A "do it yourself" eGPU by Eve? Is there any interest?


#1

http://eve.community/t/official-eve-status-update-q-a/5119/49

In the above thread (first video), it was mentioned that a big part of eGPU price is because of the custom housing that it needs. I came up with the idea of a “do it yourself” style board that could be put into whatever box you want, maybe a compact form factor PC case. It would have mount holes that match the ATX (or ITX) standard so it would fit into any standard PC case, as a motherboard.

Now, I just want to see if the community is interested in it.

So, let’s imagine a situation.

Let’s say there is an eGPU box that costs $350, and it includes a few USB ports, Ethernet, full-size GPU slot - something like Razer Core. And then, someone develops a board that has all the same features, except that it comes without a case so you need to find one yourself.

The question:

How much would you pay for this bare board, given that the same thing with a case included costs $350?

A note about power supply: let’s assume that the price you selected above doesn’t include a power supply - you’ll need to find that yourself, too. Of course, there can be some recommendations on the website, so you don’t need to research on what fits and what doesn’t.

  • Nothing
  • Up to $50
  • Up to $75
  • Up to $100
  • Up to $150
  • Up to $200
  • Up to $250

0 voters


Why egpus suck and eve should stay away for now or change the game
[merged discussion topic] A Surface Book-like keyboard for the V
[Donald Dock][Step 2.2] [SUMMARY/DISCUSSION] Potential product type
#2

I wouldn’t mind one without a case. I can find plenty on my own. If eve does provide a case, it doesn’t need to be gaudy like some of kits from some of laptop companies. Maybe a case like the Akitio Node


#3

Though I personally like the idea and would maybe even buy something like that (I’m usually preferring to have a desktop for the more heavy loads) I’m not so sure, if it’s really feasible market-wise.
To give a short scenario why I’m saying that:
We have several factors playing a role here, if it’s worth the hassle.
Starting with the amount of people that would use this, which right now just includes owners of a few Thunderbolt 3 devices that additionally need to be “techie” enough to “build” the eGPU themselves. I myself know from putting together PCs that it’s easier than Lego (if you hurdled yourself through the forest of info regarding the hardware specifications), but my mother for example thought that I must be a genius since she has no clue about it.
Now, let’s say we have the targeted consumer, who owns a thunderbolt 3 device (preferably the V :smirk:). He also needs to have an interest in an eGPU. Mainly these will be gamers and people that need this work-related (and a few that just want to try it out). Gamers usually have a device to play games already, but some might get the V (or something similar, but worse :grin:) and a video card instead of building a new rig.
So, I think that we’ll end up with a few gamers, a few workers and even less people that just want to try it out. These are all the people… And I fear that we don’t really represent that target here in the community, which is why the idea is so well liked (and because it’s a good idea that covers a small niche, of course), but I’m not sure, if we can really get a good price for something that needs to be produced in certain numbers to get a good price since I really don’t see the numbers yet.
So, this might all change over the course of the year with more Thunderbolt 3 devices etc., but I’m not sure, if Eve will even be able to produce something like this in a 5-digit range and sell all the devices.
PS: I wrote it all on my phone and am to lazy to proof-read it right now, sorry


#4

And that’s where this poll comes to help :wink: If, for example, Eve can produce the board for $100 and enough people vote for the “up to $100” and lower options, that means there is a market for it :slight_smile:
And if we speak about eGPU in general, Razer Core proves that there is a huge market for it. Nowadays more and more “gamers” switch to laptops, and if they’re buying a new laptop, they might as well go the eGPU route, if only it’s affordable enough.

But this product wouldn’t be any harder to “build” than Razer Core. You would just need to find a case for it. Otherwise, it’s all the same: put the graphics card in the PCIe slot, connect the power cable from the PSU and you’re good to go :slight_smile:

P.S. I hadn’t thought of the PSU - I’ll edit my post right away to reflect that.


#5

So you mean like to have Eve design, say a standard ITX board that fits in normal ITX cases, and that unlike ITX motherboards that houses everything, it would only feature a PCI-E with Thunderbolt and other essential stuff?


#6

Yup. Basically, an eGPU case without the case :wink: PSU might also be included, but then it would impose further limits on form factor, and also I think it’s better to have a possibility to choose how much power you actually need. So everyone would not be forced to pay for a 500W PSU while they might only need 200W.


#7

I proposed exactly that here:

Since then I played around with the idea. A special case with using an external power supply and a micro PSU would be about 32x20x11cm before optimization. That is not larger then the most existing GPU enclosures. Graphic cards are about 10cm high and need space for the power cables.

Here is a scribble:

The only downside of this concept is that the circuit board might have a lot of unused space (no CPU, no RAM).


#8

I also have been toying with the idea of an eGPU.

Paul’s idea of just the circuitboard sounds good, but I have some reservations of its appeal to the people who like to get their IT equipment ready to plug in and use.

Some food for thought: I found this table of current eGPU solutions with Thunderbolt 3 on Anandtech’s website.

I think that the eGPU solution should be as compact as possible as most of these are going to be used with Small Form Factor (SFF) PC’s, laptops, 2-in-1’s and All In One (AIO) desktops.

