2019 14" Lenovo Yoga C940 [10th,4C,G] + RTX 2060 Super @ 32Gbps-TB3 (Razer Core X Chroma) + Win10 [OversizedMattress]
Until now, I've basically always had 2 options. The first, is a desktop + a portable laptop or tablet. Unfortunately, I dislike maintaining multiple devices, and I hate to sacrifice all gaming as soon as I leave the one dedicated desk. The second, is a gaming laptop. Price, longevity, battery size, portability - all are unappealing. Gaming laptops just don't seem as great as I would hope.
With this eGPU build, I have a hard time thinking of anything that I am sacrificing with my hardware. Not only does it run everything I want; it's quiet, cool, and portable, with a premium quality & aesthetic. With one plug and two clicks, I can turn my ultra portable, 2-in-1 laptop into a full gaming rig, peripherals included. I also love the potential for modularity - while not as much as a desktop, I can still change RAM, SSD, GPU, enclosure, peripherals, or the entire laptop itself, without needing to replace all the other components.
- Late 2019 14" Lenovo Yoga C940 (FHD Display)
- Intel Ice Lake i7-1065G7 - 25W TDP
- Intel Iris Plus Graphics iGPU
- 16 GB RAM - LPDDR4X 3733MHz
- 512GB SSD
- Razer Core X Chroma
- Gigabyte RTX 2060 Super Gaming OC (White)
- 1080p, 60Hz Insignia Monitor via HDMI (to be upgraded)
1) Laptop Setup
I took things slow, testing the laptop for any issues before blaming them on the eGPU (this guide is very helpful), and running some benchmarks for baseline performance. I also used ThrottleStop to undervolt the CPU (although -30 mv was my stable limit).
2) eGPU Setup
Hardware installation is simple - the Razer Core X Chroma is very well designed, and an instruction manual walks you through installing the GPU if it's your first time.
3) Connection Setup
Plug the eGPU to power, turn it on, and plug it into the laptop via Thunderbolt 3. Razer Synapse should start installing automatically, and Thunderbolt Control Center should recognize the eGPU.
Drivers for the GPU may also install automatically, but these are not good enough - please make sure you get the latest drivers for your GPU. The NVIDIA installer I used (driver version 445.87) even included a helpful option to uninstall any pre-existing drivers.
4) Peripheral Setup
First I plugged in my monitor to the eGPU, all good. Then I plugged in my speakers via the monitor's Audio Out, all good. Then I plugged in mouse, keyboard & mic to the Chroma's USB ports, drivers installed automatically, all good. Hotplugging also works fine with all of these peripherals.
5) eGPU Troubleshooting
- Error 12
- I received this the first time I restarted my laptop while connected to eGPU, because I was foolish enough not to install the latest drivers. Once I did that (and uninstalled old drivers), I no longer received Error 12
- GPU not always recognized after hotplug
- I highly recommend using NVIDIA's controls in the system tray to "Disconnect the GPU" before unplugging. When you plug back in, reconnect it with the same NVIDIA controls (or enable the driver in Device Manager -> Display Adapters). Doing this one extra step has given me 100% consistent reliability for hotplugging.
- Intermittent Crashes
- go to NVIDIA Control Panel -> Manage 3D Settings -> Global Settings. Set the Preferred Graphics Processor to be your eGPU, and Power Management Mode to Prefer Maximum Performance. I have not received a crash since.
- USB Peripherals won't connect after restart
- UNSOLVED. If I restart the laptop while plugged to the eGPU, the GPU will reconnect but the USB peripherals won't. I can actually hear the sound of them trying & failing to connect repeatedly. Unplugging & replugging fixes the issue. Razer Synapse does not show the Core X Chroma as connected, which I assume to be the issue here.
6) Laptop Troubleshooting
- Touchpad lag/delay after using keyboard
- follow step 2 in this guide to fix the issue
- Adaptive brightness won't turn off/intermittent black screen
- I used to have an issue where on lowest brightness, adaptive brightness would sometimes lower it more, making the screen go black. Try turning off adaptive settings in Lenovo Vantage, Intel Graphics Command Center, and Windows Battery Settings
- Fan Noise/CPU Temperature
- Overall, I'm happy with my model. I've heard the fans may be a problem on the 4K version of this laptop, so maybe avoid that. Undervolting can help reduce temps a little, and Fn+Q is a shortcut for switching modes between Performance, Battery Saver, and Intelligent Cooling (which is default but worse than Performance imo)
Based on comparisons, this build benchmarks just below RTX 2070 and RTX 2060 Super scores, but above the 1070. This is even better than I hoped, and the only caveat is that I would personally expect diminishing returns from putting better GPUs into this build, since alot of the games I play will push this CPU to its limit before the 2060 Super is maxed out.
@kevin_maestre, @kay_brock, @topher, @phila-delphia, @itsage, @nando4 thank you all very much for your builds/comments, they're the reason I could make this work! I'd love to hear your feedback, especially if you've run into any of the issues in 5 and 6, and how you handle them.
For anyone else, please let me know if you have any questions! I highly recommend this build as a legitimately practical option, and at a total price of $2800 CAD ($2000 USD), I found it to be price competitive with most other gaming + portable options, despite providing more benefits (to me, at least).