Began Aug-2009 at notebookreview (NBR). At 2.8million hits on 10-Sep-2012 was banned by Lenovo advocate ZaZ over HP comments -> moved to T|I. NBR, a eGPU saboteur, ignore DMCA/copyright takedowns. Pls consider ceasing eGPU/all discussion at NBR as protest.
THIS PAGE IS A RUNNING SUMMARY OF THIS LONG THREAD. >> SEARCH << this thread.
(12-11-2013) i7-2760QM 2.4 +HD7970@x1.2 impl
(12-10-2013) i7-3520M 2.9 +GTX770@x1.2Opt impl
(12-06-2013) i7-3632QM 2.2 +GTX660@x1.2Opt impl
(12-01-2013) i5-2520M 2.5 +GTX670@x1.2Opt impl
(11-23-2013) i5-2540M 2.6 +HD7970@x1.2 impl
(11-22-2013) i5-3427U 1.8 +GTX680@x1.2Opt result (MBA)
(11-20-2013) Ivxy's GTX770/GTX660/GTX560Ti-448/HD4870 scaling
(11-03-2013) BF4 vids on i7-3632QM@2.2 +GTX780@x1.2Opt
(10-22-2013) 20Gbps TBT 2.0 13/15" Haswell Macbooks
11-6-2013: Recommend purchase a GTX660 or GTX560Ti over a GTX650Ti/GTX650 if PCI space is tight. The GTX650-series has the unusual requirement of 256MB+32MB of PCI space making them more difficult to accomodate. This differs to the other NVidia cards that require 128MB+32MB+16MB. I've had three DIY eGPU users resorting to a DSDT override in order to accomodate a GTX650/GTX650Ti.
Project saboteurs - how corporate/businesses self-interest has negatively interposed themselves in this community-driven project. Intel especially halting the creative opportunities that pluggable, affordable eGPU graphics/processing would create :
Spoiler[June-2013] Randy Case @ Harmonic Inversion Technology collected but then walked away (stole) 16-months worth of Setup 1.1x donations he received for 'development purposes'. REF:Summary: dealing with HIT's abandoned eGPU commitments [customer thread]. Note: Randy was previously a Villagetronic distributor but supposedly switched to distributing DIY eGPU hardware due to a fallout with the Villagetronic CEO.
[Dec-2013] Apple/Intel : initiate US$170 BPlus TH05 Recall Notice thereby eliminating cost-effective Thunderbolt eGPU solutions.
[10-Sep-2012] notebookreview.com : banned nando4 (me) for ridiculous reasons from their site preventing my input into the original 9-18-2009 DIY eGPU experiences (NBR) thread I initiated and maintained. As a result relocated the main content to Tech|Infero. Notebookreview.com refuses to remove my copyright content on their site to allow unified discussion here. Instead, the mostly abandoned thread just confuses users with stale info. NBR continue to draw ad revenue from that thread, the biggest one they've ever had by a significant margin. REF: Nando4 NBR ban summary.
[Aug-2011] Villagetronic, commercial eGPU vendor directs their users to the then free DIY eGPU Setup 1.x software to supplement their hardware sales, ignoring the "free for non-commercial use license". As a result the software is moved to be US$25 restricted donationware as of Feb-2012 REF: FAQ and VT breach: 1, 2, 3.
[Jan-2011] Intel locks down the x1, x2, x4 port settings in their Series-6 chipsets (2nd-gen i-core) or newer making x2/x4 configurations impossible for all but the extremely technically minded individuals. Series-5 and earlier chipsets did allow x2/x4 links to be setup if the system had the right port configuration. REF: nando4 investigation
[8-Sep-2010] notebookreview.com posts an underperforming Intel HD iGPU + AMD eGPU configuration in their DIY ViDock (eGPU) review rather than the superior Intel HD + NVidia Optimus eGPU one requested. That giving validity to their claim of underperformance and external LCD requirement and overall downplays it as more for amusement than as a serious competitor to gaming notebooks. Had the latter configuration been used then it would have outbenched any gaming notebook at that time except the top tier dual-GPU XF/SLI ones. REF: How to Upgrade Your Notebook Graphics Card Using DIY ViDOCK
GETTING STARTED >>> Introduction A brief introduction with the story of the solution.
Pros and Cons
A summary of the pros and cons of a DIY eGPU
Pre purchase FAQ
Answers to questions before you commit
Parts/software/info for a successful installation
Performance: AMD versus NVIDIA benchmark results
Compares AMD and NVIDIA perf on the same sys
Performance: Scaling Analysis
Compare performance over x1, x1E, x1.Opt, x2, x2E links
Implementations: Examples and Leaderboard
PC and Macbook eGPU implementations by users
Implementations: older Macbook
Implementations on older core2duo Macs
Implementations using the GPU for applications+computation
Non-video implementations: soundcards atm
Non English eGPU forums
eGPU forums in non-English speaking locales
Misc other articles
This thread serves as a roadmap for those who wish to attach an external Graphics Processing Unit (eGPU) to a notebook/laptop computer. Connection may be achieved through an ExpressCard, mPCIe slot, or Thunderbolt port.This thread is a place for users to share installation and performance details for others to duplicate or reference.
