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15" HP Zbook 15 G2 + [email protected] (AKiTiO Thunder2) + Win8.1 [hishamkali]

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Hi all,

I recently purchased a HP Zbook 15 G2 with the following specs:

OS: Windows 7 x64 and Windows 8.1 Pro x64

CPU: i7 4710MQ

RAM: 8.0 GB DDR3 (Will swap out to 32GB DDR3)

iGPU: Intel HD 4600

dGPU: AMD Firepro M5100

Ports of Interest: TB2, Express Card 54

eGPU Hardware:

-EVGA GTX 970 SC

-AKiTio Thunder2 Pci Express Expansion Box

-Powered PCI Express x16 Riser

-Corsair CX430 ATX PSU, powered on by SWEX

-Soldered Molex to Barrel Adapter for AKiTio Expansion Chassis

So I connected everything together, ensuring that my soldered molex to barrel adapter was wired correctly, and got a code 12 on Windows 7. I have not been able to overcome the code 12 issue in my limited testing. After being advised by Nando to switch to Windows 8.1, the eGPU worked perfectly via plug and play. It was not necessary to uninstall the dGPU drivers.

The eGPU appears to be working properly in Windows 8.1 so far, giving me a score of about 28400 in 3DMark06. However, in running the Heaven 4.0 benchmark in extreme mode, I got some black screen disruptions. I think the eGPU was disconnecting itself, as I heard the Windows new hardware ping when the benchmark resumed. Amazingly, it didn't crash, but there still must be some instability there. I will note that the powered riser is currently not connected to the PSU for a lack of molex connectors available, I will try connecting it once I acquire a molex splitter. Also, the Heaven 4.0 score at 1080p Extreme was somewhat lower than what I have seen for this card running at 8gbps x4.1 with a slower cpu (1066 vs 1200). The 1200 score was on Windows 7 though, and others have noted lower benchmark scores on Windows 8.1 in general.

I have not been able to enable Nvidia Optimus yet for rendering on the internal display. So far, disabling the built in dGPU results in code 43 on the Intel HD4600. I may have to try completely uninstalling the AMD software / iGPU drivers and starting with iGPU drivers straight from intel.

I tried running a CUDA Bandwidth Test and Obtained the Following Numbers:

HtoD: ~1250 MiB/s

DtoH: ~1350 MiB/s

The above would seem to indicate that I am achieving an x4.2 link. GPUz indicates that as well.

I will be updating this thread as I have more time to test. Would like to make this an integrated box with an SFX PSU.

Pictures of the setup can be found at the following dropbox link until I can size them down somewhat:

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So I have made a good bit of progress in the last few weeks. I believe I have ironed out most of the kinks and have a reliable setup. I have also made some upgrades and designed and constructed a Mark 1 version of an enclosure

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Current Laptop Specs

HP Zbook 15 G2

OS : Windows 8.1 Professional x64

Screen: 15 Inch 1080p eDP Internal Screen (Upgrading to IPS 1080p later this week)

CPU : Intel i7 4710MQ (Overclocked + 200MHz to 3.7GHz Turbo Single Core using Intel XTU)

RAM : 32.0 GB DDR3 1600MHz

HDD : 256GB Crucial M500 SSD + 1.0 TB 7200rpm HDD in Optical Bay

iGPU : Intel HD 4600

dGPU : AMD Firepro M5100 2.0GB GDDR5

eGPU Hardware:

GPU : EVGA GTX 970 SC ACX 2.0 4.0GB GDDR5

Adapter : AKiTio Thunder2 PCIe Expansion Box + Molex to Barrel Adapter

Connection : 16gbps x4.2 over Thunderbolt 2

Power Supply: HDPLEX 250w Pico PSU + Dell PA-9E 240w Laptop Power Adapter

eGPU Enclosure:

Custom built laser cut acrylic, first pass.

Molex to Barrel Adapter:

post-29007-14494999525548_thumb.jpg

Preliminary Hardware Setup:

post-29007-14494999526246_thumb.jpg

Software Setup:

I experimented a lot to get a working setup. As mentioned earlier, Windows 7 gave code 12, which to my knowledge has not been resolved as of yet. I made the jump to Windows 8.1, and everything seems to work plug and play, with the exception of Nvidia Optimus. Windows 8.1 is actually very nice with 'start is back' installed. Liking it so far.

