Last Updated on August 4, 2021 by paularo
The Sonnet eGFX breakaway Box 550w is one of the best value for money enclosure coming in at just $250. It comes packed with some premium features that we ate going to share with you in this review. The eGFX technology has been around for some time now and the Breakaway Box 550W was released in 2017 and till date you can still pair it with some graphics card to improve the performance of your laptop. sonnet has stayed with the same design for their enclosures and even the Breakaway Box 750ex share similarities with the Breakaway Box 550W. if you are new to the eGPU world, then it is basically an expansion box that houses a GPU and when connected to a laptop through thunderbolt 3 it will enhance the performance of the laptop. The Breakaway Box 550W can be said to be an entry level enclosure in 2021 because of its price. But should you go ahead and buy it in 2021?
In this comprehensive review we will provide you with all the information you need to evaluate the Sonnet Breakaway Box 550W as the best eGPU for you. read on for its key features as well as pointers for selecting the best eGPU for your Laptop.
Why you need the Sonnet eGFX Breakaway Box 550W for your laptop
Using a laptop without a GPU is a difficult task especially when you are into gaming or content creation like photo or video editing. A laptop that doesn’t have a GPU is only suitable for doing basic task and playing 3D games. It is not fast enough and if you start running intensive games and software’s on a laptop without GPU it will always crash. If you care about speed then you won’t go after a laptop without a GPU. These types of laptops are only suitable for commercial and office works. Sometimes people often buy laptops with high end specs and after a number of years the parts become outdated and worn out. That’s where the Sonnet eGFX Breakaway Box 550W comes in and it can help boost the performance of your old laptop. if your laptop has a thunderbolt 3 port then an external graphics enclosure can be used to increase the performce of your laptop. it will allow new and updated games run smoothly on your old laptop. the eGPU technology is still in its early stages and it already works fine with most laptops. Most people like the comfort of moving their laptops around and with an eGPU you can plug in and run your task anywhere. You can unplug your laptop when you are done and move it where ever you want to. You need the Sonnet eGFX Breakaway Box 550W enclosure because it will power your laptop if you pair it with a very strong GPU.
Selecting the Best eGPU for your laptop
Sonnet have a similar identity when it comes to their enclosures and the Breakaway Box 550W is does not separate itself. It has a similar look like the Breakaway Box 750 and 750ex the only real difference is the power capability and the Breakaway Box 550W only supports 550 watts power. If you decide to buy the breakaway Box 550w ahead of its successors then power supply will be one of the compromises you will settle on. Even at that 550w is enough to power majority of the GPUs out there one of the most popular enclosures which is the Razer Core X maxes out at 500 watts. The enclosure is made for avid laptop gamers that don’t see the need of playing games on a desktop. through the thunderbolt 3 port it is able to transfer data at 40Gbps and it has what it takes to increase the frame rates of your laptop while gaming. There is a fan inside the enclosure and it is accompanied by a PSU they function as thermals inside the enclosure keeping it cool when in use. the power system is custom made and we have a 24-pin main power cable, one 6-pin PCIe cable, and one 6-pin + 2 PCIe cable. The enclosure does well when dealing with noise while in work mode even when you have a powerful graphics card inside the enclosure the noise is still low. At the heart of the enclosure we have the main board for the thunderbolt 3. The build of the enclosure is different from that of the Akitio Node that we talked about earlier. The enclosure is sturdy and it was beautifully crafted using a high-quality metal that we talk more about in a bit. Sonnet has different versions of the Breakaway Box and they are differentiated by the number at the end. There might be little extras depending on the box you have.
Here are 6 key points for selecting the Sonnet eGFX Breakaway Box 550W for your laptop
Thunderbolt 3 Connectivity
The first and major reason why you should buy the Sonnet eGFX enclosure is because it has a thunderbolt 3 port. without the port the enclosure would be useless because it cannot enhance the performance of your laptop. the technology was originally created to help boost the performance of intel-based MacBook’s. if your laptop doesn’t have a thunderbolt 3 or 4 port then there is no point in buying the external enclosure at the moment that is the only connectivity supported. It transfers data from the GPU extension box to your laptop at 40Gbps and that is the maximum speed.
Supports Both Windows and MacOS
The Breakaway Box 550W was one of the earliest eGFX that supported windows laptops. initially eGPU technology was originally made for MacBook users to benefit from the advantages of a GPU. It works fine on both windows and MacBook’s. however, MacBook’s are selective when it comes to GPU and they are not compatible with NVIDIA GPUs at the moment. you can use a wide range of AMD graphics card inside the enclosure.
The enclosure has 87W power support for charging your laptop while it is connected to your laptop. you don’t need to connect a lot of cables because thunderbolt 3 can charge your laptop when connected to any enclosure with Power Delivery. This feature helps with cable management and also keeps your laptop charged.
The ability to swap out graphics cards make this enclosure future proof and you can use number of different GPUs. you can select from a wide range of cards and insert inside the enclosure. It sometimes depends on the operating system you are using. You can also use PCIe cards inside the enclosure If you want to. It also has 550 watts power support meaning it can power most of the graphics card that are available out there. The enclosure can last between 4 to five years if you decide to buy it.
Solid Build Quality
The enclosure has a solid build quality it looks premium in every angle and Sonnet did a good job in constructing the enclosure. The combination of metal and aluminum sheets played out well and the rubber feet does a good job of making sure the eGPU sits well on a flat surface. It looks polished and would surely make your setup look better in every aspect. The only thing I think that sonnet didn’t pay attention to is the opening mechanism.