Note: For those running Windows 7, you can install the eGPU without rebooting your system. Simply and the turn the system to standby system and attach the PE4L. Your system will return to its desktop presets once it detects the PE4L. You will immediately see a significant upgrade in the performance.
* SimoxTav's Video
* Star Trek Online
Gaming videos running on an eGPU implementation US$70 PE4L-EC2C (expresscard) or PE4L-PM3N (mPCIe) products $91 PE4H-EC2C (expresscard) or PE4H-PM3N (mPCIe) products HP 2560P GTX560Ti @x1.2Opt DIY eGPU impl playing NFS Shift on the internal LCD Sony VPC-Z11 running 3 displays: 1 via onboard graphics, 2 via eGPU HP 2510P: [mPCIe] Swap wifi card via underside covers
For example. a Inspiron 1440 using the x1E tweak saw 3dmark06 go from 866 to 9551. RE5 benchmark went from an unplayable 4.1FPS to a very playabe 60.9FPS. The HP 2560P's x1.2Opt link saw 3dmark06 increase over 4 times to 18340 and RE5 gave an average of 148.3FPS(!!), even allowing the internal LCD to be driven by the eGPU.
- Inexpensive: US$92-shipped PE4L with HD5770+120W=$200, GTS450+120W=$160, GTX460-1GB+430W=$210, GT430+72W=$130, HD5670+72W=$140. Add $66 for a x2 capable kit using a PE4H.
- can be used on any system with an accessible expresscard OR mPCIe slot
- has inexpensive eGPU enclosure examples if you want an enclosure
- 10 times or more increase in video performance
- can have Internal LCD-only setup: NVIDIA Optimus or Ultramon/Chung-Gun method.
- provides additional HDMI video+audio, s-video and VGA out
- provides dual-link DVI connection for 2560x1600 LCDs
- allows multi-monitor connectivity:
- AMD Eyefinity to provide up to 3 LCDs attached to any HD54xx or better card.
- Drive up to 6 LCDs to using a HD7xxx or better card supporting Eyefinity 2.0
- AMD FirePro 2450, 2450x1, and 2460 to drive up to 4 monitors from a low power card
- NVIDIA Surround can connect up to 4 simultaneous LCDs.
- easy, on-demand attachment without a reboot if running Win7
- can be reused after a system upgrade, or shared amongst multiple systems
- see an extra 30-60% in performance when attached to an expresscard 2.0 system, or do a x2 1.0 setup
- provides an additional USB port when connected to expresscard slot
- Time-share your desktop video card b/w your desktop and notebook system.
- perform CUDA/OpenCL processing for applications that support it like Adobe CS5/Premiere [NVIDIA graphics only]
- ability to use physX/hybrid physX & game detail
- components can become a stepping stone to a full deskop system if want higher performance
- requires a 12V PSU to drive the desktop eGPU
- requires an external LCD/CRT/TV to connect to display at highest FPS
- may require booting DIY eGPU Setup 1.x from a disk image or USB stick to overcome error 12 issues
- restricted bandwidth: a x1/x2/x4 link represents 1/16, 1/8 or 1/4 the bandwidth of a x16 slot.
1. How does a DIY eGPU differ from a Villagetronic ViDock?
SpoilerPE4L 2.1 or PE4H 3.2 are functionally equivalent to a ViDock. The difference is you pay quite a bit more for a ViDock but get considerably less. DIY eGPU is considerably cheaper, can use DC or ATX input power, has mPCIe solutions, better documentation and support tools along with a larger support community. The shortcomings with ViDock when compared to DIY eGPU can be seen by the RED items in the following comparison chart:
DIY eGPU's flexibility makes it imho an overall better solution over ViDock 3/4. Consider the DIY eGPU's advantages:
- significantly cheaper: US$92-delivered PE4L versus US$215-delivered for the ViDock3. A GTX460-768MB eGPU setup works out to be US$230 cheaper, or half the cost of an equivalent Vidock4+ GTX460 setup. Costs can be reduced further by recycling or salvaging power supplies with savings put towards a higher grade gpu, a cpu upgrade OR even towards a system upgrade that's a better eGPU candidate.
- less losses to try: can try and if unsatisfied, can resell on ebay with minimal losses. Villagetronic's strict return policy means higher ebay reselling losses.
- has DIY eGPU Setup 1.x software to overcome error 12: cannot allocate resources issues.
- developed the x1E tweak and custom NVIDIA Optimus drivers to deliver highest possible performance. DNA drivers for AMD cards are available too.
- mPCIe AND expresscard systems are supported. Villagetronic only caters to expresscard systems.
- PCI reset delay circuit to boot past problematic bios with unit switched on (PE4L 1.5+/PE4H 2.4+).
- x2 capable on some systems: x2 1.0 provides ~60% better performance than x1 1.0.
- can add PSU to match your video card.
- has inexpensive eGPU enclosure examples if you want an enclosure.
- unrestricted video card sizes or cooling space: Not limited by chassis package dimensions.
- PE4H allows desktop video card to be hosted externally and shared b/w notebook and desktop (@x4 1.0 speed via HP4A).
- extensive user submitted experiences to replicate and set realistic performance expectations.
