Improve Ultrabook Gaming with eGPU? From 💩 To 💪

Improve Ultrabook Gaming with eGPU? From 💩 To 💪


The Dell XPS 13 laptop is a great lightweight
and portable machine, however you can’t
really play games on it due to a lack of discrete
graphics, so just how well does it perform
if we connect an Nvidia RTX 2080 Ti over Thunderbolt?
Let’s find out.
This video is mostly just for fun, I’ve
got the newest Dell XPS 13 to review and I
have a 2080 Ti, and was curious to see how
they’d go together using an external GPU
enclosure.
The enclosure that I’m using is the Mantiz
Venus which I’ve previously covered in another
video. Basically you plug in your graphics
card then connect the enclosure to a laptop
using Thunderbolt 3. My enclosure also provides
enough power to run the XPS 13 over thunderbolt,
so I literally just need to connect a single
cable for this setup.
The XPS 13 that I’m testing with has an
Intel i7-8565U Whiskey Lake CPU, so 4 cores
8 threads with pretty high boost clock speeds.
There’s 16GB of LPDDR3 memory in dual channel,
and no discrete graphics, just the weak Intel
integrated graphics in the CPU, which are
pretty terrible for gaming.
I’ve also tested games with both the laptop
screen, and an external monitor. In general,
we expect higher performance when using an
external screen connected directly to the
external GPU. This is because there is less
overhead on the Thunderbolt 3 connection,
but also the Intel integrated graphics is
no longer a bottleneck. When using the laptop
screen, the signal needs to come over Thunderbolt
from our external graphics and get processed
by the Intel iGPU before showing on the laptop
display. This step is avoided by running the
game directly on an external screen, resulting
in increased performance.
We’ll start out with some games that I was
able to run on the Intel graphics just for
comparison. With Overwatch I’ve got the
results in the top bar from running the game
at 720p with minimum settings, and it was
getting 45 FPS, so was mostly playable, but
not great. The bars below show the performance
with the external GPU enclosure. We’re also
running at 1080p now with maximum epic settings,
but despite this the frame rate is seeing
a huge improvement over the Intel graphics
inside the XPS 13. With the external monitor
there’s an even further improvement, as
there’s less Thunderbolt and Intel integrated
graphics overhead involved.
Here are the same tests for CS:GO, again the
bar up the top shows the results at 720p with
minimum settings, then the other two bars
are at 1080p with maximum settings, and there
are again huge improvements to be had from
the 2080 Ti. It was possible to get a further
35% boost to average FPS when using an external
monitor connected to the 2080 Ti when compared
with just using the screen on the laptop.
In Dota 2 I was actually getting quite playable
performance with the Intel integrated graphics,
but despite the frame rates showing the highest
on this graph, remember I tested at 720p and
minimum settings. For comparison with the
2080 Ti at 1080p and maximum settings it was
still possible to get above 100 FPS, though
in my experience this seems to be more of
a CPU demanding game anyway, which is why
I think it was running quite well even with
the Intel graphics.
Let’s look at Fortnite before getting into
some higher end games. Again this game did
run ok on the Intel integrated graphics at
720p with minimum settings, however with our
2080 Ti it was possible to run at 1080p maximum
settings and get much higher frame rates with
our eGPU setup.
Those are the only less demanding games that
I tested with both the Intel graphics and
with the eGPU, the point was just to show
the differences in performance between the
XPS 13 out of the box compared to the eGPU
configuration. Now we’ll look at more demanding
games that had no chance of even running on
the XPS 13.
Shadow of the Tomb Raider was tested with
the built in benchmark, and at 1080p even
with ultra settings it was possible to nearly
average 60 FPS with the laptop screen. Simply
by using an external monitor though it was
possible to boost average FPS by 24%, a nice
improvement from such a simple change.
Assassin’s Creed Odyssey was also tested
with the built in benchmark, but is a game
that I’ve found to be more CPU heavy, which
is why we’re seeing much less of a difference
between the laptop screen and an external
monitor here. The external screen setup was
giving just 5% higher FPS in this test with
max settings, so it just goes to show the
difference really depends on the game.
Apex legends saw a 10% improvement to average
frame rate when hooking up the external screen
to the 2080Ti when compared to just playing
off of the laptops screen, though even worst
case still 60 FPS averages at maximum settings
was now possible with our eGPU.
Battlefield 5 was tested with Direct X 11,
I couldn’t get 12 working so no RTX either,
it kept crashing and I didn’t have much
time for troubleshooting. In any case this
is a title that was absolutely not playable
with the stock XPS 13, that was now running
very well even maxed out at ultra settings
once using the external graphics.
Far Cry New Dawn was tested with the built
in benchmark, and at ultra settings the laptop
screen was only just below the 60 FPS sweet
spot, pretty decent results, with a 16% improvement
to average FPS using the external screen.
PUBG was tested using the replay feature,
and I got the same 1% low regardless of using
the laptop or external screen, with a small
5% improvement to average FPS with the monitor,
so another that didn’t really see much difference.
Rainbow Six Siege was tested with the built
in benchmark, and saw one of the largest improvements
by using an external monitor. In this case
the average frame rate was 30% higher when
compared to just playing with the laptop’s
screen, however in either case it was still
very playable even maxed out with ultra settings.
The Witcher 3 received a fair 15% improvement
with the external monitor, but again even
with ultra settings this graphically intensive
game was still very playable with the XPS
13 now, whereas prior to the eGPU enclosure
it wouldn’t have played at all.
Here’s what we’re looking at in terms
of improvement to average FPS with the external
monitor when compared against playing on the
laptop’s screen in all 12 games tested.
On average there was almost a 20% improvement,
but as we can see it really depends on the
specific game. This does show that it seems
to be worthwhile playing on an external monitor
to get the most out of an external graphics
enclosure setup, plus you’d have the option
of using a much larger and higher refresh
rate monitor compared to the 13 inch 60Hz
one the XPS 13 offers.
Is this a practical solution? For most people,
no not really. The XPS 13 I’ve got here
goes for around $1900 USD, though they do
start at $900, you can find updated prices
to everything I’m using linked in the description.
The GPU enclosure goes for around $200 to
$300, while the 2080 Ti is around $1300 USD,
so around the price of a mid range gaming
laptop. If you add on an external display,
mouse and keyboard then we’re more than
doubling the cost of just the XPS 13, though
you could of course use a cheaper GPU, you
don’t have to use the 2080 Ti, I just wanted
to show the biggest improvement.
This is why this is impractical for most people.
If you’ve got money to burn and want a super
portable laptop that you can just connect
up to the external graphics with one cable
when you get home to run games, then this
might be the setup for you. For most people
though, it would be cheaper and make more
sense to have the lower powered thin and light
laptop for travel, then have a mid range gaming
PC at home, which is why I think the eGPU
enclosure is a niche solution. It really seems
like it comes down to how important having
the single machine is to you.
In any case, it’s always fun to test out
stuff like this and see what levels of performance
we’re able to get with top end hardware,
and I think it’s impressive that we had
games that couldn’t play on the XPS 13 that
could easily run at maximum settings with
the eGPU, even if we’re obviously being
limited and not getting the full performance
we’d see by using it in a desktop PC.
Be sure to let me know your thoughts on an
external GPU laptop setup like this down in
the comments, would this be something you’d
go for, or would you just use a cheaper laptop
and gaming PC instead? Whatever your preference,
if you’re new to the channel consider getting
subscribed for future tech videos like this
one.

