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2018 15" Dell XPS 15 9570 (GTX1050Ti) [8th,6C,H] + GTX 1080 Ti @ 32Gbps-TB3 (ASU...
 

2018 15" Dell XPS 15 9570 (GTX1050Ti) [8th,6C,H] + GTX 1080 Ti @ 32Gbps-TB3 (ASUS XG Station Pro) + Win10 1809 [itsage]  

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itsage
(@itsage)
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Seeing numerous reports on lower-than-expected eGPU performance on 8th generation H-CPU hosts, @nando4 and I have been looking into the culprit. The Dell XPS 9570 in this build is one that experiences low performance during eGPU use. Nando tested a Dell Latitude 5591 and observed the same behavior. We discovered there’s an oversight in cooling the PCH through which Thunderbolt 3 connection is attached on these laptops.

As seen in the photos above, the PCH chip of the XPS 9570 has no cooling. Dell had installed a thermal pad for the NVMe SSD on the other side and it draws heat onto the bottom case. I replicated this same cooling for the PCH with a 2mm-thick thermal pad square. The chipset sits lower than SSD and the added 2mm pad didn’t quite reach the aluminum surface of the bottom case. A more permanent cooling solution is to use 3mm+ thermal pad with a wider contact surface.

 

System specs:

2018 15″ Dell XPS 9570 – i7-8750H/GTX 1050 Ti Max-Q dGPU/UHD Graphics 630 iGPU/16GB RAM/256GB SSD

 

eGPU hardware:

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

 

Hardware pictures:

 

Installation steps:

Thunderbolt 3 Windows laptops are plug-and-play as long as Intel Thunderbolt Software is present. Once you approve the new Thunderbolt device (eGPU enclosure) all subsequent hot-plugs require no interaction. The drivers for Max-Q dGPU is slightly different than driver packages downloaded from Nvidia website. Therefore you should use the Nvidia drivers original to the laptop for both dGPU and eGPU. If you uninstall them and go with the latest drivers on Nvidia website, the Max-Q dGPU will require a reinstallation to function.

HWiNFO64 is one of the few software tools to monitor PCH temperature. With the stock no-cooling system of XPS 9570, the PCH would reach above 80 degrees Celsius within 10 minutes of eGPU use. This triggered thermal-throttling of the transfer rate through this chipset and eGPU performance suffers significantly. Once I applied the thermal pad, the PCH ran cooler and experienced less thermal-throttling. The performance with GTX 1080 Ti eGPU seemed more stable. Here are the before and after temps of PCH chipset.

 

Benchmarks:

Dell improved the Thunderbolt 3 connection of its 2018 XPS lineup with x4 PCIe lanes. We wish they had configured the XPS 15 to provide TB3-CPU attachment like Alienware laptops. That would skip the PCH entirely and yield the best performance possible for Thunderbolt 3 eGPU. Below are AIDA64 GPGPU screen captures for GTX 1050 Ti Max-Q dGPU and GTX 1080 Ti eGPU.

 

Here’s the fluctuation in GTX 1080 Ti eGPU performance without cooling on PCH chipset.

No Cooling 2mm Thermal Pad
XPS 9570GTX 1050 Ti dGPUGTX 1080 Ti eGPU LoopbackGTX 1080 Ti eGPU External Monitor
Unigine Valley1,6734,2684,465
Unigine Heaven9082,2722,500
Unigine Superposition5,16314,81816,405
Tomb Raider 201362.3 FPS131.8 FPS159.4 FPS
Shadow of Mordor53.8 FPS92.8 FPS109.0 FPS
Dirt Rally62.5 FPS97.5 FPS108.5 FPS
Hitman59.6 FPS92.2 FPS96.3 FPS

 

Comments:

It’s unfortunate Intel and PC vendors don’t pay more attention to Thunderbolt 3 in general and eGPU use in specific. We hope our discovery of performance deficiencies would alert users and manufacturers to take actions. If you have these Intel H-CPU laptops and the performance have not been up to your expectation, open the back cover and let us know what you find.

This topic was modified 10 months ago

Best ultrabooks for eGPU use | eGPU enclosure buying guide


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mac_editor
(@mac_editor)
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That is a massive (~25%) difference is performance, with a single thermal pad. Impressive and super-beneficial that you found a rather simple/cheap fix for this.

purge-wranglerpurge-nvdaset-eGPU
2018 MacBook Pro 15" RP560X + RX 5700 XT (Mantiz Venus)


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nando4
(@nando4)
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The lack of any PCH cooling on a sample of H-CPU Dell 8th generation notebooks resulting in them throttling above 80 degrees  is a significant finding. Not only does this result in inconsistent eGPU benchmark results it affects NVME SSD benchmarking as well.

