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ha1o2surfer

14" Asus G46VW + GTX780Ti@10Gbps-TB1 (Thundertek) + Win8.1 [ha1o2surfer]

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This isn’t so much of a guide as it is a review even though I’ll be listing what I did. This was, honestly, not very hard to get working at all. Back in the T420 days, I had a much harder time getting the power/delay switch working, EC always locking up on me and not being able to run with more than 3GB of ram until Lenovo FINALLY released a BIOS with the correct TOLUD. I lost a lot of interest but gained traction after finding a motherboard for my current daily driver that has a thunderbolt chip on it.

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My BOM:

Asus G46VW: $630 from Newegg. This was the base laptop with a Core i5 and 8GB of ram. (Link)
Asus G46VW Thunderbolt Motherboard Rev 2.2: $180
Intel Core i7 3840QM: $350 – From Lenovo W530
8GB DDR3 1666: $35 – Old laptop I had laying around
Firmtek Thunderbolt Adapter: $199 shipped with enclosure (Link)
2M Thunderbolt Cable (Apple): $39 (Link)
Corsair 650: $100
PCIe x16 Powered Rise: $10 (Link)
GPU Of your Choice: $xxx

Total: $1545 + GPU of your Choice
Yeah.. not saying I don’t like Macbooks (I never use mine) but this is a much better deal.(Minus his awesome enclosure) Plus I have powerful dGPU when on the go. 

First off, I’d like to start this out by talking about my power supply findings. I was using a no name brand (literally had no brand markings other than a rail amperage chart) to power my 550ti. This led to very unstable operation and I really couldn’t figure out why given it was a 400 watt power supply. My recommendation is to use a power supply that is Haswell certified. This totally makes sense as running an eGPU only puts load on only the 12 volt rails and while it’s idling it uses VERY little power. This can sometimes cause the fault protection certain to kick in and shut down the whole thing. As long as you’re using a high quality supply this won’t be a problem. I am a power draw nut and I watch every every watt when it comes to load an idle. I spends days trying to save a watt off idle whenever I can lol so I figure I’d put that out there when It comes to picking the right power supply.

FirmTek Adapter Details:
The Firmtek Adapter is a x4 slot that is not opened ended. I had to cut out the end at first because I wanted to try a GPU without a powered riser. It worked but was very unstable. I went with a x16 slot powered riser (Link) in case I needed to borrow it for other projects (that's really the only reason). The two white headers are for the enclosures fan and power LED's. The DIP switches' function are still unknown to me. Photo's Below:
post-4790-14494997593355_thumb.jpgpost-4790-14494997594297_thumb.jpg


Software: 
I originally had Windows 8 on my laptop and used Setup 1.x to get it working (this worked flawlessly). I then read that Windows 8.1 was better as disabling devices and freeing up resources for eGPU's to be hosted. I went ahead and updated to 8.1 (without any issues) and my eGPU functions flawlessly no matter when I plug it in. A few details, if booted up with the eGPU plugged in, optimus is enabled for it. If you unplug the eGPU from the laptop while the optimus activity icon is light, it COULD cause a blue screen. If the activity light it not light, I find it's usually safe to unplug it and the laptop with function with the iGPU. I avoid that as I get horrible power drains since the dGPU is drawing power even if disconnected from the system. If you plug in the eGPU after windows is booted you just get a third GPU and will have to set the main desktop to a monitor connected to that eGPU to get accelerated by that particular GPU.


Benchmarks: I was trying to compare benchmarks to squinks' http://forum.techinferno.com/diy-e-gpu-projects/6689-%5Bguide%5D-2013-15-macbook-pro-gtx780ti%4016gbps-tb2-sonnet-echo-express-iii-d-win8.html#post91182 and we both got very close numbers in the 3D Mark benchmarks. Keep in mind when looking through my benchmarks that I have a little bit more powerful CPU then he does and this can skew our results. I used the free versions of 3Dmark to keep it consistent.

