Sonnet Breakaway Box 550
Apple’s co-development and early adoption of Thunderbolt technology led to a number of peripheral vendors that were focused on high-bandwidth storage, networking, docking stations and other accessories primarily intended for use with Macs. Sonnet is one such vendor, along with OWC, behind the Akitio Node EGPU reviewed on the next page.
Its product catalog is full of Mac Pro expansion cards, Thunderbolt 2 and 3 accessories and various useful storage tools. But Thunderbolt is now as much a Windows PC technology as it is Mac.
Sonnet sells two styles of EGPU, the Breakaway Box, which is a barebones EGPU enclosure sold without a graphics card, and the Breakaway Puck, which is smaller and sold with an integrated AMD Radeon RX 560 GPU – we have the former on test.
Its 550W power supply delivers up to 375W of power to graphics cards, with two integrated eight-pin power connectors. Sonnet’s compatibility page lists Nvidia cards up to a Geforce RTX 2080 and AMD Radeon 5700 XT in this enclosure.
Sonnet sells a number of different power configurations. On test is the 550W version but there are also 650W and 450W models available.
There’s a plastic facia with a blue light, and the metal case slides open to reveal the tiny custom motherboard, which has a single PCIE slot but space for a dual slot graphics card. There’s a single fan that looks like it could be easily replaced with something more efficient, and a small bracket that prevents the GPU from becoming loose.
There are no additional USB ports or expansion options. The unique selling point of the Breakaway Box is its attractive low price. It undercuts every other EGPU we’ve looked at, which is welcome given that you may need to also factor a graphics card purchase into your budget.
It’s not particularly small or light. It closely resembles Razer’s Core X Chroma, with a large, chunky design, but that can be an advantage. Plus, it’s not particularly noisy.
Given the relative affordability of the Breakaway Box, we were generally impressed by it. It’s a no-frills design but a great, inexpensive way to get an EGPU up and running, particularly if you opt for the lower PSU option. For most people who just need external graphics support, this enclosure will do the trick.
A low-price, barebones enclosure that gets the job done “THE UNIQUE SELLING POINT IS THE BREAKAWAY BOX’S ATTRACTIVE LOW PRICE”