2012 Intel NUC 33217CK + [email protected] (PCE164P-N03) + Xubuntu 16.04.3 (64-bit) [Yukikaze]^  

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Yukikaze
(@yukikaze)
Prominent Member Moderator
Joined: 2 years ago
Posts: 830
November 8, 2017 5:15 am  

You might remember my dead NUC setup. The TB1 port stopped working for some reason, so I had the tiny system retired. However, I didn't throw it away. It was stuck in a box since about the beginning of the year. Lately I got the itch to tinker with something, and I decided to see if I can get it up and running again with an eGPU setup, without the Thunderbolt port. I got myself a US$7 PCE164P-N03 adapter (mPCIe, 5.5x2.5mm barrel plug version), since it costs peanuts, and decided to give it a shot.

The 33217CK has two mPCIe slots. One is half-length and is the bottom slot. The other is a full-sized slot above it. The full-sized slot is multiplexed as either mPCIe or mSATA, and the bottom one is mPCIe only. The bottom slot is where the WiFi adapter goes, while the top slot is intended for the SSD. There is no SATA connector to attach any other storage, as this board is meant for tiny cases with no 2.5" drive space.

The adapter arrived yesterday, and today I got to take a look at how this fits.

Since I need the top slot to get some cheap mSATA SSD if this works, I decided to use the bottom slot for the adapter. Unfortunately, right behind the lower mPCIe slot (causing it to be half-length) is the front-panel USB connector. This causes the cable of the mPCIe adapter to not fit. However, I had a simple solution: Hack that thing's pins off. The case doesn't have an additional USB header (there is no room for extra USB connectors anyway) and it is not like I have a warranty to void.

The result:

I had to shave some of the connector to make it slimmer vertically and shorter (by removing some of the anti-bend shroud behind the connector itself), but it fits nicely.

The next step was routing the cable out of the case. While the case has a pair of spare holes to mount antennae for the WiFi adapter (which I never had in the first place, since I used a USB one), the holes are too small for either side of the adapter's cable to fit. Thankfully, they are close to the edges, and thus a pair of cutters provided the solution:

This is how the system looks all closed up and the adapter attached:

Next I grabbed my GTX1050Ti from the Thunder2 and placed it into the adapter:

I used a Dell DA-2 with a barrel plug adapter to power up the PCIe slot, and hit the power button. I don't have a picture of the setup running as the lighting next to my TV is horrible, and my phone camera is rather poor in those conditions. Once I figure out a more permanent arrangement for this, I'll add some more.

In any case, I still had the HDMI cable plugged into the NUC itself (I checked first that it works before hooking up the eGPU into the adapter) and I was greeted by a black screen with no signal. I was a little miffed by the result, but I noticed the eGPU fan was running. I moved the HDMI cable to the GTX1050Ti and voila, the screen came to life, displaying the "No bootable device found" screen. The little NUC was behaving like any desktop would: If a GPU is detected on the PCIe, it defaults to it as the boot display device.

From this point, it was smooth sailing. I grabbed a USB HDD and a Xubuntu Live-USB-Stick. I installed Xubuntu onto the HDD, all the while running the TV off the GTX1050Ti. No issues were encountered. The NUC lives!

It should be noted that since both mPCIe slots are indeed wired for PCIe, you can actually run two eGPUs off this tiny thing, for example, to use it as a host for crypto mining. You'll be limited to a USB device as your OS drive, but for something like mining that doesn't matter much. Not something I am going to do, but that would be pretty funny to see.

For the next step, I need to get three things:

1) A cheap mSATA SSD to install Win10 on.

2) A permanent video card for this. I want something cheap, since I don't really need this system anyway, but it is a fun project. I'll see if I can score a GTX660/670 off ebay on the cheap.

3) (Optional) 12v to 19v transformer - That will allow me to use a single Dell DA-2 for both the NUC and the eGPU, as the former takes a 19v input. This is not a must, but it would make the power cabling much easier to deal with. I already found one, but it is rather large, and thus not ideal. Something smaller would be much better. An alternative would be to find a combo power supply that has both a 12v and a 19v output. I am not sure this exists, though.

I'll post some updates as I get this thing put together. I have half an idea to Hackintosh this system, but I already have a Win 10 OEM key tied to its hardware, so I'll start with that.

My eGPU Zoo - Link to my Implementations.
Want to output [email protected] out of an old system on the cheap? Read here.
"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."


wusel and nando4 liked
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T0rino1564
(@torino1564)
Eminent Member
Joined: 1 year ago
Posts: 20
November 19, 2017 7:38 pm  

Is the 7$ adapter reliable compared to the exp gdc? If it does i dont find a reason why to spend 43$ extra bucks

Thats lucky


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Yukikaze
(@yukikaze)
Prominent Member Moderator
Joined: 2 years ago
Posts: 830
November 19, 2017 9:33 pm  

It is actually MORE reliably capable of doing Gen2 signalling. If you are on mPCIe, there is zero reason to get a Beast instead of this thing.

My eGPU Zoo - Link to my Implementations.
Want to output [email protected] out of an old system on the cheap? Read here.
"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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Yukikaze
(@yukikaze)
Prominent Member Moderator
Joined: 2 years ago
Posts: 830
November 21, 2017 9:33 pm  

I got a 120GB SSD for 50$ off Amazon and found a PNY GTX670 2GB for 65$ and have finally put this thing together in its "final" form. I used the stand from my old PE4C to house the PCE164P-N03 (the holes don't quite align, but that's nothing that using twist-ties instead of screws did not fix). The system runs Linux Mint (x64) 18.2 (w/Cinnamon). Installing the NVidia driver was a little annoying, since using the GUI-based driver selection led me into the black screen rabbithole. As a result, here is what I've done on a fresh install (needless to say, you need the ability to "sudo" yourself to do this stuff):

1) Hit Ctrl + Alt + F1 to switch to a non-graphical interface.

2) Log in to your user.

3) Install the linux headers:

sudo apt-get install linux-headers-generic

4) Run the upgrades, this can take a while:

sudo apt-get dist-upgrade

5) Reboot the system:

sudo reboot

6) When it loads up again, Ctrl + Alt + F1 to the terminal.

7) Log in.

8) Install the NVidia driver. You can opt for a specific version, or try to get the current.

To get the "current" (in my case it actually got a pretty old driver) do:

sudo apt-get install nvidia-current-updates

This driver led for some minor issues (non-responsive parts of the UI), so here's a spoiler, I later installed 387:

sudo apt-get install nvidia-387

9) THIS IS IMPORTANT: If you do not do this, and reboot, you can end up without any video output. While this is recoverable, you can avoid it! Update your X-config:

sudo nvidia-xconfig

10) Reboot:

sudo reboot

Your new driver should be operational. Optionally, you can install the NVidia settings application (similar to the Windows NVIDIA Control Panel) by doing the following in any terminal:

sudo apt-get install nvidia-settings

After this I ran Unigine Valley for a bit to make sure the system is stable. It is. The next step is to power up both the system and the GPU with a Dell DA-2. I found a compact 12v to 19v transformer, so this part of the project is now doable. The system consumes a max of about 30W at full load, so there is enough power for a stock GTX670 left. Once I get this put together I'll update with the power solution pictures. For now, I was powering it up with an ATX power supply for the GPU and a 19v power brick for the NUC.

Therefore, I give you, The Return of the Velcro Strap Monster! (The strap touches the PCB where there are no components whatsoever, this is why I could get away with this)

My eGPU Zoo - Link to my Implementations.
Want to output [email protected] out of an old system on the cheap? Read here.
"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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