Ces 2020 Cover

CES 2020 eGPU.io On The Ground Coverage

External GPU, Site News 39 Comments

January 2020 is a special time for me and eGPU.io. It marks 20 years since I immigrated to the United States. In 2000 I didn’t speak English and had never used a computer in my life. My first exposure to technology was a JVC 14” television my parents had when I was in middle school. It remained the only piece of electronics we owned until we left Vietnam.

My first Mac was a 2004 12-inch iBook. It lasted me through college and taught me how Apple built their computers, high-quality and often over-engineered. A lot has changed since then but one thing remains consistent; repairs and upgrades on a Mac aren’t usually easy or affordable. Since the latest Macs offer almost no internal upgrade path, Thunderbolt 3 enclosures for external upgrades are the way to go.

Egpu Io 2019 Traffic Summary

eGPU.io 2019 Traffic Summary

January 2020 also marks the third year of our eGPU.io community. Website traffic reached 1.72 million visitors globally in the 2019 calendar year. This was a 22% increase year-over-year. As external graphics technology becomes increasingly mainstream, we’re seeing fewer new products but more refinement in the available offerings. During CES 2020 we expected to see only a handful of new eGFXs from Gigabyte AORUS, Lagarhus Products, Lenovo, Mantiz, and OWC/AKiTiO.

Media Day 1 – Jan. 5th

I landed in Las Vegas in the morning to get situated for CES 2020. A friend drove from San Diego to meet me at McCarran airport. It’s his first time at CES, and we’re both very excited for this opportunity to catch up as well as enjoy the show.

CES Unveiled Las Vegas at Mandalay Bay was the main event of the day. It’s the official media event of CES, welcoming press and industry analysts from more than 160 countries. It featured CES 2020 Best of Innovation Award Honorees and tabletop displays from more than 180 local and global tech companies.

For me OWC was the focal point of this event. They introduced a new Thunderbolt 3 eGPU enclosure, the AKiTiO Node Titan. Outside appearance is almost identical to the Node Pro. In order to be a certified eGFX enclosure, there could only be one Thunderbolt 3 port. Therefore the TB3 mainboard no longer has a second Thunderbolt 3 port like the Node Pro. Notable improvements are 85W upstream power delivery to the host computer and a 650W PSU to power the Radeon RX Vega 64.

OWC Booth Akitio Node Titan Rear

OWC Booth Akitio Node Titan Top Open

Other Thunderbolt 3 items of interest were the new Dell 9300 laptops. They are absolutely stunning in person. The display is the best 13″ laptop panel I’ve seen. Build quality is excellent too. On Jan 7th at Dell Experience and I would find a Dell system engineer to inquire more on the Ice Lake processor and cooling system. Also at CES 2020 Unveiled was LG which brought two Gram laptops. These ultrabooks are incredibly light and now sport Intel 10th gen. Ice Lake CPU [i7-1065G7] with on-die Thunderbolt 3 connection.

Dell Booth XPS 13 9300 Laptops

LG Booth Gram Laptops

Amongst the 180 display booths were things I never knew people would need. First one is a smart diaper. You can judge the usefulness of this product yourself by the specs sheet; I don’t need to shit on it. Second is a beauty mask with AI tech to make you more attractive. It looks like a shiny helmet worn incorrectly. The smile on that lady tells you how attractive “Jason” was with the mask on. Last product is a strange one from no where else but Japan. It’s a therapeutic pillow, a round fuzzy thing with no face or limbs. What it does have is a wagging tail when you pet it.

CES 2020 Smart Diaper Booth

CES 2020 AI Beauty Mask Jason

CES 2020 Tail Wagging Pet Pillow

The last item that caught my interest was from Targus booth. They introduced the DOCK570USZ, a dock that provides up to four 4K monitor outputs through USB-C connection. This is possible thanks to the dual DisplayLink® DL-6910 chip technology [spec link]. It’s a nice solution for those who don’t need the power and expense of an eGPU but want more than two 4K external monitor outputs from a laptop. MSRP is $375.

