2019 15" Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Extreme Gen 2 (GTX1650) [9th,6C,H] + RTX 3090 @ 32Gbps-TB3 (Mantiz Saturn Pro) + Win10 [SC]
Part 0: General Information
Before I begin. I'll be updating this post in multiple separate parts as the rig settles down and as I find time to post more info. It is a very new setup and will be changing for optimization and fixing issues. Yes this GPU is overpowered. It is incredible and it was the only GPU I could get my hands on.
I've been meaning to upgrade for a long time and finally took the plunge into Ultrawide and eGPU setups. I have followed eGPU.io for a long time and have been inspired. I bought the Thinkpad Extreme Gen 2 roughly 2 years ago with the intention of running an eGPU rig sometime in the future because it has 2 TB3 ports. I finally took the plunge as I decided to upgrade to an ultrawide. The laptop is perfect for eGPU usage with 2 TB3 ports built right in. I have one cable going to the eGPU and another to a Dell TB16 docking station.
As a disclaimer, this post is full of suggestions from my own personal experience. While I have had positive results, there is risk involved as we are running a custom solution in a niche area of computers. Do not replicate my steps unless you are confident and experienced. I am not liable for any sort of damage or negligence.
Part 1: Hardware System Specs and Pictures
With that out of the way, to start, I am running on a 2019 Lenovo Thinkpad X1 Extreme Gen 2 - Intel Core i7-9750H, 32 GB RAM, built-in NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1650 Max-Q 4 GB
Internal Monitor: 15" 1920 x 1080 Generic Display
External Monitor: Samsung LC49HG9 49" Ultrawide Monitor 3440x1080
Part 2: eGPU Hardware
eGPU Cable: High End 6.6 FT Intel Certified TB3 Cable
Part 3: Installation Recommendations
Disable the ASmedia USb Control Hub
My eGPU did not work out of the box, it caused issues with my USB devices hooked up to the system. I could not use my mouse or keyboard for the first couple of days. Go to your device manager and disable the ASmedia USB controller in USB devices. It should pop up as soon as you plug in the eGPU.
Update Drivers via Lenovo Vantage and Nvidia
I would not recommend using windows update once you stabilize your build. I have crashes directly correlated with Windows updates and have had to backtrack more than once.
Disable Lenovo Power Scheme
The default thermal profile the Extreme 2 runs on by default is called Lenovo Intelligent Thermal Solution Service. Disable it in Task Manager Services. It is terrible. It is not made for performance, it is made to keep your laptop quiet.
Use Throttlestop for Undervolting
Follow the throttle stop guide here and undervolt your laptop. It will stop thermal throttling and keep your laptop cool
Repaste your CPU
My ThinkPad was running hot for a couple of weeks and I couldn't figure out why. This is what my thermal paste looked like when I went to repaste. Needless to say, it was in terrible condition and needed a repaste. I used Thermal Grizzly Kryonaut and I am now running at a cool 50 C compared to 75 C with the old worn out paste
Part 4: Benchmarks
Great results. Unfortunately the RTX 3090 does appear to be losing a sizeable amount of performance from being in an eGPU. Not a deal-breaker since any GPU would take a hit.
Average RTX 3090 bench hits around 229% however mine hits around 200% at the most optimal conditions. Refer to my note about TB3 latency below
Part 5: Comments on Software Issues and Current Workarounds
A Note of Bandwidth and TB3
While GPUs in eGPU setups do lose performance, it is not due to bandwidth limitations. The typical GPU or even a high-end RTX 3090 does not use more than half of the bandwidth we are provided with TB3 protocol at 32 Gb/s at max performance. Therefore, for eGPU setups since bandwidth is not the issue, you should be opting for the most powerful GPU you can get your hands on as you'll be hit with a roughly 10%-20% performance loss no matter what. The performance loss comes from latency from a combination of the TB3 controller, cables, and the CPU performance we have in our laptops.
Part 6: Crypto Mining
For the record. eGPUs run mining just as well as a mining rig or a dedicated PC, mining is not really all that intensive of a task. It is just complex computations that are not bandwidth or latency dependent. When I first bought this GPU I didn't expect to mine with it, but it was such a nice eye-opener into mining. I am not a hardcore miner. So take my info with a grain of salt.
This card has the highest hash rate of its class in Spring 2021 and I would be wasting if I didn't mine in my spare time. Currently using NiceMiner because it is very convenient with MSI Afterburner tweaking for optimal hash rate. NiceMiner is made to be simple to use, it automatically benchmarks your hardware and mines for BTC. I am likely to switch to a different miner in the future, but for now, it is very convenient to get started.
Although it is uncommon, it is very possible to mine on an eGPU rig. The TB3 cable is not really a bandwidth issue. The calculations for mining are GPU intensive, however, they are not bandwidth-intensive. There is minimal performance loss here when running through a proper TB3 cable. I have been able to run with the following specs overnight and during the day when I am not out using the laptop. It runs flawlessly with a hash rate of about 120 MH/s same as a desktop class set up
Spotted, The 3090 has so plenty of fast space for prediction.
Meanwhile I have my 12GB GDDR6 Radeon GPU on post so stay tuned.