Starting from a clean installation of Windows 8.1 Pro, I first installed all HP drivers with no eGPU connected. The only exception was the HP provided driver for the M5100 and Intel HD4600. Optimus doesn't work if you use those drivers. Instead, I first installed the standard Intel HD 4600 drivers from the Intel website. Then, I used the standard Windows 8.1 drivers for the M5100, resulting in it being detected as a 'R9 270M'. I made sure not to install the catalyst control suite, as that seemed to interfere with optimus.

Afterwards, I disabled my dGPU in device manager by disabling the PCI bridge above it. This system topology can be accessed in device manager by selected 'view devices by connection'. The specific device was 'Intel® Xeon® processor E3-1200 v3/4th Gen Core processor PCI Express x16 Controller - 0C01'.

Once I had this device disabled, I rebooted the computer, completely removing the AMD Firepro M5100 from the pci bus in windows. Afterwards, I grabbed the latest NVIDIA drivers from their website, turned on my eGPU, and plugged the thunderbolt cable in. After the device was initialized by Windows, I installed the NVIDIA drivers using the built in setup. After a reboot, everything seemed to be working, and as an added bonus, both optimus and Physx were working! Previously, the same card on a DELL M6500 with a built in Firepro M7820 had Physx disabled due to NVIDIA locking out the functionality if an AMD GPU was present. No such issue with this computer owing to the built in Intel iGPU.

Optimus Working:

post-29007-14494999526642_thumb.jpg

When the eGPU is disconnected and I take the computer to my office, I just re-enable the pci express controller, and I am able to use my built in GPU. Ideally, I'd like for it to be detected as a M5100 as the Firepro drivers would be useful for CAD, but one can't have everything. The eGPU still works if the dGPU is active, but I can only accelerate the external screen, as optimus will not activate with the AMD dGPU on the PCI bus. I don't really need to use the internal screen all that often as I have a 23 inch monitor, but it is useful for traveling, which I do often.

That brings me to my next point. With everything working, I set out to make a good looking, functional enclosure that would provide adequate ventilation while being as compact as physically possible. I have access to a laser cutter, and I purchased some acrylic to get started. I wanted to also make as much use of the provided AKiTio enclosure as possible, as that seemed to provide the best protection for the PCB. The problem is that it is too short for a standard GTX 970, which is remedied with a hacksaw. The AKiTio enclosure (or what remains of it), is attached to the acryclic by screwing M3 screws through the bottom into the other side of the PCB standoffs. Build pics to follow.

Enclosure Design for Laser Cutting:

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Laser Cutting:

post-29007-1449499952844_thumb.jpg

Cutting off the End of the AKiTiO Enclosure with a Hacksaw:

This was not very easy and involved a lot of manual labor. My advice is to wear gloves and get extra hacksaw blades if necessary. First, cut off the small end pice connecting the back panel of the AKiTio enclosure. Then, bend the back panel away and begin your cut. Being patient helps a lot.

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After some effort, victory is mine!

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Preparing and Installing the AKiTio PCB

Since I was already voiding my warranty, I decided to solder 12V power directly to the AKiTio PCB:

post-29007-14494999530453_thumb.jpg

Threading L-brackets for attachment of a cover later:

It just so happened that these corner braces already had 1/4 inch holes. I used a tap and drill to cut 20 threads per inch into the steel:

post-29007-14494999530784_thumb.jpg

Assembly Time:

It's pretty cramped inside the case, closeup view of the HDPLEX PSU Board included. I had to break my initial attempt at a front panel because the holes I put in for the TB cable were not big enough (the cable is thicker than the connector by a millimeter or so).

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Preliminary Testing without Cover (Thermal Stress Test):

I set the eGPU up running Uniengine Valley overnight to make sure it was stable. Seemed to check out. Max temps were similar to what i saw in open air testing. Not too concered here.

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Adding a cover:

I initially only cut a rectangular cover, but I ended up drilling holes for the mounting bracket screws and vent holes. This was pretty time consuming. For the vent holes, I simply drew a rough grid on the back using a sharpie, and drilled pilot holes through those points. I then went on the other side with a larger drill bit for the actual holes. Drilling acrylic requires care to avoid cracking. I think if I do this again, I will simply include the holes in the laser cutter file, as that is really the only way to get them perfect without chipping. Pictured next to the laptop for size.

