Contrary to the claims of many that laptops are not designed for gaming, there are users who think otherwise. Considering that the main component that affects the performance in games is the video card, they use various ways to improve it. One of the best is definitely the docking station connection with a separate graphics adapter. This is what we will talk about today and find out which external video card for a laptop is the best with the help of our rating.
7 best external gpu docks
The docking station is the equipment needed to synchronize and connect a video card to a laptop. They have a built-in power supply and cooling system, but the video card itself must be purchased separately.
Our rating is opened by a docking station called AKiTiO Node. Despite the fact that it went on sale about two years ago, the device is still receiving praise from customers.
The AKiTiO Node body is made of steel. This design allows you to install absolutely any video card inside the docking station that fits in an ATX case. The maximum height of the graphics device is 170 mm.
The AKiTiO Node has a 400W power supply. This is quite enough for most video cards since on average even top-end solutions consume no more than 300 watts.
The case is cooled with a single 120mm fan.
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HP Omen Accelerator
The design of the HP Omen Accelerator case allows you to fit any graphics card up to 29 cm in length. In addition, there is a slot for connecting a 2.5-inch hard drive, which is also good news.
Installation is simple, all you need to do after installing the video card is to connect the docking station to the laptop using the supplied cable.
The HP Omen Accelerator is powered by a 500 Watt PSU. It is quite enough for connecting a top-end video card and a hard drive, so you shouldn’t worry about a lack of power.
The only drawback is the noise level produced by the power supply, which is very difficult to change. Unlike AKiTiO Node, there are four USB 3.0 ports, a USB-C port, and Lan ports.
Sonnet EGFX Box
The Sonnet EGFX Box docking station is designed to connect top-end video cards, for this it was equipped with a powerful 650W power supply. Absolutely any video card can be located inside it, the most important thing is that it is connected via the PCIe 3.0 interface.
Connection to a computer is carried out using a Thunderbolt 3 wire with a USB Type-C connector. Its bandwidth is capped at 40 Gbps.
Outwardly, the Sonnet EGFX Box looks very brutal and aggressive. All in all, gamers should appreciate it.
When you connect the docking station to a laptop, you will significantly lose in mobility, but you will get an increase in performance, depending on the selected video card.
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ZOTAC AMP BOX
The ZOTAC AMP BOX is powered by a 450W PSU. Any video card up to 22.8 cm long can be installed inside the docking station.
Proceeding from this, it should be borne in mind that some top-end solutions cannot be installed in this case, since the dimensions of most of them already exceed the 30 cm mark.
Surely, specifically for this, ZOTAC released a shortened version of the GeForce GOTX 1080 Ti, which will fit here.
The ZOTAC AMP BOX case has four USB 3.1 interfaces, as well as one ThunderBolt 3, which is used to connect to a laptop.
It is worth noting the presence of a shutdown button on the front panel and the absence of additional case fans; there is only one cooling power supply unit. The noise level is minimal.
PowerColor Devil Box
The third line in the ranking of docking stations is occupied by the PowerColor Devil Box, which is the brainchild of the famous Taiwanese corporation.
Its dimensions are 400 × 172 × 242, it is designed for video cards with power consumption up to 375 W and dimensions not exceeding 310 × 140 × 50 mm.
The case has a built-in 500 W power supply. Not without USB outputs, so there are already four USB 3.0, and USB 3.1, which is also Type-C / Thunderbolt, one.
The PowerColor Devil Box package allows you to connect one 2.5-inch SATA drive with a speed of 6 gigabits per second to the docking station.
Razer Core Box
Box Razer Core became the first docking station with which you can connect an external video card to a laptop and it has not lost its popularity until now.
The case has a built-in 500 W power supply, 375 W of which are available for the video card. Dimensions – 104 × 339 × 218 mm. The maximum size of a video card is 310 × 152 × 240 mm.
In addition to the Thunderbolt 3 interface, which connects to a laptop, the Box Razer Core has 4 USB 3.0 slots, as well as a 1 Gigabit Ethernet connector.
