6 Best Laptops for eGPU in 2021 [Expert Recommendations]

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Since you’re here looking for a laptop that supports eGPU, you already know the advantages of using an external graphics card and want advice on picking a compatible machine. It doesn’t matter whether you’re a pro gamer or a working professional who edits videos, CAD enthusiast, 3D modeler, or a game designer/developer, the eGPU compatible laptops in the below list won’t let you down.

For those who don’t know, you could ditch the best 17-inch gaming behemoth using a 13-inch laptop that is connected to an eGPU. However, you can’t attach an eGPU to any random machine. An eGPU uses the Thunderbolt 3 port, thereby, to be able to connect one, you’ll need a laptop that comes with it.

Isn’t it great to connect an external GPU when in need of power and disconnect it when not needed or traveling? Sounds exciting, right? However, there are some caveats to this, and there are some technical quirks and limitations to consider. To help make the experience as easy and as simple as possible for you, we’ve shortlisted the best devices for such a workflow.

Thunderbolt 3 ports are incredibly fast, offering a bandwidth of up to 40 Gbps. It’s this bandwidth that allows the port to be used for an external graphics card. Do bear in mind that this bandwidth is less than a third of what you’ll get from a 16x PCIe lane on a desktop, and that the bandwidth can drop to as low as 20 Gbps depending on how many lanes Thunderbolt lanes have been allotted.

Bottom line: You’re not going to be getting peak desktop-class performance from an eGPU-equipped laptop, but you will get much better performance than you would from a low-power internal GPU. Configure your system accordingly.

 Minimum System RequirementsRecommended System Requirements
Processor8th Gen Intel Core i59th Gen Intel Core i7
Storage256GB SSD512GB SSD
Display13.3-inch HD (1280 x 720)14-inch FHD IPS (1920 x 1080)
GraphicsIntegrated Intel/AMD GraphicsDedicated Intel/AMD Graphics
Battery LifeUp to 4 hoursUp to 8 hours
Ports1 x Thunderbolt 31 x Thunderbolt 3

6 Best Laptops for eGPU in 2021

To guarantee the best experience for you, we’ve gone ahead and shortlisted ultra-portable laptops that will benefit the most from an eGPU upgrade. These devices will have CPUs that are fast enough to not bottleneck any external GPU and deliver the best possible performance for your task. For workstation use, we’ve also shortlisted devices with decent internal graphics chips so workloads can be seamlessly handed over to an eGPU when needed.

  • CPU: 1.3GHz Intel Core i7-1065G7
  • RAM: 16GB
  • Storage: 512GB SSD
  • Display: 13.3-inch FHD (1920 x 1080)
  • GPU: 4GB NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1650 Ti Max-Q
  • Battery: Up to 7 hours

The Razer Blade Stealth is an accomplished machine in its own right and has no need for an external GPU to perform well. It is missing out on some features like ray-tracing, however, and a powerful eGPU will help the Blade’s powerful CPU stretch its legs a bit.


The 10th Gen Intel i7 Ice Lake CPU is rated at 15W TDP but in the Stealth, it’s been upped to 25W, thanks to excellent cooling. This is paired with a 1650 Ti Max-Q GPU which is more than capable for casual gaming and can provide a decent 60-70 FPS while playing games like PUBG, Fortnite, SIMS 4 (Expansion packs).

“Max-Q” means that the GPU is optimized for power efficiency rather than performance, which can put a damper on things when you’re trying to push the machine to its limits. That’s where an eGPU comes in.

RAM, Storage and OS

This 16GB RAM Laptop comes with 512GB SSD-based storage, there’s plenty of buffer storage. Pop in a powerful eGPU like an NVIDIA 3060 or 3070, and you’re well on your way to 120 FPS gaming and burning through Blender renders like there’s no tomorrow. Windows 10 Home is the OS of choice here.


This is a gaming laptop and so you get a gamer’s display. The 15.6-inch FHD display is fast (120Hz) and color accurate (100% sRGB). It’s a great display for use on the go. When connected to an eGPU, though, the internal display won’t be of much use, unless you’re willing to take a significant performance hit, that is.

