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15" Dell XPS 9550 + GTX970@16Gbps-TB2 (AKiTiO Thunder2 via Kanex TB3 to TB2 adapter) + Win10 [jowos]

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This is probably the first trial online involving a TB3 to TB adapter.

 

Update on Noon July 23rd 2016: works seamlessly with an external monitor. However, whenever I select Duplicate in projection mode, the rendering will be carried out on iGPU/dGPU(if you do not disable it)

 

Update on Morning July 23rd 2016: Turns out the Optimus is only working for Furmark. i.e. No game would run on GTX970. Nor would 3DMark. It seems an external monitor is still a necessary fix.

 

What's working:

  1. system recognizes gpu
  2. driver installed no problem
  3. on external screen
  4. [Partially] Optimus working, just don't disable the GTX960M in Device Manager. Only works for Furmark.

 

Background

In the spring, I came to the States for one-semester exchange. I obviously couldn't get myself a full-size gaming rig, so I chose to build an eGPU with my MBPr13 2015. I got my AkiTio Thunder 2 and GTX970 then, for about $500.

 

Later in the summer, I purchased a XPS15 (discussed by the low-voltage cpu in my MBPr 13), was enthralled by its borderless display. It came with a TB3 port, but the only option out there for TB3 is Razer Core, another $500 investment. In the mean time, A few TB3 to TB adapters rolled out, currently only Kanex and StarTech.com models available, for around $80-100. I asked a bunch of questions regarding AkiTio Thunder 2 + TB3-TB adapter + eGPU on Amazon but no luck. So I decided to get one myself and try it out.

 

About the adapter

I got it on amazon for $100.  https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B01EJ4XL08/ref=oh_aui_detailpage_o01_s00?ie=UTF8&psc=1. In fact the StarTech.com one is 20 bucks cheaper, and I believe they should harness similar technology under the hood, but I would trust Kanex for I have already owned their USB3.0 hub and it worked pretty well.

 

The hardware setup

(Picture coming soon, when I get back dorm)

 

The software setup

  1. Download the newest NVIDIA driver.
  2. update the TB3 firmware and TB3 management software on Dell.com, or as instructed on https://thunderbolttechnology.net/updates per manufacturer.
  3. In the UEFI settings, turn on all the checkboxes in Thunderbolt tab, and make sure the thunderbolt security settings is set to lowest (Cuz Akitio Thunder 2 is not verified for TB3). Or you can manually consent in windows, if the security level is normal.
  4. Plug the setup in, and power on.
  5. Windows should boot just fine.
  6. Use display driver uninstaller to remove the old drivers. http://www.guru3d.com/files-details/display-driver-uninstaller-download.html
  7. Install the newest driver downloaded in step 1
  8. reboot, and you should be able to see all three graphics card in Device Manager. (Intel 530, GTX960M, GTX970). You are free to disable GTX960M, but that doesn't help anything so far. :-(

 

Result summary

  1. Geforce experience recognizes GTX970 no problem
  2. NVIDIA Control Panel recognizes all three with no problem.
  3. Under internal display, no game would run with GTX970, even after disabling GTX960M. GTX970 shows up properly in the GPU indicator, but it's always 'inactive'
  4. It works! Just don't disable GTX960M, and tasks will be automatically assigned to GTX970 when needed. Only works for Furmark. No games and 3D Mark would work.
  5. External monitor works flawlessly. Can't get 'duplicate' projection mode to work though.

 

Trying to fix the internal display (Optimus) problem

As my MP-CL1 micro projector seems to defect, I've no access to external display yet to test the card out. And I'm not yet able to get the eGPU running on internal display either.

What I have tried:

  1. modifying the nvidia driver per this video, with no avail.
  2. [in progress] just purchased this headless hdmi plug to simulate a dummy display, and use Win+P with screen share option.
  3. [just contemplating] maybe should get Razer driver to work? But Razer Synapse should only recognize Razer Core, so need a side-door. They say the driver is open-source, but I cannot find it on Github anyway.
  4. Just don't disable GTX960M and it partially works (only for furmark). Maybe furmark is rendering the content internally and pipe the image out through a different gpu manually?
  5. Windows 8.1 not working. I just installed a copy on my SanDisk SSD 500 external SSD. GTX970 cannot co-exist with GTX960M, and disabling GTX960M still doesn't enable rendering on GTX970.

 

With external display

Will update once I get my MP-CL1 working (hopefully it's just a drained battery), or when I get back to Hong Kong.

Just remembered there's a common area in my dorm with a TV. Got to try it out some time.

