Thunderbolt 3 External Graphics Dock


Jul 14, 2015
For me, I would rather get a laptop that has thunderbolt 3 than built in discrete graphics, for the possibility of future expansion.

However, while thunderbolt (3) is finally becoming more and more popular on laptops and even convertibles, the graphic docks are taking much longer to come out.

I think I read somewhere where the Acer graphics dock is coming out in September of 2016, which is in a few months.

This has me thinking:
So it is possible to get a thunderbolt 2 to PCIe case on amazon for about 230 USD from Akitio. (Given you have a thunderbolt 3 to thunderbolt 2 adapter and a PSU as well). But there are other possible options maybe.

I just saw a thunderbolt 2 to express card adapter for 100 USD (not sure how long it will last at that price) and an expresscard to PCIe adapter for 75 USD. What I see is that if you send the connection through expresscard instead of directly from thunderbolt to PCIe, then it is about 55 USD less right now.

However, does anyone think or know if running a cable from thunderbolt 3 to thunderbolt 2 adapter, to a thunderbolt 2 to expresscard adapter, to an expresscard to PCIe adapter would work? (Given that it would probably reduce performance by bandwidth reduction.)

Does anyone think it will be worth it to wait for the Acer 960M thunderbolt 3 dock to come out, which I think its 400USD.

Does anyone think its just worth it to go for a Akitio setup with a thunderbolt 3 to thunderbolt 2 adapter?

Other options?



The price of the egpu docks are still a bit too expensive to be viable. You can still get a laptop with a dgpu and tb3. It makes no sense to get one with no dgpu just to spend money on an egpu. You can easily get a new laptop with a better gpu for cheaper than the acer 960m. It's going to be new just to have tb3 anyways. A diy solution or even a commercial dock would at least keep it open to most desktop gpus. Recycling old desktop gpus to a laptop wouldn't be so bad.

Many egpus are now hitting the market now with tb3 with pcie 3.0 x4. I don't know if tb adpaters will just lower bandwidth but you shouldn't complicate the setup more if you go diy. It's still pcie protocols so should work with just a reduced bandwidth. We've seen in the past where expresscard or mpcie, which is only x1, can cause a 50% performance hit. So in any case, try to figure out the cost of the adapter+gpu+psu(+laptop sell price for older laptops) and see if that would be worth it for the performance increase. Expresscard and mpcie adapters are cheaper than what you found. There are some for $30-50. But expresscard is obsolete and only on old laptops and mpcie is not easily accessible for some laptops and is used for the wireless card.

As for other solutions, unfortunately there aren't many 3rd party adapters for tb. The akitio is the cheapest I know but is tb2 and still needs another psu. You'd have just as much info as me from trying to google other adapters. The only commercial one out right now is the razer core for $500 unless you have an alienware since that's a proprietary connection but it's $200. Otherwise keep an eye out for the asus xg station 2 and the powercolor devil box which will be out this year. Gigabyte has one too but not sure about when it gets released and none of these have prices. Prices shouldn't be too different so like I said, too expensive.