2017 13-inch HP Spectre x360 + R9 [email protected] (AORUS Gaming Box) + Win 10  

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Yukikaze
(@yukikaze)
Prominent Member Moderator
Joined: 2 years ago
Posts: 825
March 6, 2018 3:36 am  

After my initial attempt to get a Gigabyte GTX1050Ti working with the AORUS Gaming Box (Mine is of the 1080 variety, bought off ebay without the GPU) failed, @itsage was amazingly kind and offered to send me a Sapphire R9 285 ITX for this build, for which I really cannot express my gratitude enough: Seriously, thank you so very much!

I promised pictures, so there's quite a few to accompany this build guide. There's also additional useful info with regards to the AORUS Gaming Box in here as well, besides the R9 285, so read on.


Hardware Specs

System: 2017 HP Spectre x360 13" (13t-ae000: i7-8550U, no dGPU, 1080p display, 16GB of RAM, 512GB NVMe SSD).
OS: Windows 10 64-bit (Ver: 1709, Build: 16299.251)
eGPU Enclosure: AORUS-N1070IXEB-8GD, minus the video card.
eGPU: Sapphire R9 285 ITX 2GB.
Monitor: Dell U3011 (2560x1600 via a mini-DisplayPort-to-DisplayPort cable).

Spoiler: This works, is plug-and-play and charges the laptop properly. Now settle in for the long version, and some extra info.


The GTX670 Gambit

While I was waiting for the R9 285 to arrive in the mail, I decided to try something rather silly. You see, I have a PNY GTX670 2GB. It is far too large to fit the AORUS Gaming Box since it uses a blower style cooler, but what I noticed is that the PCB is actually short. It takes 2x6-pin for power inputs, which is the equivalent to the Gaming Box's 8-pin connector, just in a different form factor. I took the card apart and removed the fan shroud and the fan itself. I grabbed a few spare cables I had lying around and hacked together an 8-pin to 2x6pin adapter.

By the way, if you are asking yourselves why didn't I just pull the PCB out of the Gaming Box to fit a longer card: I did. However, it doesn't help: The power plug from the Gaming Box PSU to the PCB is arranged in a way that blocks a longer card from fitting into the PCIe slot. Obviously, I took the whole thing apart before I realized that, so learn from my mistakes and don't bother doing it yourself.

As I was laying out the wiring, I connected the extra two ground lines of the 8-pin connector to the existing ground lines of the 6-pin ones. Since the 8-pin connector has 5 ground lines (and 3 12v lines), I ended up connecting 4 ground wires down to 3 ground wires on each 6-pin connector. In the process I realized something: People have had problems using some 6-pin cards with the Gaming Box. The Gaming Box has a 6+2pin connector for power delivery. I have a theory that the reason for this not always working is that people have used the 6-pins as input to their card, and left 2 ground lines (the "+2" part) unconnected. It might be that the PSU refuses to power up if that is the case with certain cards, perhaps having to do with the way these cards draw power from the slot. It might also explain why it did not power up my GTX1050Ti (which has no power connector at all, even though some other cards without a power connector did work, like here). It might be worth a shot to try such 6-pin cards with an 8-pin to 6-pin adapter that simply connects the extra ground lines to the three existing lines on the 6-pin connector. Maybe that is the missing link?

Anyway, the GTX670 without the shroud in the Gaming Box looks like this:

Obviously, it is not possible to run the card like this, as it will fry itself quickly. The cooling fins are too tall to allow a fan to be ziptied on top and the case to be closed. I did stick a 120mm fan powered up by a separate 12v PSU on top of the cooling fins so I could try to fire this thing up. It worked: The GTX670 was recognized and was fully functional, but the temperatures were awful (climbing over 90C under stress), so obviously it is not a setup you can actually use, but it shows the GTX670 works in the Gaming Box. If someone were to use an ITX version of the GTX670 (Like this Asus model), however, it would likely be a workable setup. Another option would be to replace the cooler on the GTX670 with something like the Accelero Mono PLUS, or some other cooler that suitable for ITX-sized cards (that is, it is not longer than the PCB of one). It would prevent closing the case, but it should work. In theory, it should work with other cards which has a cooler that is larger than the PCB, if you are willing/able to arrange for a cooling system that is shorter.