And the reason why people get the above PC’s, is that they want compact and neat IT equipment.

I did notice that Thomas’s sketch had a DC in-socket. I was also thinking of an external power supply (power brick) or potentially (two) power supplies, as for low power requirement graphics card you use one power brick and for high power requirement you use two power bricks.

Also noticeable on the above comparison table is that the power supply of these eGPU solutions is some
20 - 25% more than the graphics card power requirement. But these solutions have additional Ethernet and USB (charging) ports on them.

I know that graphics cards can demand for milliseconds much more power than what the average power requirement is. Whether a power brick can provide good enough current for a graphics card is beyond my expertise.

By the way, PCIe slot (on the circuitboard) provides two voltages i.e. +12V and +3,3V for the graphics/other PCIe card. And the 6- or 8-pin PCIe plug/socket provides only one voltage i.e. +12V.


#9

Well, Eve is not capable of producing a box that is cheaper than the ones currently offered. So for those users, I don’t think we can offer anything new… They already have some boxes to choose from. This thread is to discuss the possibility of a board for those who simply don’t want to overpay.

Speaking of compact or not compact size… Who really cares? An eGPU dock is first of all a dock, and it doesn’t need to be compact. You just leave it somewhere where you don’t see it. Maybe under your desk. Or behind your monitor. The point is, you don’t really take it with yourself. People buy those slim devices because they want ultra portable computers, that’s right, but that doesn’t mean they also want an ultra portable graphics card.

Sure, there are users who might want a portable eGPU, but this is a completely different category. The mobile graphics cards are weaker, you can’t replace/upgrade them… So basically, these are completely separate categories of users and you just can’t please everyone. In this thread I proposed a solution that works for those who don’t need it portable - and I’m not expecting everyone to like it. I just wanted to see if there is any interest in it :slight_smile:


#10

Yes, I am interested, but it depends:

  • PCB form factor - mITX or smaller?
  • graphics card PCIe connection - at straight angle to the PCB or with a riser adjacent to the PCB?
  • power delivery - SFX/ATX PSU or external power brick?
  • connections?

My preference is a compact assembly with a changeable PCIe graphics card and I can make one, if the the PCB is suitable - small, PCIe connection with a riser and external power brick(s).

Mobile PCI Express Module (MXM) standard mobile graphics cards would be excellent for this purpose (current mobile Nvidia cards use the same GPU as desktop cards), but their availability for consumers is practically nil. There are some workstation class MXM graphics cards available, but they are pricey.

A suitable graphics card is in my mind Nvidia GTX1060/AMD RX470 or lower. Anything higher is waste of money as a CPU with two cores is going to bottleneck the performance. Even a mobile four core CPU is going to struggle to fully utilise a higher class graphics card.

But if someone wants to plug in a Nvidia Titan or AMD Radeon Pro, that’s fine by me.

There are small size PCIe graphics cards in Nvidia GTX1060/AMD RX470 or lower class and this would make it possible to make a compact eGPU solution. And their power requirement is less than 150watts.


#11

A PC that is comparable to the Eve V would cost around $200 (also excluding case and PSU), therefore I would say $150 is the maximum I would pay for such eGPU

I take the mid-range i5/8/256 as a comparison.

PCPartPicker part list / Price breakdown by merchant

CPU: Intel Pentium G4560 3.5GHz Dual-Core Processor ($61.99 @ Jet)
Motherboard: ASRock H110M-HDS Micro ATX LGA1151 Motherboard ($37.98 @ Newegg)
Memory: Corsair Vengeance LPX 8GB (1 x 8GB) DDR4-2400 Memory ($47.59 @ Amazon)
Storage: Zotac Premium Edition 240GB 2.5" Solid State Drive ($69.61 @ Amazon)
Total: $217.17


#12

Fair enough :slight_smile: but keep in mind that it could also be used by people with more powerful tablets/laptops :slight_smile:


#13

To build offf of @pauliunas earlier comment, perhaps an option, given the nature of this idea (ie keeping the cost down) could be to just have the board w/port and a way to connect some form of a standard PSU (maybe ATX for Market, maybe not).

That way Eve could allow the users to bring their own PSU to keep costs down, but could also have a higher cost “kit” option to purchase some standard one from Eve? That would allow some flexibility for Eve to sell this to more than just V purchasers (as only so good of a GPU will make a difference), and could allow the ability to connect higher strength cards for higher end machines. There would then also be the draw of user-replaceable parts down the line (ie, more efficient PSU technology comes out? Swap it out! Want to use a small form-factor PSU for easier portability in say an ITX case? Swap it out! etc…).

I really think a lot of people already into building something like a PC would buy it. In fact, PC gamers may look into ways to connect it to a regular desktop PC as an “add-on” so they could turn their desktop into a TB3 station for their laptop (I may be stretching on that one, but say you have software you can only run on your laptop, could still be attractive). It may even be a way to breath some life out of an old DIY PC by removing the need to upgrade the MOBO and CPU, and giving the option to take a laptop on the go… In any case, I don’t know whether or not some of these use cases become popular (probably not, if I’m honest with myself, but hey most Raspberry Pi use-cases/designs are not what were thought of with the starter design).