Keyboard and Touchpad

The Razer Chroma keyboard looks great and performs well. It features single-zone RGB lighting and the design has been tuned to match the aesthetics of the laptop. There’s no dedicated Numpad here, but that means you get a large, centrally aligned glass trackpad.

Design and Ports

The Blade’s aesthetic could best be described as ‘gaming MacBook’. It’s slick and slim, with a metal/plastic chassis painted in black. It’s a rugged, minimalist design that looks great. The total package weighs a mere 3.1lb.

For ports, you get two Thunderbolt 3 ports, 2x USB-A ports, and a 3.5mm combo jack. WiFi AX support and an IR-blasting Windows Hello-ready HD webcam are also nice to have, especially for those who regularly attend Zoom meetings or Skype video calls.


The 13-inch form factor, power-hungry CPU, and discrete GPU restricts battery life to a max of about 7 hours, and even less when gaming or editing videos. That’s still good for a workday, though. And anyway, an eGPU will require that you keep the device plugged in at all times. It’s the perfect device for someone who’s always on the go.

  • Amped up CPU
  • Slick and stylish design
  • Very portable
  • Windows Hello login
  • Excellent display
  • Battery life is low
  • Expensive
  • CPU: 2.6GHz Intel Core i7-9750H
  • RAM: 8GB
  • Storage: 512GB SSD
  • Display: 15.6-inch FHD IPS (1920 x 1080)
  • GPU: 4GB NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1650
  • Battery: Up to 9 hours

The XPS 15 makes for a great eGPU candidate because of its powerful, 45W CPU. The rest of the specs are pretty tame and good enough for on-the-go computing tasks like accounting, web browsing, programming, live streaming, etc., but when you’re looking to minimize bottlenecks and take full advantage of a powerful external graphics card, you need what the XPS 15 is offering.


The Core i7-9750H might be old, but its performance is comparable to many i9 laptops. It comes with a 6-core, 12-thread design with a 45W TDP and 4.5GHz boost clock mean that this CPU is a number-crunching beast. It is accompanied with the NVIDIA GTX 1650 which is powerful enough for light gaming or budget video editing.

RAM, Storage and OS

8GB RAM is a bit low for an eGPU platform, especially one with a CPU as powerful as the Dell’s. It’s enough for a good experience in gaming, but if you’re into 4K video editing or use resource intensive software like AutoCAD, SolidWorks, REVIT, etc, we’d strongly recommend upgrading it. The 512GB SSD has enough capacity for the pre-installed Windows 10 Home OS, essential apps, and a few games.


The bright, 500-nit display with 100% sRGB coverage is superb for photo editing and graphic designing, courtesy of the 15.6 inches. Bezels are vanishingly slim and the panel features an anti-glare coating.

Keyboard and Touchpad

Dell has gone the MacBook route here, sacrificing keyboard real-estate for large, front-firing speakers. You don’t get a Numpad, but you get a comfortable, backlit keyboard and a large, centrally aligned trackpad.

Design and Ports

Dell’s XPS lineup is defined by slim, powerful laptops that are designed and built well. The XPS 15 is no exception — the chassis is made from CNC-machined aluminum and the palm rest from carbon-fibre.

Ports include 1x HDMI 2.0, 1x Thunderbolt 3 with DP and PD support, 2x USB-A 3.1 Gen 1, and a 3.5mm combo audio jack. You also get a fingerprint reader and 2W speakers for music listening.


Featuring one of the largest, legally-allowed-to-fly batteries, the XPS 15 manages a very decent 9 hours of continuous use. If you need a powerful CPU for work, especially work that involves 3D software like Fusion 360, Cinema 4D and other programs like QuickBooks, Adobe PhotoShop, do consider the XPS 15.

