External graphics card for a laptop – how to choose by connection method, manufacturer, power and price

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All computer users are thinking about improving its technical characteristics. For gamers or designers using graphic editors, the most important characteristic is its power. To increase productivity, it is not necessary to buy an expensive computer with an expensive discrete card installed in the case. In some cases, an external video card for a laptop will help, which can be easily connected to a computer using special adapters.

What is an external laptop video card

Each laptop or tablet contains an integrated graphics card. Through it, information from the motherboard is transmitted to the screen. By simple settings of the “Settings” tab of the screen properties, you can add a second monitor and expand the computer to both screens. If you connect an external graphics accelerator for a laptop between it and another monitor, you can achieve higher characteristics of the image transmitted to the second display. There are several ways to connect an external video adapter. They differ in the speed of the video signal..

How to connect an external graphics card to a laptop

Connecting an additional monitor to a laptop can be interesting not only for gamers. High-quality images with high resolution and a bright color palette have less negative impact on the eyes. The load is reduced due to the increase in text fonts, it becomes possible to work on a computer without glasses. There are several ways to connect an external graphics card to a laptop..

A portable video card for a laptop can be connected via:

  • USB connection is the easiest way, but has a speed limit for information transfer;
  • Express Card – it uses a slot to connect external peripheral modules to enable it, but is rarely used by the latest laptop models;
  • Mini-PCIe – this uses the standard interface for all laptops, but its speed is limited;
  • Thunderbolt is a specialized bus for high-speed data exchange with external devices, but it is installed in series only on MacBooks.

Connect to laptop


The easiest way is to connect an additional video adapter via USB (universal serial bus, universal serial bus). It is impossible to get a high-quality picture due to the low data transfer rate in this channel. USB 2.0 will make possible a maximum resolution of 800×600. The USB 3.0 bus has a higher speed, but it does not work under Windows XP, which is installed on most older laptop models. A USB video card will not allow you to watch a video or get a high-quality graphic picture, but it can be used for simple tasks.



The ideal option for connecting an external card to a laptop is a collaboration product between Apple and Intel – the Thunderbolt port. It has been installed on Apple brand laptops since 2012. This is a universal port that is capable of transmitting data, broadcasting video. At present, its 3rd modification is being produced. Thunderbolt 3 operates at speeds up to 40 Gb / s, which provides quick connection to docking stations, monitors, and other devices. By using a serial connection, it is possible to connect six Thunderbolt devices in a single circuit.

Thunderbolt 3


Since 2005, laptops have been equipped with an interface for connecting external ExpressCard modules. With it, it was optionally possible to connect multimedia devices, a Wi-Fi card, a TV tuner. This standard has replaced the PC Card and the PCMCIA and CardBus interfaces. Connecting an external card through it goes through the active EXP GDX adapter. Given the purchase of an additional power supply, this is the most budgetary option for upgrading a laptop and getting high-quality video images on an external monitor for gamers.


Mini PCIe

To use this method, you must have a mini PCI Express port in the laptop. A laptop dock with an EXP GDX graphics card is connected to this port. Buying this device, you will receive a cable for connecting the video adapter to the mini PCI Express port, a power supply, a cable for connecting additional power to the card. The removable video card itself is inserted into the adapter slot, and the monitor is already connected to it. After that, you need to install the drivers for the card on the laptop and check the operation of your laptop with new equipment.

Mini PCIe

External graphics cards

Computer hardware manufacturers compete to create more powerful and faster graphics cards. An additional impetus to the development of this direction was the fact that an external video card for a computer is used for cryptocurrency mining. Solving the problem of improving the graphic characteristics of a laptop, you should choose the best model in terms of price and quality. The most popular are the cards of two American brands: AMD (Advanced Micro Devices) and Nvidia.

