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US$199 FirmTek ThunderTek/PX (10Gbps-TB1)

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Click >>> Summary of Thunderbolt eGPU implementations including FirmTek ThunderTek/PX ones <<<



What do you guys think of this? I will end up purchasing one soon.. It looks like a great deal! I upgraded my G46VW with a thunderbolt enabled motherboard so I'm looking for options!

US$199 ThunderTek/PX: PCIe Thunderbolt Expansion Chassis for Macintosh US$199 Firmtek ThunderTek/PX Thunderbolt to PCIe Chassis. Adds a PCIe 2.0 Expansion slot to Mac OS Computer with a Thunderbolt Port 1 Year Warranty. (TT-PX)

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Tech Inferno Fan>> Problems with workarounds successfully applied in [url]http://forum.techinferno.com/implementation-guides/6723-%5Bguide%5D-14-asus-g46vw-gtx780ti%4010gbps-tb1-thundertek-win8-1-a.html#post91914[/url]

1. Is has a single x4 slot that is incapable of hosting full length/dual-width video cards.

Solution: Use a US$6 4x-to-16x PCIe riser to give a pcie slot outside of the chassis allowing any size card to be used.

2. It's 36W adapter insufficient to even power a video card pci-e slot let along drive higher powered cards like a GTX670/170W or GTX770/229W

Solution: obtain a US$4 5.5mm to molex plug. Then use a suitable capacity single-railed ATX PSU to provide auxilery pci-e power for the video card as well as the 75W to the molex-to-5.5mm plug to drive the slot.



[url=http://www.firmtek.com/seritek/thundertek/chassis.php]FirmTek ThunderTek/PX PCIe Expansion Chassis[/url]

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Click to enlarge

ThunderTek/PX: PCIe Thunderbolt Expansion Chassis for Mac & PC

PCIe 2.0 Cards and Thunderbolt™

The ThunderTek/PX PCIe Expansion Chassis is designed for connecting a PCIe 2.0 card to 2011 or later MacBook Pro, MacBook Air, iMac, Mac mini, 2013 Mac Pro or other Thunderbolt equipped Macintosh computers. Thunderbolt technology provides ultra fast 10Gbs bi-directional, dual channel bandwidth with the use of a single, compact port. This new high performance standard brings the power of PCIe expansion to notebooks as well as desktop computers. In the past, high performance PCIe slots were usually only found on bulky desktop computers. With the ThunderTek/PX in hand, customers can now connect a professional PCIe expansion card to any computer with a Thunderbolt port.

ThunderTek/PX PCIe Expansion Chassis

The small, lightweight ThunderTek/PX is perfect for supporting a single half-length PCIe card. Its silver brushed aluminum body provides durability and active heat dissipation, along with a whisper quiet fan. Installing a compatible PCIe card is simple. Just remove the screws on each side, take the top off and install your PCIe card inside the ThunderTek/PX chassis. Attach the Thunderbolt cable and your expansion card is ready to go.


ThunderTek/PX Key Features and Benefits
  • Adds PCIe 2.0 Expansion slot to Mac OS Computer with a Thunderbolt Port
  • Supports one half-length Thunderbolt enabled PCIe 2.0 card
  • Easy to set up: Simply Plug and Play
  • High-performance 10 Gb/s, dual channel, Thunderbolt technology
  • Energy Efficient: Powers on/off automatically with the computer
  • Attractive, light-weight, portable ThunderTek/PX PCIe expansion chassis
  • Silver aluminum chassis for maximum durability and heat dissipation
Compatibility
  • ThunderTek/PX is Mac OS certified for Thunderbolt
  • Works with Thunderbolt enabled half-length PCIe 2.0 cards
  • Optimized for use with FirmTek PCIe 2.0 cards
  • Not compatible with PCIe video cards
Package Contents
  • One ThunderTek/PX Adapter
  • External Power Adapter
  • One power cord
  • One CD-ROM containing the ThunderTek/PX User Manual
  • Thunderbolt cable not included



ThunderTek/PX: PCIe Thunderbolt Expansion Chassis for Mac & PC TT-PX$199.95

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I haven't seen anyone try this product yet, but am anxious to see the results.

