External GPU docks still have a place in the market, but not for long

The eGPUs are bulky, expensive and the new SoCs will finally make them obsolete

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External GPU docks will soon be extinct

External GPU docks or eGPUs can be great if you want to transform your average work or old laptop into a gaming station. They also have become slightly popular to upgrade gaming handhelds in reaching those FPS heights you were craving for and blasting the image on a huge TV screen. However, they have some considerable limitations and I think that they will soon become extinct. Here’s why!

How do external GPU docks work? What do they do?

If you want to know whether or not you should get an eGPU, let’s clear out a few things about these external GPU docks.

First of all, there are external docks that allow you to plug in your own graphics card, and there are those which have built-in GPUs. However, in both cases, you need to connect the eGPU dock to your laptop, PC or handheld game console, in most cases, using a Thunderbolt or USB-C cable. That is if you’re lucky enough that your old device is compatible with this external video connection. Even if it is, you won’t get the same performance from the GPU as if you would mount it directly to your device. Due to the cable connection, you will lose about 10%-15% from its capabilities.

Anyway, don’t even think about using another docking station if your laptop doesn’t have external video capability. You will end up seeing no performance difference. Connecting an NVIDIA RTX 4070 GPU to a 2017 laptop through an HDMI connection or a USB-A to USB-C converter/dock would be absolutely useless.

Then, there’s the issue of power. A laptop will only be able to handle an eGPU if it has its own power source. And if it does, the external dock will become too big and bulky to be considered as a portable solution.

Ultimately, if none of the above will stop you from dreaming of an external GPU dock, the price will definitely make you think twice. A simple enclosure for an AMD/NVIDIA PCI enclosure will cost you around $150 (but it can go up a lot), but if you’re going for an eGPU, the prices are a lot higher.

For instance, a GPD G1 eGPU Docking Station from 2024 with AMD Radeon RX 7600M XT and 8GB GDDR6 is $835 at Amazon. You might prefer the ROG XG Mobile External GPU Dock, packed with an NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3080 graphics card and 16GB memory, but that is even more expensive: $1150 at Amazon.

Finally, the new SoCs will make eGPUs obsolete


So, we narrowed down the use of external GPU docks to modern laptops with onboard graphics and handheld gaming consoles. Well, soon, you will be able to scratch the first category as well because the new SoCs such as Qualcomm’s X Elite or Google’s Tensor G3 pack a huge punch for graphics performance even with built-in GPUs. They proved to surpass today’s gaming requirements even on Windows for ARM.

That brings us to the latest usage scenario, for enhancing handheld gaming console’s performance.

AYANEO, a well-known manufacturer of handheld gaming consoles announced on X the upcoming launch of AG01, an eGPU designed especially for these kind of devices.

Apart from the classic Star Wars reference to a romantic universe which doesn’t seem to make sense (to me, at least), they didn’t provide any technical specifications. We can only assume that it will be close to its competitor, GPD G1, which I mentioned above in this article. AYANEO promised to reveal all the data on April 18 at their Remake Sharing Session event.

Anyway, paying close to $900 for an external GPU dock when the next ASUS Rog Ally 2 is around the corner which will definitely exceed all graphics expectations, seems incredible.

Even more if you think that we recently spotted a deal for the Acer Predator Helios 16 gaming laptop with NVIDIA GeForce RTX 4080 for only $1800.

So, I think we can agree that eGPUs were barely something we needed, but we don’t anymore. It’s a lot cheaper to buy a slightly older gaming laptop or a new handheld gaming console than to slap a huge budget on a bulky external video card.

But everything is up for debate so pick a side on the comments section below.

More about the topics: gaming, GPU