2012 14" Lenovo T430s + [email protected] (AKiTiO Thunder2) + Win7/64 [Yukikaze]^  

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Yukikaze
(@yukikaze)
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December 2, 2016 6:06 am  

I managed to win an ebay auction for a battery-less and SSD-less T430s for 136$ (it did come with 8GB of RAM). I used the SSD from my recently deceased NUC and batteries aren't expensive on ebay, so all and all I have a pretty capable laptop of my own. My main laptop belongs to my workplace, and I don't own a desktop, so it doesn't hurt to have my own laptop in the first place.

IMPORTANT T430s THUNDERBOLT NOTE: If you are here thinking of replicating this setup, keep in mind that not all T430s laptops have a Thunderbolt chip. The only T430s laptops that have Thunderbolt are the ones with an i7 CPU and no discrete nVidia GPU. That is, they only have the Intel HD4000 in the CPU itself. All other T430s laptops (such as the i5 ones, or the i7 ones with an nVidia NVS chip) only have a regular DisplayPort jack. If you are buying on ebay, make sure you see the lightning bolt icon next to the connector on the item photographs. While we are at it, don't confuse the T430 and the T430s, either. They are different machines (not even sharing a battery type), with the T430s being the slimmer version of the T430 and no T430 coming equipped with a Thunderbolt chip.

Setup Overview:

Laptop: Lenovo T430s (2355HKU).

BIOS Version: G7ET94WW (2.54)

CPU: Core i7-3520M (dual-core, 2.9Ghz).

Memory: 2x4GB DDR3 1600Mhz.

SSD: myDigitalSSD BP4e 120Gb mSATA SSD.

Operating System: Windows 7 Pro 64-bit w/SP1.

Thunderbolt Enclosure: AKiTio Thunder2.

Thunderbolt Cable: 1m cable (this is the cable that came with the Thunder2).

Power supply: Dell DA-2 220W with a barrel plug connector (this is the power supply that my old BPlus PE4C came with, it has a barrel plug instead of the 8-pin layout the regular DA-2 has).

eGPU: Gigabyte Low-Profile GTX750Ti (no PCIe 6-pin power required).

External Monitor: Sony 32" TV (1360x768), connected via HDMI.

Installation Instructions:

Lenovo has a solid record for supporting eGPU via nearly every possible interface, so I wasn't expecting trouble. This was really easy.

1) Make sure the Thunderbolt chip is enabled in the BIOS.

2) With the laptop powered off, connect the Thunder2's Thunderbolt cable to the laptop.

3) Power up the machine.

4) Boot to windows.

5) Install drivers.

6) Reboot.

That's it. There are no resource issues, no Code 12s, no Code 43s, no DSDT overrides or anything else. Both the HD4000 and the GTX750Ti are working in my case, with the HD4000 feeding the laptop display, and the GTX750Ti feeding the TV.

Now for some benchmarks, screenshots and photos:

3DMark11 Result: P4236 (Graphics: 4234)

Compare to a relatively similar desktop CPU: The i3-3220 with similar system specifications: P4698 (Graphics: 5481)

In 3DMark11 the laptop provides 77% of the graphics performance of the desktop equivalent via Thunderbolt1.

3DMark Firestrike 1.1 Result: 3125 (Graphics: 3728)

Compare to a relatively similar desktop CPU: The i3-3220 with similar system specifications: 3828 (Graphics: 4388)

In 3DMark Firestrike 1.1, the laptop achieves 85% of the desktop performance via Thunderbolt1.

My eGPU Zoo - Link to my Implementations.
Want to output [email protected] out of an old system on the cheap? Read here.
"Always listen to experts. They'll tell you what can't be done, and why. Then do it."- Robert A. Heinlein, "Time Enough for Love."


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krazyazy
(@krazyazy)
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December 2, 2016 6:17 pm  

I am very curious about this as I attempted this a couple of years ago and kinda failed. Forgive me for linking TI, but that's where I posted my result.

