2020 15" HP Spectre X360 [11th,4C,G] + RTX 2080 Ti @ 32Gbps-TB4 (AORUS Gaming Box) + Win10 2004 // first Thunderbolt 4 build
Announced in July 2020, Thunderbolt 4 laptops with Tiger Lake CPU are becoming available. The two configurations I've been looking for are i7-1165G7 and i7-1185G7 with iGPU only. Best Buy started selling the HP Spectre X360 [15-eb1043dx] earlier this week and I got one yesterday. Thanks to the 15-in footprint and no dGPU, the cooling system is working surprisingly well. The CPU is set at 28W and can run consistently at 3.3GHz and temps hovering around low 70s Celsius. I let AIDA64 System Stability test run for over an hour and the laptop was not even warm to the touch. As seen in the photo below, the warmest spot in the middle top half of the keyboard was mid 30s Celsius. Noise was not bad either at low 50s dB.
2020 HP Spectre X360 15 – i7-1165G7/Iris Xe Graphics iGPU/16GB RAM/512GB SSD
It was plug and play to get the Nvidia eGPU going in Windows 10 2004. I upgraded GeForce drivers to the latest version. Next thing I checked was Intel Thunderbolt Control Center. We may need to wait a bit longer for newer versions to recognize Thunderbolt 4 controllers because version 1.41.987.0 still shows Thunderbolt 3.
Thunderbolt 4 is not necessarily faster than Thunderbolt 3. As with most things we've learned about this technology, every component of an eGPU setup can make a difference. You'd want the best host laptop possible in order to extract the most performance out of the external graphics card. The go-to configuration is direct Thunderbolt connection to the CPU. Ice Lake and now Tiger Lake provide that ideal connection. With the exception of Alienware and Apple 15-in/16-in MacBook Pro, most H-CPU laptops route their Thunderbolt connection through the PCH and the manufacturers don't care how it performs in eGPU mode.
CPU TDP and its cooling system greatly effect eGPU performance. I'm a firm believer in iGPU-only ultrabook. There's only one main component to cool and it keeps things simple regarding graphics switching.
I ran synthetic benchmarks in Unigine and 3DMark. First round was through loopback mode to the internal 4K display. External monitor mode was through a Samsung 4K TV.
|i7-1165G7 + RTX 2080 Ti||INT FHD||EXT FHD||INT QHD||EXT QHD||INT UHD||EXT UHD|
|Valley (Extreme HD)||120.6 FPS||130.9 FPS||80.8 FPS||85.6 FPS||39.2 FPS||39.9 FPS|
|Heaven (Extreme)||112.2 FPS||124.3 FPS||76.7 FPS||83.1 FPS||39.0 FPS||39.1 FPS|
|Superposition (Medium)||132.3 FPS||137.2 FPS||91.5 FPS||96.3 FPS||49.1 FPS||49.9 FPS|
|Fire Strike Extreme||--||--||9,493||10,709||--||--|
|Fire Strike Ultra||--||--||--||--||5,456||5,751|
|Time Spy Extreme||--||--||--||--||4,864||4,953|
This HP Spectre X360 [15-eb1043dx] is a very good example of what a perfect eGPU host in late 2020 should be. At $1,599 I wish it came with the i7-1185G7 processor instead. I will be testing out another Tiger Lake laptop with the higher spec CPU.
Here's a 2 minute video I took tonight playing Witcher III [4K @ Ultra settings]. Gameplay was very smooth without any issues. Pardon the dog toy squeaking noises; my dog was laying nearby in the kotatsu. The media console has a Philips Hue light strip behind it. I had Hue Sync running to change lighting according to video and audio.
@itsage nice TB4 build! Will you be benchmarking apps/games as well? Would love to see internal vs. external performance on TB4 in real-world scenarios and not just synthetics.
"Desultory reading is delightful, but to be beneficial, our reading must be carefully directed." — Seneca
Author: kryptonite ✧ purge-wrangler ✧ tbt-flash ✧ purge-nvda ✧ set-eGPU
Insights Into macOS Video Editing Performance
Launching Apps on Specific (e)GPUs on macOS
Definitive macOS Thunderbolt eGFX Compatibility Registry
2014 15-inch MacBook Pro 750M
2018 15-inch MacBook Pro
@itsage, Thanks for another awesome build! I was already a fan of the 2019 Spectre. The 2020 refresh with its higher gen 11 clocks, lower operating temps & TB4 makes it seem even better!
If you have time, would you mind posting some real-word game results? RTX vs non-RTX?
I wonder if TB4 is capable of a performance uplift over TB3? Both have the same 40Gbps limit but perhaps host <-> device connection could be increased with a TB4-specific eGPU? Have you heard of any upcoming TB4 eGPUs?
@mac_editor, second this, even if it's itsage's vintage games 😉
Interesting to see such a small performance penalty, especially at higher res, not surprised but feel these new CPU's have taken a few % off the difference.
2017 13" MacBook Pro Touch Bar
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Over the weekend I used the laptop completely off the eGPU/charger. I did not hear the cooling fans once. Other than the bulky 2-in-1 hinge and thick touch-screen housing, the HP Spectre X360 [15-eb1043dx] is as good as it gets for ultrabook + eGPU users.
Your timespy scores are a lot better than mine which pretty surprising since my cpu beats yours by ~400 in cinabench with 2 more cores. Thunderbolt 4 isn't that much different from thunderbolt 3 right? I thought Hp's thunderbolt 3 was already the full version.
@mangowuzhere, There are many different factors that effect Thunderbolt 3 performance. H-CPU laptops are well known to have unoptimized Thunderbolt 3 connection. @nando4 explained it best in his comparison between M.2 vs TB3 [build link].
@itsage, so is the lack of direct thunderbolt integration into the H chips the problem or something else? I've directly cooled my PCH chip with a thin thermal pad+a decent size heat spreader so that shouldn't be an issue.
Aside from that hows the raw x1 performance? I was thinking about picking an 11th gen laptop for my gf since her surface book is dying of heat but she wants something that can game a little