You can buy a video card in computer supermarkets in Moscow, St. Petersburg, and other cities of Russia. Active users of the network can find out how much it costs, select photos from online stores, see all the specifications, order a model for promotions or sales, purchase at a discount. Thanks to current services, the delivery task is reduced to indicating the address at the time of purchase. Many stores have their own delivery services, use courier companies, deliver goods by mail.

Remote video card


NVidia TM graphics cards have high performance, use advanced gaming technologies (NVIDIA GameWorks ™) and the most advanced gaming ecosystem (GeForce Experience ™). The technologies used for the GeForce GTX1060 Windforce card support the requirements of modern monitors, including ultra-high resolution, provide a smooth gameplay:

  • model name: Gigabyte GeForce GTX1060 Windforce OC 6GB;
  • price: 18 084 rubles;
  • specifications: 6 GB memory, type VRAM GDDR5, bus width 192 bits, PCIe 3.0 version, ports – HDMI, DisplayPort, miniDisplayPort, HDCP, DirectX 12, active cooling, cooler size Dual-Slot GPU Length 223 mm;
  • pluses: power level High End;
  • cons: not marked.

Gigabyte GeForce GTX1060 Windforce Graphics

By production of cards of TM NVidia high-quality components are used. The portable laptop video card has composite copper tubes that increase cooling efficiency by 29%:

  • model name: Palit GeForce GTX 1070Ti JetStream 8GB;
  • price: 30 431 r.;
  • specifications: Enthusiast power level, 8 GB memory, VRAM GDDR5 type, 256-bit bus width, PCIe 3.0 version, ports – HDMI, DVI, 3 pcs DisplayPort, HDCP, SLI, DirectX 12.1, active cooling, dual-slot GPU cooler size Length 285 mm;
  • pluses: the perfect gaming solution;
  • cons: high cost.

External graphics card Palit GeForce GTX 1070Ti


The AMD Dual line of video processors from AMD has the highest performance, but also high power consumption. The presented version of the card is equipped with a cooler with a pair of fans and is characterized by factory overclocking:

  • model name: Radeon RX 580 DUAL-RX580-O8G 8GB;
  • price: 31 080 r.;
  • specifications: Enthusiast power level, 8 GB memory, VRAM GDDR5 type, 256-bit bus width, PCIe 3.0 version, ports – 2pcs HDMI, DVI, 2 pcs DisplayPort, HDCP, CrossFireX, DirectX 12, overclocked, active cooling, Dual- cooler size Slot GPU Length 242 mm;
  • pluses: factory overclocking;
  • cons: not at all cheap.

Powerful Radeon RX 580 Graphics

AMD cards offer better cooling with significant factory overclocking. This solution works at a higher core frequency and claims to be the fastest card in the Radeon version:

  • model name: Powercolor Radeon RX 580 Red Devil Golden Sample 8GB;
  • price: 19 823 r.;
  • specifications: High End power level, 8 GB memory, VRAM GDDR5 type, 256-bit bus width, PCIe 3.0 version, ports – HDMI, DVI, 3 pcs DisplayPort, HDCP, CrossFireX, DirectX 12, overclocked, active cooling, Dual- cooler size Slot GPU Length 255 mm;
  • pluses: overclocked card;
  • cons: not seen.

Powercolor Radeon RX 580 Red Devil Golden Sample 8GB

How to choose an external graphics card for a laptop

Manufacturers offer a wide range of graphics cards. The review shows the latest developments of leading world brands. It makes no sense to buy the most expensive of the existing cards. Most characteristics of laptops will not be able to fully use its full potential. The best choice would be an inexpensive card of the last two generations. The main criteria for your choice should be:

  • price – cards of the game segment or for mining purposes cost from 250 to 3000 USD;
  • most of the latest games at maximum settings will require cards in the price range of 300-550 USD;
  • video outputs – when choosing, matching the input of your monitor with the card is necessary;
  • video memory generation – must be at least GDDR3;
  • AMD cards are well suited for the Thunderbolt interface, which is installed on the MacBook Pro and MacBook Air;
  • Nvidia graphics cards are suitable for all other users.
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