External GPUs were mostly limited to desktops before, but with the introduction of the Thunderbolt 3 port in most new laptops, you can use any good laptop with the right specifications with an eGPU.
It is a great and simple way to give that boost the laptop requires without having to spend tons of money on a new laptop.
But what you need to keep in mind is that external graphics units can process a lot of data, which means the best laptops for eGPU have to be very strong. Carrying top-notch features is imperative along with having the Thunderbolt 3 port which is the main connection port.
While all this might sound intriguing, it really is not. Take a look down below and you will find the features a suitable laptop should carry. Moreover, a collection of suitable laptops for the job have also been added so you need not go far in your quest.
| ||Razer Blade Stealth 13 Ultrabook Gaming Laptop||13.3||Intel Quad Core i7-1065G7||16 GB|
| ||Lenovo Legion 5||15.6||AMD Ryzen 7 4800H||16 GB|
| ||Acer Nitro 5||15.6||Intel Core i5-10300H 10th Gen||8 GB|
| ||Apple MacBook Air||13.0||Apple M1 chip||8 GB|
| ||MSI GL75||17.3||Intel Core i7-9750H||16 GB|
| ||ASUS ROG Zephyrus M||15.6||Intel Core i7-8750H||16 GB|
| ||Asus TUF Gaming FX505||15.6||Intel Core i7-9750H 9th Gen||32 GB|
If you want to own an Ultrabook to connect to an eGPU, then this is the one for you! The Razer Blade Stealth 13 is one of the most powerful laptops out there, which becomes pretty much invincible when connected to an external GPU. When connected, it can take on every kind of task you throw at it, be it high-end gaming or software-intensive work.
Used mostly for content creation, this laptop has a stunning 4K UHD touch display that increases the ways you can work and interact with it.
Plus, with the discrete NVIDIA GeForce MX150 graphics unit, the display is further enhanced to breathe life into the videos and images on the screen.
While this is a great beginner level graphics unit, it is not capable of handling new games. This is where the eGPU connection comes in.
For the connection, you have the Thunderbolt 3 port, which is the recommended and the fastest port which can create an efficient connection. Besides this, you also get the USB-A, USB-C, Wireless AC, Dual-array mics, and an infrared camera.
Since the processor is so important, let us get to that. You get the Quad-Core i7-8565U 8th generation processor. Being a low voltage processor, this ensures the laptop does not overheat, and can still provide enough power for speedy performance.
Thanks to this lower power consumption, you also get a good battery life of 8 hours on average. While this is not the highest, it is pretty great for a laptop that provides so much power.
If you are an Apple user, and you want a laptop that can be connected with an eGPU, this model is exactly what you need. As one of the finest laptops ever made, there is no doubt it shall become better with an external GPU, so why not do it?
This is the 13-inch version where you get the Core i5 8th generation quad-core processor. Alongside that, there is the 256GB SSD plus the 8GB RAM, and all of these act together to form a fast and high-performing laptop suitable for various kinds of work.
For the graphics, you have the Intel Iris Plus Graphics 645. While this is brilliant for everyday work, it is not sufficient if you have to work with advanced graphics, 3D, or anything of the sort.
For work like that, you need to attach the eGPU, and you can do that using either of the 2 Thunderbolt 3 ports provided.
Like all MacBook displays, you get the Retina display with true tone technology. This has incredible color accuracy, good brightness, and the right viewing angles. Nothing quite beats this.
Battery life is on average 10 hours. This is great considering the lightweight device, the powerful internal mechanisms, and the great display.
If security is a concern, then this also makes a fine choice since you get the Touch ID, as well as the new Touch Bar that makes use easier.
This Dell XPS is a great choice of a laptop to connect to an eGPU which can turn this already powerful device into a better and more efficient laptop for advanced work.
You have the i7-9750H 9th generation processor with 6 cores and a 4.5 GHz clock speed. Hailing from one of the latest generations this can provide efficient service for long times to come. And the hexacore i7 surely is capable of providing all the processing speeds you require.
At the same time, the processor ensures the laptop does not over consume energy and heat up reducing performance. Hence it can provide a good 9 to 10 hours of battery life from average usage.
The display is one of the key points on this laptop. You have a wide 15.6-inch screen with a 4K UHD resolution for the finest display experience you can possibly need. And the 300 nits brightness on top of that creates a vibrant and bright screen making work and entertainment equally enjoyable.
For graphics, you have the discrete NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1650. This allows for gaming and paired with the great display it makes a perfect pair for anyone who has screen-intensive work like content creation or design.
If you seek more power and require a workstation level boost, the eGPU comes in handy and can be connected via the Thunderbolt port. Besides this, you also get a USB 3.0 and SD card reader.
For users who want a good laptop for their eGPU but do not want to break the bank, this is the right choice for you. The LG gram is a slim and lightweight laptop that packs a big and powerful battery.
In fact, for heavy users who require a high battery life, nothing quite beats this at the 19.5 hours of usage, which is super rare to find.
