How does an RTX 3080 perform inside an eGPU?

All that power over one cable.

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Over the past couple of months I’ve been gaming with an eGPU enclosure that had Nvidia's GeForce RTX 3080 stuffed inside of it. While the limitations of Thunderbolt 3 are well documented, I was curious to see just how limited that monster card would be in such a setup. In the above video you can check out the results from over 10 of the hottest games of the past year, including Cyberpunk 2077 and Microsoft Flight Simulator (2020).

Getting the whole system up and running required a bit of work due to the power requirements of the EVGA GeForce RTX 3080 FTW3 Ultra Gaming GPU and its trio of 8-pin power connections. I had to hook up a separate power supply to juice the card! Once it was up and running it worked great--it just looked silly.

The external GPU was connected to a Gigabyte Aero 15 OLED WB over Thunderbolt 3, bypassing the Nvidia GeForce RTX 2070 inside the laptop when it was connected. In order to see the results I ran each game in four scenarios:

  • Using the RTX 2070 in the laptop
  • Hooking up the RTX 3080-equipped eGPU and gaming on the laptop’s monitor
  • Plugging a 4K monitor into the 3080 and disabling the laptop’s monitor
  • Running the RTX 3080 in a desktop system with an Intel Core i9-9900KS

So it is worth it to use such a powerful card inside an eGPU? I’ll let the results of the video speak for itself, but the quick answer is No. Not one situation saw the RTX 3080 inside the eGPU match its desktop performance. There were even cases where the RTX 2070 in the eGPU provided better performance.

So which GPU is the best for an external enclosure like this? That’s what I’m hoping to find out next!

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At a Glance
  • EVGA's GeForce RTX 3080 FTW3 Ultra packs a fantastic custom cooling system and all sorts of extras designed to push clock speeds to 11. Overclocking enthusiasts will love this, and overlook its high power draw and massive size.

    Pros

    • Excellent 4K and 1440p gaming
    • Cold, silent custom cooler
    • Loaded with overclocking-friendly features
    • Fan and RGB headers, striking RGB lights
    • Precision X1 software is superb
    • Ray tracing at 4K and 1440p
    • Ultra-fast GDDR6x memory

    Cons

    • Massive size
    • Very high power consumption
    • Steep premium for luxurious features
    • Ugly red plastic accent 'lips' on ends
 
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