In an ideal world, all we’d need is a laptop.
For most of us, a laptop is all we need when it comes to a personal computer. But there are some who prefer to buy separate computers, often desktops, for things like video editing and playing video games (myself, included).
But for serious video editors working with 4K footage and gamers looking to run the latest titles at the highest graphics settings, Apple doesn’t offer a MacBook Pro laptop that can meet all their needs, at least not without making some compromises. While the latest MacBook Pros have good Intel processors, they’re severely lacking in the graphics card department, which is a key component to running modern games.
Recently, however, a category of devices called eGPUs, or external GPUs, are bridging the gap between under-powered laptops and high-performance immobile desktops. For the uninitiated, “GPU” stands for graphics processor unit, otherwise known as the graphics card/chip.
Essentially, eGPU enclosures let you connect a full-size graphics card of your choice to your laptop, which gives them a boost in graphics performance.
Several eGPU enclosures have been released, but they tend to be expensive. For example, Razer’s Core eGPU enclosure (pictured above with the Razer Stealth laptop) boasts excellent specs, but it costs $500. Add a $400 high-end graphics card to the mix and you have a $900 bill at the end. At that price point, a video editor or gamer would be better off buying a $1000 desktop PC workstation that includes all the required parts to work.
But recently a tech company called Gigabyte announced a GPU and eGPU enclosure combination during the Computex event in Taipei. It’s called the Aorus GTX 1070 Gaming Box and it costs a total of $600, which is a comparatively good deal for MacBook Pro owners who crave graphical performance.
— 自作とゲームと趣味の日々 (@jisakuhibi) May 31, 2017
The Gaming Box comes with a miniature Gigabyte-branded Nvidia GTX 1070 graphics card that fits inside the enclosure. The enclosure then connects to a MacBook laptop – as well as Windows laptops – via an incredibly fast Thunderbolt 3 USB-C connection. A GTX 1070 is more than enough for playing video games on 1080p monitors, and could even manage some gaming at 4K resolution. It would also allow a much smoother workflow for video editors.
To make the most of the Gigabyte Gaming Box, you’d need the Apple’s latest MacBook Pro that comes with Thunderbolt 3 USB-C ports, as previous MacBook Pro models come with slower and older versions of the Thunderbolt standard.
Despite its comparatively cheaper price tag, the Gigabyte Gaming Box combo is still an expensive add-on. At the same time, it’s cheaper than buying an entirely new PC for graphics-heavy games and video editing.