2017 Alienware 15R3 + GTX [email protected] (ASUS XG Station Pro) + Windows 10 [theitsage]  

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theitsage
(@itsage)
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June 27, 2018 8:03 pm  

I used this pairing for the XG Station Pro review. My main goal was to test the performance difference between the GTX 1070 dGPU vs 1080 Ti eGPU. 

 

System specs:

2017 Alienware 15 R3 - i7-7700HQ/GTX 1070 dGPU/HD Graphics 630 iGPU/32GB RAM/256GB SSD + 1TB HDD

 

eGPU hardware:

ASUS XG Station Pro + ASUS Strix GTX 1080 Ti + 1.5m Thunderbolt 3 cable

 

Hardware pictures:

 

Installation steps:

It was plug-and-play for this Alienware 15R3. It's an eGFX certified Thunderbolt 3 laptop and one of the very few to have direct connection from Thunderbolt 3 port to CPU.

 

Benchmarks:

I ran these benchmarks through an LG 4K monitor.

Alienware 15 R31070 dGPU FHD1080Ti eGPU FHD1070 dGPU QHD1080Ti eGPU QHD1070 dGPU UHD1080Ti eGPU UHD
Unigine Valley81.6 FPS107.2 FPS56.7 FPS79.8 FPS25.7 FPS40.3 FPS
Unigine Heaven87.9 FPS115.7 FPS55.6 FPS78.4 FPS23.7 FPS36.6 FPS
Unigine Superposition65.8 FPS100.7 FPS42.0 FPS68.1 FPS20.0 FPS33.6 FPS
Tomb Raider 2013145.6 FPS178.9 FPS90.9 FPS131.5 FPS43.8 FPS68.1 FPS
Shadow of Mordor147.9 FPS147.3 FPS96.0 FPS115.7 FPS47.6 FPS67.9 FPS
Dirt Rally92.7 FPS109.2 FPS79.5 FPS92.5 FPS43.3 FPS60.7 FPS
Hitman69.0 FPS71.6 FPS50.7 FPS60.3 FPS24.4 FPS31.8 FPS

 

Comments:

As you can see in the table above, there's not an appreciable difference in performance when the resolution is 1920 x 1080. 4K is where the GTX 1080 Ti eGPU really shines. This AW15R3 also have a 120Hz Gsync display panel. In order for the eGPU to use it, I had to disable the 1070 dGPU. Gsync adds more latency on top of internal display mode so it wasn't worth it.

Best ultrabooks for eGPU use

eGPU enclosure buying guide

86 external GPU build guides


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jim_survak
(@jim_survak)
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Joined: 2 years ago
Posts: 40
June 27, 2018 8:29 pm  

Thanks for posting this! Wimpzilla just made a post about a video Hardware Unboxed did saying how not-good eGPU boxes are, that the value they offer isn't worth it. I feel like this review puts that to bed.

If you care to read:
Wimpzilla's "General DiscussionsLaptop ComputingA quite strong disa... A quite strong disappoint about eGPU from Hardware Unboxed" thread

2012 Mac mini: Core i7, 16GB RAM, Toshiba 1TB SSD, Seagate 1TB HDD, Sonnet B350 w/ XFX Radeon RX-480 8GB
Custom: Ryzen 7 1700, 16GB Corasir DDR4-3200MHz RAM, 2x Corsair 500GB Neutron SSD, Seagate 3TB SSD, EVGA Nvidia 980Ti
Alienware 13: Core i5-4210U, 16GB RAM, PNY XLR8 500GB SSD, Nvidia 860m 2GB, w/ AGA


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theitsage
(@itsage)
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June 27, 2018 8:50 pm  

I will have Gigabyte Alpine Ridge AIC soon. My plan is to use the X99 test bench to run this XG Station Pro + 1080 Ti through the on-board Thunderbolt 3 port (CPU attachment) as well as TB3 AIC port (PCH attachment) then compare them to discrete 1080 Ti (x16 and x4).

Best ultrabooks for eGPU use

eGPU enclosure buying guide

86 external GPU build guides


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jim_survak
(@jim_survak)
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June 27, 2018 11:49 pm  

Awesome, I can't wait to see how that turns out!

