- 2020 Acer Swift 3 SF314-57G-71GL
- Intel Core i7-1065G7 (1.3-3.9GHz)
- Intel Iris Pro G7 iGPU / Nvidia GeForce MX250 (2GiB GDDR5) dGPU
- 16GB DDR4-3733MHz
- 14" FHD (1920x1080) 16:9 IPS display / AOC Q2577PWQ 25" qHD IPS monitor
- 1TB M.2 NVMe Kingston A2000 SSD
- Windows 10 Pro (Build 2004)
- Thunderbolt 3 (PCIe x4, 32Gbps)
P.S.: the SSD drive is not stock. The stock SSD was a Kingston RBU-SNS8154P3/512GJ1
Installation steps Hardware
- Unbox Sapphire GearBox and GTX 1660S
- Unscrew both top screws from the back of the GearBox case and both side screws at the bottom of the case with the supplied hex tool
- Tilt the top metal lid to open the case
- Remove both screws and covers from the port outlet at the back of the case
- Carefully slide in the GTX 1660 S GPU to the PCIe jack and fix the GPU at the outlet with the screws from step 3.
- Plug in the Molex 8 pin power connector
- Close the top metal lid and insert the 4 hex screws from step 2.
- Connect HDMI of the GPU outlet of the GearBox to external monitor, USB hub to one of the 2 USB 3 ports of the GearBox, all periphery to the USB hub, LAN to your router and the supplied Thunderbolt 3 cable to the Acer Swift 3
- Plug in the IEC connector to the GearBox and connect it with the mains, start the Acer Swift 3 and press the button at the front of the GearBox to start it
Installation steps Windows 10
- After Swift 3 is booted there should be an unknown PCI device shown in your device manager
- Download the latest driver for the GTX 1660 S GPU: https://www.nvidia.com/Download/driverResults.aspx/162105/en-us
- Install the driver
- GTX 1660 S should be shown in the device manager and at the task manager (performance test)
- If there are lags or other issues try a restart of the notebook
- Test the eGPU
- GTA5 @ 60fps, all settings high, NaturalVison remastered, 1440p
Benchmarks (External Monitor)
(The SSD score is low because the drive is encrypted. Without the encryption the speed should be 3-5 times higher. But in day to day usage the SSD is never busy.)
Acer Swift 3 SF314-57G-71GL
Because of the reasonable price, the small dimensions, the good-looking design and the powerful hardware I would recommend this notebook.
- Good CPU
- Matte IPS display with FHD (adequate for 14")
- Small dimensions and lightweight (1150g only)
- Screen big enough for most tasks, but small enough to be portable
- Good illuminated keyboard
- Fingerprint scanner
- Thunderbolt 3 connector with PCIe x4 output (most important here)
- Attractive design
- dGPU (MX250) is good enough for portable gaming and working
- Price about 900€
- Stock 500GB SSD is small (had to upgrade to 1TB SSD)
- Few USB ports
- Right USB port is only USB 2.0
- No SD card reader
- Battery duration is medium
- Audio jack has a poor sound quality, but a USB-C to audio jack adapter (32 bit ADC) solved this issue, which is acceptable to me
Sapphire Gear Box
Because of the good-looking design, the reasonable price and the many peripherals I would recommend this external GPU enclosure.
- Attractive design
- Metal case
- Many peripherals (2x USB3 and LAN; LAN had its problems, see secton "issues")
- Integrated power supply (500W, 300W max. for GPU)
- Worked immediately
- Notebook can be charged via Thunderbolt (up to 60W), which works fine
- Price about 300€
- Supplied Thunderbolt 3 cable is way too short (about 50cm, ordered a 1.2m cable)
- Power supply sometimes emits hissing sound under different GPU loads (like scrolling)
- Fan loudness is average ([email protected], about as loud as an average desktop PC under load; solved this issue by installing new PSU fans; see section "modifications")
MSI GeForce GTX 1660 Super Ventus XS
Because of reasonable price and the sufficient power, I would recommend this graphics card.
- Silent fans
- Reasonable Price (about 240€)
- Very powerful (compared to the dGPU)
- Good compatibility
- None so far
- After hot plugging the eGPU, Windows is lagging (micro stutters while scrolling, etc.)
- USB peripheral connected directly to the eGPU (like mouse and keyboard) are sometimes hanging or even not reacting (re-plugging solves the problem)
- Display also sometimes gets black for a few seconds (about every hour)
- The lagging problem and black screen don't appear after a fresh boot (GearBox switched on before booting the notebook). The lagging issue when hot plugging or after going to sleep mode is also partially fixed (maybe because of fix 2., 3. or 4.?). Sometimes (particularly after standby) the system is lagging. Unplugging Thunderbolt, waiting some time and replugging often solves this issue. In some rare cases I have to restart my notebook. This behavior is acceptable for me.
