In recent years, the demand for powerful laptops has surged, as they offer the portability and convenience that traditional desktop computers can’t match. However, many laptop users find themselves constrained by the limitations of integrated graphics, especially when it comes to gaming, content creation, or other graphically intensive tasks. Enter Best External GPUs (GPUs), a solution that allows you to supercharge your laptop’s graphics performance. In this guide, we’ll take you through the step-by-step process of selecting the best external GPU for your laptop in 2022.
Learn About The Best External GPUs for Your Laptop in 2022 Step By Step
Determine Your Laptop’s Compatibility
Before you embark on the journey to enhance your laptop’s graphics performance with an external GPU (eGPU), it’s essential to confirm that your laptop is compatible with this setup. Not all laptops are equipped to handle eGPUs, so a few preliminary checks are in order.
Check for Thunderbolt Compatibility:
The primary requirement for connecting an eGPU to your laptop is having a Thunderbolt 3 or Thunderbolt 4 port. These ports provide the necessary bandwidth for high-speed data transfer between the eGPU and your laptop. Check your laptop’s physical ports to ensure it has a Thunderbolt connection.
Your laptop’s specifications, which can typically be found in the user manual or on the manufacturer’s website, will provide detailed information about the capabilities of your laptop’s ports. Verify that your Thunderbolt port is indeed compatible with eGPUs.
While Thunderbolt 3 and 4 ports are generally sufficient, it’s also essential to understand the bandwidth limitations of your specific laptop’s port. Some laptops might have reduced bandwidth, which can affect the eGPU’s performance. Ensure that your laptop’s Thunderbolt port provides the maximum bandwidth for the best eGPU experience.
Power Delivery (Optional):
Some Thunderbolt 3 or 4 ports also support power delivery. If you plan to use your eGPU for charging or to provide power to peripherals, confirm that your laptop’s Thunderbolt port supports power delivery and the wattage it can deliver.
Certain laptops may have software limitations or restrictions that prevent the use of eGPUs. Research your laptop’s compatibility with eGPUs and the operating system you plan to use. Ensure that your laptop allows external GPU connections and has the necessary drivers.
In some cases, you may need to make changes in your laptop’s BIOS or UEFI settings to enable eGPU support. Consult your laptop’s user manual or the manufacturer’s website for instructions on how to configure your laptop to work with an eGPU.
Choose the Right GPU
Now that you’ve confirmed your laptop’s compatibility with an external GPU (eGPU), the next important step is to select the right graphics card for your eGPU setup. The choice of GPU is pivotal, as it will significantly impact your laptop’s graphics performance. Here are the key considerations to guide your decision:
First and foremost, determine your primary use for the eGPU. Are you a gamer, content creator, or a professional with specific graphics-related tasks? The GPU you choose should align with your intended use.
Your budget is a crucial factor in deciding which GPU to purchase. GPUs come in a wide range of prices, so it’s essential to establish a budget and stick to it. Balancing performance with cost is vital.
Assess the level of performance you need. Gamers might want a high-end GPU that can handle the latest AAA titles at maximum settings, while content creators may prioritize GPU rendering performance. Knowing your performance requirements will help narrow down your options.
Brand and Model:
In 2022, some of the standout GPUs include the NVIDIA GeForce RTX 30 series and the AMD Radeon RX 6000 series. These GPUs offer excellent performance and are widely regarded for their capabilities. Research different models within these series and consider the brand reputation when making your choice.
Compatibility with eGPU Enclosure:
It’s essential to ensure that the GPU you select is compatible with your chosen eGPU enclosure. Some enclosures have size restrictions, so confirm that your GPU fits comfortably. Additionally, check for compatibility issues or required adapters if applicable.
Reviews and Benchmarks:
Before making a final decision, read reviews and consult benchmark results for the GPU models you’re considering. Professional and user reviews provide valuable insights into real-world performance and compatibility.
Consider whether you want a GPU that will remain relevant for a few years. GPUs tend to evolve quickly, so future-proofing your eGPU setup can save you from needing to upgrade too soon.
Ensure that your chosen GPU doesn’t exceed the power supply capacity of your eGPU enclosure. Some high-end GPUs require a significant amount of power, and it’s crucial to have a compatible power supply.
Warranty and Support:
Check the manufacturer’s warranty and support options for the GPU. A reliable warranty can provide peace of mind in case of any issues or defects.
Remember that the GPU is the heart of your eGPU setup, and its performance will directly impact your laptop’s capabilities. Whether you’re looking for a competitive edge in gaming or the ability to handle graphics-intensive work, choosing the right GPU is a critical step in maximizing your eGPU experience.
