Do you want to game on your budget-friendly laptop but the low-end integrated graphics chip is limiting you? If so then look no further as we have brought you a way to boost your graphics performance without breaking your bank. The solution is a hardware hack which will allow you to connect an external GPU to your existing laptop. The process can be a bit tricky for some people but don’t worry as we have prepared a step by step guide that will make this project fun and empowering.
But before starting it all up you will need to do some research on your existing hardware. Your laptop or PC must have 2nd generation Thunderbolt port, this port is a complete game changer that is capable of speeds up to a blistering 20 gigabytes per second (Gbps) over a compatible USB-C port. It will allow peripheral devices like external GPUs connect to your laptop and provides a speedy connection for resource intensive activities like gaming and editing; this dramatically improves the performance.
This solution is perfect especially for Mac user as even a low-end Mac comes loaded with efficient RAM chips, powerful CPU and speedy flash storage. They only lack in decent visual performance but the good thing is that they have a Thunderbolt port. This $600 investment will prove worthy and will nearly double your FPS; So without further ado, lets get started:
• Step No.1:
It is always necessary to back up all your important files and data before starting any such thing, just to be on the safe side. So backup all your important files on an external hard drive before proceeding to the next step.
• Step No. 2:
Check You hardware compatibility on the brand’s website from which you are buying the external GPU dock. The process is fairly simple but a little bit of research can help you prevent any kind of troubleshooting.
• Step No. 3:
If you are planning to use the external GPU on Apple computer, you might want to install windows on it as many software tools and games are best compatible on Windows. You can easily install windows on your Mac system using Apple’s Boot Camp tool which will make the installing process fast and simple. Make sure to update all the windows drivers after installation before proceeding to the next step.
• Step No. 4:
Once you have successfully completed all the above steps, you will now need to look up for hardware components needed to build the external GPU setup.
1. First, you will need to invest in a Graphics Card depending on your budget and performance requirement. For this project, we are going to use a midrange card which easily provides 60 FPS in most of the graphics intensive tasks at 1080p resolution. However, if you want smooth 4K video performance and high-end gaming you will need to opt for a high-end card.
2. Next, you will need to invest in a GPU dock that will connect your graphics card to the laptop via the Thunderbolt cable. We recommend the AKiTiO 2 because the device is optimized for Macs with Thunderbolt 2. Windows PC users can go for the Razer Core, MSI Shadow or Alienware Graphics Amplifier.
3. You will also need a decent power supply unit and an inexpensive, also purchase a PCI-E 16x to 16x Powered Flexible Riser for some graphics cards.
These are all the components that you will be needing; once you have got all this figured out you are ready to proceed to the next step.
• Step No. 5:
Now you will need to carefully assemble all the hardware components:
1. First, unbox all the items and save the packaging in case you need to return or exchange them.
2. Remove all the protective caps and layerings from your graphics card.
3. Unscrew and remove the case of the dock to expose the GPU housing.
4. Carefully install the GPU to the dock and then connect the graphics card to the power supply using the 6 or 8 pin connector depending on your graphics card.
5. Screw back the housing and plug the Thunderbolt cable to your laptop or PC.
• Step No. 6:
Once you have successfully assembled all the components you can now power on your system. Once the OS boots up it will detect a new hardware. Now you will need to download and install the graphics drivers from the manufacturer’s website. After the driver installation is completed, restart the system.
• Step No. 7:
When the system starts up, navigate to the device manager to check if the drivers have successfully installed.
If you followed all the steps correctly your laptop will be able to perform all the graphics intensive tasks smoothly. This process is really great and is also cheaper than building a whole new gaming rig, you can still take advantage of your laptop’s portability by disconnecting the eGPU hardware.