Razer Core V2: This Case Turns Your Laptop Into a Game Beast
Razer Core V2 transforms a laptop into a racehorse for gaming, its installation is a breeze
For the opulent players, the Core V2 is a dream come true. For all others, it is better to wait a little longer.
PC gamers all have a double life: the day with a laptop to work and the evening at home on a big desktop machine for games. But that will change.
Imagine going home with your cell phone under the arm, to connect a single cable that will: recharge, connect multiple screens, add a mouse and keyboard, activate a wired Internet connection and as a bonus offer you the power of a dedicated graphics card. Yes, you read correctly, one take for all of this at a time. It has been years since we expected such a system that brings together the best of both worlds. Razer did it with the Core V2, an external desktop graphics card case.
The Era of eGPU
The first thing to know about it is not very expensive without a graphics card or laptop. But the second thing to know is that it is not the only external box of this type that is also called eGPU (external graphics processing units in English). There’s the Asus ROG XG, Aorus Gaming Box, PowerColor’s Devil Box, Sonnet’s Breakaway Box and Akitio’s Node. They are all designed on a common standard, which means that their prices are reduced. The standard in question is the Thunderbolt 3, the first computer cable capable of providing both enough bandwidth (40 Gbit / s), power (over 100 watts) and I / O protocols (USB 3.1, DisplayPort , PCI-Express) to power an external graphics card, monitors, peripherals and a laptop. All in plug and play, that is to say without needing to restart his machine. In other words, you can play and work on multiple screens as if you were on a powerful desktop and then just unplug a cable and go with your laptop.
We opened the case by pulling on the aluminum handle to slide an Nvidia GeForce GTX 1070 PCIe card. Then, we ripped the cables from the mouse, the keyboard, the router and our two screens connected to our desktop PC to connect them to the Core. Finally, we placed a laptop 13 inches Blade Stealth from Razer connected to the Core by a Thunderbolt 3 cable and waited for Nvidia drivers to install. And that’s all.
On the first try, we immediately realized that we could not tell the difference between the performance of this notebook and that of our desktop machine that we had lovingly configured two years earlier. Then, we replaced the GTX 1070 with a Titan Xp, one of the most powerful graphics cards of the moment. And there, our good old desktop was downright dropped.
We even played with a HTC Vive virtual reality headset. No way, however, with an Oculus Rift that requires a low latency USB port, which does not offer those of the Core. But this can do it if you have 3 or 4 USB 3.0 ports on your laptop.
The Limits Of Power
But before you rush to buy a Core V2, there are several things you need to know. Starting with the fact that the case does not work with any laptop. It needs not only a Thunderbolt 3 port but which bonus is compatible with external graphics cards. This is not the case for all and the manufacturers do not mention it. And if by chance your pc has such a port, it may be necessary to update the drivers and even the BIOS of the machine.
Fortunately, we had a Dell XPS 15 which is one of the few that hardly needs updating. We were able to do some comparative tests with the Blade Stealth .
As you can see from these test benches, the choice of the laptop also affects the performance of the Core V2.
Laptop vs. Laptop: The fps
|Stealth + GTX 1070||XPS 15 + GTX 1070||Stealth + Titan Xp||XPS 15 + Titan Xp|
|Rise of the Tomb Raider (1080p High)||83||73||108||106|
|Rise of the Tomb Raider (1080p Very High)||72||62||99||95|
|Rise of the Tomb Raider (4K High)||37||35||65||61|
|Grand Theft Auto V (1080p High)||102||115||103||122|
|Grand Theft Auto V (1080p Very High)||93||95||97||112|
|Grand Theft Auto V (4K High)||64||60||94||93|
The 2.8-GHz Core Core i7-7700HQ of the Dell XPS 15 is slightly better than the 1.8 GHz Core i7-8550U of the Blade Stealth, which is why it is faster on Grand Theft Auto V because this game requires a lot the central processor.
In contrast, the XPS 15 has only two PCI-Express bandwidth channels in Thunderbolt 3 instead of the usual four, which explains the Stealth advantage over other games.
Razer Core fps With or Without External Monitor
|Stealth + GTX 1070, external monitor||Stealth + GTX 1070, with the laptop screen||Performance gain|
|Rise of the Tomb Raider (1080p High)||83||72||13%|
|Rise of the Tomb Raider (1080p Very High)||72||52||28%|
|Grand Theft Auto V (1080p High)||102||91||11%|
|Grand Theft Auto V (1080p Very High)||93||82||12%|
|Stealth + RX580, external monitor||Stealth + RX580, with the laptop screen||Performance gain|
|Rise of the Tomb Raider (1080p High)||64||61||5%|
|Rise of the Tomb Raider (1080p Very High)||56||45||20%|
|Grand Theft Auto V (1080p High)||78||73||6%|
|Grand Theft Auto V (1080p Very High)||71||66||7%|
Moreover, to see a real performance gain in the graphics, you need a dedicated card much more powerful than that which equips your laptop. In the case of the Dell XPS 15 , the GTX 1050 was already a good level and we see that the RX 580 AMD sometimes has trouble doing better.
Desktop vs. eGPU, The fps
|Rise of the Tomb Raider (1080p Very High)||Desktop (i5-6600K, PCIe x16)||Core + Stealth (i7-8550U, PCIe x4)||Performance gain|
|AMD RX 580||73||56||23%|
|Nvidia GTX 1070||98||72||27%|
|Nvidia Titan Xp||149||99||34%|
|Rise of the Tomb Raider (4K High)||Desktop (i5-6600K, PCIe x16)||Core + Stealth (i7-8550U, PCIe x4)||Performance gain|
|AMD RX 580||35||30||14%|
|Nvidia GTX 1070||43||37||14%|
|Nvidia Titan Xp||77||65||16%|
|Grand Theft Auto V (4K High)||Desktop (i5-6600K, PCIe x16)||Core + Stealth (i7-8550U, PCIe x4)||Performance gain|
|AMD RX 580||56||43||23%|
|Nvidia GTX 1070||79||64||19%|
|Nvidia Titan Xp||123||94||24%|
Also be aware that you will be penalized if you stay on the screen of your machine. For best performance, play on an external monitor directly connected to the Core.
In general, the case worked without snags, without crashes in games or missed with benchmarks. However, it has happened that the connection with the graphics card does not work on the first try after a long day of work. The reason is unknown and Razer is investigating his case.
If your next laptop is not equipped with a Thunderbolt 3 port compatible with the Core. On the other hand, if the Thunderbolt 3 becomes popular, the prices of the external boxes for graphic cards should fall. But for the moment, we think the Core is a must-have, although it’s really a great option if you can afford it.