Using one of the best external GPUs can boost your laptop performance, regardless of if you’re trying to gain some frames in Apex Legends or make your Premiere Pro renders a little faster. We’ve rounded up the top five options on the market that can accommodate even the most powerful graphics cards, including the RTX 3080.
A good GPU enclosure goes beyond being a box for your graphics card. Our picks come with enough power to feed hungry graphics cards without sacrificing efficiency, and they’re cool and quiet, allowing you to game or create without distractions.
The best external GPUs at a glance
- Razer Core X
- Sonnet eGFX Breakaway Box
- Aorus RTX 3080 Gaming Box
- Mantiz MZ-03 Saturn Pro II
- Cooler Master MasterCase EG200
Razer Core X
The Razer Core X is the best external GPU on the market. At around $400, it’s a little more expensive than some of the other options available (though cheaper than others), but still balances looks, thermals, and performance. The base model comes packed with an internal 650W power supply and can fit up to a three-slot GPU.
The more expensive Chroma model comes with a beautiful RGB underglow and boosts the power supply to 700W. It, too, can fit a three-slot GPU and comes with four USB ports and Gigabit Ethernet. Regardless of the model you choose, all you need is a single Thunderbolt 3 cable to hook up the enclosure.
You’ll need to bring your own graphics card, but you can fit nearly anything inside the Razer Core X. In addition to plenty of room, the power supply is more than enough to handle even the most power-hungry graphics cards. Plus, the unit comes stock with a 120mm fan, adding a little more cooling potential.
Sonnet eGFX Breakaway Box
If you’re looking for a slightly cheaper enclosure, the Sonnet eGFX Breakaway Box is for you. The current version is the Breakaway Box 750, and Sonnet offers it in two different models — 750 and 750ex. Both models come with a 750W power supply, but the 750ex also comes with four USB ports and Gigabit Ethernet for a $50 premium.
You can use the latest graphics cards from AMD and Nvidia in the enclosure, including Nvidia Quadro cards for professional workloads. AMD has also approved the air-cooled version of the RX Vega 64, Radeon Pro WX 8200, and WX 9100 for use in the Breakaway Box. In addition to the 750W power supply, delivered to your GPU through two 8-pin connectors, the unit offers up to 100W of upstream power to charge your laptop.
You can even chain multiple Breakaway Boxes together, connecting up to four boxes if you have enough Thunderbolt ports, allowing you to accelerate even the most demanding workloads in applications like DaVinci Resolve and Cinema 4D.
The only downside is that the Breakaway Box 750 only supports dual-width graphics cards. It has enough power for something like the RTX 3090, but many models are too large to fit inside.
Aorus RTX 3080 Gaming Box
If you want a GPU enclosure with the graphics card included, the Aorus RTX 3080 Gaming Box is the perfect option. Aorus has multiple models available, including ones that include the RTX 3090 and RTX 3080 Ti. The enclosure is more than just a
It comes with the all-in-one Waterforce water cooling system to keep the card cool and quiet under even the most demanding loads. The copper base plate connects to a 240mm aluminum radiator, which dissipates heat with the help of two 120mm fans. In short, you shouldn’t have to worry about noise with the Gaming Box.
Thanks to the ongoing GPU shortage, however, tracking down a Gaming Box is tough, regardless of the card you want. You won’t be able to find one new at retailers like Newegg and Amazon, though you can still pick up a unit on eBay for a relatively low markup. Given the GPU pricing crisis, this is one of the better ways to buy a graphics card.
Mantiz MZ-03 Saturn Pro II
The Mantiz MZ-03 Saturn Pro II is an external GPU enclosure with all the bells and whistles at a reasonable price. For $330, it comes packed with external connectivity in the form of five USB ports, Gigabit Ethernet, and an SD card reader (features even our top picks charge more for). It still manages to cram a 750W 80+ Gold power supply inside, too, offering plenty of juice to even the most hungry GPUs.
It’s capable of delivering up to 550W to the graphics card alone, along with 97W to your laptop while it’s connected. Like the Gaming Box, it’s only compatible with dual-slot graphics cards, though Mantiz included a little extra room for select water-cooled cards.
Inside, you’ll also find an area to store a SATA hard drive to expand your storage a little bit. Although not quite as flexible as our top few picks, the Mantiz MZ-03 Saturn Pro II has features where they count, and it’s reasonably priced.
Cooler Master MasterCase EG200
The Cooler Master MasterCase EG200 is an external GPU with a few interesting features. It loses top billing thanks to a slightly lower 550W power supply but makes up for it with a dedicated hard drive mount and a laptop dock that creates a single, tiny unit. It’s also very small, with a volume of only 9.7 liters, making it the perfect option for saving some space.
In addition, the case comes with three USB ports for external connectivity. Inside, you’ll find a single 92mm fan to keep things cool, but Cooler Master includes space for another 92mm fan if you want to add a little more cooling potential to the box.
The rub with the MasterCase EG200 is price. At $440, it’s one of the most expensive GPU enclosures available. The additional features make up for that price, though, so don’t count the EG200 out.
- The best Dell laptops for 2023: XPS, Inspiron, and more
- Best laptop deals: Save on Apple, Dell, HP and Lenovo
- Best 17-inch Laptop Deals: Get a large laptop for $330
- The best HP laptops in 2023
- Best Gaming Laptop Deals: Alienware, Asus, HP, and Lenovo