  • Superb display
  • Powerful CPU
  • Gorgeous design
  • Carbon-fibre palm rest
  • Good battery life
  • Single Thunderbolt port
  • Runs hot
  • CPU: 2.2GHz Intel Core i7-8750H
  • RAM: 16GB
  • Storage: 512GB SSD
  • Display: 15.6-inch FHD (1920 x 1080) 
  • GPU: 4GB NVIDIA GeForce 1050 Ti Max-Q
  • Battery: Up to 15 hours

This first-gen Thinkpad X1 Extreme has more than enough grunt to take on the best 15-inch laptops you can find today. The GPU is a little bit on the slower side of course, but you get a powerful CPU and Thunderbolt 3 ports, just what an eGPU needs.


The Intel i7-8750H here is only slightly slower (4.2GHz) than the i7-9750H is at full boost (4.5GHz). This is an academic difference and has little to no impact on work. It’s a powerful CPU though.

The GPU is a much older GTX 1050 Ti with Max-Q tech and is only slightly better than NVIDIA’s current crop of low-power MX series GPUs. It’s a good GPU for light gaming, editing, and perhaps a bit of 3D modeling work, but nothing more. A good eGPU will really take this PC places.

RAM, Storage and OS

It’s nice to see a generous 16GB of RAM and 512GB of fast, SSD storage in a laptop. For heavy work and gaming, this is the minimum we’d recommend. For the OS, Lenovo has gone with the more feature-rich Windows 10 Pro.


The X1’s 15.6-inch FHD display is bright and color accurate. It’s not meant for gaming and so isn’t fast, but it’s good for photo/video work and for streaming movies on Netflix. You will of course be using an external display with the laptop, so don’t worry too much about the display.

Keyboard and Touchpad

Gracing this laptop is Lenovo’s superb island-switch keyboard. The keyboard is backlit and spill-resistant, and as always, a joy to type on. There’s no Numpad, but you get a fingerprint reader and large, well-spaced keys. There’s also a beautiful glass trackpad and Lenovo’s signature TrackPoint.

Design and Ports

This X1 Extreme is a premium laptop and looks and feels like one. The brushed metal finish and slim chassis look great and weigh only about 4.5lb. Port selection includes 2x USB-A 3.1 Gen 1, x USB-C Thunderbolt 3, a 4-in-1 card reader, HDMI 2.0, and a 3.5mm combo jack.


With a 15-hr battery, superb display and powerful CPU, the X1 Extreme is still very powerful and relevant today, especially with an eGPU to take up any compute-heavy workloads. If you need a premium yet not too expensive laptop, the X1 Extreme is just what you’ve been waiting for.

  • Class-leading battery life
  • Large, color-accurate display
  • Good port selection
  • It’s old but very powerful
  • 16GB RAM
  • Older CPU lacks some modern optimizations
  • Ancient GPU
  • CPU: 1.3GHz Intel Core i7-1065G7
  • RAM: 16GB
  • Storage: 1TB SSD
  • Display: 17-inch WQXGA (2560 x 1600)
  • GPU: Integrated Intel Iris Plus
  • Battery: Up to 17 hours

The LG Gram was designed as a premium ultra-portable. It was never meant to be fast and powerful, nor was it meant to challenge gaming laptops or workstations. With an eGPU, however, the Gram transforms.


For the CPU, LG went with the very capable Intel Core i7-1065G7. This is a 15W chip with Iris Plus Graphics, a platform primarily designed for running Windows and apps like MS Excel, Adobe Creative Cloud software suite (After Effects, Premiere Pro, etc), and more without breaking a sweat. It’s a fast chip but hamstrung by inadequate cooling.

Pair it with a decent GPU and you’re looking at gaming laptop/entry-level workstation performance from an Ultrabook.

RAM, Storage and OS

There’s 16GB of RAM here, and a generous 1TB SSD. This is plenty of RAM and storage for heavy tasks, but thermal limitations on the CPU mean that you’re better off using a mid-range eGPU rather than a high-end one. LG bundles the Gram with Windows 10 Home.


The Gram features a gorgeous, 17-inch WQXGA display in a 16:10 ratio. It’s bright and accurate, and the aspect ratio is perfect for work. It’s almost sad that you won’t get to use this display when you’re using an eGPU.

