If you’re into video games, you don’t need to spend $300 to $500 on a video game console. Instead, you can use your computer or laptop to play games that you can download from the Internet. However, if your laptop is mostly for word processing tasks or to create spreadsheets, you can convert it for gaming by installing an external graphics card.
Converting a Laptop for Gaming
To play some of the best games currently on the market, like AAA games, you may need to add more power to your laptop.
However, if you don’t want to invest a lot of money in upgrading your computer, you can buy games requiring less power that was released a couple of years ago. If upgrading your laptop doesn’t seem intimidating, then you will need a to get a better graphics card.
What is an External Graphics Card?
Graphics card housed in an external chassis are external graphics cards or eGPUs. It is a video card for a computer housed in a box that can be hooked up to a PC or laptop to provide better graphics for gaming. The graphics are improved by increasing the speed of the graphics process.
Since gaming usually requires continued use of your system, the laptop may not have a sufficient cooling system to keep it cool enough to protect it from overheating. This problem can be taken care of for an external card because it may be housed in a chassis that has a:
- Power supply
- PCI Express slot
- Cooling system
- Video card
The PCI Express slot accepts the video card that is in your laptop. The chassis of the external system is usually large enough to house a full-size video card for gaming.
Although an eGPU is less expensive than most laptops designed for gaming.
They can still cost $500 or more by the time you purchase everything that is needed. If you’re customizing your system, you will also need to purchase a chassis to house it and, if there isn’t a cooling system inside of it, you may want to add one. Both items will increase the costs.
Tips for Selecting an eGPU
Before you start looking for a graphics card for your laptop. You should know what you want it to do and figure out which specifications will be needed to accomplish your gaming goals. If you want to play some of the latest game releases, a good way to begin researching specifications is to look at the each games’ box.
A game will provide information about the specifications needed to optimize your playing experience.
For instance, if you want to play Resident Evil 7: Biohazard, it requires at least 2 gigabytes of video RAM and an NVIDIA GeForce GTX 760 or AMD Radeon R7 260x graphics card. There are other requirements, such as a Windows operating system and 24GB of available space on your hard drive.
The requirements will be easy to find if you have an idea of which games you would like to play on your system.
Know the Verbiage
If you’re not someone who is technology obsessed like some gamers. Then you may not be familiar with the technical language that’s associated with computer components. Some graphics card terms you should know are:
Graphics Processing Unit or GPU – A GPU is the processor on a graphics card the help create images on a screen by utilizing the computer’s memory.
Core Clock – This term indicates the speed of the GPU. Higher clock speeds mean that the process runs faster.
Video RAM – Video RAM (Random Access Memory) is also called VRAM. It refers to the memory that stores data for producing images. A higher VRAM speed can provide better image resolutions, but it can also affect the frame rate of the images.
Memory bandwidth – This term refers to the VRAM’s speed and is used to determine how quickly images are produced.
Interface – An interface is a connection needed to hook up the graphics card to your laptop. Most graphics cards now use the PCI Express 3.0, which is important information.
Power Requirement – This term refers to the power required by your system’s power supply expressed in watts.
Why RAM is Important
When buying a graphics card. You will need to know how much RAM is required for producing the best possible images on your laptop. The higher amount of RAM the card has, the better the images. Producing better images can enhance your playing experience.
The type of RAM is almost as important as the amount of RAM in your system.
The options are DDR3, which was once the gold standard for graphics cards, or GDDR5 that is the modern standard. The main difference in the two types of RAM is bandwidth.
The newer technology allows for more information to be processed by the graphics card, providing for higher image resolutions.
Reference vs. Non-Reference Graphics Cards
Two other terms, which are related, that you should know are reference and nonreference when talking about graphics cards. A reference graphics card comes directly from the manufacturer without modifications. A non-reference card has been modified by another company before it was sold to consumers.
Knowing this information is important for being able to keep your system cool, so it doesn’t overheat and crash. Reference graphics cards usually have one fan that blows hot air out of the back of the case.
Non-reference graphics cards have two fans that blow hot air away from the card, but into the computer case. The additional hot air can stress your system while cooling it. However, the extra fan allows them to run quieter and work more effectively.
This tip not only applies to graphics cards by any component installed in your laptop. Compatibility problems are common issues after inserting a new graphics card. You should find out:
- The size of the graphics card to find out if it will fit in the chassis you want.
- Whether it needs PCI slots and how many if it does.
- The AMPs required for operation.
- How much power it will use when you’re playing.
To successfully select an eGPU for your system, get to know the terminology. And then decide on the amount of RAM that will be needed. And also check the compatibility of graphics card options to your laptop.
After researching graphics cards and choosing one. You will need two other components to make your laptop into a gaming system. Specifically, a dock, which is also called a chassis, and a power supply. However, depending on the chassis that you choose, the power supply may be provided.
The main concern regarding the chassis will be its size. If you’ve already chosen a graphics card, find out how large it is and then find out if it will fit into the chassis that you want. New graphics cards are often larger than older versions, so you don’t want to choose a chassis until after you’ve decided on the graphics card for the unit.
Setting Up the eGPU
After you have everything you need to create an eGPU, you will need to set it up. While most passionate gamers or computer hobbyists have few issues with working on their systems, it can intimidate anyone who has never done it.
When purchasing the eGPU’s components, also grab an anti-static wristband. The wristband can keep static from accidentally frying the motherboard or another essential component in your laptop while setting up the eGPU.
Next, you will need to connect the Mini PCIE to HDMI cable, which is included with the chassis. Into the laptop’s Mini PCIE slot. The process of connecting the cable involves replacing the Wi-Fi Lan card. The Wi-Fi driver should be disconnected before taking this step.
To access the slot, you will need to get into the inner workings of your laptop. Sometimes the Mini PCIE slot is located behind the harddisk. However, it may be in another place.
If you don’t want to open the laptop, look for a PCI Express slot on the left side of your system. If there is one, you can buy the EXP GDC PCI Express Version eGPU Dock to connect the graphics card.
Next, the laptop’s power supply will need to be removed.
So the one in the chassis can provide the power needed to run the system with the graphics card. You should have a power connector and HDMI cable. To ensure the system gets power.
Afterward, you can install the graphics card into the dock, and you will be done.
Before booting the system, you will need to disable the BIOS to make sure everything works. This video demonstrates how to set up an eGPU to a laptop.
You don’t need to be a computer technician to create an external graphics card setup. With patience and this information, you can purchase and install the best graphics card for your needs. After the eGPU has been connected to your laptop. Then you will be able to enjoy playing any games you wish.