Targus Booth Dock570usz Rear

Targus Booth Dock570usz Front Side

Media Day 2 – Jan. 6th

AMD keynote was the main event of Media Day 2. It wouldn’t start until 2pm PST so I went the Las Vegas Convention Center to attend “2020 Tech Trends”. The general theme is 5G rollout, 8K, and the next wave of IoT (Intelligence of Things). Mandalay Bay Convention Center on the other end of the Las Vegas strip was where AMD held its news conference. I anticipated it would gather a lot of people so I got there early.

CES 2020 Las Vegas Convention Center

First in Line at AMD Keynote

Fortunately I made it to the front of the line and got a chance to say Hi to Dr. Lisa Su. I also got a good seat very near the stage. AMD continues its onslaught on Intel with new mobile Ryzen processors and an insanely powerful 64-core Threadripper 3990x CPU. The only eGPU related new product was RX 5600 series graphics card announcement. Personally I don’t think it’s a very appealing offer due to how good 5000M dGPUs have gotten.

Dr. Lisa Su with Ryzen 4000U

Frank Azor Ryzen 4000H Laptop

Dr. Lisa Su Threadripper 3990x 64-core

The day ended with the news conference from Sony in LVCC Central Hall. Everybody was hoping for a PlayStation 5 announcement. All we got was the PlayStation PS5 logo. 

Sony Keynote Kenichiro Oshida

Sony Keynote Jim Ryan PS5 Logo

The car came as a total surprise. Vision-S is an electric car prototype for Sony to showcase their autonomous vehicle technology. It seems performance oriented judging by the matte paint finish, 21″ wheels, and massive Brembo brakes. I’m a traditional car guy so electric cars don’t really get my motor going. I want to row my own gears and be in control when I drive. The funny thing is a car like this Vision-S would cause massive confusion driving around Las Vegas during CES.

Sony Vision-S Car Prototype Rear Quarter

Sony Vision S Car Prototype Front Quarter

Front Brembo Brakes & 21 In Wheel

CES 2020 Day 1 – Jan. 7th

This is the official start of CES 2020. My day started at my favorite breakfast spot, Bouchon Bakery. First vendor visit was inside Sands Expo at Eureka Park. Lagarhus Products brought the BlackBeast Pro to the show. They had two BBP prototype units. One connected to a Thunderbolt 3 15-in MacBook Pro and the other to a Thunderbolt 2 13-in MacBook Pro.

CES 2020 Lagarhus Products Team

Lagarhus Products BlackBeast Pro + Macbook Pros

Lagarhus Products did a good job preparing for CES 2020 with plenty of marketing materials and hiding all crucial components. There are no visible functional ports from the outside of the enclosure. The power and thunderbolt cables were routed through the port openings. I was neither allowed to check System Information > Thunderbolt tree nor to open the enclosure. I wished them luck with getting Thunderbolt certification. Until then I do not recommend this product [forum discussion].

BlackBeast Pro Dual TB2 Cable to One Controller

BlackBeast Pro + Radeon VII macOS eGPU Icon

BlackBeast Pro System Info Locked

Next visit was Lenovo which brought a pleasant surprise, Legion BoostStation Thunderbolt 3 eGPU enclosure. Although the outside looks nearly identical to the Razer Core X, the its inside shares nothing in common. The component specs I could gather was a 500W PSU, 350W GPU max, 100W Power Delivery, 80mm front-mounted exhaust fan, and SATA drive connector with quick release drive caddy (fits both 2.5″ and 3.5″). There’s a Power button on the front fascia (lower left). Expansion I/Os are two USB-A ports and one Ethernet port.

