7 Things You Need to Know About the External GPU

Although it is more practical and traditional to have a GPU inside a PC, it is becoming more common to have an External GPU. This is especially true for notebook users who often use portability, but still wants much higher performance when at home or at work. Just imagine a light and thin notebook with the power of a more rugged, custom-built desktop.

Of course, the subject may seem a bit complicated and even unnecessary for those familiar with traditional GPUs. Still, it is something that is growing and gaining more space. So you have no questions about the External GPU and how it works, we have listed everything you need to know. Check out the details below!

1. How does it work?

External GPU in Notebook

First of all, it's good to simply know how the external GPU works. It is very similar to a normal GPU that you would plug directly into the motherboard in your PC case, just outside.

Therefore, it needs its own Dock, which has a PCIe input into which the GPU is placed. This Dock also has a USB or Tunderbolt socket so that it can be connected directly to your computer.

After you make the necessary initial settings for any new GPUs placed on your PC, your machine will redirect the graphics processes to the external GPU. Since most notebooks have very weak GPUs, this will significantly improve performance.

Of course, in some cases you may need to do this redirection manually. But it depends a lot on each computer.

2. Performance is worse than an internal GPU

Whether or not there is a big difference between connecting a GPU directly to the PC motherboard and putting it into a PC-connected Dock via USB. That alone would make a difference in performance between an external and an internal GPU, but there are still other factors.

Most people who use or search for an external GPU do this with notebooks. This makes more sense, since it's these laptops that don't have room for a normal GPU and need more graphics power.

The problem is notebooks are not exactly developed with external GPUs in mind. They have limitations and are not always prepared to receive such a powerful component.

This is especially true for older CPUs or notebooks that already have integrated GPUs. The performance loss in these cases can be quite noticeable, especially on heavier software and games.

This is definitely something to consider when considering buying an external GPU. Of course you will get a big improvement on the notebook, just not have the same experience as on a desktop.

3. Docking for an External GPU is quite expensive

We mentioned earlier that the external GPU needs a special Dock to work. It is this Dock that provides the PCIe input into which the GPU is placed, as well as the way the GPU is connected to the PC.

The problem is that these docks tend to be kind of expensive. Of course the price will depend a lot on the model, but it is normal that they cost from 500 reais upwards, with many costing over a thousand.

You should also be aware of what type of Dock you want to use. Some leave the GPU fully exposed, while other types fully protect it, like a box.

Another factor to consider is the models that only work with certain brands of notebook. So do a lot of research before you buy yours.

4. Compatibility can be a problem.

external GPU dock

If you already have to worry a lot about compatibility issues when building a custom PC, imagine something pre-assembled like a laptop and external parts that weren't made for it.

This is why you should do a good research involving your notebook model, what type of GPU you want to buy and which Docks can be used. See all the requirements of the external GPU you want and your notebook meets them, for example.

Also make sure to check if the Dock and GPU are compatible. This may take a little time, but this kind of research is needed in preparing any PC.

5. Graphics performance will be better

We kind of mentioned it, but it's worth saying that the notebook's graphics performance really improves. This is important to remember, as obviously some of the disadvantages of the External GPU may make it seem like all this work is not worth it.

Of course, you can't compare with the performance of a scratch mount, but an external GPU can do wonders with notebook performance. This may be even more noticeable on Macbooks, which end up being more limited in this regard in many cases.

6. Technology will still improve

Another factor you should consider is that the technology around external GPUs will still improve a lot. The practice is becoming more common now, which is already making companies pay more attention to it.

By itself, this can make Docks more efficient and cheaper to appear, notebooks made to have better support for external GPUs, and even more special GPUs that are designed exclusively for use in this way.

In general, these improvements should improve the cost-effectiveness of this type of practice and its quality of use.

7. Who is the External GPU worth for?

GPU options

You can see that the external GPU can have many advantages and disadvantages at the same time, isn't it ?! While they may be a great choice for those who want more notebook performance, the whole device may end up costing the same as a more efficient and powerful desktop.

In general, it may be recommended to expect the use of external GPus to become more common. This is as much for the price of Docks as for more laptops to be better prepared to receive this kind of GPU without much performance loss.

Other than that, this scheme is really best recommended for those who don't want to give up the convenience and portability of notebooks, while still enjoying the similar power of a desktop in a specific location.

Article Tip: 7 tips for dealing with notebook heating

Can you learn more about External GPU?

Could you take our list to learn more about External GPU in general? Be sure to leave your comment telling us if you have any questions.

Also take a moment to tell if there's another important fact about external GPUs you haven't seen on our list!

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