2015 15" Dell Precision 7510 (Q M1000M) [6th,4C,H] + GTX 1080 Ti @32Gbps-M2 (ADT...
 
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2015 15" Dell Precision 7510 (Q M1000M) [6th,4C,H] + GTX 1080 Ti @32Gbps-M2 (ADT-Link R43SG) + Win10 1803 [nando4] // compares M.2 vs TB3 performance  

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nando4
(@nando4)
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There is no denying that a TB3 eGPU can dramatically improve application processing speed as can be found by many examples on this forum. Gaming on the side then being an extra bonus.

Question then, if your primary use case is gaming is a TB3 eGPU worth it? In this build we compare performance between a M.2 versus TB3 eGPU attached to a single system (identical specs, OS, system build) to help answer that question. The M.2 eGPU being a maximum performance reference before Thunderbolt 3 transport layer encoding is applied.

 

 

System specs (model inc screen size, CPU, iGPU, dGPU, operating system user which eGPU is being used)

  • 2015 15" Dell Precision 7510
  • Intel i7-6820HQ (max 3.6Ghz 4-core with unlocked multis)
  • 16GB RAM (2x8GB, dual channel)
  • Intel HD530 iGPU + Nvidia Quadro M1000M dGPU
  • 2.5" SATA drive bay for primary boot drive, though OS build used was booted off a WinToGo USB NVME SSD
  • M.2 (NVME SSD) slot is free for M.2 eGPU use
  • Windows 10 Professional 1803

 

eGPU hardware (eGPU enclosure, video card, any third-party TB3 cable, any custom mods)

  • ASUS Nvidia GTX 1080 Ti Turbo, flashed with EVGA FTW3 vbios. Has 6P + 8P PCIe power.
  • ADT-Link R43SG (50cm) M.2 eGPU adapter
  • 2 x 220W Dell DA-2 AC adapters 1st powers 75W slot + 75W 6P with cable (1). 2nd powers 150W 8P using cable (2)
    - cable (1) a 8P to 6P+8P power splitter cable supplied with the ADT-Link R43SG
    - cable (2) a 6P to 8P PCIe extender with power-on split-pin/paper-clip as shown here and here
  • M.2 protect board - protects M.2 slot being damaged from repeated insertions

 

To use the ADT-Link R43SG as a TB3 eGPU add the following, making it equivalent to a ADT-Link R43SG-TB3 kit:

 

Hardware pictures (note: require 5+ posts for “attach files” button to appear. Or can link from say http://imgur.com )

underside cabling


GPU power cabling


Left: Connecting ADT-Link R43SG as a TB3 eGPU using JEYI Leidian NVME-to-TB3 enclosure, Right: It's TB3 identification

 

Installation steps (what did you do to get it all going?)

The M.2 and TB3 eGPUs are functionally equivalent in use aspects apart from the latter supporting hotplugging and of course performance discussed in the Benchmarks section below.

Nvidia Optimus accelerated internal LCD mode engages for both. Neither interface saw any system instability.

If considering Hackintoshing, a M.2 eGPU is detected and appears on the PCIe BUS and with correct drivers can be made to work. Eg: this GTX 1080 Ti has macOS 10.13.6 or earlier Nvidia web drivers. A TB3 eGPU isn't so easy. TB3 on a Hackintosh requires SSDT/DSDT mods to emulate the Mac's native TB3 interface as has been done on Dell XPS 95xx systems. While TB3 peripherals work there I've yet to see working TB3 eGPU.

 

Benchmarks (all at FHD 1920x1080 )

Dell Precision 7510M2-extTB3-extdifference M2-intTB3-intdifference
Forza Horizon 410570-33.3%9064-28.9%
Firestrike (gpu)2819621752-22.9%2425418239-24.8%
Heaven145.7117.6-19.3%132.8100.8-24.1%
Valley137.4122.0-11.2%130.2112.1-13.9%
Superposition60245709-5.2%59655470-8.3%
Far Cry 59389-4.3%8678-9.3%
 
AIDA64 write (MB/s)28862160-25.2%
hwinfo64 PCIe portport 9port 5

 

The first two results show a > -22% difference. Why?