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All Hooked Up:

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Optimus Active:

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In the future I'l like to build a better eGPU case, perhaps one with room for the laptop psu inside of it and a hinge. The idea would be for the laptop to sit on top of the case. That would also allow me to put a 120mm fan with a bottom intake in, allowing for better airflow while the laptop is perched on top. Got some more acrylic coming in and will give it a go when I have some downtime.

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I hope the information provided here helps others who want to try a Windows based Thunderbolt eGPU. Cost breakdown:

HP Zbook 15 G2 : $1600 from PCNation or BH Photovideo EVGA GTX 970 : $350 AKiTio Thunder 2: $229 HDPLEX 250W : $85 Dell PA-9E 240w : $60 on eBAY (I had one from my previous laptop) HP 230w Adapter : (Also works, slightly cheaper) $25 - $30 on eBAY Acrylic : $25 Brackets, Screws: $15

eGPU GPU + Adapter + Enclosure + PSU Total: $763

Laptop + 32GB DDR3: $1900

Total System Cost : $2663

Overall not bad for a highly capable, expandable mobile workstation. I use this thing for my work, and I hadn't really had a new computer for 6 years, so it made sense to get something that just worked and had a good warranty.

I ran a bunch of benchmarks as well. Results are included in the table below. The full spreadsheet containing all of my eGPU Benchmarks across all systems to date can be found at the following link: [URL="https://www.dropbox.com/s/bt9igxw7uy9yiql/Comprehensive_Testing.xlsx?dl=0"] eGPU Testing Excel Sheet[/URL]

Benchmark Configuration:
OS: Windows 8.1 Professional x64
CPU: Intel i7 4710MQ @2.5 GHz
CPU COOLING: HP Zbook 15 G2 Stock Cooling
RAM: 32.0GB DDR3 1600 MHz
eGPU: EVGA GTX 970 4.0GB AC 2.0
eGPU Clocks: Core Clock 1165 MHz, Memory Clock 1753 MHz, Boost Clock 1317 MHz




Benchmark Results:
TEST TYPE x4.2 Int Screen Result x4.2 Ext Screen Result Percent Difference from Int to Ext Screen
PCIe Speed Test Computer to Card Bandwidth, MB/s 1266 1263 0.24%
PCIe Speed Test Card to Computer Bandwidth, MB/s 1373 1369 0.29%
PCIe Speed Test Bidirectional Bandwidth, MB/s 1845 1845 0.00%
3D Mark 06 3D Marks 25497 28052 -9.11%
3D Mark 06 SM 2.0 Score 10378 11460 -9.44%
3D Mark 06 SM 3.0 Score 11656 13296 -12.33%
3D Mark 06 CPU Score 7177 7335 -2.15%
RE5 DX9 1280x800 Variable FPS 186.1 237.5 -21.64%
RE5 DX9 1280x800 Fixed FPS 128.2 154 -16.75%
3D Mark Vantage Score 29383 32228 -8.83%
3D Mark Vantage Graphics 31987 36695 -12.83%
3D Mark Vantage CPU 23616 23606 0.04%
RE5 1280x800 DX10 Variable FPS 187.6 230.6 -18.65%
RE5 1280x800 DX10 Fixed FPS 122.4 136.1 -10.07%
3d Mark 11 Score 10313 10775 -4.29%
3D Mark 11 Graphics 12007 12507 -4.00%
3D Mark 11 Physics 7490 7620 -1.71%
Uniengine Heaven 4.0 Extreme Preset 720p Score 1796 1890 -4.97%
Uniengine Heaven 4.0 Extreme Preset 720p Avg FPS 71.3 75 -4.93%
Uniengine Heaven 4.0 Extreme Preset 720p Max FPS 153.6 164.9 -6.85%
Uniengine Heaven 4.0 Extreme Preset 720p Min FPS 25.3 25.8 -1.94%
Guild Wars FPS (Eye of North Outside) 331 650 -49.08%
COD MW2 (Opening, looking towards trainees) 61 75 -18.67%
DMC4 DX9 Scene 1 FPS 275.81 440.89 -37.44%
DMC4 DX9 Scene 2 FPS 261.63 368.94 -29.09%
DMC4 DX9 Scene 3 FPS 261 346.5 -24.68%
DMC4 DX9 Scene 4 FPS 200.98 235.17 -14.54%
Crysis 2 Adrenaline Benchmark Times Square DX 11 FPS 78.2 88.2 -11.34%
COD MW2 (Opening,looking opposite trainees) 165 460 -64.13%
3D Mark 13 Fire Strike 7649 8407 -9.02%
3D Mark 13 Fire Strike Graphics 8525 9749 -12.56%
3D Mark 13 Fire Strike Physics 9045 9253 -2.25%
3D Mark 13 Sky Diver 18043 21088 -14.44%
3D Mark 13 Sky Diver Graphics 23605 30277 -22.04%
3D Mark 13 Sky Diver Physics 8408 8662 -2.93%
3D Mark 13 Cloud Gate 17236 20565 -16.19%
3D Mark 13 Cloud Gate Graphics 33176 53386 -37.86%
3D Mark 13 Cloud Gate Physics 6428 6525 -1.49%
3D Mark 13 Ice Storm 39087 126811 -69.18%
3D Mark 13 Ice Storm Graphics 38479 265629 -85.51%
3D Mark 13 Ice Storm Physics 41376 44824 -7.69%