Not compatible with PCIe video cards

Source:ThunderTek/PX: PCIe Thunderbolt Expansion Chassis for Macintosh

I'm not sure if the wiring is inhibiting FirmTek's video card support or it's simply stated to deter people from using it as an eGPU solution due to a possible/probable Intel/Apple threat. However, it does appear that you'll have to heavily modify the case to fit a full-length video card in there with an appropriate power source.

I'd like to see someone do something creative with these "mini" GPUs (e.g. GTX 760 mini), which might work with a FirmTek solution... (still needs to be powered properly though)

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I haven't seen anyone try this product yet, but am anxious to see the results.

Source:ThunderTek/PX: PCIe Thunderbolt Expansion Chassis for Macintosh

I'm not sure if the wiring is inhibiting FirmTek's video card support or it's simply stated to deter people from using it as an eGPU solution due to a possible/probable Intel/Apple threat. However, it does appear that you'll have to heavily modify the case to fit a full-length video card in there with an appropriate power source.

I'd like to see someone do something creative with these "mini" GPUs (e.g. GTX 760 mini), which might work with a FirmTek solution... (still needs to be powered properly though)

Right, I'm thinking it's because of the Intel Threat as well.. why wouldn't it work? I'd still buy it and use it for RAID cards or 10gig ethernet. I just purchased it FYI. I will be sure to give back some results here. I will take it apart (I really could care less about doing that) and fit a 780ti in it for sure. My G46VW has an overclocked 3840QM which benchmarks at the performance level of a 3770. I will hope to expose how much thunderbolt actually hurts performance. I'm excited!

EDIT: I will also be testing a 780ti over mPCIe tomorrow afternoon to show the difference.

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Right, I'm thinking it's because of the Intel Threat as well.. why wouldn't it work? I'd still buy it and use it for RAID cards or 10gig ethernet. I just purchased it FYI. I will be sure to give back some results here. I will take it apart (I really could care less about doing that) and fit a 780ti in it for sure. My G46VW has an overclocked 3840QM which benchmarks at the performance level of a 3770. I will hope to expose how much thunderbolt actually hurts performance. I'm excited!

EDIT: I will also be testing a 780ti over mPCIe tomorrow afternoon to show the difference.

If it works with eGPU (with minor modding perhaps for power), TB users should probably buy them up while it lasts! I'm really curious to see how this will pan out.

While not important in mPCIe vs TB, I did find that on some laptops, mPCIe vs EC can have some variation. mPCIe can be a bit faster than EC in one laptop, yet slower in another. This is dwarfed by TB of course. Might be interesting to see.

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I can imagine it being different based on where it's located on the PCie bus. Mine is connected via the chipset so I can only get 2.0 x8 (tested with a 550ti and 7770). While my GTX 660m is 3.0 x16. What I'm getting at is the EC is limited by the chipsets PCIe supported speeds. I have yet to see a laptop chipset that supports PCIe 3.0 via chipset. It's just not needed yet.

EDIT: Some CPU benchmarks.. I hope having a powerful CPU will help any bottlenecking and save that for the thunderbolt / mPCIe connection instead hehe

post-4790-14494997513449_thumb.jpg

post-4790-14494997513111_thumb.jpg

post-4790-14494997513297_thumb.jpg

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A couple set backs but I am trying my setup tonight.

Couple issues, my 550ti does give a code12 when connected to thunderbolt no matter what I set the TOLUD to. My options in the bios are dynamic 1GB-3.5GB. I guess I should purchase Setup 1.x to get this working. I am doing research but I am a bit behind the game since my T420 eGPU.

FYI, Running Windows 8 with 16GB of ram. So my question for help is, does being able to set a custom TOLUD setting help at all?

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Good luck with this new enclosure. I'm also interested if you get it working!

well techincally it works perfectly, RAID cards, TV Tuners, 10Gb Ethernet cards. It's all just plug and play except for nvidia GPUs lol

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My post on this thundertek and my process so far -> http://forum.techinferno.com/diy-e-gpu-projects/6062-need-some-help-advice-proceeding-egpu.html

I actually had the same idea a while ago. I am near perfection with it working, just the final test that I have been delayed on for almost 2 months.

