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Can I use an external graphics card on my laptop for gaming?

Last Updated on July 1, 2021 by paularo

Playing video games is not just a form of entertainment, it is an escape. The experience of playing a game has to be immersive; it has to capture the user’s attention and make the scenes as “realistic” as possible. Most games that fall in this category require heavy graphics processing power.

Can I use an external graphics card on my laptop for gaming? Yes, you can but only if your laptop is compatible. An external graphics card also known as an eGPU is detachable hardware that is used to assist the graphics processing unit of a laptop to maximise high graphics demanding activities like gaming.

As new games are being released, developers are improving the graphics. It really isn’t feasible for you to purchase a new laptop when a new game is released and this is where the external graphics card comes in. The question is not just if you can use an external graphics card on your laptop but what key features qualify your laptop for this hardware.

This hardware is more popular among gamers. You usually need a good laptop; a well-functioning central processing unit, a good dedicated graphics card, and other extra hardware to get the best gaming experience.

If you don’t enjoy gaming with your laptop, it is possible to improve performance by both modifying or upgrading hardware and software. External graphics card falls into the hardware upgrade category.

An external graphics card affords you the opportunity to enjoy high graphics games, it also reduces the pressure on your laptop so it will not run as hot. When an external graphics card is an enclosure (the best way to use it), asides from protection, if the enclosure you purchased has a swappable graphics card option, it allows you to upgrade as often as you like.

How to Know If Your Laptop is Compatible

Now that we have established that it is possible to use an external graphics card on your laptop for gaming, we will look are the features that make your laptop compatible.

Connectivity

Connecting this detachable hardware is done mainly through Thunderbolt 3 or 4. The thunderbolt has a 40Gbps connectivity rate. Other options for connection are an ExpressCard or mPCIe. Without any of these, you cannot accommodate an external graphics card. There are also laptops with USB C that have the Thunderbolt connection.

Dedicated graphics card

Your laptop must have a dedicated graphics card (NVIDIA or AMD) before you use an external one. The purpose of an external graphics card is to assist the dedicated one in your PC, it is not a stand-alone device/hardware.

Size and capacity

External graphics cards have to be kept in enclosures (a case) to protect them. Regarding size, ensure the card you purchase can fit in your enclosure. For capacity, purchase the highest RAM you can afford, the higher the better. There are also portable options, these are smaller and more mobile than the regular sized ones.

These three features listed above; are the basic things you should consider regarding the external graphics. With respect to your laptop, evaluate these next three features before you use an external graphics card. The focus of this article is on gaming and advice for each feature will reflect this.

Battery

To enjoy long hours of gaming, you need a laptop with a good battery. The battery is important asides the advantage of using it without plugging it into an electricity source, a bad battery can affect the overall performance of your PC. Purchasing a new battery might be okay but it is advisable to just get a new device. Not necessarily a brand-new one, just one with a better battery lie especially with the original “factory setting” battery life.

Capacity:

You should be aware of the amount of pressure you can put on your laptop. If your PC was not designed for gaming, an external graphics card will just be a waste. If your central processing unit has an issue and it has not been resolved, purchasing an external graphics card should not be the priority.

Model

One purpose for purchasing an external graphics card is to avoid purchasing new laptops frequently to meet up with gaming graphics demands. This does not imply that you can plug an old model laptop and expect top-notch graphic performance. The newer models are a better option as they support external graphics card, and have designed their products to accommodate this feature.

If you meet all the necessary requirements, purchasing and installing an external graphics card is easy. If you experience any difficulties, there are several tutorials online or you can ask the available customer support where you purchased the hardware.

Related questions about an external graphics card

How much do I need to purchase an external graphics card? As we have pointed out earlier, you want to get a graphics card with an enclosure and the prices start from $300. There are really expensive ones, prices reflect features; performance, size, durability.

What is the recommended capacity for an external graphics card? Usually, 8GB will run a lot of games but for games with high graphics needs, 12, 16, 20 are great options. It is better to go for the highest available.

Is purchasing an external graphics card worth it? It is worth it if your laptop is compatible and you really love gaming. It is common for new games to be released regularly, and with these new releases comes improved graphics. All you need to upgrade your laptop is a boost, not a brand-new laptop. If you love high-end graphics games there really should little or no doubt in your mind regarding this hardware.

After purchasing an external graphics card, what else do I need? You will need an enclosure. Make sure you include a cooling fan in this enclosure if it does not have one.

How long does an external graphics card last? As long as they are in a protective case (enclosure) they will last for a long time; 5 years or more.

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