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  1. Hi everyone. New to Tech Inferno. You can call me Stu. Nando asked me to post my setup and results which I'm happy to do. I'm going to keep this as simple as possible since this eGPU project has been just that, simple and awesome. In my eyes, this is where the eGPU game ends. Thunderbolt 2 (and TB3 coming soon), full-size chassis, fastest single GPU on the market, running at desktop speeds. I suppose the only caveat is cost but considering I only need to upgrade my GPU from this point on, it’s worth it. I live an hour away from Sonnet's headquarters in California and decided I had waited long enough to complete my eGPU experiment. The results surpassed expectations. Feel free to scroll down for specific benchmark and game results. Key Points Completely plug and play. Standard Bootcamp 5.1 install (*see below), connect everything up, boot Windows, install drivers, you’re done. eGPU vs Desktop performance: 85-90% Gaming: Max out virtually any game. 60FPS+ (with a few exceptions. e.g. Black Flag has weird PhysX that kills performance so I turn it off) Discrete 750M graphics = No Optimus/Internal display support. MBP w/Iris only = Optimus support but not fully plug and play (**see below) Simulated Optimus FPS loss: 5-20% (window drag method) eGPU Setup Cost (Not including MacBook): $1500 to $2000 depending on GPU purchase *It appears only 2013 MBPs w/newer PCIe flash storage defaults to UEFI/GPT-based windows installation with Bootcamp 5.1 .. 2012 rMBP (and possibly other macs/notebooks) will not format to GPT and therefore no plug and play **Conclusive Results for 2013 13" MacBook Pro - Optimus - Thunderbolt 2 - Plug and Play Configuration 2013 Macbook Pro 15” w/GT 750M [email protected] 16GB-DDR3L 512GB SSD US$2599 Sonnet Thunderbolt 2 III-D Chassis (US$979) EVGA Nvidia Geforce GTX 780 Ti Superclocked 3GB (US$720) Corsair RM450 (Silent) Power Supply (US$100) for 8-pin cable only (Jumped the 12V rail with small piece of metal. Google it) Standard Bootcamp 5.1 (UEFI) Installation Windows 8.1 w/latest Nvidia drivers MSI Afterburner with custom fan curve, gpu temp/fan speed match (e.g. 68 degrees/68% fan speed) — Performance and Benchmark Results — Maximum Overclock Scores: FireStrike Graphics: 11227 link *Surpasses Titan and 780 Ti graphics score (without overclock) by 1000+ points comparison [Note: This is only one sample] 3DMark11 Score: 12781 link 3DMark11 Graphics: 13996 link 3DMark-Vantage Graphics: 46629 link 3DMark06 Score: 29254 link Unigine Valley Extreme HD: 70FPS / 2924 Unigine Heaven 4.0 Extreme: 67FPS / 1683 BioShock Infinite Benchmark (UltraDX11): 126FPS Overall eGPU vs Desktop performance Fire Strike comparison (Desktop 780 Ti vs eGPU 780 Ti SC) Reference: link Graphics Score Desktop: 11096 eGPU: 10410 Ratio: 93% (take into account reference doesn't mention overclock) Unigine Valley comparison (Desktop vs eGPU) Reference: link Desktop FPS/Score: 73.1/3057 eGPU FPS/Score: 60.2/2520 Ratio: 82% (take into account desktop CPU which offsets results somewhat) Bioshock Infinite Reference: link Ratio: 80-93% (calculated at multiple frame stops) Another Unigine Valley Comparison Reference: link Ratio: 91% (no overclock mentioned) Overall eGPU Perfomance vs Desktop Performance: 80-95% (Games and Benchmarks consistently show this) Internal Display FPS Loss (window drag method) Overall internal display FPS loss: 5-20% Unigine Heaven: 16% 53FPS vs 63FPS Borderlands 2: 5-10% CUDA-Z Bandwidth Host to Device: 1258 MiB/s Device to Host: 1366 MiB/s Device to Device: 136 GiB/s Reference Host to Device TB1 10Gbps: 781MiB/s link TB1 8Gbps (x2 2.0): 697MiB/s link Unigine Heaven (Basic 720p) 107 FPS Score: 2716 Unigine Heaven (Extreme 1080p 4XAA) 62.7 FPS Score: 1580 Unigine Heaven (Extreme 1080p 8XAA) 54.2 FPS Score: 1364 Unigine Valley (Basic 720p) 80FPS Score: 3343 Unigine Valley (Extreme 1080p 2XAA) 78.6 FPS Score: 3290 Unigine Valley (Extreme HD 8XAA) 60.2 FPS Score: 2520 3DMark11 Score: 11269 link Graphics: 12576 Physics: 8395 3DMark (2013) Fire Strike Score: 8807 Graphics: 10410 Physics 8102 Cloud Gate Score: 18795 Graphics Score: 57882 Physics Score: 5588 Call of Duty: Ghosts Max settings 1080p 2x AA: 60FPS+ Tomb Raider Ultimate (Tess. hair off) 1080p: 60-100FPS Crysis 1 Very High (Maxed) 2xAA 1080p: 60-90FPS (Fly-through Benchmark) Crysis 3 Very High (Maxed) SMAA 1080p: 40-60FPS Nvidia Demo - A New Dawn: 31FPS BioShock Infinite Official Benchmark - 1080p UltraDX11: All scenes average: 108FPS What about SLI? SLI Success! 2x 780Ti + 2x Sonnet SEL on MacBook Pro @32Gbps TB2 (2x 16Gbps) External discussion about this post: AnandTech: Running An Nvidia GTX 780Ti over Thunderbolt 2 TechReport: Thunderbolt box mates MacBook Pro with GeForce GTX 780 Ti MacRumors: 2013 15" Macbook Pro + GTX780Ti@16Gbps Thunderbolt2 eGPU implementation YouTube: MacBook Pro running an NVIDIA GTX 780 Ti over Thunderbolt 2 PC Perspective: NVIDIA GTX 780 Ti on Thunderbolt 2 by DIYers Linustechtips: Running an NVIDIA GTX 780 Ti Over Thunderbolt 2
  2. Intro The Alienware Graphics Amplifier- Probably the best implementation of an eGPU enclosure that has ever existed, and at about $130 "like new" on eBay, it's a bargain compared to other PCIe enclosures like the Akitio Thunder 2 and Sonnet Echo Express, especially when you consider it comes with a 460-watt PSU (and two 6-pin PCIe connectors that can separate to two 4-pin connectors). Fantastic. Obviously, though, it uses a proprietary Alienware PCIe port, making is just about useless to people like us who, if we had Alienware computers, probably wouldn't need an eGPU in the first place. I was curious how the Alienware GA did its magic, I figured it couldn't be all that different from how the Akitio Thunder 2 and others like it do their Thunderbolt-to-PCIe thing. So I scoured the Internet for some high-res pics of the inside of the GA, and finally found some. Similar, indeed, it has inside it a simple PCB with two PCIe slots: 1 PCIe x8 (which is backwards!) for the proprietary port and 4 USB 3.0 ports, and 1 PCIe x16 slot for a full-length, full-height, double-width GPU. I finally got the GA in the mail today, so I could look at the circuits up-close and see just how proprietary that x8 card with the proprietary port is. From what I can tell, not very. The circuits (sorry if this isn't the official term, but the lines you can see on the board running from component to component) from the proprietary port run mostly to the PCIe x8 slot, where they then go over to the PCIe x16 slot. Both slots, by the way, receive power directly from the ATX connector from the PSU, so in the case of the x16 slot, you have some circuits running to the ATX connector and the rest going straight to the x8 slot. My thinking is that the purposes of the x8 card are to, aside from doing a pass-through of the PCIe connection to an Alienware laptop, control the power state of the GA (turn it on and off) and of course control the USB 3.0 hub (that's what most of the ICs on the board appear to be for). I'm assuming that if the detection method for the proprietary connector is anything, anything of substance, it is something we will have to work around when we take that proprietary x8 card out. Fortunately, it may be possible to simply tape down the power supply's reset button which, if one holds it down, causes the GA to essentially power on- the fan in the PSU spins, as does the fan in the front of the GA. The Alienware logo on the front, however, does not turn on, so I'm thinking that's controlled by the x8 card as well. The Plan So I mentioned earlier that I will be replacing that proprietary x8 card, and you may guess with a Thunderbolt to PCIe x4 card. There's another thread here on "https://jatsby.com/echo/eGPU/Thunderbolt%202%20AIC.pdf"]ASRock Thunder II Manual
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