Just need a PSU, Thundertek/PX, a 4x <-> 16x riser (if you don't want to cut plastic), a powered 16x <-> 16x riser through a molex, a Solid State Relay or paperclip for the PSU to boot up. And modifying the OSX files. Not sure about windows, thats other stuff. You can look at my post to see the progress I made and pictures.

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I am actually stuck on the chainloading issue I have. I have an mSATA drive that is HD0 in the bios but that is not what my main OS is on so when I try to chainload windows states a device is missing that is required for boot. Trying to work my way through this issue first... seems to be nothing on the forums about it and the documentation isn't clear on what I should be editing in the chainload config.

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Alright guys, sorry for the delay... I have my setup working and almost all the bugs straightened out. I tested it buy running a Mining load on it all night (power supply test) I ran the Bioshock benchmark over and over and it's stable in those two tests.. So I'm pretty happy. I tried it both ways with Optimus Enabled and as just a third GPU and will post results of both this weekend with a 780Ti (as long as I don't break my freaking laptop AGAIN)

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Alright guys, sorry for the delay... I have my setup working and almost all the bugs straightened out. I tested it buy running a Mining load on it all night (power supply test) I ran the Bioshock benchmark over and over and it's stable in those two tests.. So I'm pretty happy. I tried it both ways with Optimus Enabled and as just a third GPU and will post results of both this weekend with a 780Ti (as long as I don't break my freaking laptop AGAIN)

Very pleased to hear your all up and running. Looks like your Asus G46VW writeup will showcase the first very affordable non-Macbook Thunderbolt eGPU implementation (see list). Fingers crossed that may invigorate other PC notebook manufacturers to consider adding Thunderbolt ports to their systems.

Disabling the GTX660 dGPU would give the eGPU Optimus functionality. The benefit there being the eGPU accelerated internal LCD mode. The other benefit would be that being a necessity to engage x1 pci-e compression if you choose to block off lane2-4 on the eGPU. In some DX9 apps, a 5Gbps x1 2.0 pci-e compression link can outperform a 10Gbps link. Good example being 3dmark06. Otherwise DX10/DX11 will see 10Gbps give superior performance.

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Very pleased to hear your all up and running. Looks like your Asus G46VW writeup will showcase the first very affordable non-Macbook Thunderbolt eGPU implementation (see list). Fingers crossed that may invigorate other PC notebook manufacturers to consider adding Thunderbolt ports to their systems.

Disabling the GTX660 dGPU would give the eGPU Optimus functionality. The benefit there being the eGPU accelerated internal LCD mode. The other benefit would be that being a necessity to engage x1 pci-e compression if you choose to block off lane2-4 on the eGPU. In some DX9 apps, a 5Gbps x1 2.0 pci-e compression link can outperform a 10Gbps link. Good example being 3dmark06. Otherwise DX10/DX11 will see 10Gbps give superior performance.

Tech Inferno Fan: Thanks for your software, this wouldn't be possible on my own for sure! As far as the Optimus compression goes, I don't run a lot of DX9 games but I have read into this based on everyone's finding and found that using it as a third GPU (in newer games) does give much better performance so you're recommendations are correct. Also, by limiting frame rate to 60FPS and running a 780ti on 1366x768 (internal screen) will be more than enough if I needed to do that.. But having 3 GPUs allows me to run more monitors! I can do 3 External Monitors + One Internal on my laptop and then add more with my 3rd GPU!

I believe it is pretty cheap,

Laptop From Newegg: $600+175 for Thunderbolt Motherboard (it is upgraded but a stock laptop could handle it just fine)

Thunderbolt Adapter: $200

Thunderbolt Cable (Apple): $39 (2m)

Other Optional Stuff I bought:

3840QM for $350 (From a Lenovo W530)

mSATA SSD: $230

750GB Samsung SSD: $450

16GB DDR3: $120

Obviously people who are doing this probably have a spare power supply hanging around maybe as well as a GPU to "test" with. So I guess those prices can vary, but a $200 dollars for the Thunderbolt Adapter was a STEAL!

