PCIe power connector: PCIe can also refer to a type of power connector with six or eight pins.
ATX 24-pin connector: This is another kind of power connector that is commonly used with PC power supplies, and is one of the power options on PCIe adapters.
PCIe adapter/board: This is a small circuit board with a PCIe slot, some HDMI slots, and a whole bunch of power options. The only point of the PCIe adapter is to help the graphics card communicate with the laptop.
Express Card Slot: This is the spot in your laptop that is reserved for wireless broadband cards from a mobile carrier.
mPCIe: This is an interface that some eGPU enthusiasts use to connect their graphics card to their laptop instead of an ExpressCard. It offers a better connection, but it can be a hassle because most mPCIe slots are inside the laptop.
Thunderbolt: Intel’s blazing fast I/O technology is also an option for an eGPU connection. Windows laptops don’t commonly offer Thunderbolt ports (yet), but many MacBook eGPU enthusiasts report a great experience with a Thunderbolt connection.
BIOS: This is the program that first starts when you boot your computer. It’s usually accessed by hitting F2, another F key, or a special button on your laptop.The BIOS controls a variety of options for your PC including, for example, the boot order.
Frames per second (fps): This is a basic measure of how well a game runs on a given system. The gold standard for PC gamers is 60fps, though 30fps is considered perfectly playable. Many “next-generation” console games still run at 30fps.
eGPU Basic components
A typical eGPU set-up requires five basic items: a laptop, a desktop graphics card, an external display, a PCIe adapter/board to house the card, and a separate power supply for the graphics card. You may also want a laptop cooling pad if you are going to try to play games that go heavy on graphics, like Witcher 3.
Ideally, your laptop is packing an Intel quad-core Core processor, or a dual-core Core processor with Hyperthreading. It’d also be a great idea to swap your spinning hard drive for an SSD. The latter is far more responsive and makes the gaming experience much better, but it’s not a necessity.
A BPlus PCIe board for external graphics card usage. Credit: HWTools
The PCIe board is a specialized piece of equipment. The most popular place to grab a board for ExpressCard and mPCIe users is BPlus in Taiwan (HWTools.net). If you’re looking at using Thunderbolt 2.0 for an eGPU setup there are enclosures you can buy.
Sign up for Computerworld eNewsletters.