Even though this site refers to TB3 as 32Gbps-TB3 (it's electrical link), Intel does disclose the TB3<->TB3 link is 22Gbps. So then let's gather those same benchmarks with greatest difference and run them on a 16Gbps-M2 interface. We'd expect then "22Gbps" TB3 to outperform 16Gbps-M2.

 

Dell Precision 751032Gbps-M232Gbps-TB3difference 16Gbps-M232Gbps-TB3difference
Forza Horizon 410570-33.3%7470-5.4%
Firestrike (gpu)2819621752-22.9%2703421752-19.5%
 
AIDA64 write (MB/s)28862160-25.2%14612160+47.8%
hwinfo64 PCIe portport 9port 5port9port 5

 

Performance Analysis

Forza 4 has a significant 33.3% decrease in FPS, beyond what we'd expect given TB3's 25.2% decrease in AIDA64 bandwidth (H2D). Oddly, even a 16Gbps-M2 interface with supposedly less bandwidth outperforms TB3. TB3 should be just an encode/decoding PCIe transport pair so why are we seeing such a performance decrease over TB3?

We find clues as to why by using the bandwidthTest.exe tool included DaVinci Resolve, running commandline below while with the eGPU connected on a 32Gbps-M2, 32Gbps-TB3 and 16Gbps-M2 interface.

C:Program FilesBlackmagic DesignDaVinci ResolvebandwidthTest.exe --htod --mode=shmoo --csv > out.csv

We then review the gathered bandwidth versus block size information where we see:

 

  1. TB3 reduces the 32Gbps PCIe bandwidth anywhere from 25% to 63.5%.
  2. The greatest reduction occurs on small block sizes. 2kb seeing the greatest 63.5% reduction.
  3. TB3 is outperformed by 16Gbps-M2 up to 8kb block size, only matching performance at 16kb block size and outperforming it thereafter.
  4. It appears that Forza 4 is bandwidth bound and utilizes small block transfer sizes.
  5. The min 25% reduction occurs at a block sizes of 200kb and greater -> TB3 is performance optimized for large block sizes.

 

Comments (eg: how has the eGPU improved your workflow or gaming)

Is a TB3 eGPU worth if for gaming? We've shown the additional TB3 transport layer decreases x4 3.0 32Gbps bandwidth anywhere from 25% to as much as 63.5% with bandwidth bound apps/games registering this performance reduction. . The reference 32Gbps-M2 interface itself is 4 times less bandwidth than an Intel desktop.

Is the problem simply the TB3 controller being clocked too slow? Maybe. We do see that TB3 is optimized for large block sizes as used for data transfer on SSDs. Intel certainly have plenty of room to improve this small block transfer performance in TB4.

Q: How to maximize gaming performance on a notebook? From this build and performance analysis we can suggest:

  • seek a notebook with a decent dGPU
  • seek a candidate system offering a factory direct PCIe eGPU interface like a Alienware Graphics Amplifier port
  • cobble together a eGPU using the NVME SSD's M.2 slot, also a direct PCIe eGPU interface, like shown in this build
  • obtain a TB3 eGPU now knowing it's performance limitations on bandwidth-bound games/apps

This topic was modified 2 months ago

eGPU Setup 1.35    •    eGPU Port Bandwidth Reference Table

2015 15" Dell Precision 7510 (6th,4C,H) + GTX 1080 Ti @32Gbps-M2 (ADT-Link R43SG) + Win10 // compares M.2 vs TB3 performance


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itsage
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Posted by: @nando4

Performance Analysis

Forza 4 has a significant 33.3% decrease in FPS, beyond what we’d expect given TB3’s 25.2% decrease in AIDA64 bandwidth (H2D). Oddly, even a 16Gbps-M2 interface with supposedly less bandwidth outperforms TB3. TB3 should be just an encode/decoding PCIe transport pair so why are we seeing such a performance decrease over TB3?

We find clues as to why by using the bandwidthTest.exe tool included DaVinci Resolve, running commandline below while with the eGPU connected on a 32Gbps-M2, 32Gbps-TB3 and 16Gbps-M2 interface.

