2015 15" MSI GS60 (GTX970M) [6th,4C,H] + GTX 970 @ 32Gbps-TB3 (AKiTiO Node) + Win10 [mbliss11]
Hey guys! Happy to report that my Akitio Node came in the mail yesterday and I was up later than I wanted to last night testing her out. So far it is plug and play (after having to reinstall graphics drivers) with my MSI GS60. Performance is a step up from the integrated 970M and will be even better once I overclock the 970. I am rocking out a 2560X1080 external monitor so my FPS' are slightly lower than a lot of the community posts on here because they are using 1080P.
I needed to update the firmware on the Node before using because my thunderbolt firmware (NVM18) does not support EGPU. The firmware update that Akitio sent out contained the workaround for that as well as the H2D limitation.
I was noticing a significant performance impact initially from my desktop with the 970 and the laptop. Ultimately I found the culprit to be my LightPack system with custom Prismatik software. It really hits the external GPU hard - much harder than on my desktop PC where most of the work is done by the CPU. Once I disabled screen grabbing from Prismatik everything was awesome.
I have MSI Bios version E16H7IMS.113 on my Laptop. The most recent BIOS version is .114 however I was experiencing a weird ACPI.sys bug that shot my cpu utilization to about 20% all the time after updating to that BIOS version a while ago. I believe my Thunderbolt software was the culprit (it was running version 15 when I had flashed that BIOS) and since my Thunderbolt software and NVM has since been updated to version 16 and NVM 18 that issue may be remedied? The BIOS details for 114 says that it sets the Thunderbolt Controller to GEN3 speeds. Since I am using the NODE with an external monitor this isn't really an issue (not feeding it back to the internal display). Or is is? I am thinking about reflashing the bios to 114 and seeing what happens.
Optimus works for the internal display when the Node is connected which is awesome. So I have the NODE running the Ultrawide external monitor and then intel adapter running the laptop screen. My monitor is a FreeSync monitor and I really want to get an AMD GPU in there to utilize the feature. It should work fine. I'll update when I decide which GPU to get (either RX 580 or Vega. I'm going to wait till Vega comes out anyway for a price drop).
Gripes with the NODE:
Huge - the thing is really big. I had to rearrange my setup to make space for the sucker.
Included Thunderbolt Cable - Really short. I had a longer one thankfully and have not noticed and performance issues using it but haven't really done any extended testing. Should I use the smaller one?
Noise - This thing is loud! It is the power supply. I really want to replace the fan in it and have seen others that have posted success in doing so.
All and all though I am happy with the purchase. This will definitely extend the life of my GS60. Kind kicked myself for not waiting until the 1060 versions came out but now I am not so bummed.
1TB Hard drive.
Was able to update bios to .114 and did not have the ACPI.sys bug. I am assuming that the thunderbolt update remedied this. Also my NVM is not 18 it is 16 - that is why the thunderbolt software says that EGPU's are not supported. This was supposed to be fixed in NVM 18 and up. I posted in MSI's forum and asked if updated firmware is going to be rolled out to the GS60's.
I also did a clean install of the drivers and just reinstalled the desktop version of the drivers today. Now my GPU activity displays correctly (it didn't before).
So far I am really happy with the results. I had some time to do some benchmarks and do a slight overclock on the 970 (+100 core and +225 memory). On 2560X1080:
Doom - Hovers around low 70's to 80's
Division - High settings getting about 45 FPS average on benchmark which is 1080. This seems consistent with other averages I have seen with 1060's. Doesn't seem to like egpu's very much.
I don't have a lot of other modern games. I can reinstall Fallout 4 and do some benches on that as well. If you have any other suggestions or want me to run some games let me know and I can tell you what I have. I haven't noticed if anyone on here has been overclocking their GPU's when attaching them. This would increase performance (not as much as doing it on a desktop but every little bit helps).
I was researching more on the thunderbolt cable that came with the node and my cable. My cable is not a 40gbs cable. It is a passive cable that will only do 20gbs. A longer 40gbs cable will set you back about 50 bucks. Kinda stinks but if you want to get the full bandwidth capabilities out of the node with a longer cable you have to shell out for one that is rated for that transfer speed. I will be getting another cable for it and will definitely be changing out the power supply fan I hate how loud it is. All and all this will bring the price up for this investment to about 350 bucks (270 for the node off of Amazon, 50 bucks for the cable and another 15 bucks for the fan plus tax). Still not bad compared to the core which is still 500 bucks. I'll be getting an RX580 for it next month decided not to wait for Vega since it will more than likely land much later in the year.
UPDATE Number 2!
Threw an RX 580 in there (couldn't wait) and have been doing a lot of benching. Still plug and play with the RX580. Doom with Vulkan runs over 100fps. OpenGL is horrible maybe 30fps. Division saw dramatic FPS gains with AMD hovering in the 55FPS. I also got a longer Thunderbolt cable. Certainly went down the rabbit hole with this purchase and have been doing a lot of research and tweaking.
I also changed out the front fan and replaced it with a 120mm coolermaster blue LED. Looks great and a little more quiet. I'll be replacing the power supply fan eventually.
This is great information. I have a MSI GT72S-6QE-030US Dominator Pro G. Most of the issues with the Thunderbolt firmware applies to me as well and it is great news that you were able to get your Node working so easily. I've been wanting to get into some VR gaming but of course I need more power than my GTX 980M to pull that off.
Again, thanks a lot for posting your implementation. Going to order my Node now. Glad I don't have to wait for the MSI GUS.
Awesome! Let us know how it works out! What card are you going to slap in it?
More likely the GTX 1070 due to the massive price difference.
Planning to order my Vive later this year.
Absolutely! Now lets see if they respond. If Akitio hadn't released that firmware update for the Node I wouldn't be able to use the enclosure. They really need to address that especially since the community is getting larger and more people are using them.
I have recently contacted MSI support regarding the Thunderbolt 3 firmware. I am using NVM 16 with the latest BIOS and latest Thunderbolt 3 driver version
That is what they replied:
"Kindly be informed that the thunderbolt firmware on you laptop is the latest version for the laptop. There is no other update available for this model. And the external Graphic card is not approved on this model either.
MSI Notebook Technical Application Department"
It appears that the NODE will remain the only "good" option for external gpu enclosuere .
I would like to ask you what is the maximum H2D speed that you achieve with the NODE.
All the best,
H2D information (just upgraded to a 1070 and was able to run CudaZ)
Memory Copy Host Pinned to Device: 2054.97 MiB/s
Host Pageable to Device: 1678.26 MiB/s
Device to Host Pinned: 2530.21 MiB/s
Device to Host Pageable: 1927.17 MiB/s
Device to Device: 85.4236 GiB/s
Typical effin OEM's, of course they're not going to upgrade the FW, how you're going to buy a new laptop then?
Is it a MSI GS60 6QE Ghost Pro?
I'm planning to get a secondhand gs60 because of the thunderbolt porting egpus. thanks!