When you play on the computer or perform different kinds of tasks, what exactly helps your computer to process these things other than your CPU? The answer would be your graphics card, also known as the video card in some countries.
A good graphics card is usually built-in if you have a higher spec computer. Otherwise, you would have to buy and upgrade your existing one.
In this article, we are going to take a look into external graphics cards, why they are important, and which are the best external graphics cards.
Benefits of an External Graphics Card
So what exactly makes an external graphics card beneficial? Here are its advantages:
1. Better performance of most computer programs
Whether you have games, graphics programs and the like, it will be much easier for the computer to process your applications and the like. Because graphics on a computer can take a lot of power and heat; most gamers advise that you’d have a separate one to improve the performance without overheating problems.
2. Improves your computer’s graphics
When your computer lags in some applications, sometimes, it’s not the processor, but rather the graphics card.
If you are working on a laptop, improving your computer’s graphics can be done in a breeze with the help of an external graphics card. It will also benefit those programs that heavily rely on graphics and the like.
3. Boosts applications for drawing, graphics designing, editing, painting, and 3D modeling
If you are working on a profession with relation to drawing, arts, designing, video, and graphics editing, 3D modeling, 3D rendering, painting and etc., your system might get more boosts with the help of an external graphics card.
3D object rendering usually requires more CPU power and that’s when a powerful GPU comes in handy.
4. Boosts video games and various interactive content
If you are a gamer and have a gaming laptop, boosting your game’s graphics can be done by buying an external graphics card.
GPUs like this one can be more suited for laptops because they usually have a very limited capacity with their internal components.
5. Boosts loading time of modern websites
Most websites today are in HTML5, meaning that they can have some graphic elements that can be “too much” on old computers. If you think loading Facebook or other similar websites tend to be slow on your system, you should definitely have a better GPU.
This is also a plus point for web designers who often work with such modern web pages.
Difference between an Internal and an External Graphics Card
A graphics card can either be internal or external, by which it is differentiated by the following:
External graphics cards are more expensive than internal ones. This is because they are encased in a separate system with their own fan. They can be great for hardcore gamers or those with plenty of money but for the average person, they can be quite expensive due to their special design.
You need a dock for external cards whereas internal ones don’t need them. This dock is where your laptop or computer communicates and uses your external card to request for GPU resource instead of on your internal GPU. Some of them can come with a dock but most will have to be bought separately.
External ones are meant for laptops at most. Because it is easier to upgrade a tower or desktop computer at most, these external GPUs aren’t used as much for them. External ones benefit laptops because they are too small to fit more GPUs in one go, as compared to the casing of a desktop computer. Laptops and notebooks that are going to be used for gaming may benefit from such external GPUs.
What to look for in an External Graphics Card
When you want to look for a good external graphics card, you should know about the following:
1. Size of the graphics card
Whether it’s an 8 GB, more or less, a good graphics card should have a bigger size than your original one, or it should be just right for the specs that your programs, applications, and games are requesting.
2. Supported display
Some can go for up to 8k other than 4k, but it usually depends on what you want to achieve. For a full-time gaming experience that is quite cinematic, you may require something that’s big enough to support large monitor displays and the like.
3. Fans and casing
Since it runs on fans and a casing, it should be durable in both. The fans should be easy to clean, assembled and are working properly, while the casing should both be durable and easy to cool down overall.
4. Ease of connection
It should be noted that a good external graphics card should be easy to connect. This is especially true for gamers and graphic designers who are often traveling or on the go.
This way, the setup shouldn’t be too cumbersome or bothersome when you just need to focus on your job or task at hand.
5. Best intended use
While it is true that most high end graphics cards are bought for gaming, some can also be used for 3D modeling and rendering applications. One such case is if you are a graphic artist working for an animation studio or company.
Best External Graphics Cards – Our Top Picks
Here are our top picks for the best external graphics cards:
1. Gigabyte AORUS Gaming Box GTX 1070
This awesome graphics card is great for those who are also doing VR gaming with their current gear and setup. It accepts any Thunderbolt 3 systems and has a 450-watt PSU. It can be connected using PCI-E with 8 pins and it even has support for up to three USB 3.0 devices due to its extensive connections.
Because it supports up to 8K when it comes down to display, it will be great for those who are playing games on really large screens, such as multi-screen systems and the like. It even has a customizable RGB lighting for the colors with up to 16.8 million colors to choose from to expand your current gaming experience.