Krazyazy - T430s Expresscard vs Thunderbolt

When I failed with that, I moved on and made a desktop...but I'm back; with a new laptop and the Akitio. I'll make a thread for that this weekend.

Soon I will add my system & eGPU details or a build link to this my signature to give context to my posts


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HWfreak
(@dooku655)
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December 2, 2016 6:45 pm  

How about CPU performance? Is i7-3520m comparable with i7-3612QM or others similar 4 core/8 threads Ivy Bridge CPU? 

Setup is really nice 🙂

Soon I will add my system & eGPU details or a build link to this my signature to give context to my posts


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nando4
(@nando4)
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December 2, 2016 6:58 pm  
Posted by: HWfreak

 

How about CPU performance? Is i7-3520m comparable with i7-3612QM or others similar 4 core/8 threads Ivy Bridge CPU? 

Setup is really nice 🙂

   

i7-3612QM benches 50% faster than a i7-3520M: http://www.cpubenchmark.net/compare.php?cmp%5B%5D=890&cmp%5B%5D=892

These no replacement for (core) displacement [in the same gen].  3rd gen quad cores a favorite of mine. Run cool and fast, getting better TDP than 4th gen i-cores.

eGPU Setup 1.35    •    eGPU Port Bandwidth Reference Table    •    Several builds
2015 15" Dell Precision 7510 M1000M + macOS 10.14 & Win10


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Yukikaze
(@yukikaze)
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December 2, 2016 8:19 pm  
Posted by: krazyazy

 

I am very curious about this as I attempted this a couple of years ago and kinda failed. Forgive me for linking TI, but that's where I posted my result.

Krazyazy - T430s Expresscard vs Thunderbolt

When I failed with that, I moved on and made a desktop...but I'm back; with a new laptop and the Akitio. I'll make a thread for that this weekend.

   

This is interesting. I'll run some benchmarks and see how my results line up. It was easy to get it to work (trivial, even, as it is as PnP as it gets, pretty much). It doesn't look like you failed, though, it just looks like you did not get a performance increase over Expresscard, or am I misreading something?

My eGPU Zoo - Link to my Implementations.
Want to output [email protected] out of an old system on the cheap? Read here.
"Always listen to experts. They'll tell you what can't be done, and why. Then do it."- Robert A. Heinlein, "Time Enough for Love."


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Yukikaze
(@yukikaze)
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December 2, 2016 8:24 pm  
Posted by: HWfreak

 

How about CPU performance? Is i7-3520m comparable with i7-3612QM or others similar 4 core/8 threads Ivy Bridge CPU? 

Setup is really nice 🙂

   

The 3520M will be better in single-threaded tasks, it will be worse in highly-parallel ones. It's clock speed is significantly higher than the 3612QM, so that will help it "win" when the load is only 1 or 2 heavy threads. There is no substitute for more cores, though, and once you start going into highly parallelizeable tasks, executing 3+ threads with high loads, the quad-core will wipe the floor with the dual-core.

My eGPU Zoo - Link to my Implementations.
Want to output [email protected] out of an old system on the cheap? Read here.
"Always listen to experts. They'll tell you what can't be done, and why. Then do it."- Robert A. Heinlein, "Time Enough for Love."


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Yukikaze
(@yukikaze)
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December 3, 2016 7:18 am  

Updated with some benchmark results. The important part is the 3DMark11 and Firestrike results compared to a desktop i3-3220. The i3-3220 is clocked at 3.3Ghz and has no turbo boost, and has 3MB of L3 cache. The i7-3520M is clocked at 2.9Ghz, but spends most of its time boosted up to 3.4Ghz when it isn't heavily loaded. It had 4MB of L3 cache. Overall, the CPU performance of the two should be similar enough as to leave the graphical performance difference mostly up to the PCIe x16 vs Thunderbolt1 difference. For the comparison, I chose a GTX750Ti clocked at the same clocks as my card, as well as a system with a comparable RAM setup.