Some More information:

My Thunderbolt adapter has a few dip switches that I am not sure what they do.. ( I will post pictures on my write up) I also have a bunch of BIOS settings for thunderbolt devices as well as a configurable TOLUD (which didn't seem to help me at all)

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UPDATE: I won't jump the gun here but I wanted to give Windows 8.1 a shot to see if it really did make eGPU's more flexible.. well what do ya know. NO code 12 plugging it in while windows is booted. Now I'm just going to try booting with it plugged it and see if it disabled the dGPU. This is pretty awesome.

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Thanks for the in-depth and consistent updates, @ha1o2surfer !

I am thinking about buying the FirmTek and testing my hand at creating my first eGPU implementation. I have a Macbook Air - 13in - 2013, running Windows 8.1 64-bit on EFI install through Bootcamp. I plan on using a powerful yet cheap single-rail PSU such as this one and connecting it to the FirmTek through a molex to DC 5.5mm (because I plan on using a high-end card, and would need the FirmTek to provide 75W to it), then connecting the graphics card to the FirmTek through a 4X-to-16X PCI-E Riser. Right now I plan on using an AMD R9 290 (and modding it with an Arctic Accelero Xtreme IV to take care of overheating issues).

A few questions though, (and I'll tag you @Tech Inferno Fan to see if you can help with some insight, thanks!):

-> Should I expect to obtain success with these items?

-> From my research I've seen that Nvidia is the only way to get the internal screen to display with the eGPU but that AMD cards have better PCI-E scaling, please correct me if I am wrong.

-> Currently I have Windows in EFI install, yet I've seen basically every guide has a BIOS install, is there a particular reason? Isn't EFI easier to get working? (Or is it because no one has managed to get the internal screen working with the eGPU in EFI?)

Thanks again!

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Thanks for the in-depth and consistent updates, @ha1o2surfer !

I am thinking about buying the FirmTek and testing my hand at creating my first eGPU implementation. I have a Macbook Air - 13in - 2013, running Windows 8.1 64-bit on EFI install through Bootcamp. I plan on using a powerful yet cheap single-rail PSU such as this one and connecting it to the FirmTek through a molex to DC 5.5mm (because I plan on using a high-end card, and would need the FirmTek to provide 75W to it), then connecting the graphics card to the FirmTek through a 4X-to-16X PCI-E Riser. Right now I plan on using an AMD R9 290 (and modding it with an Arctic Accelero Xtreme IV to take care of overheating issues).

A few questions though, (and I'll tag you @Tech Inferno Fan to see if you can help with some insight, thanks!):

-> Should I expect to obtain success with these items?

-> From my research I've seen that Nvidia is the only way to get the internal screen to display with the eGPU but that AMD cards have better PCI-E scaling, please correct me if I am wrong.

-> Currently I have Windows in EFI install, yet I've seen basically every guide has a BIOS install, is there a particular reason? Isn't EFI easier to get working? (Or is it because no one has managed to get the internal screen working with the eGPU in EFI?)

Thanks again!

Yes, you should expect success with those items and indeed, I look forward to someone piecing it all together and making a guide. The $199 Thundertek device making expresscard-to-Thunderbolt solutions (PE4L 2.1b, PE4H 3.2) using the $150 Sonnet Echo Expresscard Pro both performance AND cost redundant.

I did x2 2.0 Thunderbolt testing of a HD7870 versus GTX660. In nearly all cases the GTX660 was the better performer plus has *free* NVidia Optimus to provide internal LCD mode. AMD card owners can purchase LucidLogix Virtu to give similar functionality but my testing found again it was the worse performer. Overall, NVidia is a faster more feature packed eGPU solution, making it better.

Quite right. There was problems getting the iGPU working in EFI mode with the retina models with Win7/8 when those implementations were done. I didn't have those problem with my 2012 13" cMBP with a 1280x800 LCD and HD4000 iGPU. Windows 8.1 may have changed that? No sure, in any case you have the flexibility of trying EFI first and reverting to BIOS/MBR mode.

