2017 Alienware 15R3 GTX1070 + RTX [email protected] (AGA & Razer Core) + Win10 1803 [theitsage]
My review of the Alienware Graphics Amplifier last summer was incomplete in that I couldn't find a capable host computer to distinguish the performance difference between AGA vs Thunderbolt 3. Through many eGPU builds with different enclosures and hosts, I've found the Alienware 15 R3 to be the perfect candidate for AGA vs TB3 testings. I used the original Razer Core because that was the same one used in the review. The graphics card is the RTX 2080.
2017 Alienware 15 R3 - i7-7700HQ/GTX 1070 dGPU/HD Graphics 630 iGPU/32GB RAM/512GB NVMe SSD + 1TB HDD
Razer Core + Nvidia RTX 2080 + .5m Thunderbolt 3 cable
Alienware Graphics Amplifier + Nvidia RTX 2080
Thunderbolt 3 eGPU 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. Also unique to this computer is the AGA port for the Alienware Graphics Amplifier. It's routed similarly as TB3 port, a 4 PCI lane connection directly to the CPU. As the HWiNFO screen capture below shows, Dell reserved an x8 to the discrete GTX 1070 graphics card, an x4 to the Thunderbolt 3 port, and an x4 to the AGA port. The GTX 1080 Ti was via Thunderbolt 3 and RTX 2080 was through AGA.
I ran the RTX 2080 first through the Graphics Amplifier then Razer Core. Nvidia drivers were latest version, 411.7. The external GPU connected to an HP Z27Q 5K monitor. All benchmarks were through external monitor with internal display off. I also disabled PCI Controller 1901 [GTX 1070 dGPU] to make sure no glitches were happening. Here are the numbers.
|AW15R3 + RTX2080||AGA FHD||TB3 FHD||AGA QHD||TB3 QHD||AGA 4K||TB3 4K||AGA 5K||TB3 5K|
|3DMark Time Spy||15,846||13,564||10,545||9,416||5,167||4,879||3,029||2,946|
|3DMark Fire Strike||25,428||20,452||18,342||13,675||9,898||7,694||5,129||4,785|
|Tomb Raider 2013||228.5 FPS||187.7 FPS||152.7 FPS||135.1 FPS||77.2 FPS||74.7 FPS||44.2 FPS||43.9 FPS|
|Shadow of Mordor||161.6 FPS||127.3 FPS||121.7 FPS||99.4 FPS||71.0 FPS||62.6 FPS||45.7 FPS||42.7 FPS|
|Dirt Rally||100.3 FPS||119.25 FPS||99.3 FPS||106.0 FPS||73.9 FPS||74.9 FPS||52.5 FPS||53.3 FPS|
|Hitman||86.3 FPS||81.7 FPS||77.1 FPS||68.5 FPS||38.6 FPS||35.8 FPS||21.5 FPS||21.1 FPS|
Here we see the performance difference between the Graphics Amplifier vs Thunderbolt 3 is similar to that of internal PCIe slot vs TB3. The gap lessens at higher resolutions. The AGA is no doubt a better performer when paired with a capable host such as this Alienware 15 R3. One thing to note is the proprietary cable. I've seen boot issues due to a damaged/kinked cable. The end connector is hard to remove and typically requires force. Limit the removal of the cable to extend its life.
Wow, thanks for the review. The difference between AGA und TB3 is huge 😯
Razer Balde 14 2017 (i7-7700HQ+GTX1060+500GB EVO960) + HP Accelerator + RTX2080