Keyboard and Touchpad

The large display allows for a full-size keyboard with Numpad. You get plenty of spacing and large keys, and the Numpad includes four full columns rather than the three you’d find on the average 15-inch notebook. Because of the Numpad, the trackpad is offset, but that shouldn’t be a problem in everyday use.

Design and Ports

The Gram’s magnesium alloy body and ultra-slim bezels allow its weight to stay under 3lb and for a 17-inch display to be crammed into a body that would normally house a 15.6-inch display. This is a slim, compact laptop that weighs nothing. But that’s not all, the laptop has a MIL-STD-810G ruggedness rating.

Ports include an HDMI port, 3 x USB-A 3.0, 1 x Thunderbolt 3, and a microSD card slot. There’s also a fingerprint reader on the keyboard, and you can spend more on an IR face camera that will let you use face unlock.


Since there’s no GPU and you’re getting a thermally-throttled CPU, battery life is rated at 17 hours (or two workdays).

The LG Gram is for users who don’t need peak performance, it’s for those who need an ultrabook that can occasionally help out with heavier workloads when paired with an eGPU. It’s great for casual gaming and heavy 3D workloads that are not time-sensitive.

  • Unmatched battery life
  • Large, bright display
  • The very definition of an Ultrabook
  • Comfortable keyboard
  • Fingerprint reader
  • Poor speakers
  • Gets real hot real fast
  • CPU: 2.3GHz Intel Core i5-8259U
  • RAM: 8GB
  • Storage: 512GB SSD
  • Display: 13.3-inch Retina (2560 x 1600)
  • GPU: Integrated Intel Iris Plus
  • Battery: Up to 10 hours

It’s safe to say that it’s Apple's MacBook Pro that really kicked off the craze for eGPUs. The Pros were the first laptops to embrace Thunderbolt and gained support for eGPUs at a very early stage from professional companies like BlackMagic Design, and even Apple themselves. In Apple’s MacBook lineup, it’s the Pro 13 that benefits most from an eGPU.


Apple uses custom Intel chips for its laptops. In the case of the 13-inch Pro, that takes the form of an i5-8259U with a 25W TDP and Iris Plus Graphics. Where most Windows devices offer 15W chips, this 25W chip offers significantly more power and a lot more bandwidth for Thunderbolt 3 cards.

RAM, Storage and OS

8GB RAM is good enough to start with, but we’d recommend going with at least 16GB if you’ll be using the device for professional work. Music production programs like Ableton Live, FL Studio and Pro Tools work better with a lot more RAM. The 512GB of blisteringly quick SSD storage is excellent and good for essential apps and programs. Of course, the MBP13 runs macOS Big Sur.


Apple’s stunning 13.3-inch Retina display is unmatched by anything from Windows land. This 500-nit, 100% DCI-P3 compliant display is about as bright and color accurate as they come, and the best part is that an eGPU can accelerate tasks on that internal display, with the right apps.

Keyboard and Touchpad

The one concern with this laptop is its keyboard. The butterfly switches on this 2018 model have very low travel and are an acquired taste, but more importantly, Apple has acknowledged that they may have issues and has put in place a 4-year, no-questions-asked keyboard warranty program.

On the other hand, that glass trackpad is, without question, one of the best trackpads you’ll ever get on a laptop. There’s also a TouchBar above the keyboard that dynamically changes based on the app you’re using.

Design and Ports

Unlike the signature MacBook Air wedge, the Pro is more symmetric. The unibody aluminum chassis is as solid as they come, keeping the body rigid and strong. There’s almost no flex to be found.

Port selection is limited to 4 x Thunderbolt 3 and a 3.5mm combo jack, but here’s the interesting part: The 13-inch Pro uses two Thunderbolt controllers for the ports, one on the left and one on the right. This allows for a far greater degree of flexibility and expandability compared to what you’ll get from Windows laptops.


The 10 hours of battery life from a laptop with a 25W CPU is quite good, the best part being that unlike on Windows, performance doesn’t drop when on DC power.