3dmark benchmark links

3dmark-FS.GPU=9749 : [url]http://www.3dmark.com/fs/4052075[/url] 3dmark11.GPU=12507 : [url]http://www.3dmark.com/3dm11/9424206[/url] 3dmark06=28052 : [url]http://www.3dmark.com/3dm06/17731211[/url] RE5_DX9_1280x800 = 237.5
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This was a lot of fun to read, especially because of that small DIY enclosure. Can you measure the power usage of the HDPlex? The 240-250W might just be enough with a bit of room to max it out. Is it stable? Just wonder because some power peaks could use more than 250W for a short peroid of time.

About your CPU OC. Is the CPU throttling at any time? What is your 4-core boost?

About the future planed case... I am not really convinced that laptop bottom cooling is so effective. Most important is to give it some "breathing space" underneath it. :D

Please be careful with building the laptop PSU for the eGPU into an enclosure, it still has to be cooled!

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As far as PSU power consumption, the HDPlex PSU is specced up to 400w peak power consumption, which I imagine it achieves using the large bank of capacitors attached to the PCB. I have a kill-a-watt power meter, and I used it to measure the power consumption. All power consumption is measured at the wall, and thus includes power for the AKiTio board and attached fan. I believe the HDPlex advertises 94% efficiency. So I would expect the actual GPU power consumption to be about 90% of the results given below.

At 100% TDP in Furmark (worst case scenario), the card passed the 15min burn in test without issue. Power consumption was 200w. Peak temperature for the GPU was 83 degrees Celsius with a final fan speed of 70%.

While running the Crysis 2 benchmark using the 'extreme' preset, the highest power consumption I saw was 178w, and then only briefly. I would say that 150w would be typical during gaming.

Here is a picture of the setup on my desk:

post-29007-1449499953771_thumb.jpg

As far as the case, I received my extra acrylic in the mail today. The idea would be for the laptop to sit on top of the acrilic case, which would have no air intakes on top of it. It would identical to the laptop sitting on the desk. There would be a 120mm intake on the bottom of the acrylic case, which I could suspend above the desk using the rubber feet from the AKiTio enclosure. Similarly, I could install the PSU upside down such that air would be drawn in from the underside, as opposed to fighting the laptop for air.

The laptop cpu gets pretty hot if I run prime 95 on all 8 threads, quickly throttling down to about 2.7GHz with a temp of 90 degrees Celsius. The 4 core turbo speed is 3.5GHz. I set the turbo time limit to basically infinity (max number of seconds), and I also raised the CPU current limit to 100A and the TDP from 58W to 63W. I will try a repaste with some MX-4 I have handy while I have the computer apart to install my new IPS screen. Maybe I can also drive the extra laptop lcd externally to create a mobile dual monitor setup when I need it...

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Hi!

I just got a free Zbook 15 G2 - 4810M + 16GB ram + K1100M + (my own 512 SSD EVO 850)

I'm now thinking that I could just sell my old 1366 socket - E5620 Xeon and make this laptop my new gaming Rig.

From your words:

Seems like I would need:

GPU * - I already have 780Ti. I hope it works

AKiTio Thunder 2: $229

Acrylic : $25

Brackets, Screws: $15

My doubts:

HDPLEX 250W : $85

Dell PA-9E 240w : $60 on eBAY (I had one from my previous laptop)

HP 230w Adapter : (Also works, slightly cheaper) $25 - $30 on eBAY

We have plenty 230W adapters here in the office from previous HP's Zbooks and 8770W versions

Cant I just use one of those?