The end result: The Thunderbolt eGPU provides 77% of the desktop equivalent performance in 3DMark11 and 85% of the desktop equivalent performance in 3DMark Firestrike 1.1. This is with Thunderbolt1, so results with a Thunderbolt2 setup in a different laptop will be obviously better. I'll run the same benchmarks to compare a Thunderbolt2 setup on my ZBook and how it is effected by the PCIe bandwidth. Stay tuned.

My eGPU Zoo - Link to my Implementations.
Want to output [email protected] out of an old system on the cheap? Read here.
"Always listen to experts. They'll tell you what can't be done, and why. Then do it."- Robert A. Heinlein, "Time Enough for Love."


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Yukikaze
(@yukikaze)
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December 6, 2016 3:24 am  

I dug up my Expresscard PE4C v2.1 and gave it a shot with the T430s. It does work, and I seem to be getting the same result as krazyazy: The Expresscard graphics performance is better than the TB1 one. The one hypothesis I can bring up is that the nVidia compression might be kicking in here (even though I did not do anything special to enable it, so it has to have "simply worked"), which puts the Gen2 Expresscard close to the TB1 bandwidth, while lacking the overhead of the TB1 chip. With 4 benchmarks tests, it does look like Expresscard beats Thunderbolt1 in performance, at least in this specific configuration. We need more people to weigh in here with different configurations! For Science! 🙂

I might be looking to borrow an AMD card to see if this holds true there as well.

EDIT: I just noticed that I was running a pretty old driver for the eGPU in this benchmark. I just re-benched with the latest and got within 4 points of the original result. These results are unchanged by driver updates, at least in the case of the GTX750Ti.

3DMark11: P4772 (Graphics: 4844) - This is 83% of the desktop performance.

3DMark Firestrike 1.1: 3583 (Graphics: 4061) - This is 92% of the desktop performance.

My eGPU Zoo - Link to my Implementations.
Want to output [email protected] out of an old system on the cheap? Read here.
"Always listen to experts. They'll tell you what can't be done, and why. Then do it."- Robert A. Heinlein, "Time Enough for Love."


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krazyazy
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December 7, 2016 2:35 am  

Darn, I'm sorry to see that. I was hoping that maybe I messed something up with my setup.

Per @nando4 in the other thread, I did try forcing a x1 link via taping off the other PCIe lanes.

My theory is something with the Thunderbolt implementation in the T430s; too bad we dont have schematics.

Soon I will add my system & eGPU details or a build link to this my signature to give context to my posts


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Yukikaze
(@yukikaze)
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December 7, 2016 4:20 am  

Here's the thing: Benchmarks do not use a lot of PCIe bandwidth, while games typically utilize more. As a result, the overhead of the Thunderbolt is probably more acute for this specific case. In actual gaming (or in compute tasks with high I/O needs) the Thunderbolt should still be superior.

My eGPU Zoo - Link to my Implementations.
Want to output [email protected] out of an old system on the cheap? Read here.
"Always listen to experts. They'll tell you what can't be done, and why. Then do it."- Robert A. Heinlein, "Time Enough for Love."


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Yukikaze
(@yukikaze)
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December 15, 2016 5:50 pm  

A small information update: BIOS 2.66 (Sept 27th, 2016) for the T430s maintains eGPU capability via both TB1 and Expresscard. nVidia driver 376.33 is working without issues as well.

My eGPU Zoo - Link to my Implementations.
Want to output [email protected] out of an old system on the cheap? Read here.
"Always listen to experts. They'll tell you what can't be done, and why. Then do it."- Robert A. Heinlein, "Time Enough for Love."


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Yukikaze
(@yukikaze)
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December 24, 2016 2:07 am  

A small addendum: I started getting a Code 12 on the GTX750Ti once my laptop was placed in a dock. My theory is that it is caused by extra devices suddenly being connected to the laptop. In any case, disabling the Intel sound device (which I don't need anyway) resolves the issue and the eGPU has enough resources again.

My eGPU Zoo - Link to my Implementations.
Want to output [email protected] out of an old system on the cheap? Read here.
"Always listen to experts. They'll tell you what can't be done, and why. Then do it."- Robert A. Heinlein, "Time Enough for Love."


