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


#22

Hmm, I think those motherboards are expensive because they have to fit loads of components there. A CPU socket all the complicated power circuits around it, RAM slots, multiple PCIe slots, integrated network card and so on. With an eGPU, we would get rid of the power circuitry (PCIe is less complicated when it comes to power, as each card has power management itself), network cards, SATA controllers and so on - only one TB3 controller and ports (including PCIe and USB/ethernet). So the size limitation is not that strong.


#23

Good listing, thanks. Surprisingly many with a Thunderbolt 3 connection, but do they actually all work with an external graphics card?

As far as I understand, the Thunderbolt 3 connection in itself doesn’t guarantee that, you also need software (driver and BIOS) support. The software support for external graphics card solutions is still lacking as not all of them work without difficulty with any laptop/tablet or PC.

This is from 2015 in NotebookReview forums:
“Now, intel has thrown a curve ball - Not all laptop with thunderbolt 3 will support eGPU - This is now known as Thunderbolt 3 eGFX extension. In a nutshell, you need to be running Windows 10, the BIOS and thunderbolt firmware must support eGFX hotplugging on thunderbolt 3. You’ll also need use active thunderbolt cable for eGFX.”

I understand that the situation is much better nowadays, but not without its problems even today.
Fingers crossed.

I have also been thinking about this i.e. a workstation desktop with Xeon and Quadro or FirePro.

Then you could have two monitors (or more), one monitor connected to the workstation desktop’s (or laptop) graphics card and another monitor connected to the external graphics card.

Could do some CAD work and then switch to playing or vice versa. Probably difficult to play an FPS game and do some CAD work at the same time though :rolling_eyes:.

Maybe if one has a workstation with two Xeons, then one could play at the same time as the workstation is doing calculations without compromising too much on the performance of either application. In my dreams probably :sleeping:.


#24

Nice case, but a different concept. The mainboard and the graphics card are back to back. This makes a lot of sense, because it optimizes the CPU cooling. Amazing how small they got the whole package.

A docking board however would not need a CPU cooler and fan. So the needed space is defined by the I/O only. A simple, fixed 90 degrees riser card would do. It only has to move the graphics card far enough to clear the I/O.

I would prefer an ATX connector. The PSU depends on the case and the graphics card. Using an ATX connector allows to connect anything from an MicroPSU to a large ATX-PSU.

imho The dock needs to act at least as an USB hub. The Akitio Node has only an TB3 in. So you would need an additional TB3 hub just to connect input devices. For me that means it is not the inexpensive solution it looks at first glance.

No, that is a different form factor and has no USB. It looks nearly the same as the board in the Akitio Node.

With the concept I tried to show that building a case around an mITX board would not result in a larger case. So it would be possible to do both in the same project. Supporters could decide to get only the board or the complete eGPU case. I only want the board, actually.

Only an eGPU solution that includes the graphics card would fulfill that need. Any solution that allows you to choose your own card means that you have to open the case and put it in or have to get someone to do for you. The step to put the whole dock together is not that large.


#25

That wouldn’t work. All monitors must be connected to the same graphics card for them to work.
Speaking of “unsupported” laptops, TB3 is required to have 4 PCIe lanes so it should work at least in theory. The culprit is that you need a full reboot for it to work without proper drivers.


#26

By the way, here’s a pretty compact case that could potentially be used with this:



#27

Where did you see that a PCIe riser costs that much? They cost $10-20.


#28

I just got an idea, what if you design a box that uses this AC-DC supply used for mini-ITX builds?

http://www.mini-box.com/12v-16A-AC-DC-Power-Adapter

This would only need some additional PCIe -> thunderbolt adapter and a simple enclosure and that’s it. I don’t see the reason why this should be as expensive as Razor Core. Could also be significantly more compect, something like ~300 x 100 x 40 mm for full-size reference GPUs. And 190W is enough to run high-end cards like GTX 1080.


#29

That was essentially what I was trying to say. Just get a PSU, no matter what form factor you choose, it’s up to you. I would personally reuse an old ATX PSU that doesn’t deliver enough power for my desktop anymore… And some cheap desktop case for $10, lol… It’s up to you, you can choose whatever form factor you want. The main idea of this thread was the Thunderbolt to PCIe adapter that goes inside :slight_smile:

But speaking of compact case, it would be super hard to find a case that fits. They’re designed to fit a big motherboard, PSU, hard drives and so on, so I just posted the smallest I could find here.


#30

Yes that’s why I was saying “design” :slight_smile: There is no elegant off-the-shelf solution that is compact at the moment. However I also don’t see a reason why a custom case should cost 500$ like razor core. For example Dan case uses high-quality aluminium from Lian Li and costs 240$. Use some simple materials and you can get it down to 100$.


