The majority of Thunderbolt 3-enabled external chassis for video cards are rather big in order to accommodate high-end graphics adapters that tend to feature large PCBs and cooling systems. Meanwhile, not everyone needs a 300 W GPU and has enough space for a large box on their desk, but finding a compact and suitable eGFX enclosure may be problematic as the choice is very limited. Fortunately, PowerColor and VisionTek have just released three of such products.

While we are talking about three different SKUs, PowerColor’s Thunderbolt 3 eGFX Box 180F and Thunderbolt 3 eGFX Box 240F as well as VisionTek’s Thunderbolt 3 Mini eGFX (240 W) enclosures actually rely on the same TBX-180/240FU chassis developed by PowerColor and originally showcased at Computex in June, 2018. There are important differences though: PowerColor sells its boxes outfitted with its Radeon RX 560 and Radeon RX 570 graphics adapters, whereas VisionTek offers just an enclosure.

Measuring 215×153×68 mm, the said eGFX chassis can accommodate double-wide video cards that feature a 175 mm length and a 131 mm height, which generally limits compatibility to mainstream and Mini-ITX graphics adapters that have appropriate power ratings.

PowerColor’s Thunderbolt 3 eGFX Box 240F (with Radeon RX 570 inside) and VisionTek’s Thunderbolt 3 Mini eGFX boxes equipped with a 240 W PSU feature a GbE connector and a dual-port USB 3.0 hub. To provide dedicated lanes for GPU as well as USB and GbE controllers, these chassis feature two Thunderbolt 3 controllers. Meanwhile, the Thunderbolt 3 eGFX Box 180F does not feature any additional ports and therefore uses a simpler architecture.

Compact eGFX Enclosures from PowerColor & VisionTek
  PowerColor Mini
Thunderbolt eGFX Box 180F
PowerColor Mini Pro
Thunderbolt eGFX Box 240F
VisionTek Thunderbolt 3 Mini eGFX
Integrated GPU Radeon RX 560 4 GB Radeon RX 570 8 GB -
PSU 180 W 240 W
Dimensions 215×153×68 mm
Max GPU Size 175×131×38 mm
Additional Features - GbE
Dual-Port USB 3.0 hub
Power Delivery to Laptop 15 W 15 W - 45 W

VisionTek’s Thunderbolt 3 Mini eGFX is currently available directly from the company for $350 and is set to become available from Dell and Lenovo in the near future with more retailers to follow. PowerColor’s new compact eGFX solutions will hit the market in the coming weeks.

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Sources: PowerColor, VisionTek

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  • sbrown23 - Friday, January 11, 2019 - link

    So $350 without a graphics card. These seem so cool. Why are these so expensive tho? Isn't it essentially a PCIe slot on a small PCB with a Thunderbolt chip, GbE and USB, inside a small case, and a smallish power supply? Seems like it should be less expensive than a basic motherboard and PC case.

    What am I missing, other than perhaps they are low volume products?
  • PeachNCream - Friday, January 11, 2019 - link

    Low volumes and a limited number of competitors that appeal to a slice of potential buyers that currently seem willing to absorb such high costs to get an external dGPU.

    The thing is that people who want a laptop that has considerable graphics power generally are able to buy a system with a mobile dGPU for less than the combined cost of a laptop + dock + desktop dGPU. Laptops that lack dedicate graphics to begin with are currently less likely to support said dock to begin with and iGPU-only laptops run the gaumt from workplace computers to web access systems at home, most of which hardly need the iGPUs they currently ship with. They're a cool idea, but a niche to say the least with cost burdens and non-universal hardware support.
  • sbrown23 - Friday, January 11, 2019 - link

    Good points, thanks!
  • nerd1 - Friday, January 11, 2019 - link

    They are targeted at macbook users. Enough said.
  • jeremyshaw - Saturday, January 12, 2019 - link

    That's basically it. Outside of the mac ecosystem, if you want a laptop with a built in GPU, the choices are many (not endless, but many). Big, small, flashy, subdued, etc. If you want a 14" laptop with a GTX1050 in a mac? You'll be waiting forever.
  • SleepyFE - Sunday, January 20, 2019 - link

    There are no subdued options. As soon as it has gamer in the name or a decent GPU inside it's tacky as hell.
  • beginner99 - Saturday, January 12, 2019 - link

    Yeah at that price you can just build a budget gaming PC. It might cost a bight more but have much better performance.
  • Spunjji - Monday, January 14, 2019 - link

    It would be larger, though, and also a separate system. There's a value to being able to use the same PC for everything whilst still having it be light enough to carry around during the day - not so much value that I'd pay this much for the privilege, though!
  • Mitch89 - Saturday, January 12, 2019 - link

    Agreed, I get they aren’t particularly high volume, but I bet that’s partly because at their current pricing they’re a rip off.

    $350 is the bones of a half-decent PC these days
  • namechamps - Monday, January 14, 2019 - link

    No idea. Gigabyte AORUS Gaming Box with a GTX 1070 is $550. Figure the GPU is worth $400 so the external case is adding $150 to the price. $350 is just a joke.

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