2017 13" Alienware 13 R3 (GTX1060) [7th,4C,H] + RX 580 @ 32Gbps-M2 (ADT-Link R43...
 
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2017 13" Alienware 13 R3 (GTX1060) [7th,4C,H] + RX 580 @ 32Gbps-M2 (ADT-Link R43SG) + Win10 1909 [itsage]  

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

The Alienware 13 R3 is a rare host laptop in that it can connect to eGPU through multiple interfaces. The first one and highest performance is through the proprietary Alienware Graphics Amplifier port. It's an x4 PCIe 3.0 CPU connection. The second option is Thunderbolt 3 x4 PCIe 3.0 CPU connection. A possible third option is through one of the two NVMe M.2 slots inside the laptop (through PCH). I have been trying to get this connection working (detection issues) for a while. Finally with @nando4's advice, I was able to get the M.2 eGPU going for a triple Radeon eGPU setup!

 

System specs:

2017 13" Alienware 13 R3 - i7-7700HQ/GTX 1060 dGPU & HD Graphics 630 iGPU/16GB RAM/512GB SSD

 

eGPU hardware:

ADT-Link R43SG + NGFF M.2 NVMe Adapter + Radeon RX 580 + HP Z27q 5K Monitor

 

Hardware pictures:

 

Installation steps:

The key to get the M.2 eGPU to be detected is through a hot-swap during system sleep. I used a PCIe SSD in the ADT-Link R43SG to get the connection working in Windows, then put it to sleep. Swap the PCIe SSD out for the graphics card then wake the system up. Within Device Manager I initiated a "scan new hardware" which eventually froze and BSOD. However when the laptop restarted, RX 580 through M.2 eGPU was properly detected and started working.

The other two eGPUs through AGA and Thunderbolt 3 were simply plug-and-play. Having the AGA eGPU active automatically disables the GTX 1060 dGPU. I did not have to disable any PCIe resources to get all 3 Radeon cards going. They worked immediately without error 12. I did run DDU and install the latest Radeon drivers through the Factory Reset option to make sure graphics drivers are clean. 

 

Benchmarks:

Here are some numbers through Luxmark 3.1 and AIDA64 to confirm each interface bandwidth and when they all work together.

 

Comments:

More than one eGPU doesn't add any benefits to gaming use. I had hoped the AGA eGPU and M.2 eGPU could work together through CrossFire mode (both are x4 PCIe connection). Unfortunately Radeon Software sees the AGA as an external card while the M.2 is an internal card. This multiple eGPU setup is great for compute tasks.

external graphics card builds
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joevt
(@joevt)
Noble Member
Joined: 3 years ago
 
Posted by: @itsage

Unfortunately Radeon Software sees the AGA as an external card while the M.2 is an internal card.

SSDT mod?

The description could be more clear about what GPUs are being used for each connection. The reader has to look at the pictures (and look at the picture titles) to see what's going on.

eGPU connections:
- M.2 (ADT-Link R43SG): RX 580 (the only eGPU listed in the thread title - are there threads that include each of the other eGPUs that point here so they appear in the database?)
- AGA (Alienware Graphics Amplifier): RX 5600 XT
- Thunderbolt (Mantiz Venus): RX 5700 XT

The AIDA64 pictures compare the bandwidth of each connection.
As expected, the M.2 and AGA connections are similar and outperform the Thunderbolt connection.

The Luxmark pictures are for three different benchmarks (Ball, Mic, Lobby) showing how all three cards work together and does not compare their performance.
Ellesmere = RX 580
gfx1010 18 = RX 5600 XT
gfx1010 20 = RX 5700 XT

For CrossFire or additional eGPUs (CrossFire requires x4 or greater links?):
The laptop also has an mPCIe slot? What about having two eGPUs connected via the two M2? There's also the possibility of using a PCIe switch with multiple GPUs connected (PCIe expansion box, or M.2 carrier card (multiple x4 downstream ports), or one of those crypto currency PCIe switches (multiple x1 downstream ports)) ?

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

@joevt, Thank you for making the three eGPU configurations clearer. I was very excited the setup actually worked so I was eager to post this build. Our current build guide table can only detect one eGPU in the topic title. To generate all three configurations in the table we would have to post two filler topics with just matching component titles.

I will be running Luxmark on each card to update the OP. While I was out of the town the past couple of days, I left this 3x eGPU setup running [email protected]. All three cards worked very well together and don't generate much noise at all (i7-7700HQ not used). They are actually quieter than my Threadripper desktop setup [1900x + GTX 1080 Ti]. They also have higher average points/day vs the desktop, 222K vs 140K.

The Alienware 13R3 is a very flexible laptop with eGPU builds. I can definitely look into those options you mentioned. The goal is to keep it still functional as a portable device. LoL

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


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