I do think it could take off with people who don’t want to spend the money on a Razer core and may want to build something more customizable out of this.

Edit: Dangit Paul, you beat me to that idea, haha[quote=“pauliunas, post:12, topic:5147”]
Fair enough :slight_smile: but keep in mind that it could also be used by people with more powerful tablets/laptops :slight_smile:
[/quote]


#14

Most laptops/tablets use two core (e.g. Intel max. 15W) processors without discrete graphics card. If the laptop has a four core (e.g. Intel 45W) processor, then it most probably has a discrete GPU also.

Then again, someone might want to use their top-of-the-range gaming laptop with a desktop graphics card in a separate enclosure just for the heck of it or for some other obscure reason, there are all sorts of people and they can do what they please. I am not offended :+1:, hey, go for it.

There are some laptops with four core AMD (APU) mobile processor without a discrete graphics card, but these aren’t anymore powerful than Intel two core mobile processors.

There probably are exceptions to the above, but please don’t hang me if you do find one or several :stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye: I didn’t check all the laptops/tablets available on the market.

However there are some Small Form Factor (SFF) PC’s that have a relatively powerful processor.

Have to though remember that this is a future market. There aren’t that many devices on the market that actually support eGPU’s.

Anyways, even a small PCB can have sufficient power connections for external power bricks to run any graphics card.

Why I am not that interested about using a ATX/SFX PSU, is that such a PSU utilises only part of its power connectors with an eGPU and significant part of the connections are wasted. Unless you use them for example USB charging.

It would be nicer to have a smarter (and smaller) power supply solution.


#16

If we are looking at about 150 and goes another 100 for cases and 50 ish for power, that’s about 300? Why don’t we just go the extra mile and make it an acutal pc that could turn the EVE into a 3-1? A stand alone small form PC while having the capability for docking the EVE when you need the extra juice? I assume most of people would own a pc aside from the 2-1 tablet? I’m sure it won’t be as cheap as the eGpu or what you suggested, but wouldn’t this be more of a premium product that Eve could provide?

Since the crew is working closely with MS and intel, might it be possible for them to come up with a driver that could let the external source take advantage of the already present hardware from the PC? Kind of a reverse concept from eGpus where you are using the Eve’s hard drive as a boot up device, somewhat of an External Hard Drive,

sorry for going off topic, just something that came across my mind while reading the discussion.


#17

Well, if Eve is only making an mini ITX board that behaves as an eGPU,
its up to the builder to think of what PSU to use, which ITX case to fit it in and obviously which display card to put in.

I’m voting for below $150 because most modern Intel mini ITX motherboards costs around $100 to $120, AMD ones are cheaper.

Personally think that anything larger than a mini ITX form factor may be too large.
As @Patrick_Hermawan has said, an extra fully fledged PC could be built with that budget.


#18

I like that idea :slight_smile:
Cases are not really a problem for me. Cause that can be easily be selfmade.

I would like to pay a bit more and maybe have the corresponding PSU to the board as well.

And it would be cool if the board also behaves as a hub.
Super would be USB connection(for external wings or Dongles), RJ 45.

So that everything can stay connected and you just connect the V with 1 Cable and you are good to go…


#19

http://www.inxtron.com/products/thunderbolt3-hdk

Is this mini-ITX standart ? If so, than you can already build your eGPU solution.

But for me would be ideal if motherboard would also include:

  • Ethernet
  • HDD support
  • Audio

#20

Yeah you’re right, if a laptop has a quad core CPU, it probably has a discrete GPU too. But it doesn’t mean the discrete GPU is a really good one. For example, Lenovo Y700 is a gaming laptop, and it goes up to quad core i7, but it has only GeForce GTX960M which is a “meh” card at best. Then take a look at this list:


As you can see, there are plenty of laptops with 960M, some with 970M or 1060. Nothing better than that. And what if someone wants to have an unthrottled 1080? Or GTX Titan X? Those i7 processors are powerful, they won’t bottleneck most games even with those GPUs.
Then there are business laptops, like some of the Thinkpads. They don’t even have a discrete GPU, so if a manufacturer decides to include a Thunderbolt 3 port in their business laptops, it would be cool, wouldn’t it? And as an edge case, what if someone who owns the Xeon/Quadro workstation from the list above wants to turn it into a gaming machine? The Xeon is even better than i7, but Quadro is useless for games.

So, I think there is a huge market for eGPUs, even with quad core CPUs. Not to mention, there are plenty of games that are super graphically intensive but don’t require much from the processor, so they will run on 15W processors but require a monster GPU.

@crk Well, it’s up to you. Me personally, I’d re-use an old ATX PSU and my PC case for this, so it costs no extra. I’d even use the graphics card from my PC. And even if I didn’t have a case, I wouldn’t be spending any more than $20 on it.


#21

Have you looked at the price? For the same price you can buy Akitio Node, which already includes a PSU and a case…