#31

P.S also you don’t need complicated mounting systems if this is a dedicated GPU case. Just a PCIe holder, thunderbolt adapter and a power plug.


#32

Remember, you need to make it, not only buy materials. Commercial cases are as cheap as $10 because they’re made in enormous quantities (economy of scale). As Konstantinos once said, just making an eGPU case would cost several hundred dollars to Eve because they don’t have the quantities needed to bring the price down.


#33

Good point, perhaps some time in the future if eve reaches mass production.


#34

[Warning hardware-noob comment incoming…] If there is the possibility for a plug-n-play GPU mount that (with the right graphics card) would enable me to play Dark Souls 3 on a TABLET PC for a less than absurd price, I would find that to be… impressive. Whether it requires custom assembly matters not at all to me as long as it’s functional.
My main gripe with laptops in general is the inability to upgrade them, but I move too often for a desktop to be feasible.

I watch this thread with INTEREST.


#35

There’s this “Small-Form Factor” PCs that might suit your needs, especially if you’re a somewhat serious gamer, or to a lesser-extent, that gaming is your main concern.

Some SFF PCs (or more accurately, mini-ITX cases), can house normal desktop CPS and full-sized double-slot graphics cards. They do cost a bit more than standard PCs but are a lot easier to carry around. Some cases even feature handles.

eGPUs are generally for people who already have a tablet/ultraportable laptop, or needs to have a mobility device but don’t want an extra PC for gaming/other graphics intensive uses.


#36

Hi, my first post here but I think there is a real market for a board-only Thunderbolt eGPU product, and that the market will grow. If you look at egpu.io/.forums and elsewhere quite a number of people have been buying Akitio TB2 or TB3 enclosures to remove the board and place in their own case. When people sell their second-hand boards or cases they are snapped up quickly.

In my own case, I intend to move from my desktop PC to a Kaby Lake Core i7- and Thunderbolt 3-equipped convertible so that I can take it with me when travelling (regularly away for work) but then have the additional power of the eGPU when at home by reusing the GPU I have. My current case and PSU are also perfectly serviceable, and I have hard drives that I’d choose to keep in there and connect to from the convertible via USB adapters (already bought). I really don’t need to pay for another case (and too small for my purpose) and PSU - it’s very wasteful! The market of people like me is niche for sure, and not huge right now, but set to grow. I think that’s not only my own opinion, but also that of many hardware vendors considering the Gigabyte, HP and others are all currently releasing eGPU enclosures but currently with high-ish prices.

I wrote to Akitio suggesting they sell a standalone board, last week, but they appear uninterested - presumably they are selling enough product already which will have higher margins than that of the board alone, but sooner or later someone will ship this, especially given Intel’s recently modified licencing for Thunderbird.


#37

Yeah, I hope so. But the price is a minor factor imho. Take a look at the community around mITX boards. The price has to be reasonable, but not really low.


#38

If it’s not “really low”, there won’t be a reason to choose this over existing products. You can already get a box and all for $300. This should be under $100. mITX is a totally different thing as it has an advantage over ATX and is harder to produce, which gives a good reason for a higher price.


#39

Yes that’s the annoying situation right now about available eGPUs. For example Razor Core costs 500$+ not including GPU. You can actually assemble a decent similar sized mini ITX PC with a motherboard and a good CPU that performs better than laptop with Thunderbolt 3. So why would you use it? Might as well have a laptop + mini ITX PC.

eGPU can only make sense in these two cases:

  1. If they are significantly smaller than mini ITX PCs
  2. If they ar significantly cheaper than mini ITX PCs

Regarding 1) - this is not really possible since GPU + Power Supply take most of the space in a mini ITX build anyway
Regarding 2) - not going to happen either, since this cannot be mass produced

So the only product that would make sense to me at the moment is some custom, small case using laptop-grade GPU, since it can be significantly smaller than desktop counterparts. This would be very expensive, but I would still consider buying it for maximum portability.


#40

Option 2 is perfectly viable. Razer Core IS mass produced, lol… It’s just that they put too much marketing and unnecessary shenanigans to it, like drawer mechanism (wtf?). A simple PCB with a PCIe slot and Thunderbolt port would be enough and much cheaper. And don’t forget that if someone offers a cheaper option, they will have much more buyers. So the thing can be produced in even higher quantities.


#41

Hi Promaty, it appears that Sonnet are working on something that may well be your answer! Have a look most of the way down this article, where the prototype new device is shown:-

https://arstechnica.co.uk/gadgets/2017/08/laptop-external-graphics-card-review/