Cuda Z: Device to Host MiB: 790MiB/s 

3DMark 11: Generic VGA video card benchmark result - Intel Core i7-3840QM,ASUSTeK COMPUTER INC. G46VW
P10392

3DMark 13: Generic VGA video card benchmark result - Intel Core i7-3840QM,ASUSTeK COMPUTER INC. G46VW
Firestrike: 8419
Cloudgate:20285
Firestorm: 127750

Unigine Heaven(Extreme 8xAA): 1052
Unigine Heaven (Extreme 4xAA): 1278
Unigine Heaven (Basic) :2476

Unigine Valley (Extreme 8xAA): 2373
Unigine Valley (Extreme 2xAA): 3095
Unigine Valley (Basic): 3476

BioShock Infinite: (Highest Benchmark Setting) 
post-4790-14494997590871_thumb.png

Just Case 2: Everything on/set to max
Average Framerate: 241FPS



Warning, unscientific benchmarks below lol
Crysis 3: From beginning of Game to getting inside the first door.
Lowest FPS: 25
Highest FPS: 120
Borderlands 2: Never saw below 60FPS with all settings as high as they could go.
Call Of Duty Zombies: Never saw below 120FPS

Power Draw Numbers:
Windows 8
Laptop Windows 8 Idle: 7.8Watts
Laptop Windows 8 + eGPU (780Ti) in Optimus Mode Idle: 39Watts 
Laptop Windows 8 + eGPU on External Screen: 63Watts (added power draw for the screen)
Laptop Windows 8 + eGPU Optimus Under Full Load: 389Watts
Laptop Windows 8 + eGPU External Screen Under Full Load: 410Watts

Windows 8.1
Laptop Windows 8 Idle: 7.1Watts
Laptop Windows 8 + eGPU (780Ti) in Optimus Mode Idle: 58Watts 
Laptop Windows 8 + eGPU on External Screen: 68Watts (added power draw for the screen)
Laptop Windows 8 + eGPU Optimus Under Full Load: 401Watts
Laptop Windows 8 + eGPU External Screen Under Full Load: 420Watts

Using Windows 8 to control the dGPU causes increased power consumption it seems.. This doesn't affect my battery life obivoulsy but is something I am looking into. My rough guess is that the dGPU isn't being shut down properly in Windows as Windows is essentially disabling the device in the Device manager...



Optimus Vs External Display: This is where it gets a little weird. 3DMark 11 and 13 + both Unigine benchmarks do NOT see any decrease in performance running in optimus mode. The only decrease I saw was around 12% running Bioshock infinite via Internal Display. The rest of my games don’t see much decrease at all!

So I guess you get the point. I haven’t really looked at the percentages but you could figure it out if you wanted too. The 780ti is a great performer even over Thunderbolt 1. If you want me to test anything, let me know!

FUTURE TESTS: I have a few Apple Thunderbolt displays that I want to try with the eGPU being at the end of the chain AND running the screen with the eGPU. I don't think I can do this in optimus mode as my Display Port is attached to my GTX660M. I'd be curious how this works.

EDIT: 2 I will also be testing a 7850 that I have laying around!

Appendix 1: Customizable TOLUD findings (Asus G46VW and GTX 970)

Since my new 970 and ThunderTek PX are stable I decided to start playing around with my customization TOLUD. Below are my options and how stable they might be; I explain after each option. 

1) Dymanic (super stable, no weird issues, just works)
2) .5GB (not stable, initializing an eGPU in Setup 1.x causes windows not to load and or setup 1.x to lock up and will not boot afterwards unless eGPU is unplugged. Windows has no idea an eGPU has been plugged in)
3) 1GB (stable, only when rebooting 3 times after disabling the dGPU in Setup 1.x. Windows sees the eGPU but without setup 1.x, always claims drivers are not installed or Code 12 and optimus will NOT function)
4) 1.5GB (same as above)
5) 2GB (Stable)
6) 2.5GB (Stable)
7) 3GB (stable)
8) 3.5GB (stable)

Other than an eGPU the system functions fine no matter what setting I choose. 

just thought I'd share my small findings.

