Gigabyte Goes Big With $1500 Water-Cooled eGPU, Powered by the RTX 2080 Ti

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Gigabyte has decided to swing for the fences where this whole eGPU thing is concerned. The company has announced a $ 1500 eGPU, the Gigabyte Aorus RTX 2080 Ti Gaming Box, with included water cooling. This isn’t a true water cooler, however — it’s a closed-loop liquid cooler, which limits how much improvement the system can offer. CLLCs are excellent for affordabilibility, but they don’t offer as much raw cooling capability as an open-loop cooler (open-loop coolers are, of course, more expensive and generally more difficult to work with, but they also offer better performance). It is not particularly surprising that manufacturers aren’t keen to be shipping open loop coolers.

Gigabyte Goes Big With $1500 Water-Cooled eGPU, Powered by the RTX 2080 Ti 1

That’s “closed loop” in the upper left, “open loop” at the bottom right, and “Brother Lööps” in the middle

The Gigabyte Aorus RTX 2080 Ti Gaming Box is part of the Waterforce family of Gigabyte products and ships with a 1545MHz GPU clock and a 1400MHz memory clock. The chassis includes some I/O options, with 3 USB 3.0 ports, a Thunderbolt 3 Type-C port, an ethernet jack, and the USB-C port actually built into the GPU. GPU hookups include three DisplayPorts and an HDMI port. One USB 3.0 port is on the front of the chassis, while both USB-C ports, ethernet, power, and display hookups are all at the back, as shown below:

Gigabyte-RTX-2080-Ti-3

The cooling system uses a 240mm aluminum radiator and two 120mm fans, as shown below:

There are no images of the opened chassis, which makes sense — this is an all-in-one unit that Gigabyte is selling, and the company obviously doesn’t intend for it to be user upgradeable. Whether it is user upgradeable will depend entirely on how difficult it is to mount the waterblock to a new GPU — or, alternately, to fit a new GPU + mounted cooler into the existing enclosure. Neither has a terribly high rate of likely success — GPUs cooler sizes and mounting often changes between generations, and betting that you’ll be able to stuff a new card into someone else’s proprietary solution is always a bit dicey.

Putting water cooling in a box like this should improve underlying cooler support, and even the premium on the chassis isn’t that bad. The RTX 2080 Ti starts at about $ 1049 new, which means the premium for the chassis is large, but at least it isn’t 50 percent of the card’s MSRP. The problem with dropping $ 1500 on an external GPU is that you’d want to make certain you can use it for a long period of time, either with multiple systems or with multiple generations of GPU. I tend to favor these kinds of chassis when they offer guaranteed upgradability, which the Gigabyte solution lacks. The flip side, of course, is that buying an eGPU with an RTX 2080 Ti would get you solid performance for a long period of time. 2.5 years after it launched, the GTX 1080 Ti is still one of the fastest GPUs on the market. The 2080 Ti has already been in-market for over a year, so anyone looking at a solution like this should take that into consideration when buying. If you’re the kind of person who needs to upgrade to the latest and greatest thing at every opportunity, it might not be the best GPU for you.

While I have no idea how common a use-case this is (and I expect not much), an eGPU like this is an intriguing option if you wanted to buy multiple relatively low-cost laptops (perhaps for a family), while providing every system with the ability to connect for gaming sessions when the individual owner wanted to. I hadn’t ever thought of the idea of using an eGPU as a multi-family desktop graphics card, but it would actually make some sense to do so. You might even be able to able to save money by skipping the purchase of multiple dGPUs per system and favoring a centralized solution. Of course, this again assumes you’ve got a family of fairly rabid gamers and a giant cash slush fund, but since we’re talking about $ 1500 external graphics cards in the first place, this may not be the craziest assumption.

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