C:\Program Files\Blackmagic Design\DaVinci Resolve\bandwidthTest.exe --htod --mode=shmoo --csv > out.csv

We then review the gathered bandwidth versus block size information where we see:

 

  1. TB3 reduces the 32Gbps PCIe bandwidth anywhere from 25% to 63.5%.
  2. The greatest reduction occurs on small block sizes. 2kb seeing the greatest 63.5% reduction.
  3. TB3 is outperformed by 16Gbps-M2 up to 8kb block size, only matching performance at 16kb block size and outperforming it thereafter.
  4. It appears that Forza 4 is bandwidth bound and utilizes small block transfer sizes.
  5. The min 25% reduction occurs at a block sizes of 200kb and greater -> TB3 is performance optimized for large block sizes.

 

Thank you for sharing this amazing analysis of performance difference!

This post was modified 3 months ago

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Eightarmedpet
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nando4
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Posted by: @eightarmedpet

Isn’t Forza 4 known for being a game that runs poorly on egpus? Or have I made that up?

 

  • Forza 4 is one game that shows a significant peformance drop of 33% FPS run on TB3 rather than a M.2 eGPU interface. Since that is > 25%, from our chart we can say it's small-block bandwidth bound. That is, it's doing block transfers smaller than 200kb where bandwidth reduces by up 63.5%.

 

  • Intel may consider clocking TB4 faster on small block sizes to correct the poor small block performance

 

eGPU Setup 1.35    •    eGPU Port Bandwidth Reference Table

2015 15" Dell Precision 7510 (6th,4C,H) + GTX 1080 Ti @32Gbps-M2 (ADT-Link R43SG) + Win10 // compares M.2 vs TB3 performance


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mac_editor
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@nando4

Thank you for this build. This is exceptionally insightful (and significant) and finally we have some more understanding of ‘where’ performance is lost. Added to my permanent reading list.

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nando4
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Posted by: @mac_editor

@nando4

Thank you for this build. This is exceptionally insightful (and significant) and finally we have some more understanding of ‘where’ performance is lost. Added to my permanent reading list.

Thank you.  There are another two reasons why we are seeing poor TB3 performance, particularly gaming which my 6th-gen i-core Dell 7510 isn't affected by. Here's the three listed for completeness:

1. the slow TB3 small-block bandwidth we describe in the opening post.

2. An uncooled PCH controller on Intel "H" CPU leading to PCH throttling. "U" CPU systems have the PCH on the CPU which is cooled so are unaffected. M.2 eGPUs are also affected. Adding a thermal pad bridge can wick away as a workaround. @itsage has covered this here.

3. Unoptimized BIOS on non-Mac "H" 8th/9th gen CPU systems leading to a further 15% performance degradation. M.2 eGPUs are also affected. A system BIOS type patch is required as a fix.

(2) and (3) are new findings and they strike out our previous suggestion that a 15" MBP delivers superior performance due to their direct TB3 to CPU configuration. Apple has optimized their 15" MBP's TB3 performance. PC vendors like Dell with their XPS 9570 / 7590 have not.

How does (1)-(3) playout for peformance? When using Forza 4, FHD external GTX 1080 Ti as reference we'll get this performance waterfall:

1. 120-130 FPS on a desktop 128Gbps (x16 3.0) system

1. 105 FPS on M.2 eGPU - a 32Gbps M.2 (PCIe) link

2. 70 FPS on a TB3 eGPU - loss due to 25%-63.5% TB3 bandwidth reduction

3. 60 FPS on a TB3 eGPU - a 15% loss from unoptimized BIOS on 8th/9th-gen "H" systems like a Dell XPS 9570 / 7590

 

Halving FPS going to a TB3 eGPU is a steep loss. Wouldn't be surprised it the shocked casual gamer would just return the TB3 gear and stick with a desktop instead.