Like most docking stations with TB3, this model will be compatible with any laptop or ultrabook with the corresponding port. The aluminum case of the Box Razer Core has a signature black color.
The power supply is cooled by three 40 × 20 mm fans. If you are going to buy this docking station, then you should immediately take into account that they make a lot of noise.
ASUS ROG XG STATION PRO
ASUS ROG XG STATION PRO docking station from the company, which is known to every gamer, becomes the best in our top.
It has an ascetic design that will appeal to every lover of minimalism. Case dimensions – 375 × 107 × 205 mm. The design allows you to place almost any modern video card inside, including the GeForce GTX 1080 Ti.
The ASUS ROG XG STATION PRO did not have the most powerful power supply unit, its capacity is only 330 watts, although in most cases it will be more than enough.
The minimalistic design of the case is diluted with 10 LED-LEDs, the color of which can be changed using the special utility Asus Aura.
In general, the first place is quite justified – there is a design that allows you to connect almost any video card, and a stylish design with LEDs, and ease of use. There is only one significant drawback a meager set of interfaces.
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Next, let’s take a look at the best docking stations with integrated graphics.
Thunderbolt 3 Graphics Dock
Thunderbolt 3 Graphics Dock ranks third in the segment of ready-made solutions that can be used to improve the performance of your laptop.
The difference from previous docking stations in the presence of a GeForce GTX 1050 video card onboard. The model used has the MXM size and 4 GB of GDDR5 memory.
Whether such a decision is correct or not is subjective. Someone does not want to suffer with the choice and connection of a video card, so a ready-made version will come in handy for him.
Thunderbolt 3 Graphics Dock is a very compact docking station. Its dimensions are 249 × 130 × 20 mm, and its weight is only 630 grams.
The set of interfaces is quite rich, in addition to the two DisplayPort 1.3 and HDMI 2.0 ports provided by the video card, there are two USB 3.0 ports, one USB 2.0, and a 3.5mm Jack connector.
Most interestingly, when you connect your laptop to the Thunderbolt 3 Graphics Dock, it will charge. The increase in performance when connecting such a device will be on the face.
If you have a top processor in your laptop, you can easily play all modern games at maximum graphics settings.
Gigabyte PCI-Ex GeForce GTX 1070 Aorus Gaming Box
The silver medalist is the Gigabyte PCI-Ex GeForce GTX 1070 Aorus Gaming Box, which, as the name suggests, comes with a GeForce GTX 1070 graphics card with 8 GB of GDDR5 memory.
To keep the external module compact, it uses the Mini-ITX version of the graphics accelerator. The design of the case is modern and stylish, there is also RGB lighting and several ports with which you can connect various peripherals.
A bag is included with the station itself, which greatly facilitates its transportation. The power supply unit has a power of 450 W, it is equipped with 80 Plus Gold certification and its own axial fan that works even when the video card is inactive.
The bandwidth, when connected through the TB3 connector, is 40 Gbps. In general, this solution can be recommended to those users whose laptops have weak video cards.
If you already have a powerful graphics processor, then when you connect the silver medalist of our rating, you will not notice any increase in performance.
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Gigabyte PCI-Ex GeForce GTX 1080 Aorus Gaming Box
The winner of our ranking is the Gigabyte PCI-Ex GeForce GTX 1080 Aorus Gaming Box.
The differences between this model and the one that took the second place are minimal, the most important thing is the difference in the video cards used, here the GeForce GTX 1080 is involved. The case is the same, the dimensions and design are the same.
The maximum power that a video card can receive is limited to 225 watts.
The power supply is rated for 450W and is 80 Plus Gold certified. It is enough not only to power the GeForce GTX 1080, but also to charge the laptop at the same time, provided that the latter supports charging via the Type-C port.
The power consumption of the station is relatively low, so in load mode, it was 244.5 watts. As for the temperature, it did not rise above 73 ° C.