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Making a US$68 ThunderboltEXII PCIe based TB2 eGPU adapter <-- doesn't work

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@trollinteemo

Speaking as someone on the fringe of the eGPU scene (I am enthusiastic about the idea but could not be bothered with powered risers and the other necessary mods) I would 100% purchase your solution, and strongly encourage you to take it to market. The market may be small now, but this kind of solution opens the door to mass market adoption. eGPU's will not stay niche forever because the economics of the solution make sense over the long run (not to mention the potential for massively reducing PC landfill).

I understand that the issue that some members have had with the proposed product is that it is a repackaged version of the setups that members are currently DIY'ing, with a margin stacked on top. I admire and respect those who have pioneered the eGPU space but I would argue that this is a defensive mindset. Companies like Intel will never recognise the market opportunity through a change.org petition. The reality is that most consumers cannot comprehend the possible impact of a turn key eGPU solution, and petitions like those will never gather enough momentum to make Intel take notice. If we want a turn key solution supported by the owners of the IP, we should be endorsing trollinteemo's idea which will bring numbers in to the market. Who cares If trollinteemo gets 20% on top for his time and efforts? In my opinion it is well earned.

Herkshire

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Looks similar to the ASUS board. This one has a J1 header presumably also for timing signals.

@jacobsson, can you see if the TB2 chip would by chance be pin compatible with your Asus motherboard? This could make a good donor board for chip transpant to upgrade you from TB1 -> TB2.

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@Tech Inferno Fan

Sounds cool!

It's hard to read the print on the TB2 chip though. Has anyone manage do it?

You may be able to follow the same analysis I did at http://forum.techinferno.com/diy-e-gpu-projects/9502-warning-hp-zbook-15-17-g2-has-non-functional-expresscard-slot.html#post131997 to just use lspci or Device Manager -> Details -> hardware (hardware ID - 8086:xxxx) to identify your TB1 chip's PCI ID, then find what part number it is, then find what the same sized/featured TB2 chip is as a transplant candidate.

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I believe nobody attempted this (yet). I'm not planning to, since I run a good setup with an Akitio, and since this has a very high success rate for a reasonable price, I believe its the best choice. However, we would still appreciate if somebody was willing to experiment with this idea further of course.

I think the reason nobody attempted to this yet, is because of the signaling channel that is present on these small Thunderbolt expansion cards. I think nobody really knows how to address this. I also tried mailing several companies (incl. Asus and HP) to help me explain, but didn't receive any replies (probably because I'm just a random guy :P )

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New to e-GPU but have built plenty of specialized computers.  My question is how much of a host do you really need to host the e-GPU? I'm looking at building a small set top box size computer with a mini-ITX MB and add a ASUS ThunderboltEX II  for the connection to the e-GPU enclosure.  My thought is all the host has to do provide a place for the CPU, communications to the PCI-Express buss for Thunderbolt 2 and then have USB for peripherals.  If I can pull this off with a AMD A6 or X4 I can build a great host for about $300-350 and put more money in the GPU.  Thoughts?

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Forgot to mention that the goal is Overwatch with average quality on the family room TV using a wireless keyboard and mouse.

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hello I am new to the forum .. this project could somehow work?

Phfz8dP.jpg

 


all the EGPU sold with thunderbolt connection has high prices


sonnet echo pro thunderbolt adapter = $ 160 WTFF!

$ 160 in Brazil can buy a new computer

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Hello everyone,

 

this is my first post, so first let me thank you for the great content in this forum setion - it's very helpful. Special thanks go to Tech Inferno Fan, goalque and Dschijn, of course :).

 

I'd like to ask the community for opinions about an idea I had.

At this moment, I find myself in need of an eGPU for my MacBook so I'm trying to research everything connected to it, including the Akitio Thunder2 and BizonBox. I've read the guides, compatibility, some experiences and rip-off alerts but now I wonder: could it be actually better to assemble my own "adapter" in the form of a PC case? Normally, buying a dedicated Thunderbolt adapter is recommended but if I'm going to buy a special case anyway (no room on my desk), it might be better to duplicate the adapter's functionality with my own parts as I could end up with a better result at roughly (and hopefully) the same kind of price. More specifically, I hope to overcome several limitations of Akitio:

  1. Cheap support for NVidia SLI (multiple GPUs that are organized in a master-slave relationship and act as one).
  2. Much better control over airflow.
  3. No metal-bending or airflow adjustments involved. If you buy the right metal, it won't get in your way.
  4. Portable solution with safety belt on. Simply unplug Thunderbolt & monitor, and take it away.
  5. No paperclipping of the PSU and making electrical adjustments so that the setup works. Personally, I like to assemble (not solder etc.) as I'm not a hardware/electrical engineer.

 

All these considerations come from stumbling upon this motherboard     . Unfortunately, it features Thunderbolt 3 (my MacBook has Thunderbolt 1). But I found this one too (Thunderbolt 2) and I'm sure there are others. Overall, building my own "adapter" like this seems a better solution than buying a dedicated Thunderbolt adapter because of simplicity (in certain aspects), flexibility (could put it more stuff, perhaps), durability AND support for SLI, which means I could use my GPU for extended period of time if chosen right. On the other hand, disadvantages would probably be:

  1. Assembly needs some technical prowess but it's nothing fancy and if someone tells me how to do it (perhaps the manuals), I should be fine.
  2. Installation might involve some BIOS tweaking & optimization but it shouldn't be difficult - main thing is to know what to do.
  3. A slightly more expensive solution than buying a ready-to-use adapter but I think its advantages are indisputable.
  4. A slightly higher power consumption.
  5. Size of the case.

 

But maybe I just don't see far enough and the hidden caveats elude me - that's why I'm here :). From this point on, let's assume I have a Thunderbolt 2 motherboard like the one I linked, the case, and the right PSU + GPU. For one thing, would this setup work? Do I assume correctly that the motherboard doesn't require me to provide drivers for the GPU (as long as my MacBook has them of course)? Would I have to buy a dedicated processor? How do I discern Mac compatibility over Thunderbolt? Could I access the BIOS if my monitor is attached to the GPU or does it have to be attached to the motherboard's video output? Would I have to do anything other than simply assembling the solution and perhaps configuring BIOS? Would it be difficult to update the motherboard's BIOS from my MacBook?

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For this to work it would be necessary that any of the PCIe slots is actually connected with the Thunderbolt controller and I highly doubt that this is the case on any mainboard. These Thunderbolt ports are thought to connect something to the mainboard and not the other way around.

Also it's mainboard and expects a CPU and a running OS. The Thunderbolt ports need drivers to work and those won't be present in the BIOS/EFI.

 

So no, this is not going to work at all.

 

Just go for the Akitio, build a pseudo mainboard from some material(acrylic glass for example) and put the adapter on there. That way you can also use desktop cases.

Edited by Morv

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