egpu for gaming

How do I know if my laptop supports eGPU?

Last Updated on June 18, 2021 by paularo

The external graphics card housing or enclosure is known as an external graphics card unit (eGPU). This hardware imitates your internal dedicated graphics card. It improves gaming performance and other high quality video activities.

How do I know if my laptop supports eGPU? There are basic features to look out for; a newer model with a design to accommodate thunderbolt 3 or 4, a compatible central processing unit, performance of the pc, internal graphics card, drive type.

Technology keeps advancing and the visual production in gadgets are aiming to be realistic as possible, to achieve this there has to be a constant improvement in graphics quality. There are gaming laptops that offer an above-average graphics delivery but they can do better all they need is a boost and this is what an eGPU offers.

To connect your laptop to an eGPU, you have to make sure your PC is compatible before you make the purchase. Let us look at a few features.

Thunderbolt

A 40Gbps port on a laptop requires a special cable to connect an eGPU. The most popular version is called Thunderbolt 3 and the most recent version is called Thunderbolt 4. This is not a regular USB port; it can be designed in a USB type-C (gen 3.1 or 3.2) but it does not have the same function.

Asides from the symbol that differentiates it from a regular USB port; it is a common feature of high-end laptop especially Ultrabooks. To know if your laptop has the Thunderbolt connection, simply check its specifications or you can find out online.

CPU:

The central processing unit is a crucial aspect of a PC; it has an allocated speed at which the computing device operates. The speed level of a central processing unit is measured in Gigahertz (GHz) and the higher the value, the better the processing power of the laptop.

This means faster start-up and shut downtime, speedy navigation around the PC and overall good performance. The speed of your laptop should not be less than 3.6GHz, it would be great if it had a boost max clock of about 4.5GHz, with 5.0GHz you are good to go.

There are games that are dependent on the central processing unit, having a good internal graphics card and a good dedicated graphics card will not replace a poor functioning central processing unit. A laptop designed with a good internal and dedicated graphics card most certainly has a good central processing unit but if you do not manage your CPU properly, then it will not function.

A common issue is the background apps, having an unnecessary application running in the background is detrimental to your overall speed. If your laptop supports eGPU and you do not maximise your CPU, you will be frustrated with the performance of the hardware.

Laptop model

Laptops have been in use for a very long-time and there are upgrades regularly. The upgrades are differentiated from their predecessors by names and sometimes numbers. New models are created with the intention to meet the current demand in the market and in line with technological advances.

This means that using an old model for new hardware and sometimes gadget; will not cut it. Old laptop models are rarely compatible with new technology, even when they are it is a bit of a hassle as you have to use adapters or manage the poor level of functionality.

The Ultrabooks are relatively new, they are currently the perfect blend of minimalist, sleek and portability. Most (if not all) have a Thunderbolt connection port, if you have an Ultrabooks then it is almost a certainty that your laptop supports eGPU.

There are other laptops that support eGPU especially the ones designed for gaming. There is no special brand that supports eGPU as Lenovo, Acer, MacBook, Razer, HP and others that can use an eGPU. Just ensure they are new model not necessarily produced in the current year or previous one, a relatively new model is just fine.

Graphics card:

The internal graphics card on a laptop is always integrated and there are cases when there is a dedicated graphics card. The integrated graphics card is used for display, resolution and other video activities. Its sizes range from 4GB – 20GB, the bigger the better. The integrated graphics card no matter how big can never take on the tasks of the dedicated graphics card.

The dedicated graphics card is usually for gamers and people who produce high-quality videos. Nvidia and AMD are the two brands that produce it. To ascertain if your laptop is compatible with an eGPU, you have to know what dedicated graphics card your system run on to get an eGPU that aligns.

If a system has only an integrated graphics card, then it is not compatible with an eGPU.

Drive/Storage type:

If you use a hard disk drive (HDD) you really should consider getting a solid-state drive (SSD). The eGPU runs on Thunderbolt technology which is really fast and you do not want to be slowed down by your HDD, an SSD is fast and will enable you to enjoy the use of your eGPU seamlessly.

The storage size of your laptop is important, you should get 1TB SSD but if you can’t afford it, go for 256GB SSD and nothing less.

Performance:

Before you purchase an eGPU, the general performance of your laptop is an indicator of the compatibility level of your PC. If the specifications of your laptop show that it is suitable for an eGPU, but it has a poor performance, it will most definitely be a waste of time and resources to purchase an eGPU.

Starting with the basics, if your laptop takes a while to shut down, to respond to clicks or movement of your cursor, if it freezes regularly, if it runs hot regularly even when you are not using it for a heavy activity then your laptop is not eGPU ready.

The battery is another performance determinant as a poor battery or bad one can affect the performance of your system, from startup issues to other hardware issues. It is advisable to do a virus sweep with a reliable antivirus as having a virus does not only destroy files, it takes up space in the memory of your laptop.

Operating System:

This was placed last because it is not as essential as others but it is something to look out for. Before you purchase an eGPU make sure it supports your OS, eGPUs always have a list of the supported operating system on the packaging.

Related Question

Is Thunderbolt the only way to connect my laptop to an eGPU? No, there are other options like Expresscard and mPCIe but the TB is the most common and convenient.

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