Last Updated on August 4, 2021 by paularo
The Startech.com Thunderbolt 3 PCIe Expansion Chassis is one of the high-end expansion PCIe boxes that are available. You can use the enclosure to upgrade the performance of your MacBook with this external graphics enclosure. The price of the external enclosure is around $268 and it has some nice features that makes it worth buying. However, there are some turn offs if you consider the $268 price point but if you are on a tight budget this could be a step forward in the right direction as long as you want better performance on your mac. It comes with some ports that are lacking on most of the PCIe expansion boxes that we have talked about here. We are going to put the Startech Thunderbolt 3 PCIe Expansion Chassis to its paces and see if it is worth buying.
In this comprehensive review, we will provide you with all the information you need to evaluate the Startech Thunderbolt 3 PCIe Expansion Chassis 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 for your laptop
Using a MacBook without a dedicated graphics card can have a negative impact on performance. If you do some graphic intensive work with then you need an eGPU or a laptop with dedicated graphics. A MacBook that lacks dedicated graphics will not allow you to edit or play games smoothly. A laptop using an integrated graphics card is usually limited and cannot be removed or upgraded. This type of laptops doesn’t come with any cooling feature since they were built for casual and basic tasks. If the laptop has thunder bolt 3 ports then you can use the Startech Thunderbolt 3 PCIe Expansion Chassis to boost the performance of a MacBook that lacks the power to carry out intensive tasks. The eGPU is going to serve as the power house that will push the MacBook to its limits. An eGPU has all the components and cooling system needed to make sure you get a decent performance on a MacBook that doesn’t have dedicated graphics. Let’s say the graphics card on your MacBook is not performing decently because its outdated an eGPU can help improve the performance. intel based MacBook’s don’t have a dedicated GPU and if you use an external enclosure it will have a positive impact on the performance of your MacBook.
Selecting the Best eGPU for your laptop
The Startech Thunderbolt 3 PCIe Expansion Chassis is one of the most compact enclosures I have seen. It is made out of metal with a matte finish to avoid stains and scratches. We have the Startech.com logo on the right embedded in white and yellow. At the front we have an opening for cooling and at the back we have two screws for opening the box. We also have dual thunderbolt 3 ports at the back one is for extra peripherals and the other one is the main port. we have a display port on the enclosure as well as the power port. that’s all-in terms of the port on the enclosure. The eGPU is the best for your laptop because it can house different sizes of PCle cards. You can even be able to use some video capture cards that will expand your system capabilities and grant you peak performance. there are some PCIe expansion boxes like the Highpoint Rocketstore 6661A that are cheaper but lack some little feature. inside the box of the enclosure we have the rubber feet’s, thunderbolt 3 cables, Universal Power Adapter, Quick start guide, and of course the PCIe expansion box itself. The expansion box has the ability to transfer 40Gbps of data from the expansion chassis to your laptop using the thunderbolt 3 connectivity. To use the enclosure your laptop must have a thunderbolt 3 port. you cannot install a graphics card inside the enclosure. It can also serve as a storage reader because you can install an SSD card inside the expansion Chassis. The size of the enclosure is moderate and it can sit alongside your monitor and beautify your setup. It is not one of those large enclosures that takes up too much space on a desk. The Startech.com expansion box is an amazing PCle expansion Chassis and I don’t think other PCIe boxes out there has what it takes to compete against it.
Here are 6 key points for selecting the Startech.com Thunderbolt 3 PCIe Expansion Chassis for your laptop
Two Thunderbolt 3 Ports
The enclosure has two thunderbolt 3 ports the main thunderbolt 3 ports is for connection to your laptop while the second one acts as a peripheral. You need to buy a thunderbolt 3 dock that will allow you connect other devices to the enclosure. Thunderbolt is the main technology that makes it possible for the enclosure to boost the performance of your laptop.
Plug and Play
The enclosure has plug and play feature which means the moment you connect it to your laptop it starts working automatically. There is no need for you for you to restart your laptop after connecting it to the enclosure. These features make using the enclosure easy and fun it takes away the stress of having to restart your laptop when connected to the expansion chassis.
Supports all types of PCIe cards
The expansion chassis supports various sizes of PCIe cards and even video capture cards. You can use video cards from different manufacturers out there. It supports medium to large sized PCIe cards and installing them inside the Chassis is not difficult.
Most PCIe expansion boxes hardly come with extra ports but to see a display port on the Startech Thunderbolt 3 PCIe Expansion Chassis means a lot. Although more ports like a USB type A port would have also been a nice addition. You can connect that if you have a thunderbolt 3 expansion dock with all the necessary ports needed.
The Startech Thunderbolt 3 PCIe Expansion Chassis works on both windows and macOS which are the two biggest platforms. You can comfortably use it across both operating systems and it will perform consistently.
Good Build Quality
The enclosure has a solid build with a metal construction and a small form factor. One thing I like about this eGPU is the size. It doesn’t take up much space like other bigger enclosures that we are used to seeing. I like the fact that startech kept this small and I think after the Sonnet Breakaway Puck this is the second enclosure I love in terms of size.
