DIY eGPU on Tablet PC's: experiences, benchmarks, setup, ect...

Discussion in 'Hardware' started by Agent 9, Apr 1, 2011.

  1. lovelaptops

    lovelaptops My friends call me Jeff Senior Member

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    Well, I for one would like to say that this is the most impressive piece of work and, perhaps more valuable for the rest of us, the most impressively simple, straightforward set of directions for us to get going with a DIY Vidock. They are becoming increasingly popular, but most believe (and what has been written previously supports the belief) that it is just too complex for any but the most technically savvy to achieve.

    By the way, I have read discussions on several forums where people swear there is no way to pump the discrete gpu output back to the screen of the "starting" computer. Curious Agent 9, how does 8,000+ 3DMark graphics look on the BOE Hydis of the 2730?

    Finally, I would like to mention that not only are hobbyists with nothing but IGPs on their laptops looking more and more towards this, but computer companies are doing it too, as a means of making laptops that are very thin and light (ie, no room for a major cooling system) and selling their own separate box to do discrete graphic, gaming etc. While the leaks are still sketchy, there is pretty much confirmation that the next Sony Z ultra-lux ultraportable is going to have a form factor more like and MBA, keep it's superior screen and other features, but off load the discrete gpu, which is presently an underclocked GT 330M due to cooling limitations of the tiny case, onto a separate box. This is a fairly long thread of speculation about the new Z, but much of it surround the now-certainty that Sony will be taking this approach with its flagship notebook: New Sony Vaio Z speculation/news thread.

    Agent 9, +1 rep from me (paltry accolade) and you really set the pace here. I personally think you should make a business of consulting to people to set this up. You can do it all by phone and real time photos/videos, and if you charge a reasonable fee for your time advising for everything from what equipment to acquire and how to hook it up, you would be providing a fabulous service that, to my knowledge, no one provides, and you would help supplement your starving-student finances :)

    Great work!
     
  2. Agent 9

    Agent 9 Scribbler - Standard Member Senior Member

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    Thanks lovelaptops!
    Having this amount of power on my 2730p is just mind boggling, I never would have guessed it would e so easy to do, or how efficient it all is; and it really does look great on this gorgeous AFFS+ screen :)



    OK, so it is really time for a big update (this is after lots more testing, and a bit more reading):
    First off Nvidia released a new driver, and it is even better than before (version 270.51) it seems to handle the handicap of running on a x1 1.0 Optimus link considerably better than before (the video card is built for a x16 2.0 vidoeocard slot on a desktop motherboard)... a bit of info I stumbled across is that if you are using a Nvidia Optimus capable driver past version 258.96 with one of the cards capable of Optimus, you will not be able to use a DVI to VGA converter on display out (I think a DVI connection would be fine, though I do not have one to test -so that is the reason VGA out was not working for me earlier, not because of VGA being cloned back to the internal screen). Scores for 3d Mark 06 jumped up to ~8810 internal, and ~10000 for external (I need to re-run and post it)... best part about the new driver is there is no Optimus Overlay text anywhere!!

    After playing with a few different games so far, I can say that some games will handle the DIY ViDock extremely well (Far Cry 2 is just beautiful at max all settings on either my 2730p's screen, or a external 50" 1920x1080 screen at native res!), while others will have some issues with it (namely Crysis seems to not like playing super smoothly, it gets 'cuts' across the screen where part of the screen is rendering right, but above or below the cut the game is lagging behind rendering)
    So here is the huge news: While most games will recommend about medium settings; nearly every game will play at highest all settings [including all the fancy little things like AA, DOF, filtering, ect...] with dropping at most a handful of fps (if any at all)!! though it will stress the CPU/ GPU a little more (even still all, temps are very reasonable -average ~50-60C and only the Intel GPU, GTX 460, and processor barely reaching 65C after gaming for a while! Playing Combat Arms on the 2730p by itself was reaching 70 & 80C for processor and Intel GPU respectively, that being before I had a DIY ViDock)... I will be testing Metro 2033 later this weekend, I am curious as to how it will handle

    So Far Cry 2 (and others) at max all settings at native resolution is smooth playing, and relatively cool running (don't know how to check frame rates accurately, any ideas?) on a few generations old tech that was never intended for gaming :D


    I also built a 'test housing' for my DIY ViDock out of cardboard (you can see a picture of it in the first post) currently it has the entire power supply in it [cables and all], but I am planning on taking the psu apart and only keeping the wires I need so I can cut the size and weight down significantly; but for the time being it is working fine, and it sorta 'portable'
     
  3. purplepeopledesign

    purplepeopledesign Scribbler - Standard Member

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    Is there an display setting for the very uncommon 1400x1050 resolution?

    :)ensen.
     