Anyone connected with Intel is welcome to pass this info along.  I believe we are the first to pinpoint why TB3 underperforms in gaming. Finger crossed they'll fix this in TB4.  Would be in their interests to do so. There might be x4 4.0 Ryzen 4000 M.2 AMD eGPU possibilities on just-announced 8C/16T AMD notebooks [ note: not sure if mobile Ryzen 4000 has PCIe 3.0 or PCIe 4.0 M.2 slots ].

eGPU Setup 1.35    •    eGPU Port Bandwidth Reference Table

2015 15" Dell Precision 7510 (6th,4C,H) + GTX 1080 Ti @32Gbps-M2 (ADT-Link R43SG) + Win10 // compares M.2 vs TB3 performance


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Donwey
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@nando4 Is there a patch that can be applied for unoptimized BIOS on non-Mac “H” 8th/9th gen CPU systems? I myself own a dell xps 9560 and havent known about this bios issue. How did you find out? 

Dell XPS 15 9560 @ I7 7700HQ + Aorus Gaming Box GTX 1080 + External Monitor 1440p


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nando4
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Posted by: @donwey

@nando4 Is there a patch that can be applied for unoptimized BIOS .. I myself own a dell xps 9560 and havent known about this bios issue.

Dell XPS 9560 is 7th gen, eg: i7-7700HQ so is not applicable.

If you have a 56Wh-battery XPS 9560 with slot for 2.5" SSD, then can get a tremendous eGPU boost by using the available NVME SSD M.2 slot to host the eGPU using an ADT-Link R43SG. Just like the opening post build.

eGPU Setup 1.35    •    eGPU Port Bandwidth Reference Table

2015 15" Dell Precision 7510 (6th,4C,H) + GTX 1080 Ti @32Gbps-M2 (ADT-Link R43SG) + Win10 // compares M.2 vs TB3 performance


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Donwey
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Posted by: @nando4
Posted by: @donwey

@nando4 Is there a patch that can be applied for unoptimized BIOS .. I myself own a dell xps 9560 and havent known about this bios issue.

Dell XPS 9560 is 7th gen, eg: i7-7700HQ so is not applicable.

If you have a 56Wh-battery XPS 9560 with slot for 2.5" SSD, then can get a tremendous eGPU boost by using the available NVME SSD M.2 slot to host the eGPU using an ADT-Link R43SG. Just like the opening post build.

Thank you, i have already ordered ADT-Link R43SG.

I will create a new build with my Dell XPS 9560 and Aorus Gaming Box GTX 1080 and make some gaming benchmarks. Later when i get ADT-Link R43SG i can make comparison of the performance between those two. Although i dont think the performance increase will be that much high. From your benchmarks it seems only some benchmark tools and Forza Horizon 4 are affected but Far Cry 5 is not? I wonder what other games are affected like FH4. 

This post was modified 3 months ago

Dell XPS 15 9560 @ I7 7700HQ + Aorus Gaming Box GTX 1080 + External Monitor 1440p


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mac_editor
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@nando4

Thank you for elaborating. I was aware of (2) being an issue previously. Regarding (3), was there a recent system you came across/or on this forum where BIOS updates made the difference? That’s another (important) variable it seems. Do we have before/after BIOS update results which I may have missed? 15% performance difference is significant. 

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joevt
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One method to reduce performance loss of TB3 eGPU vs M.2 is to make the eGPU do more work. Use a higher resolution to slow down the frame rate which will require less data to be sent over TB3. There is a sweet spot of resolution vs framerate that differs between TB3 and M.2 because of this latency difference. This will not be as useful for games that send more data when higher resolutions are used.

The USB4 spec describes a latency/bandwidth tradeoff for PCIe (chapter 11, page 422) and USB3 (chapter 9, page 330) traffic which may be applicable to TB3 as well (which supports PCIe traffic). The amount of buffers will be configurable for USB4.

I wonder if the firmwares that had low H2D bandwidth for Thunderbolt 3 eGPUs were using fewer buffers for better latency? Do we have framerate comparison between two firmwares for the same eGPU? The thread at https://egpu.io/forums/thunderbolt-enclosures/alert-akitio-node-half-h2d-bandwidth-issue/paged/2/ describes the H2D issue, but TLDR I don't know if anyone compared fps change (only bandwidth change).

