External graphics cards were once only possible to use with desktop PCs, but there are now a number of ways to add them to laptops as well. This means that you can improve the graphics performance of your laptop by adding a high-end external graphics card.
There are a few different ways that you can add an external graphics card to a laptop. One way is to use a dock that has an ExpressCard slot. Another way is to use a Thunderbolt 3 dock, which will give you more options for connecting displays and other devices. You can also buy an enclosure that will hold your laptop’s internal graphics card and then connect it to an external graphics card.
If you want to add an external graphics card to your laptop, you’ll need to ensure that it has an ExpressCard slot, Thunderbolt 3, or another way to connect the external graphics card. Once you have these connections, you can attach an external graphics card enclosure or dock and install your laptop’s internal graphics card inside it. You will then be able to use this setup for any applications where you want to take advantage of the improved graphics performance provided by the graphic cards.
There are many benefits of being able to add a new external graphics card to laptops. First of all, if your laptop is several years old but still capable of running different software, you can use an external graphics card enclosure or dock with it so that it’s still useful for productivity tasks even though its built-in GPU isn’t the most powerful. Additionally, if you’re a gamer and want to be able to play the latest games on your laptop, an external graphics card can help you do that by providing better performance than the laptop’s internal graphics card.
Adding an external graphics card to a laptop is also a great way to improve its overall appearance. By using an enclosure or dock that has a more modern design, you can make your laptop look more up-to-date. Lastly, using an external graphics card can help reduce the amount of heat that’s generated by your laptop, which can prolong its life span.
So, is it possible to add a new external graphics card to laptops? The answer is – that there are many different ways that you can do it, so as long as your laptop has the necessary connections, it’s definitely possible. Adding an external graphics card can provide many benefits, including improved graphics performance, a more modern look, and reduced heat generation. So if you’re looking for a way to get more out of your laptop, adding an external graphics card may be the solution you’ve been searching for.
Related Article: What should I know before I buy a laptop?
Is a dedicated laptop GPU upgrade possible today?
Yes, a dedicated laptop GPU upgrade is possible today. However, it is important to note that not all laptops can be upgraded in this way. In order to determine if your laptop can be upgraded with a dedicated graphics card, you will need to check the specific model and manufacturer. Some laptops have dedicated graphics cards already installed, while others do not. If your laptop does not have a dedicated graphics card, it may be possible to install one yourself.
Before you begin any kind of upgrade process, it is always important to consult with the manufacturer or an authorized technician to ensure that you are doing everything correctly and safely. If you are not comfortable with performing the upgrade yourself, it is also possible to hire a professional to do it for you.
As far as upgrade options, the first thing you will need to determine is if your laptop has a dedicated graphics card slot at all. Some laptops use an ExpressCard slot, some use mSATA (mini-SATA), and some use PCI-e or PCIE (Peripheral Component Interconnect Express). If it uses one of the latter three slots listed, then there is almost certainly at least one upgrade option available for your laptop. There are also ExpressCard with Thunderbolt adapters that provide this type of port, but these are less common than other options.
Can you use an external GPU on a gaming laptop that already has a GPU?
Many people who build their own desktops and want to play games on a laptop often ask themselves: can I use an external GPU on my laptop?
Some laptops allow you to attach an external video card through ExpressCard or Thunderbolt. But most gamers will probably prefer using the internal graphics card of the laptop. And that’s completely understandable because most laptops already offer dedicated GPUs that are more than powerful enough for playing games in Full HD or even 4K resolutions. If your gaming laptop already has a good dedicated GPU, then there’s no need at all to attach any other eGPU – unless you just want to add an additional GPU which is always possible by adding another (external) desktop graphics card to your setup.
Here we want to take a look at the question of whether it’s possible to use an eGPU on your laptop. We will try to answer this question for each of the main gaming laptop manufacturers.
A special note before we start: This article is aimed at gamers who already have a powerful desktop computer and want to see whether they can put their eGPU in their luggage when going on a trip, without knowing what games they’ll be able or not able to play in which resolution or in case there are sudden hardware problems with the internal graphics card in their laptop. For this reason, this article does not feature benchmark results from our test lab. Benchmark results from our test lab are listed here: [Laptop GPU & External GPU Gaming Benchmarks]
So, let’s start with the first manufacturer: Alienware.
Can I attach an external GPU to my Alienware gaming laptop?
Alienware is a well-known gaming brand that always offers powerful laptops with high-end GPUs. That’s why most of their recent models already come with a dedicated desktop GPU and won’t allow you to use an external graphics card on them. Their latest models, like the Alienware 17 R5 or the Alienware 15 R5, offer very strong mobile GPUs from Nvidia’s 10 series (for example GeForce GTX 1080 for their top models) which are more than powerful enough for playing current games in Full HD or even 4K resolutions. And as already mentioned before, these mobile GPUs cannot be replaced or exchanged with an external video card because Alienware laptops are only compatible with Nvidia Optimus technology.
And that’s why it’s not really useful for gamers to attach an external GPU to these models.
