Razer has launched a new version of its Thunderbolt 3 external graphics enclosure for video cards, the Core v2. The new Core v2 chassis uses dual Thunderbolt 3 controllers and a USB-C/USB PD controller for easier routing of traffic to/from GPU and other components located in the box. In addition, the Core v2 can support larger graphics adapters than the Core v1, according to the company. As for the price, it remained the same as in the case of the first-gen Razer Core.

The new Razer Core v2 looks exactly the same as the predecessor from the outside: it has the same design, dimensions, two zone RGB Chroma lighting, the same card mounting mechanism, one Thunderbolt 3 input, four USB 3.0 Type-A ports, a GbE connector and so on. Meanwhile, the internal architecture of the Razer Core v2 has been revamped to include two TB3 controllers in order to “ensure fluid gameplay”, as Razer puts it. While two TB3 controllers and one TB3 connector seem a little odd, the two Intel DSL6540 controller chips actually make sense in case of this box.

Every Thunderbolt 3 controller has one or two input/output ports used to connect to external device(s) as well as four PCIe 3.0 x1 input/output lanes to connect to the host and/or to other devices. Each TB3 controller is paired with a USB Type-C and Power Delivery (PD) controller that detects cable orientation, negotiates USB PD, and configures alternate mode settings for internal and external multiplexers, and virtually all eGFX enclosures use Texas Instruments TPS65982 or TPS65983 controllers for this. (The TI controllers are slightly different, with varying Mac compatibility depending on which one is used given macOS does not officially support eGFX at the moment, but this is an entirely different conversation).

In the first generation of the Razer Core the company used one Intel DSL6540 controller coupled with one TI TPS65982 to connect the PCIe GPU slot, a GbE controller, and a USB controller/hub to the external TB3 output (multiplexing all the clients across the PCIe lanes). When all three were used at the same time (when a mouse and a keyboard are plugged to USB Type-A ports and the GbE is used instead of Wi-Fi), they naturally fought for bandwidth and latency, which affected real-world performance, Razer says.

With its second generation Razer Core, the company uses two dual-port Intel DSL6540 ICs coupled with the newer TI TPS65983 controllers. The primary TB3 controller now uses all four PCIe lanes to connect the GPU to the host PC. The secondary TB3 controller is connected to the primary one using the downstream TB3 port of the primary DSL6540 (essentially creating an internal daisy chain) and uses its PCIe lanes for the GbE and the USB controllers (basically, the DSL6540 is used like a PCIe switch). In this scenario, the GPU always gets a priority and the traffic from the other clients is always routed properly. As a bonus, the Core v2 does not have compatibility problems because they now use the newer TI TPS65983 controller.

Razer Core v2 Thunderbolt 3 eGFX Chassis Specifications
Max Video Card Size Double-Wide, 12.2" Long
(312 x 145 x 43 mm)
Max Video Card Power 375W
Connectivity 4x USB 3.0
1x Gigabit Ethernet
Laptop Charging via Thunderbolt 3
Chassis Size 4.13 x 13.9 x 8.66 inches
(105 x 353 x 220mm)
Internal PSU 500W
System Requirements Thunderbolt 3 eGFX Certified PC
Thunderbolt 3 w/Active Cable
Windows 10
Compatible Graphics Cads AMD Radeon RX-series and later
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 10-series and later
Shipping Date Q4 2017
Price $499

When it comes to compatibility with video cards, the Razer Core v2 supports all graphics adapters that consume no more than 375 W and have appropriate driver support. Razer claims that the optimized internal designs now allows installation of larger adapters with custom PCBs, but the difference with the v1 is not that significant.*

