I'm pretty excited about this one. It's been working out much better than I thought - though I haven't had entirely smooth sailing.
I finally have my setup 2.0 up and running. Its been three or four years of waiting, and then six months of watching prices on the market for this to happen, but I’m happy to say I have completed the alpha version of the gaming setup of the future™. The setup’s core is the XPS 9370 supplying the CPU and I/O, paired with the new Gigabyte Aorus 1070 Gaming box.
I dropped this bad boy on the desk, plugged in my power and screens, then the fateful moment came: I plugged in the included TB3 cable and… YIKES those LEDs are horrible. Let’s turn those off… and then never use the included software again, because it is barely working garbage. Ugh… OK, lets not judge a book by its cover; I didn’t buy this for pretty lights, I bought it for performance! Moving right along…
This eGPU is a big deal. Yes, its not the first, but technically, neither was Edison when he ‘invented’ the lightbulb. I think that, like Edison, this GPU-in-a-box is the real herald of a shift in its space. This is for three reasons: Power, Portability, and Price.
The Aorus Gaming Box comes in three flavors: the 1070/1080 editions for the green team, and the RX 580 edition for red. All three of these options boast ‘VR Ready’ performance and all will crush any game at 1080p, even with the 8-10% performance loss from the Thunderbolt bottleneck.
My version, the 1070 edition, happily played Overwatch at 1440p with minor dips below 60fps and pegged at 60 fps minimum in 1080. For frame junkies, the 1070 edition’s sweet spot is definitely 1080p.
For more demanding gaming loads, I ran a little of the Witcher 3. Again, I maxed settings (aside from HairWorks, because come on) and found great framerates. My other load was Minecraft. Bear with me here; this wasn’t vanilla. I added some notable tweaks: The Spax BDCraft 256 pixel texture pack, and of course, Sonic Ether’s shaders (reborn edition). Then, I ran it at 4k and made a quick cinematic for flips and giggles.
…Truly, any 16 year old’s dream. But what about adulting?
One neat thing about GPU-intensive things that don’t require Realtime rendering is the Thunderbolt bottleneck basically disappears. I ran the NiceHash GPU crypto hashing program and pulled down an average profit of $2.30 per day over a week. Obviously, you won’t get rich, but it does speak to the raw performance of what is literally a bog-standard Desktop 1070 running full tilt.
So, cool fact: The Aorus Gaming Box comes packaged not just in bubble wrap, but in a lovely carrying case with included shoulder strap. This is just another way Gigabyte showed its clear attention to portability when making this pocket rocket. The size is something to behold. Its so small that they had to put custom coolers on the 1080 and RX 580 editions with massive fans. The 1070 edition, though, can squeak by with just the ITX version. Still all three versions use standard PCI connectors that should be able to run anything that A) can fit and B) can get by with no more than a single 6+2 power connector from the built-in power supply. Future Proofing FTW!
My setup basically doesn’t move, but I am totally taking this with me the next time I fly out to visit family.
That’s a big part of this whole setup. Now, I can literally take my home setup anywhere I go. Let’s just hope the TSA doesn’t freak when they see it.
This is still on my list despite a price that might turn many people off. The fact is, you aren’t just buying a GPU here. You’re buying a GPU, PSU, and an I/O expansion card, plus a small case. The eGPU market will always have a little overhead because of this, but most of that cost is amortized over the idea that you can use the same enclosure with future generations of GPUs. I have faith in the burgeoning eGPU community and the amazing industry-wide adoption of the Thunderbolt 3 paradigm, and feel confident that I will be able to keep this system moving forward for several more generations.
The Aorus 1070 edition’s MSRP is 699 USD. When you consider most 1070s are In the 350-400 dollar range, that means the box itself is valued between 200 and 250 dollars. When looking at other eGPUs, that is anywhere from 50 to 300 dollars cheaper!
This won’t be for everybody. I don’t think this is going to supplant a desktop setup… yet. Still, the fact that my 13 in Ultrabook can drive AAA titles and perform workstation tasks, then unplug and take notes in class or meetings for over 6 hours on battery life is incredible. I have one PC that takes my settings and environments everywhere. I get amazing portability and battery life, as well as X-TREME gaming performance. The future is here baby.