports Power Delivery (PD 3.0) to charge the laptop PC
- RGB fusion 2.0 - 16.7M colours synchronize with other AORUS devices.
As well as gamers, the Aorus RTX 2080 Ti Gaming Box is said to be of appeal to content creators, 3D animation, streamers, Youtubers and others that require the highest level of graphic processing. Of course, as you can see from the bullet points the Aorus eGPU is a capable TB3 dock too. It should be available to buy soon, it will be priced at around £1,350 in the UK if the Japanese pricing converts directly.
Lenovo showcased its Legion BoostStation Graphics Booster at CES 2020. Its key features are that it includes a 500W PSU for graphics cards up to 320mm long (designs power pins on top). You can buy it bundled with the AMD Radeon RX 5700 XT or Nvidia a GeForce RTX 2060. Other named compatible GPUs are the RTX 2080 Super, RTX 2070 Super, and GTX 1660 Ti.
The 172 x 365 x 212mm and 8.5kg eGPU enclosure from Lenovo doesn't just divvy up graphics, it has internal mounts for a 3.5"/2.5" SATA HDD/SSD. Furthermore, the box can be used to deliver up to 100W of power to charge your laptop for example. Expanding its extensive features to that of a TB3 dock there are multiple connections provided by this device, as follows; 1x Thunderbolt 3, 2x USB 3.1 Gen 1, 1x USB 2.0, HDMI, Ethernet, microphone and AV-in.
OWC's new eGPU is the Akitio Node Titan. Official highlights of this box, which is marketed at both PC and Mac users are as follows:
- Lightning-fast graphics: Thunderbolt 3 port for up to 40Gb/s speed
- NLE ready: turns notebooks into mobile video editing systems
- Immediate ROI: vastly reduced edit and render times
- Satisfies power-hungry cards: 650W power supply
- Play or work while charging: up to 85W for notebook charging
- Spacious design: enables use of large double-width graphics cards
- On-the-go graphics: retractable carrying handle for easy transport
- 3D realism: enables effective use of VR headsets
- Plug and Play: includes Thunderbolt 3 cable for immediate use
- Tool-less access: thumb screws for easy card installation
Inside, its 650W power supply delivers enough juice for power-hungry cards like the Radeon RX Vega 64. The device can easily accommodate cards which are up to double wide and full length/height. For demanding workloads OWC suggests daisy-chaining multiple Akitio Node Titan units.