Currently, you have to choose between portability and gaming might when purchasing a new laptop. The thinnest, lightest laptops can’t handle high-end games, but you probably don’t need the extra bulk that comes with a gaming laptop all the time. Razer’s solution is external GPU (eGPU) enclosures, which it’s been selling for a few years. These Razer Core devices let you plug a desktop video card into your laptop, but they cost as much as a whole video card. Razer’s newly announced Core X lowers the price, but it also drops some features.
Previous versions of the Razer Core GPU enclosure retailed for around $500. It was a little crazy to pay that much for a place to plug in your video card when the cards themselves were retailing for double MSRP. The cost of GPUs is finally returning to normal, but you’re not going to find any amazing deals. The Razer Core X looks like a solid value, though. It’s just $300 and still has all the necessary features to boost your laptop’s gaming power.
The Razer Core X looks like a small form-factor PC, but it’s really just a place to keep your video card. There’s a board inside with a 650W ATX power supply and a slot for a single graphics card (either AMD or Nvidia). It connects to your PC via a USB Type-C with Thunderbolt 3. Not all Type-C ports support Thunderbolt 3, but those that do have 40 gigabits per second of bandwidth. That’s what you need to make use of an external GPU, but there are some other compatibility issues.
The Core X works with Razer laptops like the newly announced Blade, but it’s also compatible with other Windows devices. You need to be on Windows 10 RS1 or later, and not all systems with Thunderbolt 3 will understand how to talk to an eGPU. You’ll have to check with manufacturers. For the first time, the Core X also supports Apple machines with Thunderbolt 3. You’ll need to be on macOS High Sierra 10.13.4 for that to work. However, Macs will only accept AMD cards in the enclosure—Nvidia isn’t supported.
Unlike past Razer eGPU boxes, this one doesn’t have USB ports or an Ethernet port. Those aren’t necessary for the gaming functionality, but that was a nice extra that let the enclosures double as docking stations. It also lacks Razer Chroma lighting effects. Truly, that is a travesty.
You can order the Razer Core X right now for $300. That price does not include a video card.
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