How to Use External Video Card with Laptop

Installing a video card is one of the most efficient ways of boosting the overall performance of a computer. With the use of video cards, machines can handle higher frame rates and plow through even the most graphics intensive games or tasks.

With desktop computers, the installation of video cards is not a problem. You can either opt for the integrated video cards which are installed on the motherboard while you can also install an external video card. Integrated video cards will take a considerable amount of space on the CPU. However, the case is different with laptops.

Laptop screen

Because of their thinner, more compact form factor; laptops cannot accommodate larger integrated video cards. While this is not a problem with most casual laptop users, gamers and heavy users might need more oomph for their laptop, when it comes to graphics processing and video rendering. Thankfully, external video cards are excellent alternatives for notebooks.

In this article, we will teach you how to use an external video card with a laptop. Aside from this, we will also provide you with some background information about what external GPUs. Without further ado, let’s start

What Is an eGPU?

eGPU, otherwise known as External Graphics Processing Unit, is a device that incorporates different components and hardware into a single box. The elements that are integrated here include the open PCIe slot, a power supply, and a dedicated video card. With this device, you can achieve excellent graphics output without compromising the compact form factor of the laptop.

With the advent of new technology such as increased data and video bandwidth as well as single connections as you may see in USB 3.0 as well as Thunderbolt 3, these innovations have paved the way to allow the fast and lightning speed connections needed for external GPU processing. All these hardware components would still work hand in hand with the laptop’s motherboard. A considerable advantage of external GPUs is the presence of additional ports for flash drives and Ethernet cables. With this, you can easily plug and use other accessories such as keyboards and external monitors.

Currently, the standard for bandwidth operation of external GPUs is Thunderbolt 3. The hardware can churn up to 40 Gbps connection along with the video, data, and audio streaming. Also, the device can support up to 100 watts of power.

However, there are also some limitations when it comes to external graphics processing units. One of the most glaring weakness is software compatibility. Most external GPUs depend on very complex and unique drivers. These drivers allow laptops to pass on the heavy load t the graphics card embedded inside the external GPU. Consequently, some manufacturers of laptops only have a few models that can support external GPUs. Also, some laptops require highly specializes software such as USB 3.0 and Thunderbolt 2.

How to Install and Use External GPU on Laptops

Now that we already laid out the necessary information about external GPUs, we will now talk about the things that you need to do to install and make use of these components.

How to Prepare

Before installing the external GPU, there are certain features that you need to check. First, you need to be aware that the graphics card will be placed on a card dock and the connection to be used is the Thunderbolt 3. With this, you need to have a laptop which supports both hardware components.

After this, you need to equip yourself with an external GPU dock as well as a dedicated graphics card. Some docks already come with their video card. If the dock you bought does not have one, you might need to buy a separate graphics card.  Moreover, you need to make sure that both the dock and the purchased graphics card are compatible with each other. Nevertheless, most external GPU docks are consistent with a most graphics card, but it pays to do some research first before buying any video card.

How to Install

After equipping your laptop with an external GPU dock, a dedicated graphics card and the Thunderbolt 3 connection, you are now ready to proceed with the installation.

The first thing you need to do is to set up your graphics card into the external GPU dock. After this, you need to establish the connection of the power cord to the external GPU as well as the power supply. Once done, you can now connect the setup with the laptop via the Thunderbolt 3 cable.

It is worth noting that the directions for the installation of different external GPUs may vary among different brands and models. However, the process might be somewhat similar. Nevertheless, we highly suggest that you first consult the manual that came with the components.

Install Software

The next step is to install all the necessary software. The external GPU will only work if the laptop is equipped with the latest and updated firmware version of the GPU. This is an important step which helps prevent incompatibility issues.

First off, you need to download and install the updated software for the dock, Thunderbolt 3 controller as well as the dedicated video card.  You can either manually update the drivers or have the laptop schedule an automatic updating of drivers.

To manually update drivers, you need to go to the official webpages of the components and then look for the recent drivers for each part.

For automatic updates, you need to use third-party applications, which does the job for you. We highly recommend you to use Driver Easy. The app can analyze the system and then look for outdated drivers. The program also finds the appropriate drivers for each of the components, then downloads and installs them accordingly.

To use driver easy, you need to first turn on the application. The program will then automatically scan your system and look for corrupted or outdated drivers. After the scan, click on the Update button which is placed next to each of the detected drivers, or you can also choose the Update All button to correct all the outdated drivers. Wait for the process to finish and then restart your computer.

At this point, you already have installed the external GPU to your laptop.