As for the fan, it uses the WINDFORCE 3X with Blade Fan Design so it will be quite efficient when it comes down to cooling the GPU when it is overheated. This will help your games and your system to last longer and will not cause lags or other related issues.
For its memory, it uses an 8GB GDDR5X 256bit memory within its integrated system. This kind of system will be beneficial for gamers who always play really high-end games that are graphics-intensive. This will also prevent lag and other problems in the game.
The back plate also has a stylish design so it can add to your setup’s looks overall. The fan status can also be monitored with the use of the LED fan indicator on the top of the graphics card.
2. EVGA GeForce GTX 1070 FTW GAMING
Yet another great external graphics card, this one has a total of 8192MB GDDR5 (that’s 8 GB) which is great for gaming and general use. Most often, 8 GB seems to be the standard of high-end gaming, VR gaming and the like nowadays. It also has a 1797 MHz real boost clock so you can definitely use it for your OC (overclocking) needs.
And that’s not all – there will be no additional software required to achieve listed clock speeds, which means that overclocking is very easy for you! Additionally, there is also an adjustable RGB LED using EVGA Precision XOC, which can be used for customizing your lighting scheme in your gaming graphics card.
This gaming graphics card can also be used in most VR games with its quality design and performance. It has an optimally tuned heatsink and fin design, a clean contact area made of copper, a set of double ball bearings with a good lifespan and a nearly 0 dB fan for the cooling system.
Many people have praised it for its material quality, durability, and ease of installation, which is important especially if you are new to having an external graphics card. Games that you can run on it perfectly include GTA V, most VR games, most 4K supported games and so much more. You can also pair it with an i7 processor to make the most out of it and get a great gaming setup overall.
3. Razer Core X Thunderbolt 3 External Graphics
Another graphics bundle that’s great for those who love high-end gaming, this one also comes with an 8 GB 256-bit GDDR5X specification so it is definitely a must-have for those who are already playing VR or virtual reality games. You can also install this just fine on any macOS High Sierra 10.13.4 or later if you have that instead of Windows (it also supports any AMD graphics card, for that matter).
In addition to that, for Windows, you will need to have external graphics (eGFX) support and RS1 or later. Also, you need to have a good AMD or NVIDIA graphics card that’s compatible with this one, in case you want to upgrade it.
With this external graphics card, you can go for up to 40 gbps in every game or application that you want to run in your computer. This is because of its Thunderbolt 3 connection to systems. Included in the package is a Core X with ZOTAC GeForce GTX 1080 AMP, which has a good set of fans.
Aside from gamers, those who are often doing CAD applications requiring heavy graphics can find this very useful, such as engineers, architects and designers. This is a must-have for both Windows and Mac but more people usually buy it for a Mac.
4. Alienware Graphics Amplifier (9R7XN)
If you are a big fan of Alienware, this is a must-have for an external GPU. It has support for most graphics cards as well, such as NVIDIA GeForce GTX 600 and the AMD Radeon HD 5000 series. Equipped with a 460 Watts internal power supply, this is a great gaming station to have for its wide compatibility.
You can use it if you currently have an Alienware laptop or notebook to amplify the existing graphics card. If you already have the Zotac GTX 980ti inside your system then this can also work well in terms of coexistence of different graphics cards.
There is also a great USB hub that you can use for other gear. Most Oculus Rift and VR players often praised this amplifier.
5. GIGABYTE Gaming Box RX 580
As another external gaming graphics card, this one also has 8 GB for its capacity and it can also be connected using the Thunderbolt 3 Plug and play system for ease of use and setup. Unlike many other graphics cards that are external and bulky, this one is actually quite portable in terms of size.
It also has a total of 3 USB ports (3.0) that you can use to plug in to other types of devices that you may have. The graphics card included here is the Radeon Rx 580 8G graphics card. It has a memory clock speed of 8,000 MHz and it can be connected using the PCI-E x 16 slots.
For the hardcore gamers who want a sleek look of their gaming station, they can also have fun with the 16.7M customizable color lighting system for the gaming box. Data transfer and charging are also great due to the Power Delivery (3.0) and Quick Charge (3.0) for the unit. Its power supply is at 400 watts.
In a nutshell
To conclude this article, all these graphics cards are great but they are more suited for specific situations or computer setups.
Nonetheless, they are all good when it comes down to boosting your computer’s performance. We hope you find this list of best external graphics cards very useful!
This article was written by a freelancer.