 

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nando4
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Posted by: @donwey

Thank you, i have already ordered ADT-Link R43SG.

I will create a new build with my Dell XPS 9560 and Aorus Gaming Box GTX 1080 and make some gaming benchmarks. Later when i get ADT-Link R43SG i can make comparison of the performance between those two. Although i dont think the performance increase will be that much high. From your benchmarks it seems only some benchmark tools and Forza Horizon 4 are affected but Far Cry 5 is not? I wonder what other games are affected like FH4. 

Have corrected your submitted build. The XPS 9560 has a 16Gbps-TB3 (2-lane) controller.  Using your 32Gbps M.2 slot with an ADT-Link R43SG will show a show an even greater performance improvement on bandwidth-bound games like Forza 4 than 32Gbps-TB3 ports like found in an XPS 9570 / 7590.

 

eGPU Setup 1.35    •    eGPU Port Bandwidth Reference Table

2015 15" Dell Precision 7510 (6th,4C,H) + GTX 1080 Ti @32Gbps-M2 (ADT-Link R43SG) + Win10 // compares M.2 vs TB3 performance


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ILoveLamps
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Hi nando4. I have the R43SG with a reference RX5700xt on the spare M.2 port of my HP Zbook studio G3. However, after unplugging the M.2 cable to take my laptop elsewhere, I plugged it back in today but the card isn't being detected. I had this same problem last week but unplugging the battery and plugging it back in worked. In another instance, I just held down the power button to shut the laptop down and when I booted it back up, the card was working. In my current situation, I have tried the methods I just listed but my card is not being detected at all. 

I was wondering if you've experience something similar or had any thoughts on it.

Pending: Add my system information and expected eGPU configuration to my signature to give context to my posts


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nando4
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@ilovelamps , where is your build details to comment against? Consider following the build template to create one.

 

eGPU Setup 1.35    •    eGPU Port Bandwidth Reference Table

2015 15" Dell Precision 7510 (6th,4C,H) + GTX 1080 Ti @32Gbps-M2 (ADT-Link R43SG) + Win10 // compares M.2 vs TB3 performance


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phila-delphia
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@nando4, Thank you very much for your research! I guess I am subject to the same perfomance degradation with my i7-9750h coming from a i7-7700h.

I documented the issue here: https://egpu.io/forums/pc-setup/less-egpu-performance-with-better-notebook/

You will find my system specs here: https://egpu.io/forums/builds/2019-15-lenovo-yoga-c940-gtx1650-q-max-i7-9750h-6c-12t-rtx-2070-super-32gbps-tb3-razer-core-x-chroma-win-10-pro/

Have you allready contacted Intel in regard to the suspected BIOs issue?!

Best regards!

phil

 

Lenovo Yoga c940 15": i7-9750h / GTX 1650 Max-Q / 16 GB RAM / 1 TB NVMe @ Razer Core Chroma: RTX 2070 Super / 1 TB SSD / 2 TB RAID 1 / AOC C3583FQ / LG 1500 / G 604 / G 613 / Sony MDR 1000


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nando4
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Posted by: @phila-delphia

Have you allready contacted Intel in regard to the suspected BIOs issue?!

 

The OEM configures Intel's chipset in the BIOS. In your case something you'd contact Lenovo about seeking a solution.

eGPU Setup 1.35    •    eGPU Port Bandwidth Reference Table

2015 15" Dell Precision 7510 (6th,4C,H) + GTX 1080 Ti @32Gbps-M2 (ADT-Link R43SG) + Win10 // compares M.2 vs TB3 performance


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phila-delphia
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@nando4, Thank you! I allready did yesterday: https://forums.lenovo.com/t5/Lenovo-Yoga-Series-Notebooks/VERY-BAD-eGPU-performance-on-Lenovo-Yoga-c940-due-to-9th-gen-inten-CPU/m-p/5001386

I`ll report back.

Thank you for your effort!