- uses a replacable US$6-delivered mini HDMI interconnect cable
- a Tech|Inferno creation: came from a global community to serve a global community
2. How can I check if my notebook is compatible with an eGPU?
SpoilerIf the system has a dGPU then ensure it's switchable with the Intel 4500MHD/HD/HD3000/HD4000 providing primary video if you want to do a higher performance Optimus x1.Opt implementation. x1.Opt allows accelerated graphics to the internal LCD as well as an external LCD and enables x1-link pci-e compression accelerating mostly DX9 titles anywhere from 20-300%.
Pretty much any notebook can be eGPU compatible if it's run with 2GB of RAM. 95% are OK with 3GB of RAM. It's only if it runs 4GB or more that there needs to be particular attention paid to free pci-e configuration space to host it, which can be checked by:
(Update 3-14-2012) A DSDT override extending the root bridge into 36-bit can allow ALL systems with a 64-bit CPU and chipset (anything after 2007) to be eGPU compatible when used with Windows 7 and the latest iGPU/dGPU/eGPU drivers with up to 48GB of RAM installed. So the DSDT override solution eliminates the restrictions listed below.
- if the system has a switchable iGPU+ATIAMD dGPU or switchable iGPU+NVidia Optimus dGPU configuration then can use Setup 1.x to disable the dGPU component to allow a eGPU to use it's pci-e space. This also works with all Intel chipset systems with NVidia or ATiAMD switchable graphics with the exception that Series-6 AMD switchable graphics hasn't been confirmed to be allow such disabling as explained.
- if the system has only a dGPU or iGPU (not switchable) then check the system's TOLUD+Large Memory to ensure there will be no issues running 4GB+. Check in Device Manager. Set View to "Resources by connection" & expand the Memory tree like shown.
If you have the somewhat rare large memory memory entry then the eGPU can be hosted in 36-bit pci-e space.
If not, as is far more common, then the eGPU will be hosted in 32-bit pci-e space where you'll require TOLUD being 3.25GB or less. Identify this by looking for the first PCI bus entry with a 8 digit memory address. Compare it with table below (thanks Kizwan!):
First PCI bus with 8 digits memory address TOLUD E0000000 3.5GB D0000000 3.25GB C0000000 3GB B0000000 2.75GB A0000000 2.50GB
As long as TOLUD is equal or lower than 0xD0000000 (3.25GB) your notebook will have enough 32-bit PCI space for a eGPU to work with 4GB or more of system RAM. See details. Some examples:
- older C2D/Arrandale Dell Latitudes could only do a 3GB setup. A fix requested in REQ: bios mods to make Vostro/Latitude eGPU friendly.
- Sandy Bridge Lenovo X & T series require the latest bios to do a 4GB+ setup. See Petition to fix TOLUD in newer BIOS files - Lenovo Community.
There is some exception to this rule. We've found some systems have bios allocate systemboard devices that sit right in the middle of a "free" 32-bit 256MB pci-e block that cannot be relocated and prevents an eGPU from that space.
To be absolutely sure an eGPU can be accomodated requires booting Setup 1.x and performing an 32-bit PCI "All" compaction, and seeing if you now have 256MB free shown in the Status window and confirming your system can chainload to Windows. If not, but you do have 128MB contiguous free space shown then consider that NVidia Fermi/Keplar cards use a fragmented 128MB+32MB+16MB PCI BAR so might still be able to be allocated where AMD cards require a straight 256MB contiguous block cannot.
If this is a bit too confusing then proceed to boot Setup 1.x, run Save Diags->compact_fails, then Save Diags->Windows_fails following the prompts. Boot back to Windows, mount the Setup 1.x image, archive the v:\diag folder with Winrar/WinZIP, upload to mediafire.com and link here for analysis of your diagnostic output.
3. I don't have an ExpressCard slot. Can I still do use a eGPU?
SpoilerYes, if have an accessible mini PCIe (mPCIe) slot via the underside covers that works with your wifi card, as show here, then could use a PE4L-PM3N or PE4H-PM3N mPCIe setup. The example Dell XPS15 L502, Acer 1810TZ, HP 2510P and Lenovo X61T below all use a PM3N mPCIe-based eGPU.
NOTE: WWAN mPCIe slots with only USB pins connected (pin 36+38) rather than PCIe pins (23, 25, 33, 35) cannot do a eGPU.
USB-to-ExpressCard adapters cannot be used since they uses just the 480Mbps USB pins on an ExpressCard slot.
mini PCI slots can't be used. Can see the difference between mini PCI and mini PCIe here.
4. Can I make this work using just my notebook's LCD display?
SpoilerThe desktop video card outputs to it's HDMI/VGA/DVI connector. The notebook's LCD display uses a LVDS input on your systemboard with no external jack to connect to it. Meaning then they cannot be physically connected together unless adapt a US$30 ebay kits allowing external input to the internal LCD as discussed, which only quite an advanced user would ever attempt.
Another more elegant solution would use a HDMI input expresscard as described at Play PS3/X360 on laptop screen using new HDMI Input Express Card. . Though current costs of $170 for the item makes it unattractive AND you'd need to then do a mPCIe eGPU implementation.
There are however these less drastic ways of getting your accelerated graphics card to render to the internal LCD, all of which will have lower performance than when running using an external LCD:
It is not feasible to use USB 2.0 framegrabbers. The desktop video card outputs HDMI/S-Video. To try to clone the output from the desktop video card via a USB frame grabber can be done, but consider say 1280x800x32-bit = 4MB per image. If gaming at 30FPS that's 120MB/s bandwidth required. USB 2.0 is 480Mbps (60MB/s in *best case* scenario.. more like 30MB/s in real-life).
