"CY Thunderbolt3 to PCIe" - A test of a TB3 to PCIe board off ebay.
So, I managed to get my hands on a TB3 to PCIe board. The specific board is the one sold all over the place under the "CY" brand, and typically sells for about 150-200$, which means it make zero sense to buy one even for testing, but I got lucky: One was listed for under 100$ on ebay, I watched it and waited. A few days later a price drop reduced the cost to 60$, which is affordable enough to get one to try it, for science.
The exact board can be found on Amazon here for the low, low price of 188$ (ugh). It comes with a 0.5m TB3 cable (and so did mine off ebay).
This board has no power inputs, and is entirely TB3 powered, which means that it cannot power a video card by itself (unless we manage to find a video card that consumes less than 15W of power). To see if it works at all: I stuck a dual-port 1GbE Ethernet adapter into it, and connected it to my ZBook G4. The Thunderbolt Software immediately picked it up.
It identifies as a LT-LINK Node Lite, which is interesting. I wonder if these were originally supposed to be some variant of a Node Lite with only a single TB3 port. I did not try to update the FW on the device (I don't want to brick it, at least not before I got to play with it a bit more).
After allowing the device to connect, the dual-port NIC appeared in my Device Manager, and the driver loaded properly. Connecting a cable brings the link up and as far as I can tell the device is functioning properly.
I am yet to try a GPU, as I'd need a powered riser, but I see no reason why this would not work. If you manage to score one of these on the cheap, I believe you would have a decent foundation for a custom-built eGPU enclosure. Just keep in mind that a powered riser is needed to make this actually work with a GPU (a NVMe device would work just fine on bus power, however, as SSDs won't typically consume over 15W of power). I might try to see if I can find an ADT powered riser to go with it.
My eGPU Zoo - Link to my Implementations.
Want to output [email protected] out of an old system on the cheap? Read here.
Give your Node Pro a second Thunderbolt3 controller for reliable peripherals by re-using a TB3 dock (~50$).
"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."
I think your node lite variant theory is true. I have the node lite and the TB3 cable shown for this CY package on amazon looks exactly the same. It is nice to hear about your exploration projects like this.