2018 13" HP Spectre 13 x360 + [email protected] (AORUS Gaming Box) Win10 [Khasim]
HP Spectre x360 13'' with i7 8550U Kaby Lake Refresh, 16 GB RAM (DDR3), 512 GB SSD, Windows 10 Home 64bit
GIGABYTE AORUS Gaming Box GTX 1080
Other hardware used:
- one USB-C hub with integrated Ethernet to download games faster than over wifi (and to have more USBs for peripherals)
- external USB 3.0 harddisk (2 TB) for bigger games <-- this is actually the weakest link of the system
- (OPTIONAL) bluetooth mouse and/or PS4 dualshock controller
Works flawlessly out of the box. Just connect a card to power outlet, connect notebook with a card via Thunderbolt 3 cable (supplied with card) and done. A card will be found, notebook is powered from Thunderbolt and games run perfectly.
I don't use USBs on the card as I've read everywhere they don't work really well but I have yet to try myself.
I actually created 4 different setups at home:
1) For casual playing I just put notebook and Gaming Box on the table. I connect a mouse or a controller and I can immediately play.
2) TV setup: I have a spot near a 4K TV place. I just use the same setup as above, only put one HDMI from TV to a Gaming Box. I set things in the power management of the notebook that it will do nothing on clothing the lid once connected to a power source and it works well this way (I can close the notebook while playing). There is one free normal USB on the notebook so I usually put a PS4 controller on a long USB cable into it. If you connect the controller this way and do not "start it" by pressing Playstation button, it will work on a computer and WILL NOT unpair from your PS4 or interfere with it in any way.
3) VR Setup: in a different room I have an HTC VIVE Pro on a small table with all cables connected. There is also another USB-C hub (VIVE is connected to it). Only thing I need to do is place notebook and Gaming Box on the table, plug harddisk into the hub, one Display Port from VIVE into Gaming Box and Gaming Box to power outlet (I have a special cable for it there). VR works flawlessly.
4) Table Setup: I have a normal computer (some i5 with GeForce 750Ti) with two monitors on a table. What I did was to put secondary HDMI cables to monitors and created a space under the table (actually it sits on my computer) with these cables attached and USB hub mentioned above. When I want "intense PC play", I place a notebook and card there, put HDMIs into the card (needed to buy one Display port to HDMI reduction since card doesn't have two HDMIs), unplug keyboard and mouse from a computer and put it to the hub. It works great and takes two minutes to set up. I event do not need to turn off my computer, I just switch the signal on monitors to a different source. I plan to buy a USB "switch" so mouse and keyboard can be plugged into the hub and PC at the same time.
Downsides and problems I encountered:
- External harddrive: notebook has 512 GB SSD only (ant it's the biggest available) and games are huge nowadays so I need to carry one external harddrive. There is not enough ports on notebook, so hub is almost a must. I could use really big USB stick but it gets pricey and it will steal one port. SD card may be a solution (maybe), I avoided buying Yoga for not having SD card slot.
- Once the card is connected there is an error message from HP utility that I use an unauthorized power source. This message doesn't take focus or anything so it's easy to just ignore. I've read somewhere that it can be turned off (in BIOS?) but I haven't found it yet.
- One day it didn't boot up. When I plugged the Thundebolt from card to notebook, nothing happened. It was really hot outside (over 40 degrees C) and I have no air conditioning at home so I assume it was the problem. I cooled the notebook by using "cooling pad" I had from ancient times and it worked fine afterwards.
- Sometimes after disconnecting the card I got a Windows error message about USB having not enough power. It actually doesn't break anything and everything works normally, there is just this error message. I assume it somehow cannot dealt with losing power from the Gaming Box with harddrive still being attached (but HDD still works and there is no error message when I connect just a harddrive).
- Notebook gets hot easily, but this particular ultrabook does it often, even while browsing internet or using MS Word...
- In "PC Setup" I have yet to solve the sound: I often use USB headphones and this works great, I just put a dongle into a free USB port on the notebook. If I want to use speakers, I need to unplug them from a computer and put them into the headphone jack on notebook which is not very comfortable to do. I have an idea about buying external sound card to USB and have it in the same hub I plug the harddrive in, but I guess it will interfere with USB headphones (as they also are actually external sound card).
* HTC Vive Pro VR works flawlessly. I played some intensive shooters and Beat Saber a lot. Notebook is hot, but the temperature is still the same even after 5+ hours in VR. I believe this setup (notebook and eGPU) is perfect solution for having a VR room somewhere in the house without a need to have a dedicated computer there.
* I played Assassins Creed Origin in TV setup in 4K on Ultra settings without a problem (although game crashed twice when I tried to run it, it stopped then however).
* I played Doom (2016) in "computer" setup in full HD (max for my monitor) on Ultra settings in stable 60 FPS.
* Kingdom Come Deliverance full HD "Very High" settings made 30 FPS. I believe the downside here is the "laptop processor" as KCD is quite processor heavy game. (Ultra settings are in the game with warning that it aims for future hardware. It didn't run well. It still looks awesome in Very High though.)
Pictures and benchmarks will follow soon.
How has this set up treating you? Is the heat issue still a big problem? Also, for your first home set up, how well does the internal display work with egpu? I'm leaning towards this machine due to the 120hz screen on some models.
@khasim How have you found its performance in VR? [edit: in context of Thunderbolt vs non-Thunderbolt. You said it seems to be good in general.] I used my Aorus Gaming Box with R9 Nano with HTC Vive non-pro and it seems to work without any nausea. That was at our local library and the laboratory at UWA. I would love to get a VR headset but their resale price second hand does not seem to be much lower than the retail price, and they still have the tunnel vision problem. I would pay a lot for something amazing like the StarVR One that I know is relatively future proof - but do not want to drop $900 on something that I do not really like. Don't get me wrong, it is amazing (because of the room-scale tracking) but I really long for more peripheral vision. I would get the Pimax 8K but the company has no known track record and there are no solid reviews from actual technology websites. I am concerned about lens distortion and the software support, not to mention they said the screen is not AMOLED, which is a complete joke.
Have you measured the bandwidth to the GPU? I noticed that all devices with DSL6540 controller (2015 Alpine Ridge) have a performance hit with passive cables (including the one that came with it), when directly attached to devices using the 2016 controllers. I could only get 1800MB/s and I always blamed my PCH. But when I got my 2M active cable, BAM full 2750MB/s every single time. This includes the Aorus Gaming Box, HP Thunderbolt Zdock and Sonnet 550 eGPU that my friend owns. They all have the DSL6540, they all suffer from the problem, and are all fixed by the active cable. Daisy chaining the eGPU from the dock with passive cable gives full performance as they are both using 2015 controllers (as long as the 2016 laptop to 2015 dock has the active cable). So if your laptop has the 2015 controller, you will not have any problem. You can find out in Thunderbolt software - it will say 1575 or 1577 for 2015, and 15bf or 15d2 or 15d9 for 2016.
Have you used Linux with it? Granted, the amdgpu.ko driver for AMD is trippy with Thunderbolt on Linux, but at least it works when the card is installed inside of the computer. I was using Linux on the lab computer with 2x Titan X and the Nvidia drivers are a joke on Linux. If you uninstall the Nvidia package, the screen stays blank on the next boot and you need to recover it. So it seems there are no in-tree kernel drivers that actually work. Out of tree drivers are a pain because they are fussy about which kernel versions they work with, and if you need to use the very latest kernel to get a new feature, they might not agree with each other.
Hope you are enjoying it!
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