NVIDIA GeForce RTX 4090 Graphics Card & eGPU Enclosures Aren’t A Great Combination For Gamers

Jason R. Wilson
NVIDIA's GeForce RTX 4090 Graphics Card & eGPU Enclosures Aren't A Great Combination For Gamers 1

External GPU users will want to think twice about connecting the newest NVIDIA GeForce RTX 4090 graphics cards to their systems. JarrodsTech, an Australian tech YouTuber, benchmarked the latest GPU in an external configuration and found the connection between the laptop and graphics card with a loss of close to fifty percent gaming and power performance.

NVIDIA GeForce RTX 4090 cannot perform well in eGPU configurations, Thunderbolt 3 compatibility & ReBAR possibly hindering performance

Multiple issues were connecting the NVIDIA GeForce RTX 4090 to the two laptops he used for testing — the ASUS Zenbook 14 OLED and AORUS 17X. The former notebook is not a performance option, and the latter is for gaming. The Razer Core X Chroma enclosure is a Thunderbolt 3 compatible eGPU case, whereas the NVIDIA RTX 4090 works well with Thunderbolt 4. Jarrod used the Razer Core X Chroma eGPU enclosure for the RTX 4090, but the case could not adequately fit the newest GPU from NVIDIA, so he had to alter one of the slots on the enclosure to suit the graphics card. The case would also not close due to the immense size of the new NVIDIA RTX 4090, so it was left open.

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JarrodsTech shows the test in full in the video below.

The ASUS Zenbook 14 OLED laptop has an Intel i7-1260P processor, and the AORUS 17X laptop, explicitly built for gaming, offers the Intel i9-12900HX processor.

JarrodsTech connected the Corsair HX850i 850W power supply, a random PSU he stated he had sitting around with four 8-pin connections connected to the GPU. Lastly, he used an external monitor, increasing the bandwidth length between the laptop and eGPU, which would cause a slight change in performance.

For his test computer, the system used contained the specs below, minus the obvious NVIDIA GeForce RTX 4090 GPU:

  • CPU: AMD Ryzen 9 7950X
  • Motherboard: Gigabyte AORUS X670E MASTER
  • RAM: 32GB DDR5-6000 CL30
  • SSD: MSI SPATIUM M480 2TB
  • Case: NZXT H700I
  • Cooler: MSI COre Liquid S360 AIO
  • Thermal Paste: Noctua NT-H2
  • Power supply: Corsair HX 1000I

Before testing any of the games he chose, he ran the Cinebench R23 benchmark test to check CPU performance, and the multicore test displayed that the test PC utilizing the NVIDIA GeForce RTX 4090 was extremely high in comparison to the two laptops, which is not surprising due to both laptops using integrated components, including integrated graphics. Another test processed before the gaming tests was the 3DMark PCI Express test, showing that the test PC with the RTX 4090 had a massive gain over the two laptops since more bandwidth is accessible to the test PC over the laptops, which JarrodsTech reminds that it will affect performance.

The games tested were:

  • God Of War
  • Halo Infinite
  • Red Dead Redemption 2
  • Assassin's Cree Valhalla
  • Metro Exodus (Enhanced version)
  • Call of Duty: Warzone
  • Fortnite
  • Watch Dogs: Legion
  • Total War: Warhammer III
  • The Witcher 3
  • Apex Legends
  • Cyberpunk 2077
  • Tom Clancy's Rainbow Six Extraction
  • Forza Horizon 5
  • DOOM Eternal
  • F1 2021
  • Marvel's Spider-Man Remastered
  • Shadow of the Tomb Raider
  • Borderlands 3
  • Dying Light 2

Every game tested did well on the test computer with his current configuration. Still, upon looking at the laptop performance connected to the external NVIDIA GeForce  RTX 4090 GPU, the performance in 4K, 1440p, and 1080p resolutions took a massive hit, with every game title utilizing less than fifty percent of the version of the external graphics card. What was also surprising was that the two laptops' performance in various titles, such as Assassin's Creed Valhalla, showed that the gaming laptop was slower than the Zenbook laptop, a system not meant for gaming.

NVIDIA GeForce RTX 4090 eGPU Performance Testing (Image Credits; Jarrod's Tech):

nvidi-geforce-rtx-4090-egpu-enclosure-gaming-performance-_-call-of-duty
nvidi-geforce-rtx-4090-egpu-enclosure-gaming-performance-_-metro-exodus
nvidi-geforce-rtx-4090-egpu-enclosure-gaming-performance-_-assassins-creed
nvidi-geforce-rtx-4090-egpu-enclosure-gaming-performance-_-rdr2
nvidi-geforce-rtx-4090-egpu-enclosure-gaming-performance-_-halo-infinite
nvidi-geforce-rtx-4090-egpu-enclosure-gaming-performance-_-god-of-war

JarrodsTech speculates that the contributing factor of poor performance could lie within the Resizable BAR utilization but is not entirely sure that is the whole problem. It is possible that the Thunderbolt 3 configuration on a GPU meant for Thunderbolt 4 could also affect performance poorly.

He ends the video by not being able to recommend using the NVIDIA GeForce RTX 4090 externally with even the best laptops and saying that gamers would fare better with a high-end gaming laptop or PC configuration to get the best performance available until better-performing docks become available.

News Sources: Tom's Hardware, JarrodsTech

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