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2012 14" Lenovo Thinkpad T430s [3rd,2C,M] + RX 550 @ 10Gbps-TB1 (Atto Thunderlin...
 

2012 14" Lenovo Thinkpad T430s [3rd,2C,M] + RX 550 @ 10Gbps-TB1 (Atto Thunderlink) + Win10 [Yukikaze]  

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Yukikaze
(@yukikaze)
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Joined: 3 years ago
 

Following the success of the Quadro K2000 over a powered riser, I decided to try and stick a card into the Atto Thunderlink that would allow it to be entirely closed up eGPU (albeit with a mod required to the rear bracket to make the display connectors clearly accessible).

I ordered a Dell RX550 4GB off ebay. It was overpriced at 75$, but the list of low-profile, single-slot cards is pretty short to start with, and nearly all of them are unfortunately overpriced. Other options in the same price range are the GT1030, Quadro P400 and if you are very lucky, a Radeon Pro WX2100. The RX550 is the most powerful one of the bunch, so at least I overpaid for the most potent card in the form factor that is still under 100$. This card is also unique because it only has DisplayPort outputs, but there are three of them (1 DP, 2 x mDP), which allows it to drive my main monitor setup if I wanted it to (2 outputs to my 5K monitor, 1 output to my 4K monitor). The P400 has 3 mDP outputs, the GT1030 has a maximum of 2 DisplayPorts (and the 2xDP version is even more expensive) and the WX2100 is typically a lot more expensive.

Oh well, for Science!

Anyway, this setup works flawlessly: The AMD drivers detected the RX550 instead of the RX480 my T430s is typically connected to and after requiring a reboot to sort out a Code 12 situation, everything works just fine. The power supply I used for the Thunderlink is a 60W power adapter from an AKiTiO Thunder2 unit (I fried that unit a few years ago, so the only thing remaining is the empty shell and the power supply). The RX550 maxes out at about 47W of power draw so the 60W adapter's extra 13W of power is more than enough for the Thunderlink's TB controller and tiny fan.

Interesting enough: Trying to use either one of my Dell DA-2 adapters resulted in a failure as the power adapter would immediately shut down. Neither my barrel-plug equipped unit, not a second one using the 8-pin connector and an adapter to a barrel plug would remain powered up. The green power LED on both would immediately go off as soon as the barrel plug was inserted into the Thunderlink.

In any case, this establishes the Thunderlink units are useful eGPUs for TB1 systems and a low-power card. Since they can be obtained on the cheap, they make an attractive solution for an old TB1 or TB2 system. While limited to TB1 speeds, it is a lot cheaper than pretty much any other alternative.

Internal monitor acceleration also works just fine. In fact it is the only way I could use this for now as the connectors are not clearly accessible until I get to Dremeling away some of the rear of the unit to clear a path for them.

Bandwidth picture:

RX550 ATTO Thunderlink

Imgur links for high-res pics:
1. Here is a picture of the card in the enclosure. You can even see that by removing the rear bracket from the card, I could attach it to the actual mounting hardware in the Thunderlink unit that used to hold the Fiber Channel card, so it is well secured to the enclosure!
2. The alignment of the rear ports. Only one mDP is somewhat accessible until the unit will be modded, but this is not a hard modification to do.
3. In action, running Unigine Valley on the internal monitor!

This topic was modified 3 months ago

Want to output [email protected] out of an old system on the cheap? Read here.
Give your Node Pro a second Thunderbolt3 controller for reliable peripherals by re-using a TB3 dock (~50$).

"Always listen to experts. They'll tell you what can't be done, and why. Then do it."- Robert A. Heinlein, "Time Enough for Love."


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itsage
(@itsage)
Famed Member Admin
Joined: 3 years ago
 

@yukikaze Awesome build! Almost looks like the RX 550 was meant to be used in this enclosure from the get-go.

 

Best ultrabooks for eGPU use | eGPU enclosure buying guide


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Yukikaze
(@yukikaze)
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Joined: 3 years ago
 

@itsage - I think most low-profile cards have the same bracket mounting holes, and would thus work. I like these little boxes quite a bit now. Cheap and working.

Want to output [email protected] out of an old system on the cheap? Read here.
Give your Node Pro a second Thunderbolt3 controller for reliable peripherals by re-using a TB3 dock (~50$).

"Always listen to experts. They'll tell you what can't be done, and why. Then do it."- Robert A. Heinlein, "Time Enough for Love."


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nu_ninja
(@nu_ninja)
Estimable Member
Joined: 2 years ago
 

Is it possible to use the second thunderbolt port on the box as an mDP output?

Mid-2012 13" Macbook Pro (MacBookPro9,2) TB1 -> RX 460/560 (AKiTiO Node/Thunder2)
+ macOS 10.15+Win10 + Linux Mint 19.1


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joevt
(@joevt)
Prominent Member
Joined: 2 years ago
 

@nu_ninja

I think that should work. The Intel Core I7 3520M has Intel HD Graphics 4000 which supports 3 displays (the internal display, a VGA port, and the Thunderbolt port on the Thinkpad T430s - i7 integrated model).

The screenshot shows GPU bandwidth of 885MB/s which is what you would expect since the Thunderbolt 1 limit is 10 Gbps. Adding a display would reduce that greatly except that Thunderbolt 1 has two channels of 10 Gbps and I believe the display would use the second channel. The display is limited to 10 Gbps which allows 2560x1600 at 60Hz (maybe 3840x2160 30Hz).

Mac mini (2018), Mac Pro (Early 2008), MacBook Pro (Retina, 15-inch, Mid 2015), GA-Z170X-Gaming 7, Sapphire Pulse Radeon RX 580 8GB GDDR5, Sonnet Echo Express III-D, Trebleet Thunderbolt 3 to NVMe M.2 case


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Yukikaze
(@yukikaze)
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Joined: 3 years ago
 

@nu_ninja - @joevt has it correct. This should work. Just keep in mind that in such a case the monitor is connected to the iGPU and thus is essentially an "internal" monitor.

 

Want to output [email protected] out of an old system on the cheap? Read here.
Give your Node Pro a second Thunderbolt3 controller for reliable peripherals by re-using a TB3 dock (~50$).

"Always listen to experts. They'll tell you what can't be done, and why. Then do it."- Robert A. Heinlein, "Time Enough for Love."


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