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In this article, we’ll take you through our roundup of the top laptops to use with an external graphics processing unit (eGPU).
eGPUs are gaining in popularity as more computer OEMs are going for thinner and ultraportable laptops. While these lighter notebooks are excellent for portability, this paradigm shift comes at the expense of powerful GPUs and efficient cooling systems.
However, with an external graphics processing unit, you no longer need the large gaming laptops or desktop setup to play intense games at recommended or max settings.eGPUs allows you to use an ultraportable laptop with an external dedicated GPU for playing games or other graphics-intensive applications.
eGPUs gives more flexibility than regular gaming laptops. You can carry along your ultrabook to work or school and later connect it to an eGPU to play fps games on high settings. In the end, your setup will consist of a laptop, powerful GPU, and an eGPU enclosure.
In this article, we have handpicked the best Thunderbolt 3 laptops to use with an eGPU.
Choosing the best laptop for eGPU
eGPUs leverage the lightning speeds and bandwidth of Thunderbolt 3 to provide graphical acceleration to your notebook. While there are a lot of Thunderbolt 3 laptops in the market, not all are optimized for eGPU usage.
There are specific specs to look out for when choosing the best laptops to use with eGPU.
Performance Vs. ULV (Ultra Low Voltage) processors
Different laptops come with different processors. While most 8th generation and later are excellent for eGPU usage, there are some features to look out for:
- Powerful processors such as the H-series, offer unrivaled performance at the experience of battery life.
- ULV processors provide efficient performance with low battery usage to extend your laptop’s battery life.
Depending on your needs, both processors can give you excellent eGPU experience. If you are using your laptop mostly with the eGPU on your workstation, select the high-performance processors. Besides, you’ll get the best performance ever compared to other processors.
ULV (Ultra Low Voltage) processors are excellent if you are looking for portable laptops and tablets to use with eGPUs. You get extended battery life to use on the go for your other productivity needs.You must, at all times, avoid low-end processors as they will lead to CPU bottleneck and thermal throttling, which limits the performance of your external GPU.
4 PCIe lanes over Thunderbolt
One of the selling features of Thunderbolt 3 was the support for up to four lanes of PCIe. Laptops with dual or more Thunderbolt 3 ports use x4 PCIe connection.
However, the difference when playing games with a two-lane or four-lane Thunderbolt 3 isn’t that significant. You can get decent gameplay using two-lane Thunderbolt 3 port, especially when using an external monitor.
To help you choose the best laptops for eGPU, we have selected the best options for you. We will continue to review this roundup as better laptops enter the market.
1. Razer Blade Stealth 13 – Best Ultrabook for eGPU
The world’s first gaming ultrabook remains the best option to use with an eGPU.
The Razer Blade Stealth is an excellent gaming laptop that comes with an 8th generation Intel Core i7-8565U. The quad-core processor provides more power with lower battery usage to extend your battery life.What’s interesting is that the Stealth 13-inch comes with a single Thunderbolt 3 port yet supports up to 4 lanes of PCI Express.
You can easily connect your external GPU via a Thunderbolt3 enclosure to the Razer Blade Stealth to accelerate its graphical performance. Besides, the laptop comes with an Nvidia GeForce MX150 so you can enjoy your games while on the go. It’s a total win for every situation.
The design of the Blade Stealth features thinner bezels with a sleek and durable aluminum chassis. It is portable at 3.04 pounds. You won’t have problems carrying it around.
The keyboard is one of a kind with Razer Chroma single-zone RGB lighting. You can customize the RGB lighting to personalize and light up your gaming workplace.
The display of the featured Razer Blade Stealth is a 13-inch touch display with 4K resolution for incredibly clear visuals and cinematic clarity. Whether playing games or streaming 4K content, you’ll enjoy the crystal clear visuals with vivid vibrancy.
While most 4K laptops suffer from worse battery life, the Stealth’s low power processor gives you excellent battery life with the best displays.
The laptop covers 100% sRGB color gamut for the best color accuracy when gaming or completing your video editing tasks.
Razer Blade Stealth features a single Thunderbolt 3 port with support for four-lane PCIe. You’ll get the best performance when using an eGPU or other Thunderbolt 3 peripherals, such as external displays.
Here’s the selection of ports in the Razer Blade Stealth:
- 2 x USB 3.1 Type-A
- 1 x Thunderbolt 3
- 1 x USB-C
- 1 x 3.5mm headphone/microphone combo
- Stunning 4K display
- Excellent build quality
- Good value
- Lightweight at 3.04 pounds
- Robust processing power
- Doesn’t run hot
- Low power technology
- Matte finish picks up some fingerprints
2. Apple MacBook Pro (13-inch) – Best Mac to Use with eGPU
With four Thunderbolt 3 ports and an 8th generation processor, the MacBook Pro 13-inch is the best mac for eGPU.