100 thoughts on “Improve Ultrabook Gaming with eGPU? From 💩 To 💪”

  1. how does it compare to desktop gpu? and how does it compare to laptop with better cpu in the assumption to upgrade gpu using thunderbolt?

  2. For me an eGPU would work out quite well. I’m planning on buying a laptop for work/home use, and adding an eGPU later on if I need more power. But for the “light” CAD work I’ll be doing and the games I play, the GPU the laptop comes with should perform more than good enough.

  3. I’ve been told that there can be some compatibility problems when hooking up laptops to eGPU’s that have different kinds graphic cards. Driver issues, etc. So if you’re planning on using a mobile workstation with a Quadro graphics card for work, and then hooking it up to an eGPU with an RTX or GTX graphic card for gaming at home, the two devices may not play nice together. It can still be done, but one may need to mess around a bit – plug and play may not work here.

    Just passing it along.

    Of course, you could always drop a Quadro RTX card into the eGPU, claim it as a “business” expense, and game on that. 😉

  4. thank your video, I also found a fps difference between laptop screen and external screen,it also appear in some high gpu laptop.but i don’t know why, can you make a video about this,thank you very much

  5. If you really need thunderbolt enclosure u can buy Gigabyte Gaming Box. It basically GPU, power supply, thunderbolt port and thunderbolt cable closed in very small box. For 600$ u can buy RTX2070 from gigabyte in ITX format on Amazon.

  6. A desktop comparison and a 9750H comparison would be good.

    Really they should make a 9980HK laptop with no dGPU, solely for eGPU and heavy CPU computation purposes.

  7. Love your content. Informative videos like this are incredibly important for the public to become more educated in the products and see through marketting told by massive companies.