But what about older Alienware models? Are they compatible with eGPUs? And if yes, which models are compatible and which aren’t? Let’s take a look at each of them individually now. We will also compare the main technical specs of these laptops with their predecessors so you’ll be able to understand whether there have been any changes regarding the GPUs after adding an additional desktop GPU through an eGPU enclosure.
Alienware 15 R3, Alienware 17 R4 & 20
Which models are compatible? The current Alienware 15 R3 and the Alienware 17 R4 are both compatible with an eGPU setup. The Alienware 20 is also compatible but it’s not available anymore so you won’t be able to buy it. But it’s still interesting to know whether these three models are compatible because they represent a big chunk of the market in terms of sales numbers. And many gamers who own one or more of these three models are probably wondering if they can attach an external GPU to their laptop. We will take a look at all three models, starting off with the Alienware 15 (R3).
The latest version of the Alienware 15 (R3) was introduced in March 2017. It already comes with a powerful Nvidia GTX 1060 6GB desktop GPU and will not allow you to attach an eGPU through one of the USB Type-C ports on the left side because it’s only capable of running Alienware Graphics Amplifier and Nvidia Optimus technology is supported for this model. This means that the laptop will only use the internal graphics card when there aren’t any other high demands on performance, like when watching movies or when doing nothing at all. The Alienware 15 R5 was also released in March 2018 and it’s compatible with external GPUs as well.
The Alienware 17 (R4) is even newer than its smaller brother, which is why it comes with even more powerful hardware, like the newer Pascal GPU series. According to Alienware’s official website, the laptop is compatible with an eGPU through one of its Thunderbolt 3 (USB-C) ports on its left side. But what does this really mean for gamers? Can you really attach an external GPU and use it while gaming? And if yes, which desktop GPUs will be able to run games in Full HD and 60Hz or even in 4K and 60Hz (if possible at all)?
The answer to that question can be found throughout this article: [eGPUs & Laptops – Which ones are compatible?]
Basically, there are two possibilities: The laptop offers Optimus technology but doesn’t offer native graphics switching capabilities which means that you won’t be able to use an external GPU while playing games. Or the laptop doesn’t offer Optimus technology and isn’t capable of running Nvidia’s graphics switching software G-Sync either but is still compatible with eGPUs through one of its Thunderbolt 3 ports. In this case, the laptop will switch automatically from the internal to the external GPU when you start a game.
If your Alienware model doesn’t come with Nvidia Optimus or G-Sync capabilities, then you can attach an external GPU without any problems according to Alienware’s official website.
The Alienware 17 R5 was also released in March 2018 and it’s compatible with external GPUs as well.
The Alienware 20 (Predator Helios 500) comes with a powerful GTX 1070 desktop GPU and should be compatible with an eGPU as well, according to Dell’s website. But we don’t know for sure if this works without any problems because the laptop isn’t available anymore so it isn’t clear whether you have to buy additional hardware or not.
The Alienware 15 R5 is also compatible with an eGPU through one of its Thunderbolt 3 ports on its left side, but there are some important things that you need to know before buying a new desktop graphics card for your laptop. First of all, the USB Type-C port supports only Nvidia Optimus at launch, which means that it can only switch automatically between your internal and external GPU when necessary, just like the two models. Additionally, there is no external display output because Alienware decided not to add a second Thunderbolt 3 port (which supports eGPUs and external displays) and you can connect your laptop only to one external monitor at a time. Another issue seems to be the expensive GSync module by Nvidia which you have to buy separately if you want to use an external monitor with compatible 120Hz or 144 Hz refresh rates.
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Can I add an NVIDIA graphics card to a laptop that uses Intel HD graphics?
Yes, you can add an NVIDIA graphics card to a laptop that uses Intel HD graphics. However, the laptop’s BIOS must support it. The BIOS is the software that starts up your computer and loads the operating system. Not all laptops have a BIOS that supports adding a new graphics card, so be sure to check before purchasing one.
If your laptop does have a BIOS that supports adding a new graphics card, there are a few things you’ll need to do before you can start using it. First, you’ll need to remove the old graphics card (if there is one) and install the new one. You’ll also need to install the NVIDIA drivers and set the graphics card as the primary display adapter. Finally, you’ll need to update the BIOS. The exact steps involved depend on your laptop and graphics card, so be sure to follow the instructions that come with it.
If you don’t want to do all the work of adding a new graphics card, consider purchasing a gaming notebook instead. These notebooks already have NVIDIA GeForce or Quadro graphics built-in and are specially designed for gamers.
NVIDIA provides the information in this article “as is” without warranty of any kind whatsoever. NVIDIA disclaims all warranties, expressed or implied, including, without limitation, the implied warranties of merchantability and fitness for a particular purpose. In no event shall NVIDIA be liable for any direct, indirect, incidental, special, exemplary, or consequential damages (including, but not limited to, procurement of substitute goods or services; loss of use, data, or profits; or business interruption) however caused and on any theory of liability, whether in contract, strict liability, or tort (including negligence or otherwise), arising in any way out of the use of this information.
Some laptops have a BIOS that doesn’t support adding a new graphics card. Be sure to check before purchasing one.