The MacBook Pro 13″ features a quad-core Intel Core i5 processor with speeds up to 2.4GHz and 4.1GHz using Turbo Boost. It is a fast ultrabook with 8GB of RAM and up to 512 SSD storage.The MacBook pro brings performance in a sleek and ultraportable 13″ notebook with plenty of Thunderbolt 3 ports for connectivity.
Onboard, you’ll get four Thunderbolt 3 ports to connect your eGPU and other peripherals. You can hook up the Sonnet eGFX Breakaway Puck or any other eGPU of your choosing to give the juice to run demanding applications.
Mac and eGPUs can be not only suitable for playing games but also doing some high resolution video and picture editing. You need to select the best GPU for your mac and get topnotch graphical performance.
While the design of the MacBook Pro 13″ follows the other mac flagships, you’ll be amazed by the included touchpad and keyboard.
The comfy keyboard with a butterfly mechanism provides the best typing experience while the touchpad gives you access to your favorite settings.
The Mac Pro 13 is a 13-inch Retina display ultrabook with a 16:10 aspect ratio and True technology for realistic visuals. It features a 2560 x 1600 resolution running on an IPS panel.
The visuals in this Thunderbolt 3 laptop look very sharp while the text is crisp, bright enough for your programming and text-based work. You’ll not miss a detail when playing games or working with your productivity applications.
The screen is bright at 500 nits to show every detail. Factor in the wide color gamut DCI-P3 and everything seems more natural and accurate.
The MacBook Pro 13 deserves recognition for the incredibly four Thunderbolt 3 ports in a sleek and light laptop. You can have a complete set of eGPU, external monitor, and other Thunderbolt 3 devices such as external SSD.
The Mac Pro 13, however, doesn’t include other types of ports apart from Thunderbolt 3. It can be a considerable disadvantage, especially when having some old generation USB devices.
- 4 x Thunderbolt 3
- 1 x 3.55mm headphone jack
- Sleek and slim design
- Very bright screen
- Higher resolution for clear visuals
- Powerful performance
- Excellent speed
- Not a very good battery life
- Lack of useful ports like USB-A
3. Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Extreme – Best Value Laptop to use with eGPU
The ThinkPad X1 Extreme is a mighty Thunderbolt 3 laptop designed for professionals and business users.
The X1 Extreme features a powerful 9th generation Intel Core i7-9750H (6-cores) processor to provide robust power to match any GPU in the market. If you intend to use this ultrabook on the go, you can still get decent graphics performance from the integrated Nvidia GTX 1650.
You can hookup the latest RTX GPU on the X1 Extreme and enjoy the best graphical performance without experiencing CPU bottleneck or thermal throttling,
The design features a clean and solid chassis to withstand intense usage. The keyboard is comfy, spill-resistant, and backlit to ensure you can use your ultrabook in any lighting conditions.
This version of the ThinkPad Extreme comes with a Full HD 1080p resolution running on an IPS panel. You can enjoy wide viewing angles with excellent picture quality across the screen.
If you have a powerful GPU that can support the demanding nature of high-end games and yet push more frames per second, the 4K version fits you well. Otherwise, stick to this FHD version for fluid gaming.
The specs of the X1Extreme make it the best pick for both office and professional use, content creation, and playing intense games using an external GPU.
ThinkPad X1 Extreme is arguably one of the portable laptops with a wide range of ports to connect several peripherals. It has two Thunderbolt 3 ports that support four lanes of PCI Express.
You can connect an eGPU via one of the Thunderbolt 3 ports and still have another slot for your Thunderbolt 3 docking station.
The ports included in the ThinkPad X1 Extreme include:
- 2 x Thunderbolt 3
- 2 x USB 3.0
- 1 x HDMI
- 1 x mini DisplayPort
- SD Card reader
- 3.5 audio combo slot
- Powerful performance
- A wide number of ports
- Excellent value
- Professional build quality
- Beautiful anti-reflection and anti-smudge touch screen
- Not a very bright screen
- Battery life is not the best
4. Lenovo Yoga 920 – Best 2 in 1 Laptop for eGPU
The Lenovo Yoga is a versatile convertible laptop that you can flip into a tablet or tent mode to the best out of this touchscreen ultrabook.
This 2-in-1 features a quad-core 8th generation Core i7 processor, 8GB of RAM, and a fast 256GB SSD storage. The Intel Core i7-8550U uses low voltage technology to provide efficient performance for extended battery life.
The Yoga 920 comes with an excellent design featuring a 360 degreed hinge to offer four flexible modes, including laptop and tablet modes. It is very thin at 0.5 inches and weighs only 3.02 pounds.
Onboard you will get a 15.6″ Full HD resolution screen with IPS technology for the best viewing angles and clear visuals. It is reasonably bright at 300 nits, and the 10-point touch screen completes the excellent display of the Yoga 920 2-in-1.