  8. Will there be any difference in performance if you select second screen only in Windows 10 with the laptop lid open?

  9. The video you do for "fun" has the same amazing quality as your usual review. You are amazing! Stay healthy Jarrod

  10. actually i was waiting for something like that,
    but it was missing a bench from a similar cpu for a desktop…to compare the diff…
    but actually the e-gpu will come handy later when the devices ages as an upgrade "talking about a laptop with a decent gpu" and high end gpus be more affordable,
    cheers 😀

  11. Thank you so much for publishing this I was considering something similar but given the price vs performance I am now leaning heavily to a Blade Pro with RTX 2070. Awesome content please keep it coming!

  12. Its clear here that the cpu is bottlenecking the gpu but by how much compared to a desktop grade cpu? I think there’s a sweet spot in buying a laptop with a powerful enough cpu and combining that with a gpu that won’t be bottlenecked as much. Only then would it really be worth it to have a egpu set up at home. If anyone is interested in doing this just make sure you get the right egpu for the right laptop cpu and do consider cooling performance although it shouldn’t be too much of a problem since more cooling will be provided to the cpu.
    In my opinion buying a laptop with a 9750h and an external gpu like a rtx 2070 super should be sufficient for your needs and this will well be ahead of many laptop gpus to come

  13. On laptop screen the perf are very bad for a 2080 ti. In sottr I'm getting 2 fps less with a 1060 and a gtx 1060 and a i7 8750h (in the in game benchmark)
    It's a huge bottleneck even on the external screen. I think that even in 4k that's a bottleneck

  14. Maybe is better to just stream your gaming desktop pc to a ultraportable with Parsec/Moonlight/Steam/etc.

  15. Thank you so much for this video! I havent found that much recent resources on external GPUs but this is definitely a setup I would personally consider

  16. the problem with this approach is the inconvenience on storage, if you want to play multiple games, a nvme 480gbs will not store much games while leaving space for windows and personal stuff, a ultrabook is used for work, not meant for games, so it would be required to add a external hard disk or ssd to store more game libraries, well, i guess you need a external gpu with usb ports to connect the external storage

  17. Thanks for testing,
    can you compare the performance on 4k monitor also, and if possible against a normal desktop. to see how much perfomrance is lost due to TB3 connection

  18. Did you experience any crashing or BSOD? I'm interested in an eGPU setup but there are a lot of negative reviews online basically saying that it's not quite as plug and play as they'd hope for.

  19. Amazing idea to have some setup like this especially for people that they need to use a light laptop in work and playing games as well. I like the review 👌.

  20. I am actually curious of comparison of a laptop with GTX1070+ against the same laptop with eGPU (with better card). But not in terms of performance: in terms of heat and noise. I presume, that when diverting the graphics to eGPU such a laptop should become a bit cooler (and thus a bit quieter).

  21. It would be great to see an eGPU comparison with something like 2080Ti vs mid-range options like 1660Ti. Curious to know if 2080Ti still has a good lead or if its just a small difference (maybe CPU bottleneck & TB3 bandwidth limitation isn't allowing 2080Ti to flex its muscle, so 1660Ti might end up being just a few % short of its performance).

  22. Jarrod check this out it just came out https://www.dell.com/en-us/member/shop/cty/pdp/spd/alienware-aurora-r9-desktop?view=configurations. Or the new dell g5 desktop but who cares about that

  23. Why not compare this setup to a midrange gaming pc? let's say a comperable one, with 4 cores and a 2080 TI, or even better, use a lower tier GPU in both(like a 2060)

  24. Just a quick question if I may ask.. I just now ordered a certified refurbished dell g7 (7590) with 9th gen i7-9750h, 16gb ram and GTX 1660ti from dell outlet.. since I had a 900$ budget did I make a good call? I'm a bit worried because it's my 1st time buying refurbished laptop 😅

  25. Hey Jarrod, I posted this on your area 51-m review, but I'm also posting here due to this video being more current.

    https://www.gofundme.com/f/life-threw-me-a-curveball-but-i-won039t-give-up&rcid=r01-156659827542-f21155a0114d417e&pc=ot_co_campmgmt_w
    To all my fellow pc master race gaming enthusiasts, please check this out and share. Thank you.

  26. What's the best gaming laptop with a good battery life good screen good speakers that doesn't make much sound?

  27. Is a gaming laptop that can do 4k video and gaming at 80 fps for any game out today with good speakers good battery life and isn't load and has little to no flex?

  28. Sir, which will be a better choice if gtx1070 and rtx2060 is considered for architectural graphics,3D rendering and 3D modelling… ?
    I heard rtx2060 is slightly ahead of 1070 for gaming… But will that be the same for rendering and 3D modelling works too? Or will that extra 2 GB VRAM of 1070 help it perform better in this senario?