NOTE:  U-CPU notebooks have the PCH on the CPU so is cooled as part of the CPU heatsink. These systems are not affected.

Ultrabook News noticed the disparity between U and H XPS performance here , quoted below.  Though we now know the culprit for this is a throttled H-CPU PCH chip.

My benchmarks done on my Mantiz Venus + GTX 1070 setup seem to confirm this, though I have noticed that the graphics performance is significantly better with my XPS 13 9370 versus my 9570.

Despite a physics score of over 14,000 (compared to the ~9500 the 9370’s i7-8550U achieves), a lower graphics score brings the total score down significantly. I am not sure if this is driver or BIOS-related, but my current theory is that where the XPS 13 9370’s TB3 signal feeds directly to the CPU, the XPS 15 9570 is using an additional daughterboard (Alpine Ridge) to provide TB3, which may induce some performance degradation in comparison.

This post was modified 10 months ago

eGPU Setup 1.35    •    eGPU Port Bandwidth Reference Table

15" Dell Precision 7510 (Q M1000M) (6th,4C,H) + GTX 1080 Ti @ 32Gbps-M2 (ADT-Link R43SG) + macOS 10.13.6 & Win10


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OliverB
(@oliverb)
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Posted by: nando4

The lack of any cooling on a sample of H-CPU Dell 8th generation notebooks resulting in them throttling above 80 degrees  is a significant finding. Not only does this result in inconsistent eGPU benchmark results it affects NVME SSD benchmarking as well.

NVMe SSD benchmarking is an important thing. If you ask for an external SSD in a shop, you will only get SATA. They don't even have external NVMe SSDs. This is pathetic. SSD can do so much more. It's not just numbers, it's much faster, very notable.

SSD NVMe disc benchmarks
SSD NVme disc benchmaks 2

This post was modified 10 months ago

2018 15" MBP & 2015 13" MBP connected to RTX2080Ti GTX1080Ti GTX1080 Vega56 RX580 R9-290 GTX680


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itsage
(@itsage)
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Posted by: nando4

The lack of any PCH cooling on a sample of H-CPU Dell 8th generation notebooks resulting in them throttling above 80 degrees  is a significant finding. Not only does this result in inconsistent eGPU benchmark results it affects NVME SSD benchmarking as well.

NOTE:  U-CPU notebooks have the PCH on the CPU so is cooled as part of the CPU heatsink. These systems are not affected.

Ultrabook News noticed the disparity between U and H XPS performance here , quoted below.  Though we now know the culprit for this is a throttled H-CPU PCH chip.

My benchmarks done on my Mantiz Venus + GTX 1070 setup seem to confirm this, though I have noticed that the graphics performance is significantly better with my XPS 13 9370 versus my 9570.

Despite a physics score of over 14,000 (compared to the ~9500 the 9370’s i7-8550U achieves), a lower graphics score brings the total score down significantly. I am not sure if this is driver or BIOS-related, but my current theory is that where the XPS 13 9370’s TB3 signal feeds directly to the CPU, the XPS 15 9570 is using an additional daughterboard (Alpine Ridge) to provide TB3, which may induce some performance degradation in comparison.

Thank you for your analysis. Both XPS 9370 and 9570 have the same Thunderbolt 3 <-> PCH <-> CPU. The only difference we found is the PCH in XPS 9370 gets proper cooling while XPS 9570 has nothing. Here’s a view of the XPS 13 9370 motherboard. Even the Thunderbolt 3 controller and USB-C controller have a heat shield.

In contrast, Dell H-CPU laptops have no PCH cooling at all. Razer Blade 15 is one of the few we found with PCH cooling.

Dell Latitude 5491 Dell XPS 9570 Razer Blade 15
This post was modified 10 months ago

Best ultrabooks for eGPU use | eGPU enclosure buying guide


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RimsOnAToaster
(@rimsonatoaster)
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Woah that's massive! I'm thinking of revising my build log again to make this point known. What should I do pre-thermal-pad and post-thermal-pad to demonstrate the difference in performance?

Pending: Add my system information and expected eGPU configuration to my signature to give context to my posts


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itsage
(@itsage)
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@rimsonatoaster I recall your XPS 9570 is iGPU only so the cooling system may be slightly different. The PCH chip location and its lack of cooling should be the same though. My process to reproduce and document the PCH overheating during eGPU use was to run HWiNFO64 in the background to monitor temp and perform tasks that stress the PCH. As @nando4 mentioned NVMe SSD traffic goes through this chipset as well. When you see the temperature gets above 70 degrees Celsius, you can run Fire Strike stress test for example.