Lenovo Legion BoostStation eGPU Enclosure

Lenovo Legion BoostStation Inner Cage & Handle

The handle has a sturdy feel. You pull up on it so that the spring-loaded latches inside allow the inner cage to slide out. Due to installed components in the way, I could not see whether there are two Thunderbolt 3 controllers on the main board. The loud environment was not conductive for noise observation from the ATX PSU and 80mm cooling fan. MSRP of $249 makes this eGFX the best value on the market.

Lenovo Legion BoostStation PSU Label

Lenovo Legion BoostStation Inner Cage Front

Across the hall from Lenovo was where Dell + Alienware showcasing their latest products. My main task was to find a Dell system engineer to discuss Thunderbolt 3 on the XPS 9300. I was able to chat with the Product Manager. He was very nice in providing technical explanation on Ice Lake on-die Thunderbolt 3 and how Dell was able to connect two Thunderbolt 3 ports on separate sides using a single controller. The XPS 9300 is a very capable eGPU host laptop. Alienware section was very loud and crowded. I checked out the Alienware Second Screen software. It allows a connected smartphone to display performance information.

XPS 9300 Woven Glass Fiber Palm Rest

CES 2020 Alienware Section

Alienware Second Screen Software Concept

Early afternoon visits were at the Caesar’s Palace where Gigabyte and Zotac introduced their new products. The first item I went after was the AORUS RTX 2080 Ti Gaming Box. It is a lot more compact than I expected. Gigabyte had an exposed unit behind plexiglass to show the arrangement of components inside. I spotted two Thunderbolt 3 Alpine Ridge controllers on the TB3 mainboard. The PSU seems to be the same as previous version which has a tiny and whiny 40mm cooling fan.

AORUS Gaming Box Mainboard w/ Dual TB3 Controllers

Gigabyte also had a lot of different products on display. I was most curious about motherboards with on-board Thunderbolt 3 connectivity. The Designare lineup has always been the best choice for this purpose. The newest version has Titan Ridge controller, two Thunderbolt 3 ports, and two DisplayPort IN ports. Mini PCs also interest me so I checked into Gigabyte Brix units. A Gigabyte Product Manager informed me Computex in June is when we can expect Tiger Lake Brix systems with USB4. However availability of USB4 is likely 2021 at the earliest.

Gigabyte Designare Motherboard w/ 2x TB3 2x DP-IN

AORUS Motherboard w/ 2x TB3 2x DP-IN

Gigabyte Brix Computers

Zotac is well-known for their mini PC systems and I was amazed at their collection during my visit. First was the backpack computer. Next to it was a dozen mini PCs of different sizes and configurations, including the one that looks like a 2.5″ SSD. The pop-corn machine you see in the background is actually a computer. There’s a SFF desktop sitting at the bottom and a display mounted on one of the panels.

Zotac Backpack Computer

Dozen of Zotac Mini PCs

The day ended at the Las Vegas Convention Center where Razer took center stage in the South Hall. A new product that gathered a lot of attention was the Tomahawk computer. This small form factor chassis was clearly inspired by the Razer Core X eGPU enclosure. The base board is essentially a PCIe extension connection between the computer module and graphics card.

Ces 2020 Razer Tomahawk

Razer Tomahawk Components

Modularity is nice but the most appealing aspect in my opinion is component and cable management. The computer module took advantage of NUC 9 Extreme Compute Element and therefore packs a lot of I/Os including two Thunderbolt 3 ports. Members of our community have wondered about this very possibility by combining NUC + eGPU. Razer went the extra mile by removing the Thunderbolt 3 bottleneck. It’s a cool concept and I applaud Razer for trying new things.

Computer Module Rear

Computer Module Front

CES 2020 Day 2 – Jan 8th

It’s my last day at CES 2020. I met Mantiz team at their suites to catch up on new eGPU enclosure as well as AMD graphics cards. While the Mantiz eGPU was not ready for production, they brought the reference model to showcase features. The highlights are 750W PSU, 96W Power Delivery, dual Thunderbolt 3 controllers, 5x USB-A ports, 1x Ethernet port, and SD card reader.