If you spend a lot of time in apps like FCP X, Apple Motion, or DaVinci Resolve, you need the power that a GPU can offer. If you don’t need that power on the go, however, a 13-inch Pro with an eGPU is a great option.

  • Bright and accurate display
  • Excellent battery life
  • The best Thunderbolt implementation
  • Excellent eGPU compatibility
  • World’s best trackpad
  • Butterfly keyboard
  • Limited support for NVIDIA GPUs
  • CPU: 1.6GHz Intel Core i5-8250U
  • RAM: 8GB
  • Storage: 256GB SSD
  • Display: 13.3-inch FHD Touch (1920 x 1080)
  • GPU: Integrated Intel UHD 620
  • Battery: Up to 10.5 hours

If you’re looking for a fun, inexpensive laptop that can occasionally do some heavy lifting when paired with an eGPU, Lenovo Yoga 730 is just what you need. Featuring a low-power Intel CPU, 360° hinge and Thunderbolt, it’s a great buy.


The i5-8250U from Intel is a 15W chip that’s clocked from 1.6GHz to 3.4GHz. It’s a good mid-range chip for thin and light laptops, but its UHD 630 integrated graphics chip is now quite slow compared to modern low-power chips like Xe and Iris Plus.

RAM, Storage and OS

The 8GB RAM and 256GB of SSD storage are both quite low, but they’re sufficient for the bundled Windows 10 Home OS and essential apps. If you’re pairing this system with an eGPU, you’ll only be doing so for gaming at med-high settings and some light video editing for YouTube and 3D animation work.


The 13.3-inch FHD display has good brightness and color accuracy, for an older, entry-level device anyway. What you do get is touch screen input and a 360° hinge, which means you can use this laptop as a tablet or sketchpad. Since an eGPU requires an external display, the quality of the built-in display shouldn’t affect your work or gaming.

Keyboard and Touchpad

The keyboard is nice, spacious, and backlit. As expected of a Lenovo keyboard, the keys are comfortable to type on. The trackpad is centrally aligned and a pleasure to use.

Design and Ports

The 2-in-1 design, courtesy of the 360° hinge, gives the Yoga 730 a great deal of flexibility. You can use it as a laptop, in tent mode, or even as a tablet, whatever suits your posture best at the time.

For ports, you get 1 x USB Type-C with Thunderbolt 3, 2 x USB 3.0, 1 x 3.5mm combo jack and an HDMI port.


With 10.5-hour battery life and a laptop/tablet hybrid form factor, the Yoga 730 is clearly meant to be used as a portable device. That said, the 730 is very cheap and will benefit greatly from an eGPU. You’ll go from not being able to game to be able to game at med-high settings, and you’ll even be able to edit 4K footage and handle complex Blender renders with the right GPU.

All things considered, the 730 is a great choice if you’re looking for good value.

  • It’s cheap
  • 360° hinge allows for tablet and tent modes
  • Excellent keyboard
  • Touch input
  • Great battery life
  • Limited RAM and storage
  • Low-power CPU

How to Choose the Best eGPU Compatible Laptop?

Intel’s Thunderbolt tech — soon to be integrated with USB 4 — was revolutionary when it was introduced. It allowed the CPU and motherboard to communicate directly with external accessories, and at blistering speeds at that, paving the way for eGPU support on laptops.

Thunderbolt is powerful and effective tech, but it’s also a bit of a quirky one requiring specific hardware/software implementation and very rigid adherence to hardware specs. You also need to understand that while Thunderbolt-connected eGPUs are fast, they’ll never be as fast as one connected via internal PCIe lanes.

Secondly, not all software is optimized to utilize eGPUs and depending on the hardware you’re using, you might even see a drop in performance in some cases. To ease the confusion, here are some tips to help you identify the right laptop for use with an eGPU.