Here is another shot of the GTX670 in the Gaming Box, also showing the power adapter I put together:


Enter the R9 285
Once I received the R9 285 (Thanks again, @itsage!) things were quite smooth. The card is surprisingly heavy, with a very compact and very heavy heatsink covering the PCB snugly.

Here it is in all its glory:

And here it is snug as a bug in the Gaming Box:

I hooked everything up to the Spectre and hit the power button. IT IS ALIVE. ALIIIIIVE:

Running Unigine Valley on the internal monitor to make sure nothing crashes:

At this point I closed the case and hooked everything up on the desk. I have no picture of the final setup since the desk is an utter mess at this point (and has a lot of personal paperwork lying around), but I'll snap some the next time we tidy things up here. I ran about half an hour of benchmarking loops to check stability and temperatures. With the Gaming Box case closed, the card topped out at 67C. I am quite impressed with the cooling solution!

Finally, here are the AIDA64 GPU memory benchmark (I have the H2D FW installed), the Thunderbolt Software Details showing all the different versions in use, and the obligatory GPU-Z and CPU-Z screenshots:

So it all works, and I'm pretty darn happy. Thanks yet again @itsage!

Benchmarks
To start off, I ran Unigine Valley and Heaven that I already had installed on their highest default presets. I can run other settings as well if someone wishes me to, so ask away.

Next up is the 3DMark Test Suite:
For perspective, I looked up the fastest desktop results with the R9 285 in the 3DMark result database. Typically, the desktop result is of an overclocked card in the 1050-1150Mhz range, which is 13-24% higher clocks than my card at stock clocks (928Mhz). I might try to go for overclocked results on my card at a later date.
Cloud Gate: 40,002 Graphics, 6,095 Physics, 17,888 Overall. This is 80% of the fastest Graphics R9 285 Desktop result.
Sky Diver: 22,444 Graphics, 7,231 Physics, 16,620 Overall. This is 73% of the fastest Graphics R9 285 Desktop result.
Fire Strike: 7,974 Graphics, 9,270 Physics, 6,898 Overall. This is 72.5% of the fastest Graphics R9 285 Desktop result.
Fire Strike Extreme: 3,777 Graphics, 9,578 Physics, 3,592 Overall. This is 83% of the Graphics fastest R9 285 Desktop result.

If we try to guesstimate the actual performance difference (due to my card not being overclocked in these runs), then the ultrabook+eGPU  is within 10-20% of the fastest desktops results in the database, which is in line with what we've come to expect from eGPU setups and quite impressive for a low-voltage mobile CPU.

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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theitsage
(@itsage)
Famed Member Admin
Joined: 2 years ago
Posts: 3208
March 6, 2018 3:59 am  

@yukikaze That's a very nice pairing. I really like to color combo on your Spectre x360. I remember checking it out at Best Buy and it somehow felt better built than the regular silver model. When you have more time to run benchmarks, we'd love to see more numbers. I'd also be interested in testing out your theory about using an 8-pin female to 6-pin male adapter. I've tried many different options to get the RX 580 mini-ITX to work inside the AORUS Gaming Box but no success yet.

Best ultrabooks for eGPU use

eGPU enclosure buying guide

86 external GPU build guides


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Yukikaze
(@yukikaze)
Prominent Member Moderator
Joined: 2 years ago
Posts: 825
March 6, 2018 4:04 am  

I am not sure about it being better built (it probably isn't), but it is definitely a lot prettier than the silver one. I'll run benchmarks later this week. I have all the stuff installed, but I am a little tired of tinkering with stuff for tonight.

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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4chip4
(@4chip4)
Estimable Member
Joined: 1 year ago
Posts: 194
March 6, 2018 12:41 pm  

FWIW The "natural silver" one is the standard/default only in the US (plus maybe Canada) - "Dark Ash Silver" (brown-copper for us with a more impaired color palette) is the hero color for the x360 for some time outside of the US. There is now also a rose-gold variant, for those with color-matching OCDs and strong non-traditional color-preferences.

2017 HP Spectre x360 15 i7-8550U GTX150 + [email protected] (HP Omen Accelerator) + Oculus Rift + Win10 [no guide] HP Omen Accelerator Thunderbolt 3 enclosure legs stand removal walkthrough
Employed by HP, but my posts and opinions expressed on this forum are my own.


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