An eGPU have been out for a couple of years now, but most of them were created to work only for some proprietary gaming laptops, leaving other laptops behind. Having an eGPU is a sure-fire way of improving the graphical performance of your laptop.
But, what if you do not have a compatible gaming laptop? Is there any way you can still improve its performance? Thankfully, there is. There are already eGPUs that can support a vast majority of laptops, provided that they come with a Thunderbolt 3 port.
In this article, I will talk about the Akitio Node. This is an eGPU enclosure that makes use of the Thunderbolt 3 technology. It supports a wide variety of laptops so long as it comes with the aforementioned connection. Is this eGPU any good? You will find out in this article.
The Akitio Node’s design is pretty simple. It comes with an all-metal chassis with a matte black color scheme. There are two vents for ample airflow; one found at the top and one on the left side of the chassis. On the front, you will find extra grilles because the fan is placed inside and it will act as an intake while the other vents mentioned earlier will act as exhausts.
At the back of the chassis, you will find some thumb screws, a handle, and one Thunderbolt 3 connection. On the inside of the unit, you will find the 400-watt power supply made by SFX, one fan, and the main board itself which has a PCIe x16 slot. You can pretty much use any graphics card on the market as the eGPU enclosure can fit any double-length graphics card. Heck, you can even make use of the Zotac 1080 AMP Extreme edition which is a massive, but a powerful card!
Sadly, there are no USB ports found on the Akitio Node, so all of your USB-powered peripherals should be plugged directly into your laptop.
The setup process is pretty simple. The first thing you need to do is unscrew the thumb screws at the back of the enclosure. Once they’re removed, use the handle to push the chassis forward. After that, the main board will be available to you.
Place your Graphics card of choice into the PCIe x16 slot and use the appropriate power connections. The eGPU has enough 6+2 power connections to power even the most demanding graphics card on the market.
Once that is done, simply push the main board back to its original place and screw the thumbscrews again. Plug the Thunderbolt 3 cable into the appropriate slot and finally, plug it into your laptop.
Now, there is something that you need to know. The Akitio Node can support the MacBook Pro 2016 because it has the Thunderbolt 3 connection. But somehow, only AMD Radeon RX 400 series cards can be supported. If you plan on using this on a MacBook Pro 2016 laptop, make sure you take note of this.
If you happen to use a laptop that has Windows 10 installed, you have the absolute freedom. Whether you’re using an AMD RX 480 or a Nvidia 1000 series graphics card, it is up to you. The eGPU has enough wattage to power even the most demanding graphics card currently available today.
Once everything is complete, fire up your laptop. If all is well, the eGPU should be detected and it will install the necessary drivers to have it up and running smoothly. If it is not detected, you’re probably using the old Thunderbolt 3 firmware. Make sure to update all of the Thunderbolt 3 firmware and drivers so that you will not run into this issue. If you cannot find the new firmware on your laptop’s website, you can email them directly to ask for the newest Thunderbolt 3 firmware.
The Akitio Node performs really well. If you put an AMD RX 480, for example, you’re going to get a near-consistent 60 fps on most games at 1080p. Of course, if you’re going to use Nvidia’s more powerful graphics cards, you’re going to get higher frame rates and you can also enjoy a higher resolution as well.
Now, even though it performs admirably well, the included fan is actually pretty noisy. Couple that with the short Thunderbolt 3 cable and you’re probably going to be annoyed by the obnoxious fan noise. You can swap it with another fan, though, but I guess you would get similar results.
The good thing is that the fan really does a good job of removing hot air from the enclosure. Again, I do have to stress that the if you’re going to use this eGPU on your MacBook Pro, make sure to use only Radeon AMD graphics cards as the green team’s cards are not supported on the OS.
The Akitio Node is a pretty good and sturdy eGPU. I love the fact that it can support a variety of laptops that come with the Thunderbolt 3 connection. Heck, it can even support the newest MacBook Pro!
There are some downsides to this because you can only make use of AMD’s graphics cards if you plan on using this on the latest MacBook Pro. However, the possibilities are endless if you’re using this on a Windows 10 machine.
The noise levels are also a point of consideration since the noise that the fan produces is pretty loud. This can discourage people who want a silent setup, but I guess this is a tradeoff when using such an enclosure.
With its extensive support, solid build quality, and its affordable price at $300, the Akitio Node is a pretty good eGPU.
- Sturdy Build
- Easy to setup
- Can work on the latest MacBook Pro
- Can only support AMD RX 400 Series graphics cards on the latest MacBook Pro
- Short Thunderbolt 3 cable
- Loud fan noise