Ces 2020 TUL Reference eGPU Front

TUL Reference eGPU Side Opening

TUL Reference eGPU Rear

Radeon RX 5600 XT Red Devil is the new AMD card TUL showcased. It has a similar design as RX 5700 XT Red Devil except one less fan. While we were discussing Radeon cards, I inquired about RX 5700 Nano. The primary reason we don’t see Nano cards available globally is simply due to production cost. Minimum quantity for it to break even is 1,000 units. Group buy of this amount is not easy to do unfortunately.

Powercolor RX 5600 XT Red Devil Rear

Powercolor RX 5600 XT Red Devil Top

Powercolor RX 5600 XT Red Devil Back

The last appointment was with OWC. While we had a relationship with AKiTiO since 2016 when the AKiTiO Node was first announced, we have not had the chance to connect with OWC following AKiTiO acquisition. I introduced our community to OWC and discussed eGPU enclosures. With the arrival of AKiTiO Node Titan ($299), the Mercury Helios FX will be phased out.

My time at CES 2020 was a blast. It’s good to see long-term investments in eGFX from established vendors as well as new ones. AMD’s push for higher performing CPU starts benefitting laptops. Word on the street is Thunderbolt on AMD systems will happen officially.

Our mission for eGPU.io remains unchanged, to make eGPU easy and accessible for all. We’re looking forward to growing our global community and working with Thunderbolt partners on current and future products.

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Eightarmedpet
Member

Love your coverage as ever @itsage ! The biggest shock for me is you are not a native English speaker?!
eGPU wise, looks like Lenovo are bringing out a Core X clone (but better priced and equipped).

holotape
Guest
holotape

Congrats on your anniversary, @itsage.
Very happy to see new eGPU news this week.

jefniro
Member

Thank you for sharing these moments! My best wishes! Thunderbolt3 technology wouldn’t have been the same without egpu.io!
 
 

igerard
Member

I would say that eGPU.io has a very nice spirit
Best wishes for the new year to everybody smile
Mine : AMD driver under MacOS done better this year wink

sadxps
Member

If you get a chance to further examine the xps 13 9300 I’d love to hear your thoughts on how it holds up to the 6-core 7390 when paired with an egpu!
Hope you have lots of fun and thanks so much for your coverage so far. grin

sennateixeira
Member

Any news on Thunderbolt 4? Intel announced it without fanfare in the Tiger Lake reveal, but I have not seem anything on it.

ttamnogard
Member

@itsage congrats on the accomplishments and this community. You don’t succeed without leadership and passion. @mac_editor and @nando4 too!

Coming from the industrial design world, CES is the holiday for my world. It’s the chance for all of us to show off what we really have been doing controlled by our PR people (versus reading about it on leak sites wink ).

Hope you had a safe trip and thank you for all you do.

Username
Member

Thank you for all your great coverage!
Keep an eye out for nano-sized RDNA cards, will you? smile

Eightarmedpet
Member

@username
there is already a MITX sized RX 5700, but its Japanese market only for some reason… 

Username
Member

Thank you.
Il take a look.

newlich
Guest
newlich
Phoenix2063
Member

@newlich Unfortunately it’s just a rebrand of current Thunderbolt 3 due to USB 4 around the corner

Lenovo have a new Legion Y740S gaming laptop which they’ll be selling with an eGPU.

jefniro
Member

@newlich
It seems that TB4 has the same performances as Thunderbolt3 but I think it’s smaller than the previous one. The bandwidth is always 40Gbps…

Eightarmedpet
Member

Any update on the BlackBeast Pro? They’ve already hit their kickstarter goal…

Username
Member

Internally routed cables to another sub board for card DP/HDMI output do not decrease either the cost or complexity. 
And as always when someone’s hiding the hardware, refusing to talk about the solutions and keep on with its marketing bs – I tend to disbelieve them. smile
According to these dates below, CE testing have already begun. 
If that’s true, it means two things.
They either have their own cards already manufactured. 
Or they are using someone else’s cards and PSU pre-manufactured and already, by a competent body, CE-certified cards which they simply connect together inside their case. 

