ZOTAC plans to demonstrate a prototype of its external GPU enclosure at CES this week. The eGFX chassis from ZOTAC will target notebooks, AIO and SFF PCs with Thunderbolt 3 interface, will integrate a 400 W power supply and provide additional USB ports. The device will hit the market several months from now and its final specifications are still to be determined.

ZOTAC is the sixth company to announce an eGFX enclosure with Thunderbolt 3 interface, so the market of such devices seems to be getting crowded (and we expect several more companies to introduce their eGFX solutions too). Apart from ultra-thin laptops with a TB3 port (and support of eGFX through BIOS and TB3 firmware), the usual target market for this kind of devices, ZOTAC is going to position its external GPU chassis as a solution to upgrade its upcoming SFF ZBOX PCs featuring Thunderbolt 3 interface with high-end external graphics cards.

At present, ZOTAC’s external graphics dock (the company does not have a brand for this product just yet, so it uses a neutral name for now) is still in development, which is why the manufacturer shares only the basic details about this device. Just like competing eGFX boxes, ZOTAC’s chassis will feature one Thunderbolt 3 port (40 Gbps) outside and one PCIe x16 electrical slot inside (operating in PCIe x4 mode, of course). As for power, it will integrate a 400 W PSU in a standard form-factor (it is unclear whether we are dealing with a shortened ATX or an SFX PSU here) that will power the video card inside. As Thunderbolt 3 can transfer up to 100 W of power, the same PSU could also power a notebook or even a miniature PC. The enclosure looks spacy enough for additional fans, but ZOTAC does not say how many of them will be pre-installed in the final product. In any case, a 400 W PSU and an additional cooler are going to provide certain potential for GPU overclocking for those who need it.

ZOTAC eGFX Chassis Preliminary Specifications
Max Video Card Size Double-Wide, 12.2" Long
(312 × 170 × 44 mm)
Max Video Card Power over 300 W
Connectivity 1 × Thunderbolt 3 (~40 Gbps via active cable)
Chassis Size Unknown for now, but enough to accomodate a FLFH graphics card
Internal PSU 400 W (80 Plus Gold?)
Cooling Integrated fans
GPU cooling system
Extras 3 × USB 3.0 ports
1 × USB 3.0 port with Quick Charge
System Requirements Thunderbolt 3 eGFX Certified PC
Thunderbolt 3 w/Active Cable (included)
Windows 10
Compatible Graphics Cads AMD Radeon RX-series and later
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 10-series and later
Shipping Date Q2 2017
Price Unknown

Since many ultra-thin notebooks as well as miniature PCs do not have a lot of spare USB 3.0 ports, ZOTAC’s dock will offer four additional USB 3.0 headers (with one port supporting Quick Charge 3.0). For now, ZOTAC’s dock does not support internal SATA connector for an extra 2.5” storage device (which might be needed to store games, as many PCs do not have capacious SSDs), but remember that the eGFX chassis is still in development.

At CES, ZOTAC plans to demonstrate its external graphics dock in action, therefore, things like electronics and firmware of the product are ready and everything works. The final product may be a little bit different than the one showcased at the trade show, but not radically (it may get LED lighting, grill instead of glass on the side, etc.).

Comparison of Thunderbolt 3 eGFX Chassis
    ASUS ROG XG Station 2 AKiTiO
Node
PowerColor
Devil Box
Razer
Core
ZOTAC
eGFX Dock
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
unknown
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
15.2 cm
5.98 in
14 cm (?)
5.51 in (?)
Width 4.4 cm
1.73 in
5
1.96 in
4.4 cm
1.73 in
4.4 cm
1.73 in
Maximum GPU Power 500 W (?) 300 W (?) 375 W 300+ W (?)
PSU Wattage 600 W 400 W 500 W 400 W
Form-Factor internal proprietary SFX internal proprietary internal
Cooling Fans (mm) 3 × 80 120 unknown 3 × 80 present
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 4 × USB 3.0
SATA 1×SATA 6Gb/s - 1×SATA 6Gb/s -
DisplayPort - - -
Availability 1/2017 12/2016 10/2016 4/2016 Q2 2017
Price $? $299 $379 $499 $?

At present, ZOTAC’s eGFX chassis is a work in progress and at least some of its specifications have not been finalized, which is why the company cannot announce its pricing. Right now, the manufacturer targets Q2 as the launch timeframe, so, we will have to wait a little bit for both the final specs and MSPR.

Related Reading:

Source: ZOTAC

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  • Duwelon - Wednesday, January 04, 2017 - link

    Let me guess, it will cost a kidney, an arm and a pint of blood for the pleasure. Reply
  • BrokenCrayons - Wednesday, January 04, 2017 - link

    ZOTAC is usually pretty reasonable about pricing. I'd go out on a limb with the idea of their GPU dock undercutting the current competition or, at the very least, coming in at the lower end. So maybe you'll still need to give up your kidney and some blood, you can probably keep the arm. Reply
  • Scabies - Wednesday, January 04, 2017 - link

    "the market of such devices seems to be getting crowded"

    You take that back, there's plenty of room for something that works well and costs less than another laptop
    Reply
  • flyingpants1 - Wednesday, January 11, 2017 - link

    case & PSU is $60, the right price for these is about $99-139ish, and they should dock with a single cable for USB keyboard/mouise + GPU/monitors/audio pass-thru. Reply
  • Guspaz - Wednesday, January 04, 2017 - link

    I think that a more interesting product at this point (considering that everybody is introducing their own enclosures) would be an external *GPU*, rather than an external GPU enclosure. For example, if you took a mobile-class 1070 and built a custom board/chassis for it, you could have something that might end up the size of a 3.5" hard disk and still offer a massive upgrade over the integrated graphics in your notebook or SFF computer, while still being pretty darned portable itself. Reply
  • Mitch89 - Wednesday, January 04, 2017 - link

    This!

    I am very interested in these eGPUs as my video work has me moving around a lot, so being able to team a more powerful GPU with my notebook for later stages of editing would be great. I love the idea of something custom built with a GPU to keep the size and weight down. Sure you may have to upgrade the whole thing when you want to upgrade GPUs, but so be it.
    Reply
  • BrokenCrayons - Thursday, January 05, 2017 - link

    Yup, pre-assembled eGPU solutions based on mobile graphics processors would be very nice. Reply
  • erwos - Wednesday, January 04, 2017 - link

    Depends on your use case, I guess. I'd personally like to see an eGPU enclosure with dual drive bays so that I can make better use of Windows Shared Spaces. Reply
  • phoenix_rizzen - Friday, January 06, 2017 - link

    If regular people could buy MXM cards, this would be an interesting way of doing things. Could still create external enclosures roughly the size of external SSDs that you could slip the MXM cards into, to allow for upgradability. Much more portable that way. Reply
  • Zak - Wednesday, January 04, 2017 - link

    I have a gut feeling that Nvidia may announce an external Thunderbolt GPU. But don't quote me as a source on that :) This was coming for a while. Reply

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