Should You Buy an External GPU for Your Laptop?

Many laptops struggle with gaming and other graphical tasks due to their weaker integrated GPUs. So as a consequence, should you buy an external GPU for your laptop to boost its gaming/graphics performance?

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If you have a laptop that lacks the graphical power to run the latest games or applications, you might be tempted to buy an external GPU (eGPU) to boost your performance. So what is an external GPU and why should you buy an external GPU for your laptop?

An eGPU is a device that houses a dedicated graphics card and connects to your laptop via a Thunderbolt 3 or USB-C port. It allows you to use a desktop-level GPU with your laptop. This should potentially enhance your gaming or creative experience.

However, before you rush to buy an eGPU, there are some things you need to know. So join me as we explore the pros and cons of eGPUs and answer the question, Should You Buy an External GPU for Your Laptop?

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Pros of eGPUs

Better graphics performance:

The main benefit of an eGPU is that it can provide a significant improvement in graphics performance for your laptop. Depending on the GPU model and the laptop specifications, you can expect to see higher frame rates, smoother gameplay, and better graphics quality. An eGPU can also enable you to play games or use applications that your laptop's integrated or discrete GPU cannot handle.

Support for VR and multiple monitors:

Another advantage of an eGPU is that it can support VR headsets and multiple monitors, which can enhance your immersion and productivity. An eGPU can provide enough power and ports to connect a VR headset like the Oculus Rift or HTC Vive, or multiple monitors with high resolutions and refresh rates. This can open up new possibilities for gaming and creative work on your laptop.

Easy to set up and upgrade:

An eGPU is relatively easy to set up and upgrade, compared to replacing your laptop's internal GPU or buying a new laptop. Most eGPUs are plug-and-play, meaning you just need to connect them to your laptop via a single cable and install the drivers. You can also swap out the graphics card inside the eGPU enclosure, as long as it is compatible with the power supply and the size of the box. This can save you money and hassle in the long run.

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Cons of eGPUs

High cost:

The biggest drawback of an eGPU is the high cost. Not only do you need to buy the eGPU enclosure, which can range from $200 to $600, but you also need to buy the graphics card itself, which can cost anywhere from $100 to $2000. Moreover, you need to have a laptop that has a Thunderbolt 3 or USB-C port with Thunderbolt support, which are usually found on more expensive models. In total, you could end up spending more than $1000 on an eGPU setup, which might not be worth it for your laptop.

Performance loss:

Another downside of an eGPU is that it does not deliver the same performance as an internal dedicated GPU. There is a performance loss of about 10 to 15 percent due to the bandwidth and power limitations of the Thunderbolt 3 or USB-C connection. This means that you might not get the full potential of the graphics card you buy, especially if it is a high-end one.

Compatibility issues:

Furthermore, not all laptops are compatible with eGPUs, and some might have driver or software issues that prevent them from working properly. You need to check the compatibility and system requirements of the eGPU and the graphics card before buying them.

Portability and noise:

A final disadvantage of an eGPU is that it reduces the portability and increases the noise of your laptop. An eGPU is a bulky and heavy device that requires its own power outlet and cable. It is not something you can easily carry around with your laptop, which defeats the purpose of having a laptop in the first place. Additionally, an eGPU can generate a lot of heat and noise, which can be annoying and distracting. You might need to invest in a cooling pad and a headset to cope with the eGPU's fan noise.


An eGPU can be a great option for laptop users who want to improve their graphics performance, support VR and multiple monitors, and have the flexibility to upgrade their graphics card. However, an eGPU also comes with some drawbacks, such as high cost, performance loss, compatibility issues, portability, and noise.

Therefore, whether you should buy an eGPU for your laptop depends on your needs, budget, and preferences. If you have a laptop that already has a decent GPU, or if you only use your laptop for casual gaming or work, you might not need an eGPU. On the other hand, if you have a laptop that has a weak GPU, or if you want to use your laptop for intensive gaming or creative work, you might benefit from an eGPU.

Ultimately, you need to weigh the pros and cons of eGPUs, and compare them with other alternatives, such as building a PC or getting a gaming laptop. An eGPU is not a magic solution that will turn your laptop into a gaming beast, but it can be a useful and fun accessory that can enhance your laptop experience.


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