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This isn’t so much of a guide as it is a review even though I’ll be listing what I did. This was, honestly, not very hard to get working at all.

Thank you for the post. Not only is this the first non-Macbook Thunderbolt eGPU implementation guide but also the first US$199 Firmtek Thundertek enclosure one too. Congratulations on the pioneering effort :40_002:

Which brings me to ask, could you write more details on how you had to adapt it to work as well as give some more 'transformational' photos? I can see you have used a 16x-to-x16 riser with power lead. What I don't see is whether the x4 slot was open ended or not. If I was to guess I'd say you had to cut it to make it open ended.

Oh.. and would you mind running 3dmark06 and vantage as well? 3dmark06 will do better if you tape lane2-4 on the GTX780Ti to force it in x1 mode along with your GTX660M being disabled. That will engage x1 pci-e compression. Your 3dmark06 result, with the fast CPU and eGPU should place you to the top of the leaderboard at http://forum.techinferno.com/diy-e-gpu-projects/6578-implementations-thunderbolt-expresscard-mpcie-egpus.html#post89707

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Can you share your pci.bat file if you have a custom one?

Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

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I don't have a custom one. All I do is do PCI compacting while ignoring the dGPU, then turn the dGPU off and Initialize the iGPU and eGPU. (in Windows 8) In Windows 8.1, I don't do anything, Just plug and play.

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I don't have a custom one. All I do is do PCI compacting while ignoring the dGPU, then turn the dGPU off and Initialize the iGPU and eGPU. (in Windows 8) In Windows 8.1, I don't do anything, Just plug and play.

So to understand this correctly, if you use Windows 8.1, you don't need any egpu setup software?

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To be honest, I can't answer that question as this is the only laptop that I have ever had windows 8.1 on as well as an eGPU. I do think Tech Inferno Fan stated a reason why he thought 8.1 was a more flexible eGPU OS.

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@ha1o2surfer

"3840QM @ 4.1ghz (uTDP set to 72watts)"

Very nice physics score :P

Could do a run of 1024M(4 threads) in wPrime and measure your max temp and duration for the 3840QM (like this)?

Actually, the G46VW was one of my first candidates that I was looking for early on, but there was no low cost TB->PCIe hardware at the time.

Thanks buddy!

EDIT: Ohh, one more thing, I'm about to buy a G46VW.

How can the seller check if it's a thunderbolt revision or not, device manager maybe?

Would be really happy for a fast answer since he might be selling it off to someone else.

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You can't buy a G46VW with thunderbolt. They were never released. I had to source the motherboard from a company in Korea who had to use their contacts to find one. Also, it wont show up in the device manager unless there is a thunderbolt device connected as it disables the chip to save power.

As for your first request on the benchmark and temps. Sure thing!

EDIT: wPrime

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You can't buy a G46VW with thunderbolt. They were never released. I had to source the motherboard from a company in Korea who had to use their contacts to find one. Also, it wont show up in the device manager unless their is a thunderbolt device connected as it disables the chip to save power.

As for your first request on the benchmark and temps. Sure thing!

cool, how did you know it exists? :)

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well it was suppose to come out with Thunderbolt but from multiple sources have stated... it was never released to re seller's or to the end users.

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well it was suppose to come out with Thunderbolt but from multiple sources have stated... it was never released to re seller's or to the end users.

That is weird since the re-seller from Sweden said that they verified the thunderbolt functionality (they also stated this in the description of the item).

The person who sells me the laptop have bought it from the very same re-seller 2 months ago so it sucks that it can't be checked in device manager :(

Are you sure there is nothing stated in BIOS that reveals TB functionality?

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My stock motherboard had some simple thunderbolt wake delay settings but no thunderbolt. Ask the seller to plug in a thunderbolt device and have him take a snapshot of this screen using HWinFo

post-4790-1449499759903_thumb.png

The highlighted entry is where the thunderbolt chip sits. it will show something underneath when connected.

