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Review: Sapphire GearBox Thunderbolt 3 Graphics Enclosure

by Tarinder Sandhu on 29 March 2019, 13:01

Tags: Sapphire, AMD (NYSE:AMD)

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Gaming II

Integrated graphics' performance is understandably risible in this GPU-intensive game run at the highest quality settings. Even knocking down the graphics to, say, low, doesn't yield what we'd describe as a fluid gaming experience.

Running the Radeon RX 580 via the GearBox provides just-about playable framerates at both resolutions, though do understand that the vagaries of Thunderbolt 3 and a 15W CPU mean that it can never replicate the power of a full-on gaming PC.

Our last benchmark shows that Sapphire's GearBox does meet its brief of increasing the performance of integrated graphics manyfold when populated with a solid graphics card. The benefit is not as much as going direct via PCIe on a gaming PC, of course, but that's to be expected.

Having a 6x improvement over easy-to-run games engines and a massive, massive boost when playing GPU-heavy games with premium eye candy turned all the way to 11, GearBox turns unplayable into playable.

A note on heat and noise. Installed in our regular high-end platform, the Sapphire RX 580 Nitro+ reaches a peak 73°C and produces a system-wide noise profile of 42dB. Inside the GearBox, however, peak temp is 80°C and the noise escalates to 46dB. Though clearly higher on both counts than being in a larger chassis, we noticed no evidence of the GPU throttling frequency.