Tried out on the TV, able to achieve ~20000 on Sky Diver. With GTX960M it's around half1533176088.png

 

783474411.jpg283939036.png1850028355.png

Edited by jowos
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Lol, Easy fix.

I was really curious to see if those adapters would work properly.

Nice work in there!

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9 hours ago, gharimanto said:

awesome dude

 

beside Razer,

Gigabyte and Powercolor has TB3 enclosure

But it don't released yet

 

Thanks dude :P. I feel NVIDIA is officially working on a hot-pluggable solution, and all those non-propriety enclosures will be released once the driver is ready, because even with my set up I'm already able to hot-plug in/out my GTX970 without crashing the system, and in the GPU activity monitor there's even a 'disconnect' button. I hope the Optimus support is somewhere on their schedule.

 

4 hours ago, 3RYL said:

Lol, Easy fix.

I was really curious to see if those adapters would work properly.

Nice work in there!

 

They do as long as Optimus is not concerned.:P

Edited by jowos
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Can anyone confirm that on GPUZ, normally GTX cards' CUDA, PhysX was not checked? Since i saw others GPU-Z screenshots that enabled CUDA & PhysX, but it was from Desktop PC.

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6 hours ago, ssamydla said:

Can anyone confirm that on GPUZ, normally GTX cards' CUDA, PhysX was not checked? Since i saw others GPU-Z screenshots that enabled CUDA & PhysX, but it was from Desktop PC.

 

My screenshot was not checked. :/ Didn't test it either. Strange thing, though. My guess is some mis-recognition, as the dGPU is also unchecked, while working fine.

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@jowos Just found out that we need to install PhysX System Software in order to make PhysX work properly and detected by GPU-z.

I did some test,  by installing latest PhysX System Software it greatly improves PhysX benchmark on FluidMark. But computer freezed twice during Fallout 4 loading and FluidMark fullscreen benchmark. 

I need to install Legacy PhysX software as well to make it run smooth (for old Games or Games that use old PhysX SDK). But i didn't use it much for gaming though. Only for 3D & VisualFX Applications.

 

GPUZ Q6000 PhysX.PNG

 

If you think it's working fine. no need to install it though.  It's just work as it is.

PhysX System Software: http://www.nvidia.com/object/physx-9.15.0428-driver.html

 

Nice post btw!

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14 hours ago, ssamydla said:

@jowos Just found out that we need to install PhysX System Software in order to make PhysX work properly and detected by GPU-z.

I did some test,  by installing latest PhysX System Software it greatly improves PhysX benchmark on FluidMark. But computer freezed twice during Fallout 4 loading and FluidMark fullscreen benchmark. 

I need to install Legacy PhysX software as well to make it run smooth (for old Games or Games that use old PhysX SDK). But i didn't use it much for gaming though. Only for 3D & VisualFX Applications.

 

GPUZ Q6000 PhysX.PNG

 

If you think it's working fine. no need to install it though.  It's just work as it is.

PhysX System Software: http://www.nvidia.com/object/physx-9.15.0428-driver.html

 

Nice post btw!

 

Thanks for your reply! GF100 reminds me of my GTX480 lol. BTW, can you tell me your setup, i.e. model of your laptop, and are you using optimus? I can see x1 1.1 so I guess it's a mPCI-E solution? I haven't tried out FluidMarks yet. I'll give it a shot. I assume it would work even without hooking an external monitor onto it.

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@jowos Yeah it's an old Fermi card :) please don't compare it with recent GTX cards :angel:

 

My setup was pretty much off an old hardwares, i'm trying to make a good use of a 4 yo GPU, Laptop and Monitor as it was back in it's glorious days. lol

At first i use mPCIE but it was very unstable, i believe it cause both of my Quadro cards bricked. Now i'm running on ExpressCard. And yes, it's on x1 v1.1.

I still can play Fallout 4 with Ultra settings on 1920x1200@60Hz, but i tend to use it more for 3D & VFX stuff

 

 

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20 hours ago, ssamydla said:

@jowos Yeah it's an old Fermi card :) please don't compare it with recent GTX cards :angel:

 

My setup was pretty much off an old hardwares, i'm trying to make a good use of a 4 yo GPU, Laptop and Monitor as it was back in it's glorious days. lol

At first i use mPCIE but it was very unstable, i believe it cause both of my Quadro cards bricked. Now i'm running on ExpressCard. And yes, it's on x1 v1.1.