All the best

phil

 

Lenovo Yoga c940 15": i7-9750h / GTX 1650 Max-Q / 16 GB RAM / 1 TB NVMe @ Razer Core Chroma: RTX 2070 Super / 1 TB SSD / 2 TB RAID 1 / AOC C3583FQ / LG 1500 / G 604 / G 613 / Sony MDR 1000


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nando4
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Have asked ADT-Link to consider creating a same-level edge-protector for the SSD/M.2 slot to make non-destructive hotswapping of the eGPU and SSD on a single M.2 slot system possible. Then we'd just need to mod an access hole and protective cover for when on the move.

From: [email protected]
To:Nando
Date: Tue, 10 Mar at 11:54 am

Dear Nando:

Thank you for your feedback. Our engineer may design a new product upon your feedback.

Best Regards,

------------------------------------------------------------------
From: Nando
Date: 2020-3-6
Re: R43SG from ADT
 
Hi xxx,
 
Thank you. I've expanded on why M.2 eGPUs are superior to Thunderbolt 3 at:
 
 
M.2 eGPU ideas work great when the system has dual internal storage ports.
 
Problem is for systems that only have a single M.2 slot where we'd to swap out the SSD for the eGPU when docked at home and swap back in the SSD when mobile. There we need to protect the slot and SSD edge connectors.
 
For that there is one critical piece of hardware is missing to make that feasible. That being
 
A M.2 slot extender that is at the same height as the original slot. Something that would look like this, though with NVME SSD pinout:
 
 
All current NVME extender boards raise the height of the extended socket making it not possible to swap in the SSD when attach to the board as it protrudes out of the system from this additional height:
 
 
Pls consider.

eGPU Setup 1.35    •    eGPU Port Bandwidth Reference Table

2015 15" Dell Precision 7510 (6th,4C,H) + GTX 1080 Ti @32Gbps-M2 (ADT-Link R43SG) + Win10 // compares M.2 vs TB3 performance


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itsage
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@nando4, Protecting the M.2 slot and contact pins is a great idea. This would make the ADT-Link R43SG more dockable. At the moment it's not very convenient to switch from stationary to mobile use.

 

external graphics card builds
best laptops for external GPU
eGPU enclosure buyer's guide


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joevt
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I can't see how they can make the connector at the same level because the post at 80mm on the laptop motherboard would interfere. You could only connect adapters 60mm or less. The R4xx adaptors can be reduced manually to 60mm, but 80mm SSDs cannot be reduced. So if you don't care about connecting SSDs to the protector adapter, and don't mind reducing your 80mm adapters to 60mm, then ADT could make the protector adapter 20mm long. Adhesive might be required to keep the adapter in place as you connect M.2 devices to it.

ADT might have to create their own M.2 connector though. I don't think they've done that before. Actually, I did find there exists mid plane offset mounts which might be perfect for the job:
https://www.digikey.com/en/videos/t/te-connectivity-amp/m2-next-generation-form-factor-ngff-connectors
but I haven't found a product yet.

Mid plane connectors (also called Mid Line) are described in the "PCI Express M.2 Specification" section 2.4. It looks like it should add only 0.68mm (max) in height which might be sufficiently low enough for this purpose. Some mid line connectors might be better (add less to the height).

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Saltius
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@nando4

I downloaded the whole DaVinci Resolve v16.0 1.5GB almost and found that bandwidthtest.exe could be used seperately and it is only 200KB.

So can you post the bandwidthtest tool in this post? Or could it cause some legal issues?

Pending: Add my system information and expected eGPU configuration to my signature to give context to my posts


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nando4
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Posted by: @saltius

I downloaded the whole DaVinci Resolve v16.0 1.5GB almost and found that bandwidthtest.exe could be used seperately and it is only 200KB.

So can you post the bandwidthtest tool in this post? Or could it cause some legal issues?

To prevent copyright infringement, bandwidthtest.exe isn't being isolated and linked. So to replicate my testing, please download the free Da Vinci Resolve package to access their bandwidthtest.exe.

eGPU Setup 1.35    •    eGPU Port Bandwidth Reference Table

2015 15" Dell Precision 7510 (6th,4C,H) + GTX 1080 Ti @32Gbps-M2 (ADT-Link R43SG) + Win10 // compares M.2 vs TB3 performance


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