Most laptops don’t have the luxury of being able to upgrade the GPU, and if you’re using an ultrabook with built-in graphics, gaming capabilities are further restricted. This is where external graphics come into play. To that end, Gigabyte has just added a liquid-cooled GeForce RTX 3080 Ti option to its Aorus Gaming Box range.
Gigabyte was the first to take advantage of Nvidia’s Ampere GPU stack in an external graphics enclosure, and as far as I know, it’s still the only one that incorporates liquid cooling into the mix. This is achieved by an all-in-one liquid cooling solution consisting of a 240 mm aluminum radiator with a pair of 120 mm fans connected, a large copper plate, composite heat pipes and resistant FEP tubes.
The AIO liquid cooler inside the Aorus RTX 3080 Ti Gaming Box (via HotHardware) not only dissipates heat from the GPU, but also cools the memory cards and graphics card MOSFETs, also known as VRM layouts.
Comes with its own power supply, a 500 W unit certified 80 Plus Gold. The card draws power from a pair of 8-pin PCIe connectors, although there is no actual configuration, as it is a fully assembled enclosure, all you have to do is connect it to your laptop or desktop.
The card adheres to Nvidia's reference plan, which requires a 1,365 MHz base clock, a 1,665 MHz amplifier clock, and 12 GB of GDDR6X (19 Gbps) memory tied to a 384-bit bus, to get 912.4 GB / s memory bandwidth.
In our tests, the 3080 Ti performs almost as well as a GeForce RTX 3090 in gaming, typically there are only a few frames per second separating the two. But that’s when it connects directly to a PC.
Gigabyte's external graphics enclosure requires you to connect it to a Thunderbolt 3 (USB-C) port, so you'll need one on your laptop or desktop. This also means a bandwidth hit compared to installing a graphics card directly on a PC, which in turn translates into a performance hit.
However, external graphics panels are viable ways to upgrade your system's GPU capabilities, especially on a laptop with built-in graphics. You'll also get some extra connectivity with the Aorus Gaming Box: one Ethernet port, three USB 3.0 ports (type A), two HDMI outputs, and three DisplayPort outputs.
Gigabyte has not said when the Aorus RTX 3080 Ti Gaming Box will be available or how much it will cost. Not that it really matters right now: GPUs are coming off store shelves as quickly as retailers can store them, and it will probably end up being another GPU almost impossible to find.