I'm not understanding the need of the HDPLEX + the adapters.

My last doubts:

I will mostly use this with my external home projector or lcd. However, if I go a week out of the country (I travel a little bit), is this solution working with internal laptop screen? (mostly probably not, but I had to ask)

Ohhh.. and this laptop brings a K1100m. So, I hope it works with the 780ti. Otherwise I might get a R9 Nano. Does this works with HD4600 hybrid swaps?

Thanks a lot!

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As far as PSU power consumption, the HDPlex PSU is specced up to 400w peak power consumption, which I imagine it achieves using the large bank of capacitors attached to the PCB. I have a kill-a-watt power meter, and I used it to measure the power consumption. All power consumption is measured at the wall, and thus includes power for the AKiTio board and attached fan. I believe the HDPlex advertises 94% efficiency. So I would expect the actual GPU power consumption to be about 90% of the results given below.

At 100% TDP in Furmark (worst case scenario), the card passed the 15min burn in test without issue. Power consumption was 200w. Peak temperature for the GPU was 83 degrees Celsius with a final fan speed of 70%.

While running the Crysis 2 benchmark using the 'extreme' preset, the highest power consumption I saw was 178w, and then only briefly. I would say that 150w would be typical during gaming.

Here is a picture of the setup on my desk:

[ATTACH=CONFIG]14223[/ATTACH]

As far as the case, I received my extra acrylic in the mail today. The idea would be for the laptop to sit on top of the acrilic case, which would have no air intakes on top of it. It would identical to the laptop sitting on the desk. There would be a 120mm intake on the bottom of the acrylic case, which I could suspend above the desk using the rubber feet from the AKiTio enclosure. Similarly, I could install the PSU upside down such that air would be drawn in from the underside, as opposed to fighting the laptop for air.

The laptop cpu gets pretty hot if I run prime 95 on all 8 threads, quickly throttling down to about 2.7GHz with a temp of 90 degrees Celsius. The 4 core turbo speed is 3.5GHz. I set the turbo time limit to basically infinity (max number of seconds), and I also raised the CPU current limit to 100A and the TDP from 58W to 63W. I will try a repaste with some MX-4 I have handy while I have the computer apart to install my new IPS screen. Maybe I can also drive the extra laptop lcd externally to create a mobile dual monitor setup when I need it...

Hello,

I need you help about using the internal display. I got my setup mounted and running. Here are the specs:

HW Used:

- Zbook G2 with HD4600 and dedicated NVidia K1100M + Thunderbolt 2

- Akitio Thunder2

- MSI 970 Gaming

- 500W SFX Modular PSU powering both PCI and Akitio Barrel

Software:

- Windows 10 with latest Nvidea drivers

- latest intel drivers

Problems and doubts:

- I've disabled the controller for the dedicated K1100M. I only have the HD4600 and 970 GTX.

- However, even with 970 defined as default physics , the benchmark tools (like 3dmark and unigine) still use HD4600.

- I went ahead and used a HDMI cable from 970 GTX to monitor. Still, the default bench would use hd4600

- I disabled HD4600 - meaning only 970 is there - benchmark runs ok external screen. Internal screen is still on as extended (and I cant seem to find the place for disable this)

In other words, what am I missing here?

- How to use my internal screen?

- How to use external screen but disable extended mode? Its so weird. I'm used to configure multi displays with display port in my office and I have 4 screens. I'm felling really stupid by not finding this.

Thanks!

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You will probably be my only hope. How in the hell did you get this working?

 

I have a zbook 15. It is the first generation, the only difference I can see is that you have a 4710MQ I have a 4700 mq.

 

I CAN NOT get this thing to stop that stupid error 12. You are literally the only person I can seem to find out side of nando, who has a Zbook.  I have the same Atikio box, windows 8.1, and I can see it just taunting me in device manager. I am so close can you please tell me how you got yours to work with setup 1.3. Please!

 

Tech Inferno Fan edit>> @killem2 tested a GTX970 instead of GTX670 and now has resolved the error 12 issue. It's worth noting that GTX650/750/9xx use a different PCIe config space arrangement (256MB+32MB) than GTX560/660/670/680/770/780 cards (128MB+32M+16M).  The former usually less desirable on high TOLUD EC/mPCIe machines but in the case of the ZBook are preferred.

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