The best external graphics cards for gaming (mid-2020)

eGPU enclosures for all your external graphics needs.

Gaming PC

Photo by Artiom Vallat/CC

Laptops are great for their portability, but portability comes at a cost. The price of such a compact device is function. You sacrifice graphics and frame rates when getting a laptop. There are many gaming laptops out there capable of impressive graphics and quality, but for each one, there is a desktop that does it better. Desktops, with their increased space and lack of portability, continue to have an advantage. That’s where eGPUs come in.

External graphics cards (eGPUs) are an interesting premise. They aren’t graphics cards, they’re external cases that support graphics cards and can be plugged into a computer through various ports. The graphics cards in question are just the usual graphics cards, like the Nvidia GTX 2080 or something similar. The cases are not sold with the cards.

While they aren’t cards, despite their names, eGPUs do bring quality gaming to lower-end devices. Some are compatible with Apple products such as iMacs or Macbooks. One major advantage of eGPUs is its flexibility. Upgrades are easy when you don’t have to open the tower and move cables around.

External docking stations for hard drives aren’t new. They’ve been on the computer scene for some time. External GPU cases, on the other hand, are new. And making ones designed for gaming quality graphics cards is even more recent. This limits the amount that are not only available but also worth buying. When searching, make sure you are looking at an enclosure that works with graphics cards, not just any enclosure.

Razer Core X Chroma

Image via Razer

The Razer Core X Chroma is the best you could ask for in this regard. Razer is a trusted brand in gaming. While the price might be higher for the gaming aesthetic and brand, going with one that you know is compatible with gaming quality graphics cards is a safe bet. Razer’s Core X Chroma is advised over their base Core X product because of the additional features, although if all you need is an enclosure for it, the Core X will be fine. The Core X Chroma does everything the Core X does, plugging into a laptop via Thunderbolt port, but also has USB ports and the color effects we’ve come to expect from Razer. It’s compatible with most graphics cards and compatible with macOS High Sierra 10.13.4 or later.

If getting it for a Mac device, make sure your card is compatible with the computer. macOS High Sierra only supports certain AMD Radeon brands.

ASUS ROG-XG-Station-2

Image via Amazon

The ASUS ROG-XG-Station-2 is Asus’s answer to eGPU setups. Released in 2017, it is compatible with Nvidia and AMD Radeon cards through a Thunderbolt 3 port. It can hold one card and has five USB ports. It supports cards up to 2.5 slots wide, giving players a range of options to pick from. Not to be outdone by Razer, it also offers its own colors and effects with RGB lighting. And when paired with an Aura-enabled ROG Strix graphics card, Aura Sync will synchronize the lighting effects.

PowerColor Gaming Station

Image via Amazon

The off-brand of the list is PowerColor’s Gaming Station enclosure. Another that utilizes Thunderbolt cables and is compatible with Windows and Mac operating systems. As with the Razer enclosure, macOS High Sierra is only compatible with some AMD Radeon cards, so make sure you have the right one before buying. The Gaming Station enclosure also supports cards that are 2.5 slots wide, allowing it to fit a variety of cards. It also has a SATA port for those hoping to put an SSD in for maximum efficiency. This product has some issues with the power supply unit, and when cutting costs, often, that’s the first piece of equipment to get trimmed.

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