- The disconnecting problem could be solved by doing the following: open device manager -> double click on a device listed in "USB-Controller" -> if there is a "Power Management" tab select it -> uncheck "Allow the computer to turn off this device to save power" -> do this for all devices in this category. Do the same for the devices in the category "Human Interface Devices" for all "USB input devices". Do the same for the Thunderbolt driver.
- I was able to solve the problem for the hanging keyboard and mouse. Do the following: https://egpu.io/forums/thunderbolt-enclosures/aorus-gaming-box-gtx-1070-usb-not-working-properly/#post-20806 .
If there is no such options at the power settings, open registry and go to HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Control\Power\PowerSettings\2a737441-1930-4402-8d77-b2bebba308a3\48e6b7a6-50f5-4782-a5d4-53bb8f07e226 and add a DWORD called Attributes with the value 2. This should bring back at least this setting.
- Mouse and Keyboard were still lagging and hanging sometimes (even after a fresh boot). I think I could solve this also. I just unplugged the Ethernet cable and now I am using WIFI from my notebook instead. It seems that the TB3 controller (or the USB controller) of the GearBox was overchallanged when it also had to handle ethernet. (got the idea from here: https://www.reddit.com/r/eGPU/comments/8mkhuk/mouse_lag_problem_with_aorus_1070_gaming_box_and/ ) This was one of the main fixes and resolved many issues! So don't use the ethernet port (at least in my case it was a bad idea). The lagging also occurs when I e.g. connect a USB drive to the eGPU USB ports while writing with a high data rate to it. So the suspicion that the TB3 connection is at its limit could be right!
Conclusion for this setup
The Acer Swift 3-SF314-57G in combination with the Sapphire Gearbox and the MSI GeForce GTX 1660 Super Ventus XS is the ideal mix of portable and good desktop/gaming power.
The notebook itself is due to its light weight and small dimensions very portable but powerful enough to handle most of working and daily tasks.
After connecting the notebook to the eGPU you get a powerful setup for gaming or challenging CAD tasks.
Because of the fact that you only have to connect the Thunderbolt 3 cable to the notebook to charge it and connect it to peripherals like mouse and keyboard it has the easiness of a docking station - a very powerful docking station!
After fixing the problems described above I am very satisfied with this setup and probably will stay satisfied for several years.
Because I am very sensitive regarding noise I decided to swap the PSU fans. The stock fans were a little bit loud and had a high pitching sound. I bought 2 Noctua NF-A4x20 FLX 40x20mm fans.
Please note: this modification is only for experienced people who know what they are doing, because there is a risk of getting an electric shock or with wrong or unpropper assembly there is a risk of fire!
First I removed the main connection and waited until the remaining power was gone. Then I opened the GearBox case, removed the 3 screws holding the PSU (two at the back of the case and one inside the case at the PSU holder) and unplugged all PSU cables. After removing the 4 PSU screws I opened the PSU case. Here you can see what the PSU looks inside:
It is built quite robust and reliable. To remove the stock fans, I had to remove all 4 screws of each fan. The right fan in the picture was not easy to remove. I either had to remove the whole PCB or bend the metal lug on top of the fan a little bit. I decided to do the second option:
After removing both fans I crimped a JST XH 2 pin plug on each 3-pin to 2-wire adapter (which are provided with the fans) -> consider polarity!
After putting the new fans in place (consider the blowing direction of the fan so that it is as it was before!). Because of that fact that the Noctua fan are using bigger screws I had to bend up the fan guards a little bit:
Because of the fact, that the cables of the Noctua fans are facing to the top, I had to press the fan wires through the lug on top of the fans so that the lid of the PSU can be closed without issues:
After assembling them I installed the fan wires with zipties and watched out that the wires don't touch hot components like the choke or the heatsink. The result was:
After carefully closing the case of the PSU and putting all parts back in place, everything worked fine and the fans were spinning freely.
Now the PSU and therefore the eGPU is much quieter and more comfortable regarding noise. You can only hear the GPU fans which are (depending on the GPU) quite silent. So, I am glad to put in that effort to swap the PSU fans with high quality ones (both together cost around 30€). What I am not sure about is, if the new Noctua fans provide enough airflow for cooling the PSU under heavy load... So do that at your own risk!
Beside some software issues (which are mostly solved now) the setup was surprisingly uncomplicated.
I did not explicitly test thermal or power throttling or stress testing the setup, but with normal use or playing GTA i had no issues. If you would like to and tell me how to, I can test if there are thermal or power issues...
I dont know if that is the best solution, but a easy test is running cinebench r20 ( https://www.maxon.net/en-us/support/downloads/ ) to stress the CPU.