A Closer Look at the Startech.com Thunderbolt 3 PCIe Expansion Chassis
The Startech Thunderbolt 3 PCIe Expansion Chassis is loud when in use and that is one of the gripes with the eGPU. It comes with a two-year warranty and it is one of the few external enclosures that I have seen with a warranty. It comes with 65 watts power and it is enough to power any type of PCle card. it lacks the ability to deliver power and it means you can’t charge your laptop while it is connected to the enclosure. There is a built fan inside the enclosure and it keeps the enclosure cold. It works with Windows 7 and above on macOS you can use it with Sierra 10.12 and above. At $268 it is difficult to justify the price of the enclosure because it comes empty without any PCIe card. you still need to splash some cash to buy the PCIe card. you can also decide to add $40 to buy some proper external enclosures that can house proper GPUs. external graphics enclosures with proper graphics card normally offers better performance. notwithstanding the PCIe expansion boxes also does well in terms of performance and the Startech Thunderbolt 3 PCIe Expansion Chassis is a decent performer but lacks some features.
About Startech.com Thunderbolt 3 PCIe Expansion Chassis manufacturers
Startech.com is an ISO 9001 registered technology company, specializing in hard to find connectivity parts, primarily used in the information technology and professional A/V industries. Startech.com services a worldwide market with operations throughout the United States, Canada, Europe, Latin America, and Taiwan. The company headquarters is located in London, Ontario, Canada with distribution centers in the United Kingdom, and Hong Kong. It was founded by Paul Seed and Ken Kalopsis and they decided to be more globalized company in 2004. With the opening of a new branch in Nottingham, UK.
Product Specifications and Features
Flash Memory size – 8TB
Dimension – 10.7 x 3.2 x 5.5 inches
Weight – 2.2 Ibs
Operating System – Windows 10 or MacOS
Color Options – Black
Input & Output – Thunderbolt 3 Via type C
Internal Power Supply – 65 watts
GPU max power support – not available
GPU type – single double wide, full length, PCl-Express X16
Description of Startech.com Thunderbolt 3 PCIe Expansion Chassis
This Thunderbolt 3 PCIe expansion chassis lets you add an external PCIe x16 slot to your laptop or desktop computer, through an external Thunderbolt 3 connection. Expand the Capabilities of Your Thunderbolt 3 Computer This Thunderbolt 3 PCIe enclosure makes it easy to expand your system with the capabilities you need to work at peak productivity. You can add many types of PCIe cards or video capture cards. And, with the speed and bandwidth support of Thunderbolt 3 and PCIe 3.0, you can enjoy many of the same port additions you would from the PCIe expansion slots of a desktop system. Extend Your Workstation This external PCIe expansion box features a dedicated DisplayPort output that lets you add an additional display to your laptop or desktop computer. The PCIe enclosure features a second Thunderbolt 3 port, that you can use to connect a secondary display. With multiple extended displays, you can work more efficiently by multitasking faster, and avoid the hassle of continually repositioning several open programs. Increase Productivity At up to 40Gbps this Thunderbolt 3 expansion chassis gives you the throughput to add displays to your laptop, access files quickly, and work without disruptions. It’s easy to access and edit large uncompressed files such as videos and images on the fly, making it ideal for dynamic on-site production. This external Thunderbolt 3 PCIe expansion chassis is backed by 2-year warranty and free lifetime technical support. OS compatibility: Windows 7, 8, 8.1, 10; macOS 10.12 – 10.15, Cable Length: 19.7 in [500 mm], Material: Aluminum and Steel.
Pros of the Startech.com Thunderbolt 3 PCIe Expansion Chassis
Easy to Use – the enclosure has Plug and Play feature and it makes usage fun and easy. You don’t have to reboot your MacBook or laptop after connecting it to the enclosure. The moment you plug the thunderbolt 3 cable inside your laptop it is ready to go and the level of performance will improve immediately.
Compact Build – the eGPU has a very good build quality I love the overall aesthetics and design of the enclosure. It comes in a small form factor that I appreciate so much it won’t take up much space on your desk. It is compact and doesn’t have any loose screws inside.
Display Port – it is mostly difficult to get a PCIe expansion box that come with extra ports apart from the thunderbolt 3 port. with the display port you can connect the enclosure to a monitor or an external display. Although the port is not enough and I wish they had an extra USB type A port here but the second thunderbolt 3 port can serve incase you want to add more peripherals.
Pros of the Startech.com Thunderbolt 3 PCIe Expansion Chassis
Expensive – coming in at $268 I feel the enclosure is a little bit expensive since it is a PCIe expansion box. You can add up between $40 to $60 and get a proper enclosure that supports a GPU and it will be significantly faster. There are other cheaper PCIe boxes out there and they offer the same features as what we have on the Startech.com thunderbolt 3 PCIe expansion Chassis.
No Power Delivery – the enclosure supports 65 watts of power to power the PCIe card but it lacks the ability to charge your laptop while connected through the thunderbolt 3 port. I feel power delivery is essential especially when you consider the price of the enclosure. You have to connect your charger separately while using the enclosure and that doesn’t help with cable management.
Can I use a GPU inside the?
No, you can’t the enclosure only support some PCle cards you cannot use any type of graphics card inside the Startech.com Thunderbolt 3 PCIe Expansion Chassis. However, you can use video capture cards, and SSD cards.
How much power in Wattage is being sent to the PCIe lane?
The enclosure sends 65W of power to the PCle lane which can be sufficient for most of the PCIe cards that will fit into the enclosure. It doesn’t support power delivery and it cannot charge your laptop while in use.
Can I use an x4 PCIe card in this?
Yes, you can even use an x8 or x16 PCIe card inside the Startech.com Thunderbolt 3 PCIe Expansion Chassis and it will work just fine.
In line with the standards of PCIe expansion boxes I think the Startech.com Thunderbolt 3 PCIe Expansion Chassis takes it a little bit further down the lane. It has a display port which most of the PCIe expansion boxes lack. It is a plug and play enclosure which makes it even easier to use. the price is what I am not really convinced about but overall it supports various types of PCIe cards which is great.