2012 Mac mini: Core i7, 16GB RAM, Toshiba 1TB SSD, Seagate 1TB HDD, Sonnet B350 w/ XFX Radeon RX-480 8GB
Custom: Ryzen 7 1700, 16GB Corasir DDR4-3200MHz RAM, 2x Corsair 500GB Neutron SSD, Seagate 3TB SSD, EVGA Nvidia 980Ti
Alienware 13: Core i5-4210U, 16GB RAM, PNY XLR8 500GB SSD, Nvidia 860m 2GB, w/ AGA


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usafballer70
(@usafballer70)
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Posts: 14
July 2, 2018 12:04 pm  

@theitsage

"This AW15R3 also have a 120Hz Gsync display panel. In order for the eGPU to use it, I had to disable the 1070 dGPU. Gsync adds more latency on top of internal display mode so it wasn't worth it."

I'm getting the AW15r4 in the next couple weeks - can you elaborate what you mean here?  I will have the 60hz G-Sync panel option as I don't care about high-refresh rate (or I should say, I don't want to care about it). 

My interpretation means that if I were to use an eGPU with my internal screen on the AW15, that Gsync latency will significantly impact responsive in games, or cause issues with 1% low frames (stuttering)? 

I am curious if GSYNC causes major issues when using internal screen with eGPUs.  I don't imagine I'll keep my eGPU once I get my AW15 (as the 1070 eGPU would only operate worse than the internal 1070), but would be an interesting upgrade late next year if I can pick up a 1080TI for much cheaper and a solid eGPU enclosure.  The added fan noise improvements that come with eGPU use will be nice to have again.

Soon I will add my system & eGPU details or a build link to this my signature to give context to my posts


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theitsage
(@itsage)
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July 2, 2018 12:22 pm  

@usafballer70 I tried that arrangement to see whether the Gsync panel would work with the eGPU. I didn't test it extensively to determine the full impact while gaming. There's always the option to turn Gsync off.

The AW15R3 can be loud. For example if I set CPU and cooling to performance mode, the fans would run at high speed all the time. I hope Alienware improved the cooling system in the R4.

Best ultrabooks for eGPU use

eGPU enclosure buying guide

86 external GPU build guides


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usafballer70
(@usafballer70)
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July 2, 2018 12:41 pm  

@itsage

Good point - didn't know if you could disable the G-Sync module or not.

I previously owned the AW13r3 - no way I would run CPU performance mode full time.  Why do you feel it necessary to run that mode?  I found it 3dB louder on average when gaming (measured by a cheap meter).  Performance difference wasn't justifiable, especially in gaming.

For some reason there are very few reviews for the 15R4 - I'm quite surprised by this.  Perhaps other manufacturers trumped AW this year - i.e., the MSI GS65, Aero 15X, Razer 15? 

I've seen a few laymen reviews of the 17R5.  I watched a guy called "SERGE" YouTube review the 17R5 and said it was quieter under load than the 17R4.  Reddit is full of whiners and people with lemons, and NotebookReview's subforum is a disjointed mess of a few folks complaining about thermals endlessly (all gaming forums devolve into a discussion on thermals, re-paste, and nonsensical discussions about "core temp differentials").  No professional reviews yet!

I'd love some more detail on the new Alienware Command Center 2.0 as it seems you can choose a "quiet" mode and overclock (and perhaps underclock?) both CPU and GPU - however I can't gather sufficient info from the fast marketing material Alienware published.

My hope, because I favor quieter fan noise to raw performance, is to underclock the 1070 and CPU and target games at high/ultra with 45-60FPS (and let G-Sync keep everything smooth).  The 1070 seems to be more than sufficiently powerful for the latest games, even after 2 years, and with that performance headroom I hope I can keep the chip cooler at lower clocks and still achieve my goal.  That is, if tools can help me accomplish this!  What do you think?

I know this is off topic for eGPU forums!

Soon I will add my system & eGPU details or a build link to this my signature to give context to my posts


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Joikansai
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July 2, 2018 2:05 pm  

Greetings,
Can you by any chance upload also Firestrike and timespy scores for comparison?
Thanks.

Soon I will add my system & eGPU details or a build link to this my signature to give context to my posts


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theitsage
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July 2, 2018 4:17 pm  

I set the AW15R3 to performance mode to make sure all benchmarks are consistent. No way I could use the laptop in that mode. Unless you have really good in-ear headphones the fan noise is intolerable.

The AW15R3 is built like a Humvee in a lot of ways. It's bulky and thirsty but can accommodate a lot of tasks you throw at it. It will survive physical abuses too. Upgrade options are plentiful as well. There are two NVMe M.2 slots, one SATA M.2 slot, and one SATA 2.5" compartment for hard drives. For external graphics you can either use Alienware's own Graphics Amplifier or Thunderbolt 3. The Thunderbolt 3 port as mentioned is the best routing possible (directly to CPU). 

Best ultrabooks for eGPU use

eGPU enclosure buying guide

86 external GPU build guides


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