Pick an eGPU Enclosure
With your chosen GPU in hand, it’s time to select the enclosure that will house it and connect it to your laptop. eGPU enclosures come in a variety of shapes and sizes, each with unique features and capabilities. Here are the steps to help you choose the right eGPU enclosure for your needs:
The first and most crucial consideration is compatibility with your chosen GPU. Ensure that the eGPU enclosure can accommodate your GPU in terms of size, power requirements, and compatibility with the GPU’s interface (NVIDIA or AMD).
Pay attention to the type and number of ports the enclosure offers. These ports are essential for connecting peripherals, monitors, and other devices to your eGPU setup. Common ports include USB, Ethernet, and additional Thunderbolt or USB-C ports.
Cooling and Thermal Management:
Efficient cooling is vital to prevent overheating and maintain the GPU’s performance. Look for enclosures with robust cooling systems, such as fans or liquid cooling solutions. Good thermal management ensures your GPU remains at optimal operating temperatures.
Size and Portability:
Consider the physical size and weight of the enclosure. Smaller, more compact enclosures are easier to transport, but larger ones may offer better cooling and additional features. Choose the one that best suits your space and mobility requirements.
Ensure that the eGPU enclosure has a sufficient power supply to handle your GPU’s requirements. Some high-end GPUs demand more power, so select an enclosure with an appropriate wattage to avoid any power-related issues.
Aesthetics and Build Quality:
The design and build quality of the enclosure are also important factors. Some users prefer sleek and stylish enclosures, while others prioritize durability and ruggedness. Choose one that aligns with your preferences.
Ease of Installation:
Look for an eGPU enclosure that is easy to set up and offers tool-free installation for the GPU. A user-friendly enclosure can save you time and effort during the setup process.
Price and Budget:
Like with GPUs, eGPU enclosures come at various price points. Stick to your budget while considering the features that matter most to you. More expensive enclosures may offer additional bells and whistles, but a basic enclosure can also be effective.
Brand and Reviews:
Research the reputation of the brand and read user reviews to get a sense of the reliability and performance of the eGPU enclosure you’re interested in. Well-established brands often provide better support and warranty options.
Consider whether you might want to upgrade your eGPU setup in the future. Some enclosures allow for more flexibility in changing out components, while others may be more rigid.
Some popular eGPU enclosures in 2022, as you mentioned, include the Razer Core X, AORUS Gaming Box, and the Sonnet eGFX Breakaway Box. These are known for their compatibility and performance, but there are many other options available, so be sure to explore your choices.
Get the Right Thunderbolt Cable
With your eGPU enclosure selected, the next crucial component you’ll need is a high-quality Thunderbolt cable. This cable is the lifeline of your eGPU setup, connecting your laptop to the eGPU enclosure and enabling data transfer and power delivery. Here’s what you need to know about getting the right Thunderbolt cable:
Make sure you purchase a Thunderbolt 3 or Thunderbolt 4 cable, depending on the compatibility of your laptop and eGPU enclosure. These cables are designed to provide the necessary bandwidth and support for eGPU connections.
Choose the cable length that suits your setup. Consider the physical distance between your laptop and the eGPU enclosure and select a cable that provides enough slack for convenient positioning. However, excessively long cables can lead to signal degradation, so avoid overdoing it.
Quality and Certification:
To ensure a reliable connection and optimal performance, opt for high-quality Thunderbolt cables from reputable manufacturers. Look for cables that are certified by Intel as these are known to meet specific standards for Thunderbolt technology.
Data Transfer Speed:
Check the cable’s data transfer speed, as it affects the performance of your eGPU. Thunderbolt 3 supports data transfer rates of up to 40 Gbps, while Thunderbolt 4 can go up to 80 Gbps. Ensure the cable you select supports the maximum speed of your eGPU setup.
If you intend to use your eGPU setup for laptop charging or powering peripherals, ensure that the Thunderbolt cable supports power delivery. Some Thunderbolt cables are designed for data transfer only and may not provide the power required for charging your laptop or connected devices.
Thunderbolt cables are susceptible to wear and tear, especially if you plan to move your eGPU setup frequently. Look for cables with durable connectors and reinforced insulation to prevent damage over time.
While quality is essential, there’s no need to overspend on a Thunderbolt cable. Various reliable options are available at different price points. Choose one that balances your budget with the desired quality and performance.
Some Thunderbolt cables come with additional features, such as built-in cable management or special shielding for improved signal integrity. These extras can be convenient but may not be necessary for all users.
Install GPU Drivers
With your eGPU components ready and your Thunderbolt cable on hand, it’s time to prepare your laptop for the eGPU setup. One of the crucial steps is to ensure that your laptop has the necessary GPU drivers installed and up-to-date. This step is essential for achieving optimal performance and compatibility with your eGPU. Here’s how to do it:
Determine Your GPU Model:
Before you download drivers, make sure you know the exact model of the GPU you’ve chosen for your eGPU setup. The model name and number should be readily available on the GPU’s packaging or documentation.
