Hands On: Razer’s $400 Core X Chroma eGPU Adds Ports, Lights, Beefier PSU

Razer’s existing Core X external graphics box (eGPU) will let you get your game on with your Thunderbolt 3 laptop and a (user-provided) desktop graphics card. But if you want an RGB light show, some USB and Ethernet ports and a beefier power supply to push your high-end graphics card to its limits, the company’s new Core X Chroma might be more to your liking--provided you’re ready to pay $400 / €430 for the privilege.

Available starting today, the Razer Core X Chroma looks a lot like the company’s previous all-metal enclosure, although it is about a half-inch longer at 14.7 inches (37.3 cm) than the Core X. Chief among the upgrades on this upscale model is RGB lighting along the underside and the mesh side vent that gives the box its Chroma name, as well as four USB 3 Type A ports and a Gigabit Ethernet port around back.

The ports are handy for plugging in peripherals and a more stable Internet connection than Wi-Fi, letting you plop your Thunderbolt 3-equipped laptop on your desk next to your eGPU, plug in a single cable and get to gaming with desktop-class graphics and external peripherals.

The company also upped the power supply on this model from 500 watts in the Core X to 700 watts with the Core X Chroma. While no single graphics card is likely to pull that much power, keep in mind that the box will also be powering your laptop (up to 100 watts) and whatever peripherals you plug into the back. So having the extra power capacity is a plus--particularly if you’re overclocking and/or running a power-hungry AMD card, or a professional Nvidia Quadro for productivity purposes.

Speaking of cards, Razer has qualified pretty much every graphics card from the last few years to work with the Core X Chroma in Windows 10, while MacOS support is limited to recent AMD models. The company says cards up to three slots wide should fit in the enclosure, with a maximum length of just under 13 inches (330 mm) and a max height of 6.3 inches (160 mm). Other niceties include tool-free card installation thanks to a slide-out drawer and a thumb screw for securing your card.

While the asking price of $400 is high, that’s true of the $300 non-Chroma model as well. The build quality on Razer’s eGPUs is second to none, and we like the addition of ports and lights. Just be sure that your laptop supports external graphics (eGFX) before buying. Of course, Razer’s Blade Stealth, Blade 15 and GTX 1060-model Blade Pro 17 are supported. And remember that you’ll lose some performance thanks to the overhead of Thunderbolt 3 and the fact that the processors in slim laptops aren’t as powerful as those in desktops or full-sized gaming laptops.

But if you’re looking for a way to turn your on-the-go ultraportable into a powerful gaming PC at your desk when you get home, an eGPU is worth considering. And Razer’s Core X Chroma is among the nicest and most feature-packed of any we’ve seen.

Image Credits: Tom's Hardware

Matt Safford

After a rough start with the Mattel Aquarius as a child, Matt built his first PC in the late 1990s and ventured into mild PC modding in the early 2000s. He’s spent the last 15 years covering emerging technology for Smithsonian, Popular Science, and Consumer Reports, while testing components and PCs for Computer Shopper, PCMag and Digital Trends.