The 2mm thermal pad I used was not ideal but helped tremnedously. If you can find 3mm or thicker, try those out. The best scenario is to have the thermal pad make contact with both PCH chip and aluminum back cover of the XPS. I’m looking forward to seeing your experience.

Best ultrabooks for eGPU use | eGPU enclosure buying guide


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PureLife
(@purelife)
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That is very well researched, thank you itsage! Out of curiosity do you know which laptops have proper cooling for the PCH chip? I'm eyeing the Lenovo X1E but not sure if anyone has checked that one out yet.

Pending: Add my system information and expected eGPU configuration to my signature to give context to my posts


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itsage
(@itsage)
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@purelife The Lenovo X1 Extreme doesn’t have cooling on its PCH chip. You can see this featured photo of its cooling system right on the product page. No PCH cooling is very common on 8th gen H-CPU laptops from what I’ve seen unfortunately. 

This post was modified 10 months ago

Best ultrabooks for eGPU use | eGPU enclosure buying guide


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PureLife
(@purelife)
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That's unfortunate indeed! So I guess we have 2 options now: buy a Razer Blade or DIY our thermal solution on other 8th gen H-CPU laptops.

I can't believe this issue doesn't trigger any Quality Control review in any manufacturer. It makes me wonder if it's Intel who tells their vendors that eGPU usage is an unusual use case and thus the PCH chip does not need cooling.

Pending: Add my system information and expected eGPU configuration to my signature to give context to my posts


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itsage
(@itsage)
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Most vendors consider Thunderbolt 3 eGPU as a Mac thing. Therefore they are hesitant to add Thunderbolt 3 connectivity and when they do it’s usually poorly implemented.

Best ultrabooks for eGPU use | eGPU enclosure buying guide


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realbronz
(@realbronz)
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Just wanted to leave my results here, will provide screen caps upon request: 

So I stacked three 1.5mm thermal pads squares on top of the PCH component. I was basically trying to match the height of the SSD + Thermal pad height so that the heat can be dissipated onto the bottom of the chassis. 

Temps went from 81 degrees Celcius to 69 degrees Celcius on average and I got a boost in performance as well.

I just ordered some 3mm thick thermal pads on Amazon and will try those to see if I can get better results. Since, ~4.5mm is the height between the PCH and the chassis, I might have to add one more 1.5mm pad as well.

Pending: Add my system information and expected eGPU configuration to my signature to give context to my posts


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peeweekVFX
(@peeweekvfx)
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Joined: 4 months ago
 

Hi!

It feels relieving that someone has actually been able to install an eGPU on a XPS 15 with a dGPU, as I was not able to have a proper setup until now. I don't own a ASUS enclosure but a HP Omen Accelearator instead, but for me it has turned out into a driver nightmare because of the dell drivers. I see your installation steps are pretty straightforward about using nvidia official and dell but unfortunately for me it did not work at all so far.

I am a bit curious about how you did install the drivers and if you had to make some hacks in order to have both dGPU and eGPU working seamlessly.

Let me do a tl;dr version of my issue, just in case you have an idea:
* I can't have both dGPU and eGPU drivers installed at the same time because...
* Dell XPS drivers use DCH release with their own drivers, which does not include my GTX1060 6G
* Every time I switch gpus I have to reinstall nvidia drivers (dell when switching to dGPU, nvidia ones when switching to eGPU)

I am not sure I am getting the correct drivers from dell as when I look into the driver's inf file, the GPU list seems shortened a lot. (Seems only containing maxQ mobile GPUS and a bunch of other ones). Did you get dell nvidia drivers from an alternate source?

Thanks

Pending: Add my system information and expected eGPU configuration to my signature to give context to my posts


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itsage
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@peeweekvfx It was a headache to get one set of drivers for both Nvidia dGPU and Nvidia eGPU. What I recall was the key to getting them work smoothly was to use DDU. Open OPTION in DDU right away and check the box that says “Prevent downloads of drivers from Windows Updates…” This stops Windows from automatically install Nvidia graphics drivers for the dGPU. Next step was to remove all Nvidia graphics drivers. Restart the laptop then hot-plug the Nvidia eGPU. Make sure you see two “Microsoft Basic Display Adapter” devices in Device Manager before you run the latest drivers from Nvidia website.