Visit the Manufacturer’s Website:
Depending on whether you’ve chosen an NVIDIA or AMD GPU, visit the respective manufacturer’s website. For NVIDIA, it’s NVIDIA’s official website, and for AMD, it’s AMD’s official website.
Locate the Drivers Section:
On the manufacturer’s website, find the section dedicated to GPU drivers. This is usually easily accessible from the homepage, often labeled as “Drivers” or “Support.”
Select Your GPU Model:
In the drivers section, select your specific GPU model. Most websites have dropdown menus or search options to help you locate the appropriate drivers quickly.
Download the Latest Drivers:
Once you’ve identified your GPU model, download the latest drivers available for that particular GPU. These drivers are regularly updated to improve performance, fix bugs, and enhance compatibility with various software and hardware configurations.
Run the downloaded driver file and follow the installation instructions provided by the manufacturer. It’s essential to follow the installation steps carefully to ensure a successful driver update.
Restart Your Laptop:
After the installation is complete, restart your laptop. This step ensures that the newly installed drivers take effect.
Repeat for Integrated Graphics (Optional):
Some laptops with switchable graphics require driver updates for both the integrated and Best External GPUs. If your laptop falls into this category, ensure that you update both sets of drivers.
Regularly Check for Updates:
GPU drivers are frequently updated to improve performance and compatibility with the latest software and games. To ensure your eGPU setup remains optimal, periodically check for driver updates and install them as needed.
Connect Your eGPU
Before you can fully unleash the power of your external GPU (eGPU), it’s essential to know how to properly connect it to your laptop. This step is where your eGPU setup comes to life. Here’s how to connect your eGPU effectively:
Gather Your Components:
Ensure you have your laptop, eGPU enclosure, GPU, Thunderbolt cable, and the power cord for the eGPU enclosure readily available.
Power off your laptop completely. It’s essential to start with a powered-off laptop to ensure a proper and safe connection.
Plug in the Thunderbolt Cable:
Connect one end of your high-quality Thunderbolt 3 or Thunderbolt 4 cable to the Thunderbolt port on your laptop. These ports are often marked with a lightning bolt symbol.
Connect to the eGPU Enclosure:
Attach the other end of the Thunderbolt cable to the Thunderbolt port on the eGPU enclosure. Make sure the connection is secure. It may require a firm push to click the cable into place.
Powering Up the eGPU Enclosure:
Connect the power cord to the eGPU enclosure and plug it into a power outlet. The power supply should match the wattage requirements of your eGPU enclosure and GPU.
Power on Your Laptop:
After ensuring that the Thunderbolt cable and power cord are securely connected, power on your laptop. Your laptop should detect the eGPU, and you’ll see the GPU drivers in action.
Confirm eGPU Connection:
Once your laptop is powered on, check to ensure that the eGPU is recognized. You can do this by checking your laptop’s display settings or using the GPU manufacturer’s software to verify the eGPU’s status.
eGPU Priority (Optional):
Depending on your laptop, you may need to set the eGPU as the primary graphics source in your system settings. Consult your laptop’s user manual or the manufacturer’s website for instructions on configuring this, as it can vary from one laptop to another.
Test Your Setup:
Finally, test your eGPU setup to confirm that everything is working as expected. You can do this by running graphics-intensive applications, benchmarking software, or playing graphically demanding games. You should notice a significant improvement in performance.
Monitor Configuration (If Using an External Display):
If you’re using an external display with your eGPU setup, configure your display settings to use the external monitor as your primary screen. You can do this in your operating system’s display settings
Configure Your eGPU
In most cases, your laptop should automatically detect the eGPU once it’s connected. However, you might need to make some adjustments in your laptop’s BIOS or operating system settings to use the external GPU. Consult your laptop’s user manual or the manufacturer’s website for specific instructions on enabling the eGPU.
Benchmark and Test
After setting up your eGPU, it’s time to put it to the test. Run benchmarking software and test out your favorite graphically demanding applications or games. This will help you determine real-world performance improvements and make any necessary adjustments.
Enjoy the Boost in Performance
With your eGPU setup running smoothly, you can now enjoy a significant boost in graphics performance on your laptop. Whether you’re gaming, editing videos, or performing 3D rendering, your laptop will now handle these tasks with ease.
Stay Informed and Update
Stay updated with the latest drivers and firmware updates for both your GPU and eGPU enclosure. The world of technology is ever-evolving, and staying informed will help you make the most of your eGPU setup.
In conclusion, Best External GPUs offer a fantastic solution to enhance the graphics performance of your laptop. By following these steps, you can make an informed decision when selecting the best eGPU for your laptop in 2022 and unleash the full potential of your portable computing powerhouse