  29. Hello Jarrod. I Like your videos. They are very interesting and helpful. I have a question, hope you dont mind answering it. I own alienware 13r3 oled with gtg 1060. I love this machine very much. Such small and powerfull. I take it with me anywere all the time. I would love to upgrade to rtx gaming laptop, but there is absolutely no 13 inch gaming laptops anymore. Can You tell why? Why all the sudden there is no more 13 or 14 inches gaming laptops anymore?? Is this some king of conspiracy?)) Or economicaly justified, since nobody liked them? After having 13' gaming laptop, i cant go back to 15 or 17. Thank You.

  30. Would like to see a budget version of this , a strong not ultra i7 laptop with Thunderbolt + some affordable GPU like 1060/580 connected to it.

  31. I'm interested in eGPU's because i dont have the room for desktop with monitor. This really offers the second best option.

  32. I am debating buying an Alienware area 51m with a rtx 2060 or a Lenovo y740 with a rtx 2080max q. Which should I buy?

  33. Hey can i ask for some help? I got fx505du with 1660ti. I tried playing dota 2 for the first time and i maxed out the settings but im just getting 90 to 100 settings even im at side lanes only with no clash. Am i not supposed to get more frames than that? Im clueless why. Hope you could help thanks very much!!

  34. Greetings Jarrod. Off topic question, but, I've been researching stuff about the Predator Helios 300 2019 for long. It seems just for me. In my country the RTX 2060 one is 1900$. Should I reconsider? Another laptop maybe? Acer Triton 500? I don't really wanna be impatient here. Gotta pick something good.
    Also, is the RTX 2060 config a better option overall than the 1660ti?

  35. Hi Jarrod, sorry if I'm out of topic, can I ask you something about my Laptop (that I recently bought)? Sadly, I think my Asus FX505DD (apparently) has a fan problem. 😥 The Left Fan (CPU Fan) isn't on and spinning. When I checked it in Asus app, the CPU Fan is always on 0 RPM. Even when I played a demanding game the CPU Fan was still on 0 RPM (The GPU Fan is running normally). I also checked it in the Bios Setting and the CPU Fan is written with "N/A" RPM. I watched your review video of ASUS FX505, I saw the CPU Fan is on 2400 RPM (Same as the GPU Fan). So, Do you know what's the problem? I hope you can help me because you're much more expert in this thing and you've reviewed ( Asus FX505 too before). I'm sad and frustrated too because I just bought the Laptop and it already has a problem… 😥Thank you…🙂

  36. If I recall correctly, you did the same test with Dell G5 (1060 max q) and it resulted in poor performance with external gpu compared to dedicated graphics

  37. Hello Jarrod’sTech. Can you retest this when the new laptops with icelake CPUs come out. Will it have latency improvements for the eGPU since the thunderbolt controller will be integrated into the cpu die rather than being connected through the PCH?

  38. Im considering to buy an egpu maybe come next year, what's the best value egpu enclosure though?I might just buy a used 1660ti/2060 to go along with rhat

  39. why should the image be processed by igpu if i'm using an external one? Also doesn't the CPU overheat or create a bottleneck like happened for older 4th gen i7H and might not happen with newer H processors or desktop ones?

  40. Could you perhaps review the hp 15s-fq0008na 15.6" notebook laptop (i5 8th gen)? Its a great laptop but I cant find any solid video review of the device.

  41. Can you please help with something?
    I have the razer blade 15 base and when I try to turn on the lighting effects it just does unwanted things. For example when I put the fire effect with red and yellow the keyboard turns orange and if I choose the rainbow effect it just cycles through the colors.
    Please help you're my only hope

  42. Hey, this is kind of unrelated to the video but I know that you use Intel XTU all the time. Do you know why in XTU on my Razer Blade 15 Advanced it would say that my 2070 Max-Q only has 4 gigs of ram? Let me know. Thanks.

  43. One of my favorite review!! Definitely something I would want to do with Dell new XPS 13 2-in1 with the new Ice Lake 10th Gen CPU.

    Thank you!

  44. Jarrod I’m assuming you are using the 2080ti aorus extreme? How well does the card fit in since it is a 3 slot card while the ventiz only supports up to 2.5 slots.

  45. Great video ! I was expecting more explainations about the fact that Thunderbolt 3 is Throttling the eGPU. I'm really the guy who you're talking about and need ONE Workstation wich could improve when I'm at home. I was checking the Aorus RTX 2070 Gaming Box when I saw that a 2060 (laptop) get same results … So I guessed that a higher hand GPU in external enclosure would throttle more again … ? I'm lost

  46. Guys Is Better
    Hp Pavilion gaming with i7 8750h and a GTX 1050 or
    Lenovo legion y520 with i5 7300hq and a GTX 1050 TI
    i Need an answer please

  47. what if i already have a Razer Blade Stealth V2 UHD. should i simply buy a eGPU or maybe sell it and buy a whole new desktop?

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