At the same time, run something to check your CPU Wattage / Speed. A lightweight tool you can use is the Intel Power gadget ( https://software.intel.com/content/www/us/en/develop/articles/intel-power-gadget.html ).
You can either restart the Cinebench benchmark everytime it is done or build a script that does that for you with the information here: ( http://forum.notebookreview.com/threads/cinebench-r15-r15-extreme-r20-command-line-syntax-bat-loop-detailed-output.815101/ ). You have to adapt it a bit to work with Cinebench R20. I can paste my script here in a few hours.
What you would like to see is a stable package power (in the intel power gadget) of between 25W to 30W. When I ran Cinebench via script for about 30 minutes i got the following scores (Also with a 1065g7 in my Lenovo S740) :
1870 1840 1835 1811 1830 1828 1825 1824 1825 1832 1828 1829 1830
Here is the script, you just have to adjust the filepaths:
for /l %%x in (1, 1, 13) do (
"C:\Users\username\Downloads\CinebenchR20\Cinebench.exe" -g_CinebenchCpuXTest=true >>"C:\Users\username\Desktop\CB20_Results.txt"
# Following options are available:
# Primary commands
# g_CinebenchCpuXTest=true --> runs only the multi core test
# g_CinebenchCpu1Test=true --> runs only the single core test
# g_CinebenchAllTests=true --> runs all tests sequentially
# Secondary Commands (currently unknown how to implement them correctly)
# g_CinebenchMinimumTestDuration=100 --> sets a minimum test duration in secons (in this example 100 seconds)
# g_acceptDisclaimer=true --> accepts the EULA
Open the windows editor or another notepad program, paste this in and save it as "cinebench_loop.bat". This should run Cinebench 13 Times, then you can check the results wherever the second path leads to. The result can be found there if you search for "Avg/Deviation:"
Note that this will completely stress your CPU so you wont be able to do much with the notebook in that time (hopefully around 30 minutes).
Also: Your CPU might be configured to only use 15W when under load (in order to avoid too much heat). As far as I am aware this can be changed with throttlestop (and changes in the bios) but I dont know much about that.
@gerd_fuafsljfe, thanks for the script, I will test that.
And thanks for the warning that my computer is unusable while testing 🙂 So I will do it probably tomorrow.
Yes, UserBenchMark also mentioned that it is throttled. I don't know how to unthrottle it, maybe there is a setting in Windows...
I'm interested in throttling because my laptop (Zenbook 3 Deluxe with eighth gen i7-8550u) is notorious for it. I'm still waiting for the ADT-Link M.2 adapter that I ordered from AliExpress and delivery is taking so long. I already have the graphics adapter and created a case (fruit box) for it. 🙂
@gerd_fuafsljfe, I did a test run. Your script worked fine!
The results are:
So what does that mean now? Are these good values for my setup?
Since that test is entirely dependent on the CPU and you have the same CPU as me you should aim for similar values. So to be honest your values seem quite abysmal.
My setup started at 1870 and went down to 1830, while your setup started at 1375 and went down heavily to 1171. So yours is a lot worse both in total speed and the loss in speed.
As a small excursion: The Speed of your CPU depends directly on how much power you put in. Unfortunately, the more power you put in the more heat is generated. Most 1065g7 laptops are therefore locked to only use 15W by the manufacturer. That limit is called the TDP (Thermal Design Power).
I am only aware of two laptops that can handle more. Those are the Razer Blade Stealth and the Lenovo S740.
The limit at 15W is implemented for two reasons:
- Usability: If you put more power in the laptop gets hotter and louder, so users that dont necessarily need the max power might be happier with that limit in place
- The laptop just cant handle more heat. The CPU is locked at 98° and when it gets to hot it will slow down on its own.
Seeing as the scores go down already I do not think the Manufacturer limit at 15W is the issue here. It rather seems like the Acer cannot handle the heat that the 1065g7 generates under load with 15W. That is somewhat expected as the Acer Swift is primarily geared towards being as light as possible so it is not designed to handle as much heat as possible.
So I think the first order of business should be to decrease the heat. Your best bet there is underclocking via undervolting: https://www.ultrabookreview.com/31385-the-throttlestop-guide/
Read that guide carefully and then try to undervolt as far as possible until the Cinebench scores stay above 1300 at least.
But I think whatever you do you will not get you performance anywhere near the Razer Blade Stealth or Lenovo S740. The good news is that the CPU might still not be the bottleneck in most games. Just try out whatever games or other use cases you want to and check if your CPU is bottlenecking you.
If you have problems with checking that feel free to ask. For games MSI Afterburner and RivaTuner are best to check whether your CPU or GPU is bottlenecking you.
Edit: I should have asked first if you did anything while the tests were running. Anything that you do or that is running in the background during tests will decrease your test score, so please redo the tests if you had anything stressing the system in the background