  4. Agent 9

    Agent 9 Scribbler - Standard Member Senior Member

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    I don't quite know what you mean; are you talking about a internal or external screen? If it is external I think it would work fine as the gfx card is meant to power external screens (yes, 1400x1050 is one of the options; it'll work given it is a DVI or HDMI screen, VGA is fine if you used a non-optimus driver at that time); if you mean to power a internal 1400x1050 screen, well the notebook has to have a GMA x3100, GMA 4500, or GMA HD for it to work with Optimus (otherwise it is a no-go)

    But it also depends on the game (or program) and if it supports that resolution itself; but, yes the card should be capable of it (mine is anyways)... the best card you can get is a GTX 460 -great performance, can be powered by a decent psu, runs cool and quiet, and can be gotten cheap (any of the variants should be fine as long as it is a full 460 card); anything above a 460 won't see much of a performance boost when used in a DIY ViDock, and they will run hotter, louder, and need a much larger psu (if not 2!)


    And be sure the computer that would be using it has either a Expresscard slot (preferred), or a m-pci card slot that you can use (this is cumbersome because it requires the bottom be open, and that you remove a m-pci card you have -usually wi-fi); and hopefully a decently strong processor (I have my C2D SL9400 OC'd a bit, and it helps quite a bit)
     
  5. purplepeopledesign

    purplepeopledesign Scribbler - Standard Member

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    Ah... so not possible with my older TPC.

    :)ensen.
     
  6. warakawa

    warakawa Pen Pal - Newbie

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    I don't understand, I thought you have to connect the external gpu to your laptop through the expresscard slot, how come you're doing it through mini hdmi?

    confused..
     
  7. Agent 9

    Agent 9 Scribbler - Standard Member Senior Member

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    It goes computer's Expresscard slot (or m-pci slot -this is a option if you don't want to use, or don't have a Expresscard slot) ==> mini HDMI cable (this is the connector they decided to use because it is relatively standard, can carry a good amount of data, and is the right size) ==> gfx card connector ==> desktop gfx card
     
  8. warakawa

    warakawa Pen Pal - Newbie

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    I thought the HDMI port is only for information out not back in. Anyways I only have the expresscard slot on my x200 tablet, do you think I should use pe4L or pe4H? and also does the psu have be consair cx430?
     
  9. Agent 9

    Agent 9 Scribbler - Standard Member Senior Member

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    well, I'm not quite sure how they have it wired up, but it works (two single channels, or one two way channel, or something else)


    I got the Pe4L as it was far cheaper (~$55 vs ~$85 either of them +$10 shipping, and I got the 5ft long cable as well which was $15, otherwise you get a dinky cable that is less than 1ft -though you can buy a longer cable separately), and since I planned on using Optimus drivers with a card capable of using it so that was my only logical option (the pe4L is only capable of 1 connection, while the pe4H is capable of 4; but Optimus will only work with a single connection on either adapter -so either will work the same with Optimus, its just that one will be more expensive, and hold the card a little better)

    As for the power supply, pick one out after you decide on a card, but don't spend too much money on one (you have to be sure the PSU has enough Amperage on the +12 rail, anything that is above the required Amperage of the card is fine -even just 1A above should be fine); I got the corsair one because it was cheap at the time, and it met the requirements for the card


    For the card, any video card will work if you are only planning on using a external monitor; but if you want to get the best performance on a external screen, or have the card 'power' your internal screen, then you have to get a Nvidia GT/GTS/GTX 4xx or 5xx card (a 460 card is preferred because of its great amount of power, in its very cool running efficient form, that is also pretty quiet, and lower +12 rail requirements; a 5xx card will generally run much hotter, and louder, while needing a very large power supply)
    - GTX 4x0 (I recommend this because it will give you significantly more performance, and it will be 'future proofed' should you later on decide to get a Sandy Bridge equipped computer -which will be able to use a DIY ViDock much better with Optimus) Newegg.com - Desktop Graphics / Video Cards, GeForce GTX 400 series,Nvidia 4
    - GTS 4x0 Newegg.com - Desktop Graphics / Video Cards, GeForce GTS 400 series,Nvidia 4
    - GT 4x0 Newegg.com - Desktop Graphics / Video Cards, GeForce G/GT series,Nvidia 4



    Also, one thing to be aware of is that the DIY ViDock requires that you 'work with it' sometimes (its not quire 'buy and go' but it is close)
    Be sure to drop by the main DIY ViDock thread on NBR DIY ViDock Experiences Its the super large repository of all info on the DIY ViDock
     
  10. danenick1212

    danenick1212 Pen Pal - Newbie

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    Agent 9, thanks for the info!!! I have been researching and planning on doing this for some time now. My x200t is pretty identical specwise to your 2730p, and I will be using the same videocard so i can expect to get similar results to you. Now I can get rid of my Elitebook 8730w and use the x200t for quasi-mobile gaming. I knew that there was a workaround to the nVidia overlay for a while, but I'm pretty happy that they removed it in the newest driver revision.

    So, you have no issues with ghosting or anything on the internal LCD? I don't have the Hydis screen, I have the 285-nit superbright LCD. I will have to see if there is any ghosting issues once I try to game on the internal LCD.

    Now I have to work out how I want to power everything. The xbox360 power supply mod looks great, but i might just opt for a decent 150-200 watt laptop power brick.

    Bummer, though...I might need to upgrade to a 256gb SSD. My 128gb is going to feel the heat from my 100gb Steam folder!!!!!

    Thanks, again Agent 9!!!
     
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