- NVIDIA Optimus driver provides a transparent internal LCD cloning mode for systems with a 4500MHD/HD/HD3000/HD4000 iGPU primary video when using a NVIDIA GTS4xx/GTX4xx card.
- Use Lucidlogix virtu drivers to provide transparent output using the internal LCD if you have a Sandy Bridge cpu. (timohour)
- Ultramon/Chung Gun method can clone from the desktop eGPU's window to the internal LCD for windowed games/apps.
- USB 3.0 framegrabbers have sufficient bandwidth to capture the image from the desktop eGPU and pipe it back to your notebook's display.
5. (Performance) What affects the performance of a eGPU?
The x1 1.0 PCIe link restricts performance from normal desktop levels. PCIe Scaling Analysis shows x16, x2 and x1 performance. Compared to x16 2.0 we can summarize that there is 50% performance loss at x1 1.0 and 20% performance loss at x2 1.0 link speeds. Or x2 1.0 is 60% faster than x1 1.0.
ViDock and BPlus PE4L are using the same x1 ExpressCard/mPCIe pins so we will get exactly the same performance using either solution. Only ways either solution will see improved performance is by:
RE5 Config Resolution FPS U7600email@example.com
HD4670-1GB x1 1.0 W7/DX9
1280x800 34.7 1280x1024 32.5 1680x1050 27.6 1920x1080 25.3 Performance Scaling with resolution
- Purchase an expressCard 2.0-equipped Sandy Bridge notebook, with it's x1 2.0 providing ~60% faster performance than x1 1.0.
- Petition AMD to get full duplex performance on Intel chipsets without needing the x1E tweak.
- Petition NVIDIA to unlock the Optimus performance tweak with x2/x4 links and with systems that do not have an iGPU for their primary bootup video as requested.
- Try 3rd-party tweaked drivers. Realistically only giving < 10% better performance.
- Link two x1 ExpressCard and/or mPCIe ports to get a x2 link, like BPlus' PE4H does.
- If system supports it, overclock the PCIe bus using setfsb. Eg: 100->105 yields a 3.3% RE5 FPS increase.
- Minimize PCIe traffic by disabling hypermemory/turbomemory and video card's HDMI soundcard.
- Further minimize PCIe traffic by reducing color depth from 32-bit to 16-bit giving up to 72% performance improvement. See details.
- Reduce all possible PCI bus communications shown to improve performance.
- Get rid of NVidia x1.Opt microstuttering by setting a FPS limit with 300.x drivers here (Khenglish)
- Apply game-specific tweaks like the SCII one here from apac.
- If the game supports it, force run it in different DX9/DX10/DX11 modes to see which gives the best performance. This would usually be a commandline option. Eg: NVidia tends to run better in DX10/DX11 rather than DX9, whereas AMD sees better DX9/DX10 performance than DX11.
6. (Performance) Can my system do a PE4H x2 or x4 link as shown in PCIe Scaling Analysis?
SpoilerBPlus' PE4H has made provision to allow compatible 2xmPCIe ports, or mPCIe+expresscard ports to be combined to form a x2 port. To identify what is possible, find your Intel I/O chipset below to identify what ports can be combined to create a x2 or x4 width link
Intel Chipset max#
x2 link x4 link ICH7M 4 p1+2, p3+4* p1+2+3+4 ICH8M/ICH9M/HM55 6 p1+2, p3+4*, p5+6 Series-5
8 p1+2, p3+4*, p5+6,p7+p8^ p1+2+3+4, p5+6+7+8 Series-6
8 NA NA
*=switches [port1+2] into x2 mode. ^switches [port5+6] into x2 as well. An Intel limitation. NA=feature locked into BIOS flash descriptor
Other combinations to get x2/x4 ports such as p1+3, p2+4 do not work! In example above, the 2510P can't do a x2 link since it has only the 1 physical mPCIe slot. You'll notice on the 2510P port1 is enabled - it's a root port that must be enabled for *any* port to work. 2510P's port1 is not physically connected. The DV2000 has ExpressCard=port1, mPCIe=port3, mPCIe=port4. So the DV2000 can do a x2 link using the 2 mPCIe slots as port3+4.
The best way to identify your port layout is to insert a ExpressCard e-sata card and see what port it reports as being on, then checking too the wifi card. If have multiple mPCIe slots, worth swapping the wifi aiming for a [port1+2], [port3+4], [port5+6] or [port7+8] setup.
NOTE: port1 is the root port and must be enabled for any of the ports to work. On quite a few systems this is just a phantom port with no electrical connections to a mPCIe or expresscard slot.
Where can I find schematics of my systemboard to find port layout? Try laptopdesktopschematic, lqv77, GSM-extreme, notebookschematic and a general google search.
Related: How do I enable port1-port6 if bios has disabled them? Use eGPU Setup's 'iport on'.
Related: How do I setup a x2 1.0 link? Use eGPU Setup's 'iport x2 [port]'.
7. (Performance) What recommended candidate notebooks should I buy for best performance?
SpoilerQuick answer - choose any from this list: Example ExpressCard equipped SB systems suitable to attach an eGPU.
