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First look: Mantiz MZ-02 Thunderbolt 3 eGPU enclosure in space gray

After AppleInsider examined the Mantiz MZ-02 eGPU, the company expanded its line slightly, but more importantly, refined the internals a bit.

Yes, we've already reviewed the MZ-02 enclosure. But, since our review, Mantiz has refined the hardware a little, and has offered it in a new Space Gray color, to match the iMac Pro and some MacBook Pro configurations.

The $399 Mantiz MZ-02 eGPU enclosure still has five USB 3.0 type A ports, a Gigabit Ethernet port, and a 2.5-inch mounting plate for a SATA drive. The 550W in the case can accommodate PCI-E cards needing up to 375W, and still provide a full 87W of charging power back to the connecting computer, assuming it hasn't been adapted to an older version of Thunderbolt.

PCI-E GPU Cards up to 310mm long, 140mm high, and 50mm deep can be installed behind the access door that requires no tools to open at all. But, we found that the measurements are conservative, and give a little room so if you're off by a millimeter here or there, you should still be fine.

Since our review, Mantiz has refined the internal cabling harness, with some shorter, and more appropriate lengths. Also, an internal baffle has been applied to some of the side vents in the case, allowing for a more linear cooling airflow with less turbulence, and as such a bit less case noise.

Regarding noise, the Mantiz MZ-02 with the refinements is a bit quieter. As we first tested, idle under little load at three feet away, the enclosure peaks at 45 dBA. Under full load with the Radeon RX 580, it hits 66 dBA. The new version of the case is a bit quieter, peaking at 42 dBA under little load, and 61 dBA under full load.

This isn't a function of drivers, as we took the measurements again recently on the first case, and they remained the same. Swapping plates out, the new enclosure with the old door without the baffle had the same level of noise as the old assembly. So, clearly, the reason for the silencing is the baffle.

For comparison, fully stressed and at the same three feet away, the Sonnet eGFX Breakaway Box in Apple's eGPU developer's kit hit 51 dBA, versus 71 on the Razer Core and 64 dBA on the PowerColor Devil Box. Idle, the Sonnet enclosure is 40 dBA, with the the Devil Box peaking at 44dBA, and the Razer Core maxing out at 49dBA.

The 15-inch 2016 MacBook Pro under load is about 36dBA and 31dBA idle or under light load.

So, in short, the MZ-02 is still our favorite Thunderbolt 3 eGPU enclosure —at least for now. A lot of promises were made at the Consumer Electronics Show, with many of the new enclosure offerings by a slew of companies promised for some time in 2018. But, as with anything at CES, whether or not an announced product will see the light of day is something of a mystery.

Additionally, Intel has promised that it is loosening Thunderbolt 3 licensing, including lowering costs assessed to device manufacturers. The benefits of that have yet to be realized, given that there doesn't appear to be any motion in that direction as of yet.

Apple isn't quite ready to fully roll-out eGPU support. That said, its included in High Sierra now, and the latest beta versions of High Sierra have made enormous usability improvements, including full clamshell mode implementation. So, assuming the cryptocurrency miners haven't cleaned out your favorite GPU vendor, it's probably time to look seriously at beefing up your MacBook Pro connected to an external monitor.

If you're in the market now, we think that the Mantiz MZ-02 in either color is the way to go.