Although the costs for what is effectively a small computer box seemed ridiculously excessive, external GPU cases have been increasingly popular in recent years.
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So why are so many still prepared to shell out for an eGPU case? The truth is, they’re the only method to get near-desktop-level graphics performance out of their laptops.
As you are probably aware, Alienware is a Dell brand best known for its pricey gaming laptops, and this case shares a lot of the design elements commonly seen in these laptops. Unexpectedly, though, the price is quite reasonable!
- Sleek design on the outside
- a large amount of room within
- PSU with a lot of power
- On the back, there are four USB 3.0 connectors.
- Alienware consumers get a lot for their money.
- It’s cumbersome to move because of its size and weight.
- Constraints imposed by a proprietary connector
The Graphics Amplifier is a dead giveaway that it’s an Alienware device. The Alienware emblem is prominently displayed on the front of this large casing, which is richly detailed and finished in a dark black color without any bright accents.
Overall, it has a nice appearance, but the greatest problem is that it isn’t portable. Due to its size and lack of built-in handles, it isn’t exactly easy to carry around, as previously said. At 7.72 pounds (3.5 kilograms), not including a graphics card installed inside, the chassis isn’t exactly lightweight either.
Features and Compatibility
In terms of operation, the Alienware Graphics Amplifier is a breeze to work with. As you can see in the image above, the top cover easily lifts off to reveal the device’s inner workings. A single full-length PCIe slot is included, as is enough room for any full-length dual-width graphics card to be installed inside. This GPU will be well-served by the 460-watt power supply it has.
Four USB 3.0 ports are located on the rear of the case and can be used to connect and/or charge a mouse, keyboard, headset, and so on.
Additionally, unlike most eGPU cases, the Graphics Amplifier uses a proprietary PCIe connector to connect to a laptop. In spite of Alienware’s assertion that this technology is significantly quicker than Thunderbolt 3, the Graphics Amplifier is severely limited in its adaptability, which is its main downside.
Using the Alienware Graphics Amplifier is as simple as plugging it into a laptop and waiting for it to take control until the laptop’s internal graphics card has been powered down or detached.
So you can’t get more performance by matching up the internal and external GPU models via CrossFire or SLI.
Graphics Amplifier can also be utilized with a laptop’s internal display or an external one. Either the laptop’s output port or the external graphics card can be used to connect the latter. Virtual reality (VR) is also supported, given that the graphics card and the laptop can handle it.
On the official product page for the Graphics Amplifier, the following Alienware laptops are listed as being compatible with the device, as indicated above:
- The first three versions of the Alienware 13 are now available.
- R1, R2, R3, and R4 Alienware 15 models.
- Alienware 17 (R2, R3, R4, R5, R6 and R7)
- Microsoft Surface Pro 4
- The Alienware m17.
- The Alienware Area-51m desktop computer
- Microsoft Surface Pro 3 by Alienware
- Alpha R2 from Alienware
Alienware Graphics Amplifier
Graphics Amplifier measures 6.8 by 7.3 by 16.1 inches (HWD) and looks more like a toaster than a graphics card container if it weren’t for the glossy plastic vents and luminous Alienware logo.
An Alien head logo glows from the grill on the front of the Graphics Amplifier.
The enclosure is made of metal and has plastic vents that are shiny in appearance.
A four-port USB hub and a slot for a desktop GPU may be found on the back of the Graphics Amplifier.
No GPU Installed
Power, expansion, and cooling are all provided by the enclosure’s 400-watt power supply.
With GPU Installed
Nvidia’s GeForce GTX 600 series and newer and AMD’s Radeon HD 5000 series and newer are supported by the Graphics Amplifier.
A solid external GPU option, the Alienware Graphics Amplifier has its share of downsides.
We’ve already touched on its lack of portability and compatibility with only a tiny subset of Alienware gaming laptops as two of the most significant drawbacks.
This means it’s not as easy to move as some other cases, and it’s not recommended for gaming laptops made by other firms.
In addition, newer GPUs may have compatibility difficulties with the Graphics Amplifier, however this is usually resolved rapidly through driver updates. Alienware now states that the Radeon RX and GeForce RTX series are completely supported, although future GPUs may have some compatibility oddities that are only temporary.