550 watts Power Supply
The enclosure has a reasonable power supply at 550W and it can power some top-rated graphics cards. The power supply mechanism is also great and we have 6 + 2 Pin power connectors inside the enclosure that takes power to the GPU.
A Closer Look at the Sonnet eGFX Breakaway Box 550W
Inside the box of the enclosure you will find the Breakaway Box 550W, a power cable, 0.5-meter thunderbolt 3 USB type C cable, and documentation. We have a metal build here and the front is made of a matte plastic material and it doesn’t catch up stains and dirt. The Sonnet logo up front shows light when the eGFX is powered on. It is amazing to see that the enclosure can take up various sizes of GPU. I don’t have the specific dimensions that can fit inside the box but you will find more information regarding the types of GPUs that works well on platforms like reddit. Some cards that I am sure work well inside the enclosure includes the RX 580, 570, and 480 cards It weighs 11.46 pounds and that is quite heavy for an enclosure. Installing a graphics card is easy all you need to do is to open the box by removing the three screws at the back. opening up the box is not as easy there is usually a little bit of struggle to take the cover apart. One thing to note is that after hours of use the box tends to get hot but it is nothing to worry about. The thunderbolt 3 port is located at the back of the enclosure we also have the power switch at the back.
About Sonnet eGFX Breakaway Box 550W manufacturers
Sonnet have pioneered and brought to the market many innovative and award-winning products that enhance the performance of Mac, and Windows, and other industry standard computers. They are the leading providers of thunderbolt 3 to PCIe card expansion system. we manufacture products like External graphics (eGPU), pro media readers, docks and adapters, network, storage and more.
Product Specifications and Features
Dimension –8 x 13.38 x 7.25 inches
Weight – 12.62 pounds
Operating System – Windows or MacOS
Color Options – Black
Input & Output – Thunderbolt 3 Via type C
Internal Power Supply – 550W
GPU max power support – 375W
Power Delivery – 87W
GPU type – NVIDIA, AMD, or Radeon
Description of Sonnet eGFX Breakaway Box 550W
The Sonnet eGFX Breakaway Box 550W is a powerful mini PCIe expansion box is capable of transforming the performance of your Intel MacBook. It has a number of important ports that can be used to connect to monitors and other peripherals. We have two thunderbolt 3 ports on the enclosure. It is capable 6K resolution display on a single monitor that supports thunderbolt 3. You can also connect 3 displays at the same time if they support thunderbolt 3. It has a small compact form factor and it can be hidden behind a monitor.
Pros of the Sonnet eGFX Breakaway Box 550W
Less Noise – the thermals of the enclosure keep it dead silent when idle and even if you use a powerful graphics card inside it doesn’t make a loud noise. we have a fan inside the enclosure that keeps the enclosure cool and we also have a PSU to complete the thermals. It is not as loud as Akitio Node and the fans doesn’t vibrate when in use.
Supports Different GPUs – the enclosure has the power support and ability to work with various types of graphics cards. It works with AMD, NVIDIA, and Radeon graphics cards and it works just fine. you can also decide to use PCIe cards inside the enclosure and it will work perfectly. It has 550 watts power support and it can be paired with some of the most powerful graphics cards.
Power Delivery – you can use the 87 watts power delivery support to charge your laptop while its connected to the enclosure through the thunderbolt 3 port. with power delivery you don’t have to connect your laptops charging cable while your MacBook is connected to the Breakaway Box 550W.
Cross Platform – this is one of the first external graphics card that officially supported MacBook’s and windows laptops. it works well on both operating system but it doesn’t support running windows through bootcamp. MacBook’s don’t work on the enclosure when paired with an NVIDIA video card.
Cons of the Sonnet eGFX Breakaway Box 550W
Difficult to open – I find this to be a problem because you can’t just take off the cover easily or slide open like you do with other external enclosures. You have to struggle after taking off the screws at the back of the enclosure. Other enclosure come with a rail mechanism that makes them easy to open.
Short Thunderbolt Cable – the cable bundled inside the box is 0.5 meter and I find it to be short. If you want a better thunderbolt 3 cable you need to buy it separately. There are a lot of high-quality thunderbolt 3 USB type C cables available on Amazon.
Looks Big – the enclosure is big and it is easily going to be noticed when placed on a desk. It is no where near the size of the Breakaway Puck that can even be hidden at the back of a monitor. It is aesthetically pleasing because of the design but it takes up space on a desk.
Does it come with a GPU?
No, you are only getting the enclosure at $250 and you have to shop for the graphics card separately.
Can it be used to read PCIe SSD cards?
The enclosure will work with any thunderbolt 3 compatible PCIe card that can fit inside.
Does it work with laptops that have thunderbolt 2?
No, it doesn’t you need a thunderbolt 3 or two on your laptop for the enclosure to work. Thunderbolt 2 doesn’t have the power needed to transfer the data required to boost the performance of a laptop.
The Sonnet eGFX Breakaway Box is one value for money enclosure that supports various types of graphics cards. It has a 550W power supply and the capacity to turn your laptop into a powerful machine. Your laptop will not only run graphic demanding games but it will also be able to run some intensive software’s. although it lacks some features like versatile ports and I/O it still one of the cheapest eGPU out there that can serve well. Sonnet however needs to find a better way of differentiating their enclosure rather than sticking with their current style of using the power support capacity in the name.