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Ran the same Benchmarks that squinks did and the results are surprising.. Full review to come later today ;) I would really like to add some optimus testing but I only have a 1366x768 internal screen res. I will add those to the numbers in case anyone is interested. Let's just say it runs all my games at or above 150FPS no matter what setting.

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Great work ha1o.

For anyone else, I sent a few emails back and forth with ThunderTek a couple of months ago asking about Thunderbolt 2.0 products which they said they had no plans for (yet).

Good to see a company not trying charging excessive markups.

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Ran the same Benchmarks that squinks did and the results are surprising.. Full review to come later today ;) I would really like to add some optimus testing but I only have a 1366x768 internal screen res. I will add those to the numbers in case anyone is interested. Let's just say it runs all my games at or above 150FPS no matter what setting.

I'm very interested in your upcomming review!

Update: I've found your review. Thanks!

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Thanks for your review. I'm interested to buy the following components to connect to my 13" Retina MacBook Pro (Late 2013):

1) ThunderTek/PX Thunderbolt™ to PCIe Chassis: $ 199.00 + $ 26.89 = $ 225.89 / € 165 (MacSales + shipping to Europe)

2) Apple Thunderbolt cable: € 39

3) PCI-E Extension Cable 4X To 16X Riser Extender Card (so I don't need to cut the PCIe port): $ 4.35 (eBay)

4) Powered PCI-E Extension Cable 16X To 16X Riser Extender Card with Molex LTC DOGE: $ 6.99 (eBay)

5) SilverStone RVZ01: € 83,25 (Amazon.de)

6) Silverstone SFX 450W (SST-ST45SF): € 80.10 (Amazon.de)

7) MSI GeForce GTX 770 Gaming: € 286.71 (Amazon.de)

Total: +/- € 665

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@Sashin10

Regarding 3),I was looking for one as well, but didn't find any item that had the capacitor and 3 cables for power. Please link one here if you find one.

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Hi,

I'm new here, I hope that this is the right place to ask (noob) questions for my new project.

I would like to add to my htpc (Arctic MC101) an external graphics card.

Here's the specs of the arctic ARCTIC MC101 | Media Center | TV Tuner and Recorder | Mini PC | Home cinema | Blu-ray | Silent

post-28022-1449499791803_thumb.jpg

I think that the video card could be linked to the mSATA port, but I'm not sure:

1) How do I know if the mSATA port supports connection with a video card (and not only ssd)?

2) What would be the most appropriate graphics card to connect to a trinity a10 4600m to avoid bottleneck?

3) There may be problems with the bios?

Sorry for my rusted english, I'm from Italy,

Thanks in advance

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Hi fellas,

I'm new to this forum and I've been going thru the posts and I haven't found anything about this.

I own a late 2013 13" MBP and I plan on DIY eGPU, I've been looking through options and using the Sonnet Echo Express SE II is far too expensive.

So I plan on getting this Firmtek TT-PX ThunderTek/PX Thunderbolt to PCIe... in stock at OWC , the problem with this one is that the dimensions are really small. I checked and I couldn't fit a GTX 760 in there. I'm planning on waiting for nvidia's next generation and get it running. Would you guys recommend what I'm doing? Or should I approach this in a different way?

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Hi fellas,

I'm new to this forum and I've been going thru the posts and I haven't found anything about this.

I own a late 2013 13" MBP and I plan on DIY eGPU, I've been looking through options and using the Sonnet Echo Express SE II is far too expensive.

So I plan on getting this Firmtek TT-PX ThunderTek/PX Thunderbolt to PCIe... in stock at OWC , the problem with this one is that the dimensions are really small. I checked and I couldn't fit a GTX 760 in there. I'm planning on waiting for nvidia's next generation and get it running. Would you guys recommend what I'm doing? Or should I approach this in a different way?

Get a AKiTiO Thunder2 PCIe Box instead of the Sonnet. It costs less, includes a Thunderbolt cable, has a x16 slot already and can fit dual-width cards. A ASUS mini ITX GTX670 or MSI/ASUS mini ITX GTX760 will fit into the chassis. Only problem would be powering it. More details at http://forum.techinferno.com/diy-e-gpu-projects/7205-us%24200-akitio-thunder2-pcie-box-7.html#post101464 .

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