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Yukikaze
(@yukikaze)
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January 4, 2017 6:39 pm  

Yet another update for the records: I upgraded the Win7 on my T430s to Win10 via this option.

The eGPU functions just as well, plus the ability to eject the eGPU via the nVidia options is working correctly.

That's the last thing I tried with this eGPU setup, as I sold the 750Ti. Currently looking for a performance upgrade for this via a used card on ebay.

My eGPU Zoo - Link to my Implementations.
Want to output [email protected] out of an old system on the cheap? Read here.
"Always listen to experts. They'll tell you what can't be done, and why. Then do it."- Robert A. Heinlein, "Time Enough for Love."


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kszysiu
(@kszysiu)
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January 31, 2017 3:20 pm  

Hi!

Could you compare EC vs TB performance on something other than benchmarks?  Some games?

Soon I will add my system & eGPU details or a build link to this my signature to give context to my posts


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Yukikaze
(@yukikaze)
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February 1, 2017 10:12 am  
Posted by: kszysiu

 

Hi!

Could you compare EC vs TB performance on something other than benchmarks?  Some games?

 

   

Currently I am both travelling away from home and I don't have a video card for the T430s as I sold the GTX750Ti. I plan to get a new card and then I'll be able to test some stuff. Anything specific you'd like to see tested? I don't have a lot of games, but I might have something specific you care about.

My eGPU Zoo - Link to my Implementations.
Want to output [email protected] out of an old system on the cheap? Read here.
"Always listen to experts. They'll tell you what can't be done, and why. Then do it."- Robert A. Heinlein, "Time Enough for Love."


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kszysiu
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February 7, 2017 10:15 am  

I am curious if EC is really better or just works better in benchmark which do not need a lot of bandwidth. Maybe in games bandwidth boost give us more performance and TB will be faster.

I am curious if TB configuration is worth spending more money. I have lenovo x220 and I thought about upgrading to T430 i7 with TB...;)

Soon I will add my system & eGPU details or a build link to this my signature to give context to my posts


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Yukikaze
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February 7, 2017 1:47 pm  

After looking for a video card for about forever, I finally ordered a Gigabyte GTX1050Ti this morning (118$ off Jet.com with their new customer 15% off promo code made it finally a good option price-wise). Once it arrives I'll do some testing. I'll see what I can scrounge up in the repeatable benchmark category (I think I have the original Crysis on my Steam account, heh).

As for the T430: Note that the T430 does NOT have a Thunderbolt port. Only the T430s does, and only in specific configurations: Dual-Core Core i7 with no dGPU (so only the Intel graphics in the CPU are present, the nVidia NVS models do not have Thunderbolt).

My eGPU Zoo - Link to my Implementations.
Want to output [email protected] out of an old system on the cheap? Read here.
"Always listen to experts. They'll tell you what can't be done, and why. Then do it."- Robert A. Heinlein, "Time Enough for Love."


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kszysiu
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February 8, 2017 10:31 am  

I was sure that T430 (without "s") with i7 and Intel HD have TB too...

T430 would be better because of interchangeable CPU to quad core...

All in all waiting for results 😉

Soon I will add my system & eGPU details or a build link to this my signature to give context to my posts


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3RYL
 3RYL
(@3ryl)
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April 12, 2017 2:36 am  

Hello Yukikaze. Even though you have windows 7 in this system, do you know anything about if AMD Xconnect will work in thunderbolt 1 laptops?

Chimera ~ 2011 15" Dell Vostro 3550 HD6630M + [email protected] (PE4C 3.0) +Win7
My adapter models for eGPU case projects


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Yukikaze
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April 12, 2017 4:07 am  

This system has been since updated to Win10 and a GTX1050Ti. That said, my other system has XConnect working with Thunderbolt2. It should work the same with Thunderbolt1.

My eGPU Zoo - Link to my Implementations.
Want to output [email protected] out of an old system on the cheap? Read here.
"Always listen to experts. They'll tell you what can't be done, and why. Then do it."- Robert A. Heinlein, "Time Enough for Love."


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