If you give me a few minutes I will run around and grab a friends thunderbolt drive as I am in the office and my stuff is at home.

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I dug up the old conversation with the re-seller and he told me right now that his colleague opened up the laptop and examine the physical port layout to verify that it wasn't just a simple DP-pinout.

So hopefully I'll probably join the "G46VW TB-eGPU club" pretty soon :P

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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.

The cheapest way is to buy 2 adapters:

1) One to plug into the ThunderTek/PX: PCI-E 4x to 16x Riser Ribbon Extender Cable Adapter Extender Cable +/- $ 4

2) One to add the power: Powered PCI-E Extension Cable 16X To 16X Riser Extender Card with Molex LTC DOGE +/- $ 7

I guess this would work?

Or you can buy only one adapter (4x to 16x with power) but they ask too much money: 4 x PCI Express PCI-E 1X to 16X Slot Riser Card Flat Flexible Extension Cable +/- $ 40

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Or you can buy only one adapter (4x to 16x with power) but they ask too much money: 4 x PCI Express PCI-E 1X to 16X Slot Riser Card Flat Flexible Extension Cable +/- $ 40

I pretty sure the picture doesn't show a 4x connector, its more likely 1x.

I'd buy a 16x -> 16x with power and split/cut/mod it to 4x instead, seems like the cheaper choice.

This one would be very interesting if it was powered!

Would it be possible to add power?

My goal is to have a standing 16x slot, much like the PE4L/PE4H/EXP GDC

This scheme is interesting for this!

@ha1o2surfer

If you look at the pictures of this powered riser, do the capacitor and wires here match the position on the riser you have?

If so, what value does your capacitor have?

Thanks!

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You are correct, that link that Sachin10 posted is a x1 to x16 riser.

Also the first link you posted is a PCi extender.

i will post my specs of the riser when I get back from work! :)

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meaning its a PCI enxtender/extension or riser all the same thing.. but PCI is different than PCIe. The one pictured is a PCI adapter not a PCIe one

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meaning its a PCI enxtender/extension or riser all the same thing.. but PCI is different than PCIe. The one pictured is a PCI adapter not a PCIe one

Omg you're right, it's the old PCI interface! By the way the G46VW seller just went up in smoke so I have no deal yet, irritating...

Funny: he reappeared and the deal is done on Saturday :)

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Is this specifically the enclosure? The link on the first post only leads to their front page:

ThunderTek/PX: PCIe Thunderbolt Expansion Chassis for Macintosh

Then I'd add this:

PCI Express PCI-e 4X TO 16X Riser Card Extender Ribbon Cable with w/ Molex Connector, View PCI-e card, ulanson Product Details from Shenzhen Ulanson Electronic Co., Ltd. on Alibaba.com

and just need an external PSU to run it.

If one were to replace the power adapter included with the ThunderTek with something like this:

https://www.fasttech.com/products/1288100

Would you be able to avoid needing the riser? Or did you attempt something like that and were still unsuccessful?

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Is this specifically the enclosure? The link on the first post only leads to their front page:

ThunderTek/PX: PCIe Thunderbolt Expansion Chassis for Macintosh

Then I'd add this:

PCI Express PCI-e 4X TO 16X Riser Card Extender Ribbon Cable with w/ Molex Connector, View PCI-e card, ulanson Product Details from Shenzhen Ulanson Electronic Co., Ltd. on Alibaba.com

and just need an external PSU to run it.

If one were to replace the power adapter included with the ThunderTek with something like this:

https://www.fasttech.com/products/1288100

Would you be able to avoid needing the riser? Or did you attempt something like that and were still unsuccessful?

The thundertek input is only made for 30-40w? Not sure if it would handle a bigger power brick... The safest bet is probably going with some other PSU, especially if you want to use a graphics card that require more than 75w. Maybe it's possible to run a GTX 750 in the enclosure with no modifications, it shouldn't draw that much power, but anything bigger than that, you surely need a bigger PSU.

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