Announced in July 2020, Thunderbolt 4 laptops with Tiger Lake CPU are becoming available. The two configurations I’ve been looking for are i7-1165G7 and i7-1185G7 with iGPU only. Best Buy started selling the HP Spectre X360 [15-eb1043dx] earlier this week and I got one yesterday. Thanks to the 15-in footprint and no dGPU, the cooling system is working surprisingly well. The CPU is set at 28W and can run consistently at 3.3GHz and temps hovering around low 70s Celsius. I let AIDA64 System Stability test run for over an hour and the laptop was not even warm to the touch. As seen in the photo below, the warmest spot in the middle top half of the keyboard was mid 30s Celsius. Noise was not bad either at low 50s dB.
2020 HP Spectre X360 15 – i7-1165G7/Iris Xe Graphics iGPU/16GB RAM/512GB SSD
It was plug and play to get the Nvidia eGPU going in Windows 10 2004. I upgraded GeForce drivers to the latest version. Next thing I checked was Intel Thunderbolt Control Center. We may need to wait a bit longer for newer versions to recognize Thunderbolt 4 controllers because version 1.41.987.0 still shows Thunderbolt 3.
Thunderbolt 4 is not necessarily faster than Thunderbolt 3. As with most things we’ve learned about this technology, every component of an eGPU setup can make a difference. You’d want the best host laptop possible in order to extract the most performance out of the external graphics card. The go-to configuration is direct Thunderbolt connection to the CPU. Ice Lake and now Tiger Lake provide that ideal connection. With the exception of Alienware and Apple 15-in/16-in MacBook Pro, most H-CPU laptops route their Thunderbolt connection through the PCH and the manufacturers don’t care how it performs in eGPU mode.
CPU TDP and its cooling system greatly effect eGPU performance. I’m a firm believer in iGPU-only ultrabook. There’s only one main component to cool and it keeps things simple regarding graphics switching.
I ran synthetic benchmarks in Unigine and 3DMark. First round was through loopback mode to the internal 4K display. External monitor mode was through a Samsung 4K TV.
|i7-1165G7 + RTX 2080 Ti||INT FHD||EXT FHD||INT QHD||EXT QHD||INT UHD||EXT UHD|
|Valley (Extreme HD)||120.6 FPS||130.9 FPS||80.8 FPS||85.6 FPS||39.2 FPS||39.9 FPS|
|Heaven (Extreme)||112.2 FPS||124.3 FPS||76.7 FPS||83.1 FPS||39.0 FPS||39.1 FPS|
|Superposition (Medium)||132.3 FPS||137.2 FPS||91.5 FPS||96.3 FPS||49.1 FPS||49.9 FPS|
|Fire Strike Extreme||--||--||9,493||10,709||--||--|
|Fire Strike Ultra||--||--||--||--||5,456||5,751|
|Time Spy Extreme||--||--||--||--||4,864||4,953|
This HP Spectre X360 [15-eb1043dx] is a very good example of what a perfect eGPU host in late 2020 should be. At $1,599 I wish it came with the i7-1185G7 processor instead. I will be testing out another Tiger Lake laptop with the higher spec CPU.
Here’s a 2 minute video I took tonight playing Witcher III [4K @ Ultra settings]. Gameplay was very smooth without any issues. Pardon the dog toy squeaking noises; my dog was laying nearby in the kotatsu. The media console has a Philips Hue light strip behind it. I had Hue Sync running to change lighting according to video and audio.
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