Best ultrabooks for eGPU use | eGPU enclosure buying guide


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Astray
(@astray)
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Joined: 11 months ago
 

Thank you @itsage for your research into this issue. I have a Dell XPS 15 9570 + Aorus Gaming Box 1080 via tb3 > 4K TV. I bought some 1mm thick Arctic thermal pads (50mm x 50mm square) cut them up into quarters and stacked 4 squares on top of each other. My PCH temp according to HWinfo has gone from 79c max > 60c max temp while playing Metro Exodus @ 4K after about 1 hour of game play. This is with a -125 mV undervolt on CPU (no repaste) and ambient temps is about 28c today. Pretty impressed by this very cheap and simple fix. Hats off to you. 

Aorus Gaming Box 1080 + Dell XPS 15 9570


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itsage
(@itsage)
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@astray Thank you for reporting your success. We hope manufacturers are paying more attention and improve cooling in their new Thunderbolt 3 ultrabooks.

 

Best ultrabooks for eGPU use | eGPU enclosure buying guide


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RillsPark
(@rillspark)
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@itsage

Thank you for sharing your experience about the PCH throttling issue. Based on your guide, I have put some thermal pad with some copper plates few days ago...

But I am still experiencing a huge cut in performance with my XPS 9570 and RX VEGA64 in Razer Core X Chroma... (This is my current setup)

I am using win10 ver.1903. All drivers(mostly from DELL) are up to date except the Asmedia USB 3.1 extensible host controller driver...(due to the USB issues, I am using the window driver)

I have also tried RX580/590,  RX5700XT, GTX1070, RTX2070... 

Firestrike score seems max 40% cut in performance in eGPU with XPS9570. AMD cards are relatively better, but still the performance cut is too much when compared to other users...

RTX2070: 14500, but 24500 in desktop.

GTX1070: 12500, but 18000 in desktop.

RX 5700XT OC: 18500, but 27000 in desktop

RX Vega64 OC: 17500, but 24000 in desktop.

RX 580: 11500, but 14500 in desktop

I have also tried three different TB3 cables, but I found no big difference.

AIDA64 GPGPU test shows that the TB3 bandwidth is normal...

 

I think I will try different bench marking tool tomorrow same as what you have tried(Unigine). This is already a big help 🙂

Pending: Add my system information and expected eGPU configuration to my signature to give context to my posts


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nando4
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@rillspark, your RTX 2070 numbers look to scale down to @itsage‘s results for his GTX 1080 Ti.

As an aside, here are some tidbits from testing M.2 and TB3 eGPU on a loaned XPS 9570. For primarily gaming use,  a M.2 eGPU is recommended for it’s superior performance.

Hardware

  • XPS 9570, i7-8750H,  56WH battery version – using SATA SSD, free M.2 (NVME) slot
  • PCH & VRMs thermal pad bridged to heat pipe, repasted
  • ASUS GTX 1080 Ti turbo blower
  • ADT-Link R43SG 50cm M.2 adapter
  • JEYI Ledian NVME-to-Thunderbolt 3 adapter
  • Throttlestop undervolted -250ma/-125ma cpu/cache. TDP unlocked.

3dmark Firestrike eGPU results (external FHD LCD)

From-the-factory config:

After applying a tweak TBA, get up to 15% better performance:

This post was modified 3 weeks ago

eGPU Setup 1.35    •    eGPU Port Bandwidth Reference Table

15" Dell Precision 7510 (Q M1000M) (6th,4C,H) + GTX 1080 Ti @ 32Gbps-M2 (ADT-Link R43SG) + macOS 10.13.6 & Win10


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RillsPark
(@rillspark)
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@nando4

Thank you very much for your feedback.
I am very much wanting to see how the tweak works.

About the performance cut, strangely my friend who has XPS 9550 got much higher score than my Vega64. His score is 21000(Firestrike)...

If my score is just what it is, I think Dell made some stupid mistake when they design XPS 9570...

Pending: Add my system information and expected eGPU configuration to my signature to give context to my posts


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GreatB
(@greatb)
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Hi @nando4 and @itsage thank you for the informative post, this is great info.

I own a hp Zbook studio (5th gen), i7-8750H and am looking to purchase an Aorus Gaming Box 1070 (completely new to eGPUs)

Having read your post, I am now skeptical.

 

- Would you happen to know if the Zbook studio has a PCH chip with cooling? I cannot seem to find much info/internals images of this laptop model online.

- Assuming it is not cooled, do you reckon it would be a waste to purchase a 1070 eGPU and instead settle for the P1000 dGPU?

Thank you.

UPDATE: Found a disassembly video but not sure if it is being cooled.

This post was modified 1 month ago

Pending: Add my system information and expected eGPU configuration to my signature to give context to my posts


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