Port Selection

There are several Thunderbolt standards out there, but the one you’re looking for is Thunderbolt 3. More specifically, you’re looking for Thunderbolt 3 40Gbps ports. Thunderbolt 3 ports tend to be shaped like USB-C, but the number of PCIe lanes assigned to those ports varies. You can have 10Gbps, 20Gbps, and 40Gbps Thunderbolt 3 ratings, and it’s only the latter that will let you make some use of your eGPU.

You also need to consider the port layout and the number of controllers. Two Thunderbolt ports placed side-by-side tend to share a single controller, whereas ports placed on either side of a laptop might use 2. Connecting multiple devices to two ports on one controller will result in a significant drop in bandwidth and effective performance.


Thunderbolt 3 is only supported on Intel CPUs, and even then, only on 8th Gen Intel Core CPUs and later. For use with an eGPU, we’d recommend going with 10th Gen Intel Core CPUs (Comet Lake or Ice Lake, either is fine), as these have a more robust implementation and better support for eGPUs.

Yet another issue is performance. U series Intel Core CPUs are good for entry/mid-level work while H/K series CPUs are what you need for 4K gaming, heavy virtualization or workstation work. Choose an eGPU to go with your CPU type.


This is something you need to choose wisely. As discussed in the CPU section, you need to pair the appropriate GPU with the right CPU. You could buy an expensive RTX 3070, but if you’re pairing it with an entry-level 8250U, you’ve wasted your money. If you’re on an Apple device, buy AMD. Apple has little to no support for NVIDIA GPUs.

Displays and Performance

Internal displays are driven by internal hardware and external displays by external GPUs. While it’s possible to drive an internal display with an eGPU — provided your laptop has enough Thunderbolt controllers and lanes — you will easily see a 30-40 percent drop in performance.

In the case of macOS and certain optimized apps like DaVinci Resolve and Final Cut Pro, the external GPU can be used strictly as a compute unit that handles rendering tasks without driving the internal display.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I pair my internal GPU with an eGPU for even more performance?

Depending on the apps you use and your display configuration, yes. Final Cut Pro X on macOS, for example, allows two GPUs to be used to accelerate video rendering. The same is true for 3D apps like Blender. For gaming and most other apps, only one GPU will work.

What eGPU should I get? AMD or NVIDIA?

Either works and the choice should be dictated by your workflow. For gaming on Windows, just pick the best GPU that fits in your budget. For 3D work or video rendering, you’ll need to be more circumspect. NVIDIA cards have CUDA support, for example, while AMD cards tend to have a lot more VRAM.

Will eGPUs work over USB-C?

USB-C only defines the shape of the port, not its specifications. A USB-C port could even be rated for USB 2.0 speeds, let alone USB 3.0, so make sure your device specifically supports Thunderbolt 3 and not just USB-C.

I have an AMD CPU, can I use an eGPU?

At the moment, no. Thunderbolt was designed by Intel and Apple and only works with specific Intel CPUs. The USB 4 spec, which should be ratified this year, will allow future AMD CPUs to support eGPUs.


Thunderbolt is a beautiful feature that can breathe new life into old laptops, and allow newer ones to shine and reach their true potential. If your laptop has a Thunderbolt port and you need some additional computing horsepower, an eGPU is a worthwhile investment. Depending on the situation you’re in, here’s what we’d recommend:

  • For an uninterrupted gaming experience, get the Razer Blade Stealth. It’s powerful enough for gaming without an eGPU, and with an eGPU, transforms into a gaming beast. 
  • If you’re looking for your next workstation, we’d recommend the ThinkPad X1 Extreme. It’s an older model compared to the Dell XPS 15, but it’s far cheaper and will perform just as well. If you want a new machine though, the XPS 15 is a great option.
  • For video editors and content creators, nothing beats the MacBook Pro 13. If you had to take a Windows option, we’d recommend the LG Gram 17 and its gorgeous 17-inch display.

Written By
Ray Kinton

A veteran techie from the days of the ZX Spectrum 48K. Ray enjoys technology, entrepreneurship, travel, writing and photography, and always looking for ways to improve his skills. He has built many computers and enjoys tinkering with technology. Follow Ray on Twitter

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