Sapphire GearBox Thunderbolt 3 Review: Discrete Graphics On The Outside

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Performance Results: 1920 x 1080

While larger and faster graphics cards technically fit in Sapphire’s GearBox, the Thunderbolt 3 interface’s four-lane PCIe 3.0 link kept our ambitions humble. A Radeon RX 590 is ample for smooth gaming at 1920 x 1080, so that’s where we ran our benchmarks.

And it’s a good thing, too. In certain cases, the external graphics box took a pretty serious performance hit. In fact, the slow-down was severe enough to cut the Radeon RX 590’s average frame rate down to somewhere between a GeForce GTX 1050 Ti 4GB and a GeForce GTX 1650 in many workloads.

That’s going to be a hard pill to swallow for gamers eyeing specific GPUs with an expectation of performance gleaned from benchmarks run on desktop platforms.

Eager for a bit more insight, we ran some additional tests…

Ashes of the Singularity: Escalation (DX12)

Battlefield V (DX12)

Destiny 2 (DX11)

Far Cry 5 (DX11)

Grand Theft Auto V (DX11)

Metro: Last Light Redux (DX11)

Shadow of the Tomb Raider (DX12)

Tom Clancy’s The Division 2 (DX12)

Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon (DX11)

The Witcher 3 (DX11)

Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus (Vulkan)

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Chris Angelini
Chris Angelini is an Editor Emeritus at Tom's Hardware US. He edits hardware reviews and covers high-profile CPU and GPU launches.
  • LordConrad
    "Discrete graphics, gigabit Ethernet, and USB 3.0 from one enclosure"

    This is not a Pro, because all devices connected to the enclosure will share the bandwidth of that single Thunderbolt 3 connection. Any use of the Ethernet and/or USB ports will steal bandwidth from your graphics card, which is already bandwidth starved from being on Thunderbolt.
  • abhipw
    How can an always on blue light bar be a con?
  • cangelini
    abhipw said:
    How can an always on blue light bar be a con?
    If it's on your desk, and you're always looking at it, an always-on light becomes a con. When it comes time to watch a movie or play a game, you'll want the ability to disable it.
  • mlee 2500
    Call me old fashioned, but I put my GPU directly inside my computer.