Using this ultrabook is a joy with the remarkably thinner bezels providing an immersive entertainment and wide touch screen display for your productivity needs.
The Lenovo 920 2-in-1 is one the thinner laptops you’d not have imagined playing games on it. However, with support for Thunderbolt 3 and a powerful processor, you can hook a desktop-class GPU and play demanding games on this ultraportable 2-in-1.
It comes with dual Thunderbolt 3 port for connecting an eGPU and other Thunderbolt 3 peripherals.
The full port selection of the Yoga 2-in-1 includes:
- 2 x Thunderbolt 3
- 1 x USB 3.0
- 3.5mm audio combo slot
- Beautiful and versatile convertible design
- Better performance
- Active pen included
- Excellent battery life
- Instant login with Windows Hello and fingerprint scanner
- Immersive audio with Dolby Atmos and JBL speakers
- Still not a bright screen
- Touch screen could be more responsive
5. ASUS ROG Zephyrus M Ultra Slim – Best Gaming Laptop for eGPU
The ROG Zephyrus M is an excellent gaming laptop that combines power and G-Sync for a smooth gaming experience.
Playing games at max settings is the ultimate dream for most gamers. For that, you’ll need a powerful GPU that renders more frames per second and a display with higher refresh rates.ASUS ROG Zephyrus M Ultra Slim plus an eGPU can give you max settings on any game. Just be sure to pick the right and powerful GPU to use with this 144Hz G-Sync laptop.
This gaming laptop comes with a powerful and power-hungry Core i7-8750H processor for the best performance ever. Onboard you also get Nvidia’s G-Sync technology for smooth gaming without screen tearing and stuttering.
The laptop has an efficient cooling system to match the demanding nature of the 8750H chip. The ROG’s active Aerodynamic System and inbuilt 12V fans provide reliable cooling mechanisms with a 20% reduced temperature compared to other cooling technologies.
Asus uses a lower FHD resolution to support higher refresh rates of up to 144Hz. The FHD resolution provides decent clarity to enjoy your games, movies, or high-resolution video editing.
The color reproduction is excellent with 100% sRGB color space, while the IPS ensures your picture quality doesn’t weather on off angles.
This laptop appeals not only to gamers but also to professional photographers and creatives looking to work with the best color settings and accuracy.
Asus needs to up its game with Thunderbolt 3. The ASUS ROG Zephyrus M Ultra Slim comes with a single Thunderbolt port and other ports for connecting your gaming peripherals,
- 1 x Thunderbolt 3
- 4 x USB 3.1 Gen2
- 1 x HDMI 2.0
- 1 x 3.5mm Audio combo
- 1 x Kensington slot
- Higher refresh rates with G-Sync
- Powerful processor
- Efficient cooling system
- Backlit four-zone RGB keyboard with Aura Sync
- Premium build for power gamers
- Included GTX graphics
- Not the best battery life
- Heavy at 5.4pounds
6. Lenovo – Yoga 730 2-in-1 – Cheapest Laptop for eGPU Usage
The Lenovo Yoga 730 2 in 1 is an affordable laptop that can help lower the costs of a complete eGPU setup.
It is no doubt that the costs of setting up a complete workstation with a strong eGPU will set you back thousands of dollars. While you may not want to settle on a low-end GPU, getting a budget laptop should be your priority.
You can flip the Yoga 730 to switch to other display modes – tablet, stand, and tent. This 2-in-1 ships with only UHD Graphics 620, you cannot run demanding applications or games without connecting your eGPU.
Yoga 730 comes with a 15.6″ IPS touchscreen display with FHD resolution. It is not the best resolution available, but rest assured to get excellent visuals with better viewing angles.
It provides an excellent screen for school and work. You can work and play games for hours without experiencing any eye strain or headaches.
The Yoga 730 ships with a Thunderbolt 3 port to connect your eGPU. You can then enjoy excellent gaming performance on an ultraportable budget laptop.
- 1 x Thunderbolt 3
- 2 x USB 3.0
- 1 x HDMI
- 1 x Audio combo
- Cheap and affordable
- Excellent display with antiglare
- Premium convertible build
- Great value
- Good battery life
- Annoying screen flicker
- Picture quality could be better
External GPUs continue to be a lifesaver for most people out there. While Thunderbolt 3 adoption id on the rise, expect to see thinner and lightweight notebooks.
While technologies such as Nvidia Max-Q support the design of thinner laptops with powerful GPUs, still not all of them support this feature. The solution remains using eGPU to provide instant graphical acceleration to your ultrabook.
We have selected the best laptops for eGPU usage currently in the market to help you get the best from this setup. Depending on your needs, there is an ideal pick for you. If you need an enclosure for your eGPU after choosing the best laptop, check out our article on the cheapest Thunderbolt 3 eGPU enclosures.