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"CY Thunderbolt3 to PCIe" - A test of a TB3 to PCIe board off ebay.
 

"CY Thunderbolt3 to PCIe" - A test of a TB3 to PCIe board off ebay.  

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Yukikaze
(@yukikaze)
Prominent Member Moderator
Joined: 3 years ago
 

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.

Connection

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.

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."


tsakal, itsage and nando4 liked
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esatamacmodular
(@esatamacmodular)
Estimable Member
Joined: 3 years ago
 

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.

iMac 2013 10.14.1, Macbook Air 2013 10.11, MBP 2016 13" 10.13.6 , HP 4530s 10.11, node lite, DA-2 PSU w/mod, PE4L 2.1b expresscard34, GTX460,1050Ti,1060,1070/Ti RX470,560,580


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Yukikaze
(@yukikaze)
Prominent Member Moderator
Joined: 3 years ago
 

I decided to follow the cheapest possible way to turn this thing into an eGPU board. Sure, I could get a R43SG, but where's the fun in that. We want to connect crazy things together.

I decided to buy a PCENGFF-N03 VER004S m.2 to PCIe x4 board. Then, on top of that sits an m-key NGFFP4X-N01 VER003 board which transforms the m.2 slot back into a PCIe x4 slot and also adds a 4-pin "floppy" power header which can be used to feed power to the slot from a regular power supply that has this nearly extinct floppy power connector (I am using an Enermax Revolution 1000W power supply, because that's what I got, and because there's no kill like overkill).

First, I had to open the end of the PCIe x4 slot on my m.2 to PCIe adapter so that longer cards can fit. After some Dremel work, that problem was resolved.

I hooked it all up, placed my Quadro K2000 into the PCIe slot, connected the power supply (which I paper-clip-tricked to start when the power switch on the back is turned on) and then finally connected the TB3 cable this thing came with to my laptop. Everything lighted up, and a new device appeared in the Device Manager. Windows took a bit to set up the K2000 to use the driver I have running, and voila, three GPUs are enabled:

eGPU

For some high-res pictures of the board arrangement, see here:
Front
Back
Slot-Opened
Operational

As you can see, the link established was at Gen2, which might be the fault of all my various adapters. Unfortunately, this adapter has a H2D bandwidth of only ~850MiB/s in this configuration, with D2H of ~1550MiB/s. The first is in line with a TB1 setup. The latter is in line with a TB2 setup, and what I'd expect due to the Gen2 link the card has to the controller.

Since it is not likely that I can find a FW update for this thing, I guess this won't make much of an eGPU setup. It might be that using a better riser would lead to a Gen3 link and end up with the equivalent of a 2-lane setup if the bandwidth gets doubled. If I manage to find a dirt cheap R43SG, I might give that a try.

For now, I guess I could make use of this by using it for my T430s - As a TB1 system, this adapter is as fast as it would get anyway.

Thanks for tuning for another one of Yuki's weird adventures in Thunderbolt-land! 🙂

This post was modified 2 months ago

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."


itsage liked
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imeurer
(@imeurer)
New Member
Joined: 2 years ago
 

Hi @yukikaze
I was searching for a TB3 to PCIe adapter and found the exact same model as yours here, for 21$, probably the best price yet.
My idea is to made an egpu setup pairing this board with an ADT R23SG adapter. Unfortunately, my laptop seems to have only a PCIe 3 x2 link on TB3 port (Lenovo T480).
It was realy nice to see your review, however, the established Gen2 link is intriguing me.

I found a page for this product which describes successful connections with several PCIe boards on Windows and, what seems to me, a PCIe Gen 3 connection (40 Gb/s) when in Mac OS environment.

My intention is to have a "plug-and-play" solution, however, if I can't achive a PCIe Gen 3 connection, it is better to use a direct conection to the M.2 slot, IMO. What do you think?

Lenovo T480 > waiting for an DIY egpu setup


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Yukikaze
(@yukikaze)
Prominent Member Moderator
Joined: 3 years ago
 

@imeurer - My Gen2 link is likely caused by the pair of PCIe risers I am using. An ADT powered riser will likely get a Gen3 link.

That said, an m.2 setup is faster than a Thunderbolt setup, so if you are willing to go that way, I'd suggest you do that regardless - It is just faster.

 

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."


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nando4
(@nando4)
Noble Member Admin
Joined: 3 years ago
 
Posted by: @imeurer

I was searching for a TB3 to PCIe adapter and found the exact same model as yours here, for 21$, probably the best price yet.

That US$21 is a fantastic price for Brazilians considering it includes the board and a 40Gbps TB3 cable. The cable alone can cost more. Same item from same seller that allows shipping to AU is US$80:

https://au.gearbest.com/hdd-enclosure/pp_009311225791.html

eGPU Setup 1.35    •    eGPU Port Bandwidth Reference Table

15" Dell Precision 7510 (Q M1000M) (6th,4C,H) + GTX 1080 Ti @ 32Gbps-M2 (ADT-Link R43SG) + macOS 10.13.6 & Win10


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imeurer
(@imeurer)
New Member
Joined: 2 years ago
 
Posted by: @yukikaze

My Gen2 link is likely caused by the pair of PCIe risers I am using. An ADT powered riser will likely get a Gen3 link.

That said, an m.2 setup is faster than a Thunderbolt setup, so if you are willing to go that way, I'd suggest you do that regardless - It is just faster.

Well, I gess it is worth to try the connection with the powered riser, for the sake of simplicity.
I wish I could find this mentioned riser board. That would be cool.

Posted by: @nando4

That US$21 is a fantastic price for Brazilians considering it includes the board and a 40Gbps TB3 cable. The cable alone can cost more. Same item from same seller that allows shipping to AU is US$80:

https://au.gearbest.com/hdd-enclosure/pp_009311225791.html

I could not agree more with you. The exchange rate and import fees are always a headache for Brazilians.

This post was modified 1 month ago

Lenovo T480 > waiting for an DIY egpu setup


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Yukikaze
(@yukikaze)
Prominent Member Moderator
Joined: 3 years ago
 

@imeurer - That riser board has piqued my interest. If you manage to find it somewhere, please ping me. Since I have the adapter, having this riser board would be pretty great for me 🙂

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."


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