External GPU’s – A Good Solution for Linux Gaming? Everything You’ll Need to Know

Imagine a future where your ultraportable notebook can morph into a gaming machine while docked at your desk. You don’t have to imagine it – it’s possible right now by utilizing an External GPU (eGPU). But unfortunately, Thunderbolt is a confusing pain. And many noteboook vendors are jerks. In the LearnLinuxTV guide to eGPU’s, this concept will be demystified, and you’ll learn everything you’ll need to know in order to use an External GPU.

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Relevant Links

Thunderbolt Compatibility Diagram

Commands used in this video

Use this command to check for the presence of Thunderbolt within Linux:

sudo lspci -vv | grep -i thunderbolt

Use this command on a Linux system to determine how many PCIe lanes you have:

sudo lspci -vv | grep LnkSta

Environment variables

These are used to direct an application to an external GPU, if your distro/desktop doesn’t provide a right-click menu.

With an Nvidia GPU

__NV_PRIME_RENDER_OFFLOAD=1 __VK_LAYER_NV_optimus=NVIDIA_only __GLX_VENDOR_LIBRARY_NAME=nvidia /path/to/application

With an AMD GPU

DRI_PRIME=1 /path/to/application

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