Performance will be determined by PCIe bandwidth available, which is ranked from highest->lowest below and and if the notebook has Intel 4500MHD, HD, HD3000, HD4000 iGPU primary graphics so is NVIDIA Optimus capable.
1. PCIe 2.0 series-6 chipsets providing equivalent to x2 1.0 bandwidth. Current AMD cards appears to be running crippled half-duplex links on Intel pci-e ports on series-5 or older systems. Compare HD5750@x2 and HD5770@x2E and techpowerup's HD5870 x1 2.0 results. Series-6 chipsets deliver x1 2.0 *full duplex* with AMD HD7xxx, or 4 times more bandwidth than what AMD cards appear to be getting on series-5 or older chipsets.Intel 4500MHD, HD, HD3000 or HD4000 iGPU allows NVIDIA Optimus superior performance with latest Fermi/Keplar NVIDIA cards.
2. a Intel-chipset system that allows a x2 link by ganging [port1+2], [port3+4], [port5+6], [port7+8] using mPCIe+expresscard or mPCIe+mPCIe slots. Note: using a x2 port3 affects port1/port2 operation since it sets port1 into x2 mode.
3. series-4 or older Intel-chipset system that allows a x1E link off an odd numbered port for AMD cards OR an AMD/NVIDIA chipset that provides full x1 1.0 performance using an ATI card
8. (Performance) Can I do a SLI/Crossfire implementation combining mPCIe+mPCIe or EC+mPCIe ports?
Spoilertimohour found this is not possible here.
9. (Performance) How could manufacturers make eGPU x2 2.0 notebooks?
SpoilerUPDATE 2-24-2011 The Apple+Intel Thunderbolt port is a x4 2.0 external PCIe port, though looks like will be uprated to x4 3.0. Perfect for high performance eGPU purposes.
As it appears there is no desire to make an external graphics port standard it can do be done effectively another way. All that is required are 12-18.4" notebooks with:
In addition provide a bios that
- 2x34mm Intel ExpressCard 2.0 ports electrically configured as either [port1+2] or [port5+6]. Doable with series-6 chipsets.
- switchable HDMI input back into the internal LCD to route the external GPU output to like the Clevo X8100 provides.
Such a notebook will be perfect for eGPU purposes, offering the equivalent of x4 1.0 in bandwidth. Performance then would be ~95% of when using a desktop eGPU with full x16 2.0 bandwidth.
- can set [port1+2] or [port5+6] as x2 width.
- performs correct PCI allocation when attach a desktop eGPU to it.
Only dilemma for manufacturers being such notebooks would become a serious competitor to bulky expensive gaming notebooks that have poor battery life.
10. My system has switchable graphics. Can I still do install a DIY eGPU?
SpoilerYes you can. Setup 1.x's (Video card->Hybrid Graphics.dedicated=off) allows the dedicated graphics component to be completely disabled on Series-5 or older chipsets, freeing up 32-bit resources to host the desktop eGPU. If your primary video card is a Intel 4500MHD, HD, HD3000 or HD4000 then can even do a x1.Opt NVIDIA setup.
11. My Villagetronic ViDock product isn't working. Can you help?
SpoilerI've never used a Villagetronic Vidock so am not familiar with their hardware. Consider then opening a support ticket on Villagetronic's support page or asking for help on the Villagetronic community Facebook page. If Villagetronic can't provide a working solution then consider obtaining a refund from them.
12. Can I solder my own adapter to host an eGPU instead of buying one from BPlus, Redtrontech, Villagetronic?
13. What do I need to run the fastest x1.2Opt link shown in the implementations?
SpoilerThe following ingredients are required for a x1.2Opt link:
1. A Series-6 system (Sandy Bridge) or newer notebook with an expresscard slot^. See eGPU candidate system list [thin-and-light] for a list.
2. A pci-e 2.0 compliant PE4L-ECxxx (expresscard) or PE4L-PMxxx (mPCIe) version 2.1b or newer
UPDATE 16-6-2013: The new PCIEMM-060B allows a Gen2 link (x1 2.0) on gear that was previously thought to be only Gen1 compliant (PE4L 1.5 or PE4H 2.4). Recommend the PE4H 2.4 + PCIEMM-060A as the most feature packed and user friendly eGPU adapter.
3. A NVidia Fermi or Keplar class video card. A s/h GTX460-1GB OC edition with 336 cores or GTX560Ti with 384 cores being great bang-per-buck.
4. A power supply to drive your video card. A 203W XBOX360 a good to mod for for < 198W video cards and providing portability. Or any ATX PSU with sufficient power on the 12V rail if don't need portability.
5. Latest NVidia desktop video drivers. They provide the ability to drive the internal LCD upon detecting a Intel 4500MHD, HD, HD3000 or HD4000 iGPU. When the iGPU and x1 link is found, pci-e compression engages gaining anywhere from 20-333% better performance over a x1 2.0 link without compression. This is mostly for DX9 applications.
^ a PE4L-PM3N 2.1 could be used to do a less convenient mPCIe slot rather than expresscard slot implementation. Useful for systems like a Sony Z2 which don't have an expresscard slot
14. I have no expresscard slot. Can I use my wifi mPCIe slot to host the eGPU and still have internal wifi?
SpoilerIf you have 2 mPCIe slots, then yes. If the second slot is mPCIe and *isn't whitelisted*, then you can simply relocate the wifi card to use that slot. If the second slot is WWAN (USB), then consider purchasing this US$6 USB mPCIe wifi card.