The Alienware Graphics Amplifier doesn’t have any major flaws, but there are still some issues with eGPUs in general, such as the high pricing and the limited performance compared to desktop PCs, which we’ll touch on later.
This specific eGPU is now cheaper than it has ever been, making it the closest laptop users can go to PC-level performance. When it launched, this eGPU was going for a whopping $300, but it is now available for about half that amount. When it comes to the Alienware laptops listed above, this may be an excellent time if you want to give them a major performance boost!
The finest external graphics card enclosures of 2022 are a great alternative if you’re not an Alienware laptop customer and are looking for an alternative — you’ll find something that meets your needs and your budget here. For those who are in the market for a graphics card, we recommend checking out this post as well.
x4 PCIe Gen 3 data rates are supported by the cable. About 4GB/s of data. For example, a full x16 Gen 3 connection on a desktop computer transmits around 16GB/s of bandwidth. As a result, there have been questions about the Amplifier’s bandwidth and the actual performance lost as a result of limiting the GPU. It has been claimed that MSI’s GS30 Shadow graphics enclosure can provide a complete x16 connection for your GPU.
On the other hand, Alienware considers 4GB/s to be adequate. Thunderbolt 2’s transfer rate is, according to my calculations, roughly 2.5GB/s. The “whatevs” strategy has been tested and found to be effective. There was no discernible change between x16 and x8, or between Gen 2 and Gen 3, according to Puget Systems’ research. However, Puget did test x8 Gen 2, which is the same data rate, thus it didn’t throttle it down to x4 Gen 3. Similarly, tests conducted by Techpowerup.com revealed no discernible impact.
I used an Alienware 15 with a Core i5-4210H dual-core processor, 16GB of DDR3L/1600 RAM, a 128GB M.2 SSD, a 1TB hard drive, and a GeForce GTX 970m graphics card for my testing. A GeForce GTX 980 and Titan X were both used in my tests, as well as the internal graphics card that came with the computer These aren’t the total 3DMark scores, but rather the GPU-specific ones. Even though this laptop costs $1,500 and comes with a GeForce GTX 970m graphics card, I’m concerned that its dual-core CPU will be unable to keep up with heavy gaming demands.
To evaluate how the Amplifier affected a real-world game, I also used an external 4K display to play Tomb Raider on Ultimate quality. Using the Amplifier and the Titan X, we went from terrible frame rates to a playable 47 fps.
Is the Alienware Graphics Amplifier worth it?
Alienware’s Graphics Amplifier is an excellent, low-cost option to improve the graphics performance of your laptop. In terms of limitations, this eGPU case can only be used with select Alienware laptops and isn’t as portable as some other options.
Why did Dell discontinue Graphics Amplifier?
Because the eGPU would not have been able to take full advantage of the most recent desktop GPUs, the company stated, the laptops’ onboard graphics would have been able to outperform the eGPU. The Graphics Amplifier looks to be the primary reason for the absence.
How do I use Alienware Graphics Amplifier?
The other end of the graphics cable should be connected to the computer’s external graphics port after pressing the release clips. The Alienware Graphics Amplifier is connected and ready to use when the light on the graphics connection turns on. The Alienware graphics amplifier can be used to connect the monitor if necessary.
The Amplifier teaches us a few important lessons. For one, despite the fact that it had some teething troubles in the beginning, these issues look to be mostly behind us now. The second is: *Wow*, this thing is amazing.
The asterisk indicates that the Amplifier has obvious limits. Even though I’ve had no issues with the GeForce GTX 980, my first encounter with the GeForce Titan X has given me pause regarding future driver troubles. I’m scratching my head over oddities like the performance reduction when running a monitor directly off the GPU. In addition, the lone 80mm cooling fan is simply too loud, in my opinion.
If you think about it, there isn’t much to complain about. Unlike MSI’s GS30 Shadow, you don’t have to buy the Amplifier at the beginning of the game. After a few years, you’ll notice that the internal visuals aren’t quite up to snuff. Get an Amplifier and a mid-range video card that works well.
Even if you give up portability, the only other option is to buy a new laptop or stop using your Alienware laptop for gaming altogether without the Amplifier. That’s a fantastic solution, and it gives you a significant advantage over similar laptop designs.