Besides that, you also get an i7 8565U 8th generation processor which makes sure to provide good performance while not overworking itself which can result in a heated-up device. And since you aim to connect this to an external GPU, this is important to consider.
The graphics unit you get is the Intel HD Graphics 610 which is well suited for most work but can be insufficient for advanced tasks. For this, you get to connect an eGPU using Thunderbolt 3, which has good speed for fast data transfers.
It also allows you to play games which you would not otherwise be able to do. And on the spacious 17-inch IPS display, games are worth playing.
The Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Extreme is a good choice if you are looking for a good laptop that can be used for gaming and can be connected to an eGPU. This is a lightweight and slim device that is durable too thanks to the carbon exterior.
It has the Core i7-8750H 7th generation processor, with 512GB of SSD and 16GB RAM. All of these are some of the finest internal specifications available, creating a good laptop that can serve all sorts of purposes, gaming or not.
However, if gaming is what you are interested in, you should know that the ThinkPad X1 Extreme has a discrete NVIDIA GTX 1050 Ti graphics unit, which is a top-notch GPU suitable for even the latest games.
But even with this powerful GPU, the laptop can still be connected to an eGPU for better performance when you require it.
As the main part of the laptop, it is crucial to get a good processor. You will be stuck with it since it cannot be upgraded like some other parts, and it also decides on how long you can use the laptop without update issues.
For these reasons we recommend going with at least a Core i5 processor, or the equivalent Ryzen 5 for starters or students who have a low budget. Or the Core i7 or Ryzen 7 if you require more power from the laptop.
Generation wise, you should have at least an 8th generation processor, or something after that. The latest the generation, the longer you can use it properly. Not to mention, these newer generation processors also have better cooling mechanisms and have superb performance in work and play.
One factor which is specific to this category of laptops is low voltage. In fact, you need to look for ULV or ultra-low-voltage processors which do not consume a lot of energy and leave a good battery life. But do not think this will affect performance. This instead provides better performance and reduces overheating.
This is the main port that lets you connect the laptop to the eGPU. It makes the device capable of handling the power that comes from the external unit.
The best eGPU laptops carry a Thunderbolt 3 port since this has the finest speeds. But you can go with a Thunderbolt 2 port as well if you are not too impatient, and find other factors to match properly.
We recommend going against the Thunderbolt 1 port because it just does not have sufficient speed required, and if you do not have the speed, there is little point to an eGPU in the first place.
PCIe or the Peripheral Component Interconnect Express is needed when connecting any high-speed component to the laptop. From SSDs to Wi-Fi cards to RAID cards, it is required for all besides the eGPU.
The various slots you will find include the x1, x2, x4, x8, and x16. These are needed for the proper functioning of the device.
What you need to look for is a PCIe 2.0 that provides a 5GB rate Gig transfer. This high rate helps to connect with and handle the external GPU.
Because you are connecting the laptop to an external GPU, do not think you can ignore performance features in the laptop itself. The RAM or memory plays a big part in how the laptop can perform, with or without the eGPU.
Look for at least an 8GB RAM that can work well with an eGPU, because any lower memory will not suffice. If possible, 16GB would be even better for a sharp performance overall.
When you are getting an eGPU, it means you want to enhance the laptop's performance. A big part of the graphics is in the display. This is why look for a full HD 1080P display at the minimum or a 4K Ultra HD display for an even better screen.
If you want to use an eGPU with your laptop, the laptop has to meet certain specifications. One of the first being that it has to come with a Thunderbolt 3 port, using which you have to connect the eGPU.
Other than that, it also helps if the laptop carries high-tier specifications, such as a good and new generation processor, high storage, and good battery life.
Unfortunately, not all laptops support an eGPU. This is because to connect the eGPU to your laptop, the laptop requires a Thunderbolt 3 port. A lot of the newer laptop models come in slimmer bodies, where they don't carry this port.
So you have to check first if the device has the Thunderbolt 3 port. If it does, you are in luck, and it will support an eGPU.
Unfortunately, in most cases, it is not possible to add a GPU to a laptop. This is because most laptops come with graphics cards built into the motherboard, which makes it nearly impossible to update.
So if you are looking for better gaming performance, then the best option is to simply get a new laptop instead that has the graphics card you desire.
Not all of us require graphics units for everyday work, but sometimes certain kinds of work will pop up leaving us empty-handed without a GPU. This is why it is so great to be able to connect the everyday slim and portable laptop to an eGPU.
You can carry it if you like and only have to connect it when required. The rest of the time you get to enjoy an affordable and lightweight device.
The best laptops for eGPU have Thunderbolt port, good processors and many more features which make them compatible and easy to use.
About Dror Wettenstein
Dror Wettenstein is a software engineer and entrepreneur with more than 15 years of experience in the industry. He is the founder of TechTreeRepeat, a company that enables technical writers to publish their work faster and share it with readers across the globe. Dror has a master’s degree in computer science from San Diego State University and a bachelor’s degree in physics from UC Irvine.
When he’s not working on software projects, Dror enjoys writing articles and essays on various topics. He also likes playing guitar and spending time with his wife and two young children.