I still can play Fallout 4 with Ultra settings on 1920x1200@60Hz, but i tend to use it more for 3D & VFX stuff

 

 

 

I used to have an exp gdc solution with my X230T too, and it was with a GTX670. Back then you needed some magic to get Internal Display to work.

 

So I tried fluidmark w/o external monitor, and the entry screen says "Physx - CPU only". And I cannot install the standalone Physx driver because it complains an identical or newer driver already exists.   

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@jowos you mean to get internal display to use eGPU? Or use it without external display thru eGPU?

Well, with my Q4000, i'm able to use iGPU on laptop monitor and eGPU on external display.

But with my Q6000 if i plug an external display, the laptop monitor will go blank.

So just to make it sure i always close my laptop lid so that it will go thru eGPU only, and set PhysX to use eGPU from nvidia control panel. (Windows power settings at Maximum Power Plan)

anyways, i believe for recent GTX cards, PhysX should work as it is from the ODE driver. And only few games take advantage of PhysX. It's more useful for demanding compute+graphic works, ie: Benchmarks & 3D Applications

So in my Quadro case, i need PhysX :))

Here's some great systematic test on PhysX

http://www.volnapc.com/all-posts/how-much-difference-does-a-dedicated-physx-card-make

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Thanks for your reply! I actually did get my setup working successfully with an external monitor, and Physx should be working (didn't test) too. The thing is I've been trying to get it working without an external screen, and with internal display through optimus instead. Ideally, rendering should be done on eGPU and piped back to iGPU to get displayed. The same setup (w/o the Kanex adapter) worked for my MBPr 13, with Optimus support out of the box, so that I could play big titles on the internal display without any external screen attached to eGPU. I still don't have a clue why it's not the case with my XPS 15.

Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

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@jowos Just an FYI, I've managed to get my Thunder2 working on my XPS 9350 using the StarTech TB3TB adapter. I have had some issues here and there, mostly screen flickering issues and one BSOD, but Optimus seems to be working nicely. I played Crysis 3 on High settings at 1/2 native (3200x1800 = 1600x900) on the internal screen without issues. I have a 9550 that I can use for testing, so I'll see if it has to do with the 960M.

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@jowos Just an FYI, I've managed to get my Thunder2 working on my XPS 9350 using the StarTech TB3TB adapter. I have had some issues here and there, mostly screen flickering issues and one BSOD, but Optimus seems to be working nicely. I played Crysis 3 on High settings at 1/2 native (3200x1800 = 1600x900) on the internal screen without issues. I have a 9550 that I can use for testing, so I'll see if it has to do with the 960M.



It seems the 960M is likely the bane. Great work btw!

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On 8/5/2016 at 1:33 PM, ibanez_bass said:

@jowos Just an FYI, I've managed to get my Thunder2 working on my XPS 9350 using the StarTech TB3TB adapter. I have had some issues here and there, mostly screen flickering issues and one BSOD, but Optimus seems to be working nicely. I played Crysis 3 on High settings at 1/2 native (3200x1800 = 1600x900) on the internal screen without issues. I have a 9550 that I can use for testing, so I'll see if it has to do with the 960M.

 

Great work @jowos ! I've been saving my XPS 15 just for this occasion (traded my macbook pro for it) :D

Edited by wokermin
unnecessary

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On 8/5/2016 at 1:33 PM, ibanez_bass said:

@jowos Just an FYI, I've managed to get my Thunder2 working on my XPS 9350 using the StarTech TB3TB adapter. I have had some issues here and there, mostly screen flickering issues and one BSOD, but Optimus seems to be working nicely. I played Crysis 3 on High settings at 1/2 native (3200x1800 = 1600x900) on the internal screen without issues. I have a 9550 that I can use for testing, so I'll see if it has to do with the 960M.

could you check and see if the GTX 960m is the fault here? waiting for your answer so i decide to get an external screen or not. 

 

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Hi All,

 

I have a similar setup to @jowos

* Dell XPS 15 (9550) - Intel I7-6700HQ, 32GB Ram, Nvidia GTX 960m, 256GB NVME + 512GB SSD, running Windows 10 Pro Anniversary Edition

* Akitio Thunder2 Enclosure with Zotac GTX 1060 6GB (running Nvidia Drivers 369.09)

* Startech TB3 to TB2 adapter

 

I have been able to run the GTX 1060 using the internal screen. Here are the steps:

 

1. Boot the XPS without the Akitio Thunder2 connected (you can leave the Startech adapter connected to the Dell's Thunderbolt 3 port).