Comparison of Thunderbolt 3 eGFX Chassis
    ASUS ROG XG Station 2 AKiTiO
Node
PowerColor
Devil Box
Razer
Core
Razer Core V2
Chassis Dimensions Length 45.6 cm
17.95 in
42.8 cm
16.85 in
40 cm
15.748 in
34 cm
13.38 in
Height 27.8 cm
10.94 in
22.7 cm
8.94 in
24.2 cm
9.52 in
21.84 cm
8.6 in
Width 15.8 cm
6.22 in
14.5 cm
5.71 in
17.2 cm
6.77 in
10.5 cm
4.13 in
Max Dimension of Compatible Graphics Card Length 31.2 cm
12.2 in
Height
(PCB+Cables)
over 14 cm
over 5.51"
17 cm
6.7 in
14 cm
5.51 in
13 cm
5.12 in
14.5 cm
5.71 in
Width 4.4 cm
1.73 in
5 cm
1.96 in
4.3 cm
1.69 in
Maximum GPU Power 500 W (?) 300 W (?) 375 W
PSU Wattage 600 W 400 W 500 W
Form-Factor internal proprietary SFX internal proprietary
Cooling Fans (mm) 3 × 80 120 unknown 3 × 80  3 × 80 (?)
Connectivity Thunderbolt 1 × TB3 1 × TB3 1 × TB3
Ethernet 1 × GbE - 1 × GbE
USB 4 × USB 3.0
1 × USB-B
- 4 × USB 3.0
SATA 1×SATA 6Gb/s - 1×SATA 6Gb/s -
DisplayPort - - -
Availability 1/2017 12/2016 10/2016 4/2016 Q4 2017
Price $? $299 $379 $499

Razer intends to ship the Core v2 Thunderbolt 3 eGFX enclosure in the coming weeks in the U.S., U.K., Canada, France, and Germany. The MSRP of one unit for the U.S. market is $499.

*Note that at some point Razer has changed internal specs of the Core v1 compared to the originally declared.

Related Reading

Source: Razer

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  • nerd1 - Tuesday, October 31, 2017 - link

    With $499 one can get decent Case + PSU + MB + CPU... who in right mind will buy this? Reply
  • ATC9001 - Wednesday, November 01, 2017 - link

    It's a niche case....if you own a nice portable laptop and don't want to have a gaming desktop and portable laptop but still want to game this is your only option. Not defending the price or sense behind it (I just use portable laptop and have a gaming desktop!) but if money weren't a thing for me and I could have a razer laptop with 1-2TB of SSD storage I might spring for this and have a good keyboard/mouse plugged in. Reply
  • schizoide - Wednesday, November 01, 2017 - link

    Yeah, that's the problem in a nutshell.

    The cool factor of taking a quadcore coffee lake thin/light ultrabook and plugging it into an external enclosure and-- with a single cable-- powering the laptop, getting a bunch of extra USB ports, audio out, ethernet, and an external GPU is substantial, and worth a price premium. But not a FIVE HUNDRED DOLLAR price premium.
    Reply
  • Dynamiteboy - Tuesday, November 07, 2017 - link

    It's not a cool factor. It clearly meets the need of someone that wants to dock their laptop and have the graphics performance of a desktop. It's very functional. Reply
  • remosito - Wednesday, November 01, 2017 - link

    depends on the price of the card, no? Maybe you should go and check how much a 1070 costs and then do some simple math Reply
  • zodiacfml - Saturday, November 04, 2017 - link

    What gaming PC specs can you build from $500? Reply
  • wolfemane - Sunday, November 05, 2017 - link

    Dell Optiplex 9020 with an i7-4770 and 16gb Ram can be found for around $200, $250 if you don't have the patience to look around. Can then grab yourself some sata to PCie adapters (unless the Dell PSU has a plug, not sure) and a GTX 1060 6gb card for $250 (cheaper if you buy used). Have yourself a pretty decent little gaming rig, can easily handle 1080p 60fps on some pretty decent graphics settings.

    If you didn't want to dick around with sata to PCIe power cables and want a faster boot time, you can go with a 1050ti 4gb card for $150 and pick up a 120gb - 240gb SSD for $100.
    Reply
  • Dynamiteboy - Tuesday, November 07, 2017 - link

    Mmmm good try, but an Optiplex 9020 does not have the power for 1060 Stock and its going to have trouble stuffing the card in there room wise and does not have proper cooling for it.

    The Razer Core and other E-GPU's price is an early adopter price that fits a niche set of users but it makes perfect sense.
    Reply
  • MacScientist - Monday, November 13, 2017 - link

    The Node eGFX has Max GPU Power of 375W. Reply

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