eGPUs have been around for a while yet haven’t really taken off yet. Are eGPU really worth buying in 2020? Or is it still too early to invest in one?
Let’s explore the state of eGPUs in 2021 and whether they’re worth your money or not.
What Is an eGPU?
An eGPU stands for an “external graphics processing unit.” You’ve probably heard of a GPU before: they’re the graphics cards that help render games and movies on our PC. An external GPU, therefore, works outside of the system to render media.
eGPUs shine most on systems that can’t accept a regular graphics card. Many low-end PCs and laptops sell without a graphics card inside of them. For a PC, you can purchase one to fit inside it. For a laptop, it’s very difficult (if not impossible) to mount a GPU on it. As such, you can grab an eGPU and plug that into the laptop instead.
What Are eGPUs Like in 2021?
If you take a look at GPUs currently, you’ll find that they typically sell as “enclosures.” These are boxes with a connector cable and a dedicated power but no graphics card.
The product will list a range of cards it’s compatible with, allowing you to swap out and choose which one you want to use. Some will even come with multiple bays for even more GPU power. As such, a modern-day eGPU is less about selling a graphics card in a box and more about selling a box for a graphics card.
How Much Is an eGPU?
If you take a look online for eGPUs, you’ll find examples like the Razer Core X. The price tag seems very good for a gaming GPU, but remember – you’re not actually buying a graphics card. You’re buying the housing where you will slot in a regular GPU. In fact, products like the Razer Core will state that the graphics card is sold separately, presumably because people were getting upset that they purchased an empty box.
If you do want a GPU inside of the enclosure when you buy it, things get a little pricier. For example, at the time of writing, the Gigabyte RTX 2080 Ti comes in at four figures.
Is an eGPU Worth Buying in 2021?
eGPUs do a very good job of filling their niche. The problem is, the niche is a lot smaller than you may first think. If a laptop is struggling to play the latest games, an eGPU may be able to solve that. However, so will a new computer.
As such, anyone considering getting an eGPU also has to balance the idea of simply buying new hardware. However, there are a few niches that fit the bill. For example, if a friend gives you their old GPU, you can hook it up to a laptop using an eGPU case without needing to buy all the other hardware.
You can also use an eGPU to protect your graphics card while you’re out and about. For example, you can unplug it to take it to the café to do your work. When you get back home to play, plug in the eGPU and load up your games. That way, if your laptop is lost or stolen, you don’t need to rebuy the beefy GPU.
As we said earlier, however, these are very niche cases. It’s not a question of whether an eGPU does its job well but whether the eGPU is the best fit for the job. If the eGPU is the only way for you to achieve your goals, it’s worth the investment. However, there’s very often a better and cheaper alternative that you can use instead.
Is the eGPU for You?
For those in the market for an eGPU, the current range allows you to mix and match graphics cards for your system. However, before you buy one, it’s worth considering if purchasing a new system would be better. After all, they’re not cheap!
If you already have a graphics card in your computer, you can make use of AIO cooling to improve its performance.