See Techradar's How to make an external laptop graphics adaptor article for an overview.
1. What parts do I need and where can I buy them?
Above: Fujitsu S710 eGPU implementation - US$85 PE4H-EC2C(comes with SWEX and PCIEMM-030) plus a HD5770+ATX PSU
1. The expresscard or mPCIe to PCIe adapter. See related 2. Can my system use PE4H's x2 1.0.. in FAQ. You'll need the US$92-shipped PE4L 2.1 if want the faster pci-e 2.0 performance on a Sandy Bridge Series-6 or newer notebooks. The linked units below are pci-e 1.1 which is the maximum speed available on Series-5 (1st gen i-cores) or older chipsets.
x1 or x2 link mode1 x2 link mode US$71 PE4L-EC2C or PE4L-PM3N
US$91 PE4H-EC2C or PE4H-PM3N
US$91 PE4H-EC2C or PE4H-PM3N
US$93 US$113 US$149
1 buying the PE4H means can acquire parts later to do a x2 link
Recommend: an extra US$6-shipped DX mini hdmi cable. 2 users requiring a replacement part for the setup to work.
Which one? PE4L or PE4H?
PE4H 2.4 has a sturdier base, can allow a 15-19V DC jack input and up to x4 1.0 connectivity [note: pci-e 1.x only].
PE4L 1.5 is not as sturdy but is smaller and lighter. It can allow a 12V DC jack input and x1-only connectivty. [note: pci-e 1.x only]
PE4L 2.1b is pci-e 2.x compliant and recommended for Sandy Bridge or newer expresscard/mPCIe equipped systems.
Amfeltec has a cheaper x1 1.0 mPCIe kit starting at US$29 here.
2. A video card of your choice
Review next item 2. Which video card do you recommend for best performance on my system? to determine if an AMD or NVIDIA solution will perform better on your setup.
3. A suitable power supply to drive your video card
Can determine how much power you require by counting the number of 6 or 8-pin PCIe connectors on your video card. The total power required to drive it will then be:
75W for the slot1
+ 75W for each 6-pin PCIe connector
+ 150W for each 8-pin PCIe connector
1: Can be supplied using either the DC or the floppy molex jack. The DC jack differs on the PE4L and PE4H: PE4L takes 12V input, PE4H takes 15-20V (regulated) > 84W. The AC adapter must have a 2.5mm/5.5mm or 2.5mm/5mm barrel end to use the DC jack. The floppy molex input is used with an ATX PSU..
Power can be supplied by using either an ATX PSU or AC adapters. Can also split AC adapter power to supply a PCIe connector as shown here.
Refer also to ithildin's and serialk11r's PSU recomendations for details on how to read the PSU labelling. 430W may actually mean it only supplies 168W for our purposes!!
2. Which video card do you recommend for best performance on my system?
This will be determined by your chipset, if additional ports available for x2 linkage and whether you have Intel 4500MHD, HD, HD3000 or HD4000 graphics. The matrix below makes recommendations based on the system chipset with:
-LIME recommend NVIDIA Fermi/Keplar (GT430 or better) solution for best performance
-RED recommend AMD HD5750 or better solution for best performance
-CYAN choose based on preferred performance bias: DX9 (AMD HD5750 or better) or DX10/DX11 (NVIDIA Fermi/Keplar). Though specifically for x1 1.0 I recommend a system upgrade to a better performing candidate as users find uneven & choppy performance. Thunderbolt users may still elect NVidia Optimus solution (if have an iGPU) as then can then render the image to the internal LCD. Refer to Performance: AMD versus NVIDIA benchmark results to help you decide. If not sure then suggest a NVIDIA Fermi/Keplar solution which on balance gives better overall performance and has the option of x1.Opt with the right notebook. Note: if the NVIDIA x1.Opt driver was unlocked to allow primary video cards other than Intel 4500MHD/HD/HD3000/HD4000 plus it engaged with x2 links then I would recommend only NVIDIA solutions.
PCIe 1.0 (2.5GT/s) lanes
PCIe 2.0 (5GT/s) lanes
PCIe 3.0 (~10GT/s) lanes
Intel Series-5(1st-gen i-core)
Intel Series-6(2nd-gen i-core)
Intel Series-7(3rd-gen i-core)
with NVIDIA x1.Opt and x2 delivering similiar performance
1 provides full duplex performance equivalent to x1E on Intel chipsets.
2 Optimus tweak engages only when Intel 4500MHD/HD/HD3000/HD4000 primary graphics AND x1 link is detected, improving mostly DX9 performance by 20-333% with some DX10 improvements as well. Provides ability for the internal LCD to render games running on the external GPU.
3 x1E tweak uses a x2 link on port1, 3 or 5 with a single lane for 15-30% more perf (AMD/non-Fermi|Keplar NVIDIA only).
4 x2E tweak use two lanes of a x4 link, [port1+2] as EC+mPCIe or mPCIe+mPCIe for 30-60% more perf (AMD/non-Fermi|Keplar NVIDIA only).