Schedule

F6DE9F1F 493B 4D50 9A0A 6205B8DC829D

igerard
Member

The tomahawk seems a nice idea … hackintoshable ?
Btw thanx for the coverage!
Edit: Ho, the chassis will be available as a stand alone product

Username
Member

I really like the compactness of the motherboards and cases from many of the exhibitors.
Especially since they don’t seems to nerf the performance of them.

Eightarmedpet
Member

Super worrying about the Blackbeast Pro… you dont go to the worlds biggest tech show to show your tech and, err, hide it… something is not right there.
I think this lad is taking everyone for a ride, at some point reality will hit.

Username
Member

If this is correct – why on earth do they no plaster the whole internet with it?!

Hi Tiago.

The GPU is redirected to the ports of the BlackBeast Pro (Similar to the Blackmagic eGPU). When connected to a external monitor, it will go directly to the eGPU.

We have been working with both Apple and Intel to get official support for Thunderbolt and Thunderbolt 2 support. With our dual controller, we will get official support when certification is completed. [comments link]

 

Eightarmedpet
Member

@username
if thats true, which I doubt, it will be an instant buy from me.

Username
Member

@itsage
Perhaps our lovely admin get the opportunity to ask some Intel or any of the other eGFX developers if they know anything about this legacy TB opportunity?

craftsman
Member

Posted by: @username
@itsage
Perhaps our lovely admin get the opportunity to ask some Intel or any of the other eGFX developers if they know anything about this legacy TB opportunity?

Everyone interested or wants to know the truth should email @apple.com">schiller@apple.com and provide Phil Schiller with links where Lager House claims to be ‘working with Apple’ to bring ‘official’ TB2 eGPU support to older Macs. If it’s not true, Apple will hit him with a cease and desist.

Username
Member

Posted by: @craftsman
 
Everyone interested or wants to know the truth should email @apple.com">schiller@apple.com and provide Phil Schiller with links where Lager House claims to be ‘working with Apple’ to bring ‘official’ TB2 eGPU support to older Macs. If it’s not true, Apple will hit him with a cease and desist.

Email sent to both entities.
 

Phoenix2063
Member

Very interested to hear about this new eGPU from Mantiz

motoic
Member

Very cool! What a fun experience. Thank you for the coverage.

Posted by: @itsage

people won’t understand why only the 2013 Mac Pro gets support and not other Thunderbolt 2 Macs.

If this was their reason it’s laughable! They bring one off limited support for technologies to different Mac models all the time. Their entire lineup is riddled with exceptions where this or that Mac supports one thing but other Macs do not. 

mac_editor
Editor

Posted by: @itsage If you trust my judgement of everything I was able to collect, Lagarhus Products team doesn’t have their own Thunderbolt 3 board and they’re using our community solutions to pair with TB1/2 Macs. We definitely trust your judgement. Since you shared images of the eGPU icon being detected, it is likely that they have used purge-wrangler specifically (or in modified fashion) – as that’s the only script as of now that has a patch for 10.15.1+ with eGPU icon. I don’t think they are capable enough to retrieve the patch from that script, add it to automate-eGPU… Read more »

igerard
Member

The thing that interest me the most is this Razor Chassis, wonder if we can put a hackintosh in it, or if their computer module wan be used to make a hackintosh, something I don’t see well, is if we can put a full sized card in it ?

Username
Member

Thank you.  Your information go hand in hand with how other “creators” have done their marketing.   Many of LPs statements are taken from thin air or are simply only wishful thinking.  Their ideas are good and would be very nice to have but they appear to be nothing more than ideas. And a black plastic box under the Norwegian flag.  If they had a white box solution it would already be certified and ready. Like the Lenovo box.  If they had their own hardware developer they would pimp that asset and how they have overcome some advanced technical difficulties.… Read more »