Mercury Helios 3S

Mercury Helios 3S is a PCIe enclosure from OWC (macsales.com) that connects to a host computer via Thunderbolt 3 and accomodates a half-length, full-height, single or double-width PCIe 3.0 card at x4 bandwidth (“with x16 physical slot”). Features include dual Thunderbolt 3 ports, with 85W power delivery, plus DisplayPort 1.4, and an external power supply.

Mercury Helios 3S is priced at $229.99 for Thunderbolt-equipped computers running macOS 10.13 and later or Windows 10 and later. The company’s product specifications note some limitations for the new enclosure:

  • PCIe cards that utilize a PCIe 3.0 x4 interface. PCIe cards that require a minimum of 8 or more PCIe lanes are not supported.
  • GPUs not supported
  • Cards that require more than 75W are not supported.
  • The DisplayPort does not support DP++
  • Full DisplayPort 1.4 capabilities including 8K resolution depends on host computer support of DisplayPort 1.4 specification through its Thunderbolt 3 connection, host computer GPU capabilities, and connecting cable capabilities.
  • You can use the Thunderbolt 3 to Thunderbolt 2 adapter from Apple to connect this device to a Thunderbolt 2 computer. Power Delivery is not supported in this configuration and bandwidth will be limited to ~ 1375 MB/s.

Mercury Helios FX 650

Mercury Helios FX 650 is a large Thunderbolt 3 graphics card enclosure from Other World Computing, Inc., featuring a 650-watt power supply to accomodate modern, power-hungry graphics cards, such as the Radeon Pro WX 7100, Radeon RX Vega 56, Radeon RX 580 Gaming 8G, etc. (or cards for Windows systems, e.g. from Nvidia). Features include “a large variable speed, temperature-controlled fan” and “up to 100W of power to a connected notebook computer.”

Mercury Helios FX 650 is priced at $378.75 (not including the price of a graphics card) for Thunderbolt 3-equipped Macs and Windows computers.

eGFX Breakaway Boxes

eGFX Breakaway is a set of “eGPU” (external GPU) boxes from Sonnet Technologies Inc. that host high-powered graphics cards and connect via Thunderbolt 3 to Macs (or PCs) equipped with that high-speed connector. Features include a built-in, variable-speed, temperature-controlled (“quiet”) fan, support for liquid coolers, a choice of power supplies and Power Delivery capabilities, and compatibility with “the latest CPU cards”, including AMD Radeon R9, RX, RX Vega, and Pro WX models, and NVIDIA GeForce GTX 9 and 10 series, TITAN X, Xp, V, and Quadro models, as well as supporting other PCIe cards – full-length, full-height, single- or double-width – such as the Avid Pro Tools|HDX(4) and Red Rocket-X.  (See compatibility info.)

  • eGFX Breakaway Box 550 is priced at $249.99 with a 550W power supply and 87 Watts of laptop power delivery.
  • eGFX Breakaway Box 650 is priced at $348.99 with a 650W power supply and 87 Watts of laptop power delivery, approved for “air-cooled editions of the AMD Radeon RX Vega 64, Vega Frontier Edition, and Radeon Pro WX 9100” and “overclocked NVIDIA cards with high peak power requirements.”
  • eGFX Breakaway Puck RX 560, priced at $399, is a compact version with Radeon RX 560 GPU built in, 45W Power Delivery, three DisplayPorts and one HDMI port.
  • eGFX Breakaway Puck RX 570 is priced at $499 with more powerful Radeon RX 570 graphics.
  • PuckCuff” is an optional VESA mounting bracket kit for the Breakaway Pucks, priced at $49.99.

Akitio Node eGPUs/PCIe boxes

Akitio Node is a Thunderbolt 3 expansion box that accomodates graphics cards for eGPU (external GPU) configurations, as well as other types of PCIe cards. Features include a 4-lane, x16 PCI Express 3.0 slot with 75W power, a 400W power supply with additional 6+2-pin power connectors, and space for full-length, full-height, double-width cards.

Akitio Node is list-priced at $299.99 (sold via Amazon and other resellers) for a Mac with a Thunderbolt 3 port and a compatible graphics card (or other PCIe card).

Akitio Node Pro adds additional features to the enclosure: a second Thunderbolt 3 port, a DisplayPort 1.2 connector, and 60W Power Delivery for laptop charging, with a built-in 500W power supply, with separate fans for enclosure and power supply.
Akitio Node Pro is list-priced at $369.99 (sold via Amazon and other resellers) for a Mac with a Thunderbolt 3 port and a compatible graphics/other PCIe card.

Akitio Node Lite is a smaller Thunderbolt 3 expansion box that accomodates a half-length PCIe card – not a graphics card, but various storage and networking cards, for example. This version also offers a DisplayPort 1.2 monitor connection (up to 4K at 60 Hz) and a second Thunderbolt 3 port.
Akitio Node Lite is list-priced at $219.99 (sold via Amazon and other resellers) for a Mac with a Thunderbolt 3 port and a compatible PCIe card.

Akitio Node Duo is a Thunderbolt 3 expansion box that holds two half-length PCIe cards (2 PCI lanes each), while also providing 60W power delivery for laptop charging, a DisplayPort 1.2 monitor connection, and a second Thunderbolt 3 port.
Akitio Node Duo is list-priced at $429.99 (sold via Amazon and other resellers) for a Mac with a Thunderbolt 3 port and a compatible PCIe card.

Sonnet M.2 4×4 PCIe card

Sonnet M.2 4×4 is a full-length, full-height PCIe card that can host up to four M.2 SSDs, which can be combined for extremely high performance. The card offers an X16 interface to the PCIe 3.0 bus with x4 bandwidth for each M.2 2280 NVMe SSD, promising extremely high performance via software RAID configurations in appropriate host systems, such as the 2019 Mac Pro. A single (non-RAID) SSD can function as a boot drive. The card is compatible with Thunderbolt PCIe expansion chassis, though maximum performance is restricted by Thunderbolt’s bandwidth limits, and similar restrictions apply to PCIe 2 slots.

Sonnet M.2 4×4 [Amazon link] is due to ship Jan. 2, 2020, list-priced at $399.99 (sans SSDs) for host computers with appropriate PCIe slots running macOS 10.13 and later, Linux Kernel 5 and later, or Windows 10.

HighPoint NVMe SSD PCIe cards

HighPoint SSD7101A-1 is a PCIe card from HighPoint Technologies Inc. that hosts four NVMe SSDs for ultra-fast storage. Features include PCIe 3.0 x16 bus bandwidth and x4 bandwidth for each of the NVMe M.2 SSD slots, plus a built-in RAID controller (for RAID 0, 1, 5 and 10) with management software and SMART support and the ability to pair two of the cards for astonishing speeds. (See resources section for more details.)
  HighPoint SSD7101A-1, for macOS 10.13 and later, Windows and Linux, is sold via resellers, including Amazon ($387.99 when checked).
  HighPoint SSD7103 is a bootable version ($449 when checked).

“The latest generation of high-performance CPU’s and motherboards can provide the PCIe 3.0 lanes required to power dual PCIe 3.0 x16 NVMe RAID controllers. Ultra-HD video projects, such as those working with raw 8K footage, require transfer performance exceeding 17,900 MB/s. Media professionals working with such hardware can now link two SSD7101A-1 NVMe RAID controllers to function as a single array, and configure RAID arrays of up to eight M.2 NVMe SSD’s to deliver over 25,000 MB/s of transfer performance!”