5 x2=combining expresscard+mPCIe or mPCIe+mPCIe slots [p1+2], [p3+4], [p5+6] or [p7+8]; x4=[p1+2+3+4] or [p5+6+7+8].
6Series-6/7: Only for Thunderbolt-equipped notebooks. Trying to combine mPCIe+expresscard slots no longer possible as Intel now locking the link width in the flash descriptor. Requires advanced bios hacking to configure x2 link, cannot be done using Setup 1.x.
7: would only be possible if the expresscard slot was wired to the northbridge which runs pci-e 3.0. All expresscard slots so far have been using the southbridge which is currently limited to pci-e 2.0. So we can say this is not possible.
? Don't know if non-Intel chipsets can do x2 links.
If going AMD, recommend a HD5xxx+ series card over a HD4xxx series due to their more efficient usage of PCIe bandwidth. Benchmarks would predict a HD5670 to outperform a HD4870.
Avoid twin-gpu cards like a HD6970/GTX590 since they require 2x256MB PCIe space windows which might be difficult to accomodate.
Examples based on power consumption requirements
- 12V/75W adapter: HD5670, unplugged HD5750, NVIDIA GT430.
- 12v/80w: specific HD5750 units. See comment here, implemented here.
- 12V/120W: GTS450 described here using DC adapter that is shared between notebook and eGPU
- 12V/203W xbox360 PSU: GTX460
- ATX PSU: AMD HD68xx, NVIDIA GTX4xx/GTX5xx
See also Suggested NVIDIA Setups.
3. Is it possible to get an enclosure?
A good thread to see some professional designed enclosures is at redback79's DIY enclosure project. There are others for sale or examples to build on your own, for example:
BPlus' $60 DIY Box, Remko78's low profile, surrealix's laser-cut acrylic, fatpolomanjr's cardboard box, celli's IKEA drawer, Elmopol's XB360, Joss27's 5.25" SCSI box, Wolf Tohsaka's Livebox Mini, timohour's floppy holder, fr0z3n's carry-it, Fujian stand/enclosure, airzone (1U), Kallogan (192W AC), hlgr, aodioxp, SimoxTav, #1, sprtnbsblplya, Agent9, Lurifax (mini ITX), kizwan (Aero QX2000, mITX), the endless +XB360 PSU, max_headroom and Oddious (1U), lightnica (JuiceBox), pengy_666's 5.25" drive enclosure, 12V/120W "portable", pimped-up (xb360) which is similar to Building an eGPU (CUDA).
4. What software setup do I need to make this work?
SpoilerYou just need video card drivers for your chosen operating system. This will be available for download from www.amd.com (AMD) or www.nvidia.com (NVIDIA).
Or custom NVIDIA Optimus, DNA drivers for AMD cards are available too.
DIY eGPU Setup 1.x may also be required if encounter error 12: cannot allocate resources in Device Manager or have specific port requirements such as x1E, x2, x2E link widths or mPCIe antiwhitelisting. Click link for more details.
5. I'm using an ATX power supply to power my graphics card. How do I switch it on?
SpoilerPE4H is supplied with a SWEX, a small switched circuitboard used to power on/off the ATX PSU. The alternative is do the paperclip trick to switch on the PSU.
6. What cable connects PE4L/PE4H to EC2C/PM3N and is it replaceable?
7. [mPCIe] What can I do to make it easier to connect the mini hdmi cable to the PM3N?
SpoilerCould consider a cutout hole on the bottom plastic cover to provide an access point if you otherwise need to remove covers to get to it. OR could permanently attach PM3N internally, threading through a flat mini HDMI cable + adapter. The adapter would go on the PE4H/PE4L end. The bulb of the cable can be dremelled to sit more flush as shown here.
8. Why does my video card fail with an error 12: cannot allocate resources in Device Manager? See Troubleshooting FAQ - Q3.