2. Install MSI Afterburner and Heaven Benchmark

3. Go into device manager, locate the GTX 960m and disable it.

4. Reboot

5. Once in Windows, insert the Thunderbolt 2 cable into the Startech TB3 to TB2 adapter. Your GTX 1070 should be detected.  Install the Nvidia drivers as necessary

6. Run MSI Afterburner, click the settings button.  View the dropdown GPU list.  GPU1 should be the GTX 1060 and GPU2 should be the Intel 530 integrated graphics

7. Run Heaven and verify that the GTX 1060 is the one running the show.

 

It took me a while and several trial and error attempts before I was able to figure out that GPU1 had to be the eGPU and GPU2 had to be the integrated graphics.

 

Update: I've discovered that now, even if the Akitio is not connected, applications/games won't use the GTX 960m even if it's enabled.  I am certain I can resolve this via driver reinstall but no rush since I don't use the dGPU that much anyway, :)

 

Cheers!

 

Rene

 

Edited by rene_canlas

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On 9/30/2016 at 11:00 AM, rene_canlas said:

Hi All,

 

I have a similar setup to @jowos

* Dell XPS 15 (9550) - Intel I7-6700HQ, 32GB Ram, Nvidia GTX 960m, 256GB NVME + 512GB SSD, running Windows 10 Pro Anniversary Edition

* Akitio Thunder2 Enclosure with Zotac GTX 1060 6GB (running Nvidia Drivers 369.09)

* Startech TB3 to TB2 adapter

 

I have been able to run the GTX 1060 using the internal screen. Here are the steps:

 

1. Boot the XPS without the Akitio Thunder2 connected (you can leave the Startech adapter connected to the Dell's Thunderbolt 3 port).

2. Install MSI Afterburner and Heaven Benchmark

3. Go into device manager, locate the GTX 960m and disable it.

4. Reboot

5. Once in Windows, insert the Thunderbolt 2 cable into the Startech TB3 to TB2 adapter. Your GTX 1070 should be detected.  Install the Nvidia drivers as necessary

6. Run MSI Afterburner, click the settings button.  View the dropdown GPU list.  GPU1 should be the GTX 1060 and GPU2 should be the Intel 530 integrated graphics

7. Run Heaven and verify that the GTX 1060 is the one running the show.

 

It took me a while and several trial and error attempts before I was able to figure out that GPU1 had to be the eGPU and GPU2 had to be the integrated graphics.

 

Update: I've discovered that now, even if the Akitio is not connected, applications/games won't use the GTX 960m even if it's enabled.  I am certain I can resolve this via driver reinstall but no rush since I don't use the dGPU that much anyway, :)

 

Cheers!

 

Rene

 

 

I have an XPS 9550 too with the Zotac 1060 6GB Mini, what score do you get on firestrike normal?
I get 10900 in Graphics score just wanted to compare to Thunder2 since I have it with the Thunder3,
thanks for the advice for the internal screen!

< link redacted - no 3rd party affiliated site advertising> -MOD EDIT
Since using the Thunder3 I haven't had a BSOD and I am using the 376.09 Driver with the 4542 Intel drivers.

 

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Hi Splitframe,

 

My best run (using XPS 15 9550 (internal screen), Win 64-bit 10.0.14393, Akitio Thunder2, Startech TB3 to TB adapter, Zotac GTX 1060 6GB Mini; slight overclocked settings via MSI Afterburner)

Firestrike 1.1 Normal Score: 9,062 (Graphics - 10,656; Physics - 9,132)

http://www.3dmark.com/fs/10357252

 

I have since upgraded to an Akitio Thunder3, but I was surprised that my scores went lower :(

 

My best run (using XPS 15 9550 (internal screen), Win 64-bit 10.0.14393, Nvidia 376.09, Akitio Thunder3, Zotac GTX 1060 6GB Mini; slight overclocked settings via MSI Afterburner)

Firestrike 1.1 Normal Score: 8,337 (Graphics - 9,328; Physics - 9,360)

http://www.3dmark.com/fs/10976789

 

Graphics score improve slightly (~24%) when using an external monitor.  This could be because the data does not have to travel back through the TB3 cable:

 

My best run (using XPS 15 9550 (external 1080p screen), Win 64-bit 10.0.14393, Nvidia 376.09, Akitio Thunder3, Zotac GTX 1060 6GB Mini; slight overclocked settings via MSI Afterburner)

Firestrike 1.1 Normal Score: 9,791 (Graphics - 11,623; Physics - 9,700)

http://www.3dmark.com/fs/10979144

 

What's your OS version and thunderbolt firmware version?

 

Edited by rene_canlas

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