2018 14" Lenovo IdeaPad 330-14IGM [7th,4C,P] + GTX 970 @ 4Gbps-M.2 (EXP GDC 8.x) + Win10 [chasseur_de_mer]
- 2018 14" Lenovo Ideapad 330-14IGM (purchased new in September 2018)
- Intel Pentium Silver N5000 1.1-2.7Ghz 4c/4t
- 8GB DDR4 2666 (upgraded from 4GB)
- Intel UHD Graphics 605
- 1366 x 768 display
- 500GB SATA HDD
- Windows 10 Home SL, version 1909
- EGPU connection: NGFF (taken up by Wifi card)
- EXP GDC 8.x, NGFF version
- Graphics card: EVGA GTX 970 SSC ACX 2.0 (Best Buy), 3.5/4 Gb
- PSU: Cooler Master MWE 550w
Hardware pictures and Installation steps
- Laptop bottom plate removed, showing NGFF Wifi card. Note that the mounting screw was stripped when I opened the bottom plate for the very first time (after the 1-year warranty had expired), so I had to gently cut/carve around the mounting screw with a craft knife to take out the Wifi card intact. I'm currently using a USB Wifi adapter in its place.
- I followed this very helpful how-to video by TricK i Know. The laptop in the video is a different model Lenovo.
- EXP GDC NGFF cable installed. Since the cable isn't flexible sideways, the only option is to go straight up, leading to the rear of the laptop. I'll have to cut out some guide slots in the heatsink holder and bottom plate in the future.
- Before connecting the GTX 970, EXP GDC and power supply, I first turned on the laptop using the Lenovo reset button (beside the SD card slot), selected BIOS mode, then to the Boot tab and selected "PXE Boot to LAN - Disabled". Then I saved my settings, exited BIOS, and did a hard shutdown before Windows loaded by holding the Power button.
- Connecting the EXP GDC 20-pin power connector (white) to the Cooler Master MWE 550 24-pin power connector (black). (I was originally planning to buy the Cooler Master Elite V3 600w PSU, which has a 20+4 pin power connector, but our local computer shop only had this model.) On the 24-pin connector, note the position of the last 4 pins left hanging out. This will allow you to connect the EXP GDC's single green wire to the number 16 "PS-ON" connector on the power supply.
- One way to find your orientation on the 24-pin connector is that the number 20 connector is just blank space and has no cable attached to it.
- Also note that the other branch of the EXP GDC power connector should go to one of the 4+4 12-volt CPU power connectors. If you have a 20+4 connector, the EXP GDC manual says that this should never go to the remaining +4 pins of the 20+4 connector.
- Since the MWE 550w has two 6+2 PCI-E power connectors, I detached the +2 pins on both and connected only the two 6-pin PCI-Es to the EVGA GTX 970.
- The first time I ran the laptop connected to the EGPU, it didn't even get past the Lenovo splash screen so I did a hard shutdown. Upon restart, I was able to sign in. Right-clicking on My Computer > Properties > Device Manager showed something like a "Basic Windows Display".
- I next installed the previously downloaded, latest (June 2020) EVGA driver for the NVIDIA 900 series. Unlike in the YouTube video, the laptop did not even show a "restart required" notification when the NVIDIA Control Panel appeared in the system tray. Nevertheless I restarted anyway.
- Upon signing into Windows again, I had to connect the GeForce Experience program to the Internet so that the NVIDIA Control Panel could finish installation and be opened. However, after that I did not register on the GeForce Experience program.
- The YouTube video shows settings for the NVIDIA Control Panel at the 12:20 mark. And to ensure the GTX 970 works on each game / app I was planning to use it with, I typed "Graphics Settings" in the Windows search bar, browsed for each game / app, then selected "high performance".
- Upon resuming laptop use without the EGPU, I would get the Windows BSOD "Driver Power State Failure" stop code either before Windows sign-in, or shortly after. This was solved by restarting again, and in non-EGPU mode the NVIDIA Control Panel did not show up in the system tray or upon right-clicking.
- Reconnecting the laptop to the EGPU will go back to a stationary Lenovo splash screen, then smooth loading after a hard restart.
- Here is the laptop running on the GTX 970 and PSU:
Benchmarks (on internal display)
- CUDA-Z performance info:
- Using the Steam built-in FPS counter, my most graphically taxing games were Mass Effect 2 and Kerbal Space Program 1. On ME2 in high settings, I usually got 60 FPS with 48 FPS lows. On KSP with relatively high settings, I was getting anywhere from 30 to 20 FPS.
- The real reason I did this setup was to do test runs of the Meshroom photogrammetry app, with 280 all-round photos of a model car (taken with an Android phone) totaling 1.37 Gb file size.
- My initial tests showed that while Meshroom was processing, the setup was very susceptible to electromagnetic interference, such as when electric fans or LED light bulbs are switched on/off in the same room; and particularly when fluorescent lamps (with starters) are turned on or off, even one floor down in the house. I haven't yet tried aluminium foil shielding of the NGFF-HDMI cable, but so far jury-rigged shielding from metal biscuit tins hasn't been effective. I run the setup with no fluorescent lights on in the house and no electric fans or LED lights on in the same room as the setup. (Although running those, or even an air conditioner unit one room away works fine.)
- Pressing the "Start" button on Meshroom can easily lead to a Windows BSOD "Video TDR Failure: nvlddmkm.sys" stop code due to electromagnetic interference, so I run the graphics compute tasks one node at a time.
- When the setup is running, the main trouble so far seems to be CPU bottlenecking. If I remember right, the Feature Matching node took around 4 hours, Structure From Motion took all night (around 8 hours), and Depth Map took 17 to 18 hours (2 nights). Although you can stop and save the completed output to a backup drive to minimize restarts. And do not try to do background tasks while Meshroom is running on this setup.
- The Meshing node seems to be taking forever, but I'm trying it out with the "maxPoints" value reduced from 5,000,000 to 1,000,000.
- Once I get the hang of Meshroom, it looks like I'll be cleaning out my old ATX case and setting up a gaming / graphics crunching rig :p
Amazing post! I have an Ideapad 330-15ikb i5 8250u, I'm thinking about doing this upgrade too since intel integrated graphic card is very weak. Do you know if it's possible to use a RX 550 instead of using a GTX's serie?
Thanks for the comment @adelson_santos !
Unfortunately I've never used Radeon cards, so you might want to check these EXP Radeon entries in the Builds section (both on Lenovo laptops), one with integrated Intel HD graphics and an 8Gb 570 EGPU, and another with discrete graphics and an 8Gb 590 EGPU.
There are also a few YouTube videos with EXP Radeon builds, but the ones I've seen did not document any errors, startup hiccups or driver installation / uninstall complications.
Regarding your choice of video card, I hope you could have a budget for something with more oomph, since based on this tier list the 550 is like the Radeon equivalent of the Nvidia 1050. At the moment (August 19, 2020), Radeon 570 4Gbs seem to have reasonable prices on Ebay.
I hope that helps.
Just some fun tinkering:
MSI Afterburner settings
MSI Afterburner fan settings
Furmark 1280x720 preset OC, score 6139 (on laptop display; note that I could not open Paint at that point :p )
Furmark 1920x1080 preset OC, score 3935 (on a 32-inch Samsung basic smart TV)
Unigine Heaven 4.0, score 1531; 1366x768 fullscreen, high quality, normal tesselation, 4x anti-aliasing (on laptop display)