AMD versus NVIDIA back-to-back benchmark results
GTX560Ti vs GTX660 @x1.2Opt (int vs ext) (i5-2540M 2.6, bjorm)
HD7770@x1 vs x1E (P8400-2.26, damir001 inc PCISpeedTest)
HD7870 vs GTX660 at all expresscard/mPCIe bandwidths available (i5-3320M 2.6, nando4)
HD6970@x4 2.0 vs GTX460@x4 2.0 vs x16 2.0 (i5-2400 3.1, tomshardware)
GTX670@x1.2Opt vs GTX560Ti (i7-2820QM 2.3, carage)
HD5850@x1.2 vs GTX460@x1.2Opt (i7-2630QM 2.0, timohour)
NVS4200M vs GTX560Ti@x1.2Opt (i7-2670QM, Tom_ger)
GTX680@x1.2Opt vs x1.1Opt and GTX580 versus GTX680@x1.1Opt (i5-2520M 2.5, arsenal243)
GTX480 versus GTX560Ti@x1Opt (i7-620M 2.66, Mikjoa)
GTX460-1GB versus GTX560Ti @x1.1Opt (i5-2520M 2.5, Warwickeo)
GTS450 versus GTX460 @x1.Opt (i7-640M 2.80, docusyn)
HD5750 versus GTX470 on x1, x1.Opt and x2 links (i5-430M 2.26, nando4)
HD5750 versus GTX460 on x1 and x1E links (T9300-2.5, ithildin)
HD5750 versus GTX470 on x1, x1E, x1.Opt and x2 links (T6600-2.2/T2050-1.6/U7600-1.2, nando4)
HD5870@x2 1.0 vs x16 2.0 (i7-720QM/i7-3820, kizwan)
HD7970 versus GTX680: pci-e scaling x4, x8, x16 @pci-e 1.0, 2.0 and 3.0
HD7970: pci-e 3.0 x2, x4, x8, x16 scaling
GTX580: x1.2Opt vs x1.1Opt +30% overclock & (i7-2920XM 2.4, Khenglish)
GTX560Ti: x1.2Opt vs x1.1Opt [internal LCD vs external LCD] (i5-2540M 2.6, nando4)
HD5850: x16, x4, x2, x1 (~i7-2820QM, timohour)
HD5870: x2 versus x1 (i7-720QM 1.6, kizwan)
GTX580+GTX460: x2 vs x1 vs GTX260M (P8700-2.53, mangos47)
GTX460@x1.Opt scaling analysis internal vs external LCD, +25% PCIe, +40% GPU core O/C (L9600@2.90, nando4)
GTX460@x2 scaling analysis +20% cpu, +20% PCIe, ~20% GPU (T9400-2.53, khenglish)
HD5750: x1 versus x1E (T9300-2.5, ithildin)
04-03-2011 MacBook 17 T7600-2.33 with X1600 + HD6850 implemented with Win7/32
11-10-2010 Mac Mini T7200-2.0 + HD5450 implemented with Win7.
11-05-2010 MBP 17" T2600-2.16 with X1600 + GT240M result with Win7.
9-27-2010 MBP 15" Unibody T7500-2.2, 6GB RAM with 8600M GT+HD4650/HD5770-7LCDs impl. & & & with Win7.
8-11-2010 MBP 15" Unibody T7500-2.2 with 8600M GT + HD4870 implemented with Win7 and MacOS 10.6
For MacOS DIY eGPU implementations see DIY eGPU MacOS Experiences.
Octane Render: 10x faster than CPU-based rendering.
CUDA/OPENCL APPLICATIONS >>>
Badaboom: CUDA based video transcoding
Creative SB X-Fi Titanium desktop sound card via the ExpressCard slot. See details.
NON-VIDEO PCI-E CARDS >>>
NON ENGLISH eGPU FORUMS >>>
- Finland (murobbs.plaza.fi): DIY eGPU eli pöytäkoneen näytönohjain kannettavaan
- Germany (hardwareluxx.de): ATI HD5770 per ExpressCard am Laptop !
- Germany (computerbase.de): [Erfahrungsbericht] [PE4H] externe Grafikkarte für das Notebook
- Hungary (prohardver.hu): eGPU tapasztalatok
- Indonesia (kaskus.us): [VGA CARD] DIY ViDock (Solusi External Graphic Card Untuk Laptop)
- Italy (techarena.it): eGPU
- Poland (notebookcheck.pl): Zewnetrzna karta graficzna, (DIY) ViDock, Magma Box i pochodne, czyli czym to sie je
- Spain (chw.net): Tarjeta de Video externa para Notebook DIY eGPU [REVIEW]
ARCHIVED NEWS >>>
- 10-18-2013 Lenovo X230 BIOS 2.56 for eGPU
- 09-23-2013 Future x2 2.0 M.2/NGFF (mSATA) slot eGPUs
- 08-24-2013 Howto: using eGPU under MacOSX
- 08-22-2013 20Gbps "Thunderbolt 2" sysboard released
- 07-27-2013 ~US$250 450W TB enclosure: Silverstone T004
- 07-25-2013 modding PE4L 2.1b for longer delay
- 07-15-2013 Acer ditches Thunderbolt in new systems
- 07-03-2013 PCIEMM-060B cable test results
- 06-17-2013 project saboteurs named
- 06-11-2013 Important: HIT Setup 1.x customers
- 02-02-2013 older PE4L/PE4H fails Gen2 testing
- 11-28-2012 LucidLogix Virtu MVP Mobile installation
- 02-05-2012 Khenglish's color depth perf analysis
- 02-02-2012 Internal Screen for AMD GPUs with Virtu Driver (timohour)
- 01-28-2012 US$55-shipped PE3A+riser (pci-e 2.0) (timohour)
- 08-28-2011 JediMasterZon's modded PE3A
- 06-30-2011 Kizwan's HD5870@x2 and x1 game benchmarks
- 06-04-2011 modded PM3N 1.1 to start CLKRUN when setting the jumper details
- 05-31-2011 Thunderbolt eGPU product preview
- 05-10-2011 Khenglish' request to unlock x1.Opt compression regardless of primary video.
- 04-01-2011 tabletpcreview's eGPU on Tablet PC's: experiences, benchmarks, setup, ect...
- 11-07-2010 DA-2 220W AC adapter mod
- 09-08-2010 i5-520M 2.4+HD4890@x1 NBR review
- 08-27-2010 Panzer's fuse bypass on PE4H < 2.4 for GTX465+
- 07-05-2010 Enzyme 1.4b3 versus Catalyst 10.6
Acknowledgements Many thank yous to all the members who have shared their DIY eGPU experiences for others to be able to learn from and duplicate. Special thanks to SimoxTav for the artistic touches.