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Feasibility of building my own enclosure?  

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LG18
 LG18
(@lg18)
New Member
Joined: 4 years ago
 

I’m quite good with metal work; built a couple of desktop PC cases in the past.

How feasible would it be to build my own Thunderbolt enclosure, do you think?
At a glance it doesn’t seem any more complicated than any other case I’ve made, though I was unsure of the technicalities of it.

Thoughts?

Thanks a lot. Smile

To do: Create my signature with system and expected eGPU configuration information to give context to my posts. I have no builds.

.

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itsage
(@itsage)
Founder Admin
Joined: 5 years ago
 

@lg18 Welcome aboard and we'd love to see your creations. With a Thunderbolt enclosure, the challenge is to acquire the appropriate Thunderbolt main board. At the moment, I'd highly recommend looking into the Zotac AMP BOX Mini. It has a single main board and contains everything you need. The missing piece is a custom enclosure to fit your needs. Take a look here.

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2021 14" Microsoft Surface Laptop Studio [11th,4C,H] + RTX 2080 Ti @ 32Gbps-TB4 (WD_Black D50) + Win11 [build link]  


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4chip4
(@4chip4)
Estimable Member
Joined: 4 years ago
 

I'd say think about it as a minimalistic mini-ITX box. If you believe you can do such a thing - you can do an eGPU enclosure, too. The components are fairly modular, you'll need to fit three main components (in addition to any cooling and visuals) :

1. TB3 motherboard
2. PSU
3. The GPU itself
(4. HDD if the motherboard has a header for it)

The GPU and PSU are standard fare, so there you have more choice and freedom, as they will be all built against the same standards as with PCs (dimensions, airflow, etc). Make sure the PSU is large/powerful enough for the GPU and the headers are correct, and you're good to go. Today's enclosures use standard PC GPUs and ATX or SFX PSUs, a custom enclosure would be no different.

The TB3 motherboard is something that (today) you probably can get only by salvage from another eGPU box, and all of them have fairly random layouts in terms of dimensions, screw/connector layouts etc, so homework will need to be done so you have the right dimensions, connectors in the right places.

2017 HP Spectre x360 15 i7-8550U GTX150 + GTX970@16Gbps-TB3 (HP Omen Accelerator) + Oculus Rift + Win10 [no guide] HP Omen Accelerator Thunderbolt 3 enclosure legs stand removal walkthrough
Employed by HP, but my posts and opinions expressed on this forum are my own.


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chx
 chx
(@chx)
Estimable Member
Joined: 4 years ago
 

Here's what I found much to my delight: previously this would've been madness but with the current GPU prices, it's no longer. The Quadro P2000 is a 75W, single slot 1060-level video card. Single slot. And doesn't need an additional power plug either. Perhaps 450 dollars off eBay.

My idea for a case would be custom made for this very video card and would use the Akitio Node Lite electronics. Replace the cooler cover with one that has a fan grill and covers the entire card to the PCI slot (with a mesh for air intake on the currently uncovered parts). Make this cover part of the enclosure (!) when closed. If done right, this would be about 1.8" x  4.7" x 8" -- it could be competitive with the Sonnet Puck with the performance level somewhat higher than the RX570. And at 75W, wouldn't need a ridiculously large brick either, I guess  http://a.co/6WlalfV would be enough.

Lenovo ThinkPad 25 -- GALAX SNPR TB3 1060 -- Lenovo Graphics Dock -- Benq BL2411PT - - two PackedPixels - Dasung not-eReader backer


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Yukikaze
(@yukikaze)
Noble Member Moderator
Joined: 5 years ago
 

I think you are being rather generous with the P2000 being a "1060-level" video card: It is about 20% weaker than the GTX1060 3GB and about 30% weaker than the GTX1060 6GB, going by the reduction of clocks compute cores and memory bandwidth. And it costs 450$. I highly doubt it beats a RX570 at all, much less have a "somewhat higher" performance level.

GPU Shaders Boost Clock TMUs ROPs Memory Size Memory Clock
Quadro P2000 1024 1480 64 40 5GB 7008
GTX 1060 3GB 1152 1708 72 48 3GB 8008
GTX 1060 6GB 1280 1709 80 48 6GB 8008

Want to output 4K@60Hz 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."

 
2012 Mac Mini [3rd,4C,Q] + RX 480 @ 10Gbps-TB1 (Atto Thunderlink) + macOS 10.15.7 [build link]  


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LG18
 LG18
(@lg18)
New Member
Joined: 4 years ago
 

Thanks a lot for the welcome Smile seems an awesome site, I’ll have to post some of my designs some time.

The product you linked me to looks very interesting, as I suspected finding the main board would be a challenge. I’ll certainly look into that, thanks again.

4chip4, thanks for the great post.
given what you’ve said, if finding the main board is going to be an impossible task right now and I’d have to salvage one, surely my best option is the Amp box mini as itsage recomended?

Good that everything else seems fairly straight forward if you’ve built an elclosure before, though.

Thanks for the link and for your post.   
clearly I’ll have to do some homework before deciding.

Cheers!

To do: Create my signature with system and expected eGPU configuration information to give context to my posts. I have no builds.

.

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Yukikaze
(@yukikaze)
Noble Member Moderator
Joined: 5 years ago
 

LG18, please don't triple-post. I merged your posts into one. Use the edit button to edit posts and add more info if you wish to do so.

Want to output 4K@60Hz 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."

 
2012 Mac Mini [3rd,4C,Q] + RX 480 @ 10Gbps-TB1 (Atto Thunderlink) + macOS 10.15.7 [build link]  


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Senturion
(@senturion)
New Member
Joined: 2 years ago
 

@lg18

I’m considering something similar. I have a colleague at work who does 3D printing work. I’m considering buying him a spool of the materials as a trade for him to build an enclosure for me. I’m using the EXP GDC beast with an express card. Only thing is I’ll need to buy or Frankenstein some wiring harnesses and some 8 and 6 pin power connectors to install into the enclosure so that cables don’t just go through a hole in the box. I’d like it to look nice too with an internal blue or orange lighting scheme. 

Has anybody already made some 3D printing schematics for something similar? If not I’ll toy around with it myself. Shouldn’t be too hard. 

This post was modified 2 years ago
2013 15" Dell Precision M4700 (Q K1000) [3rd,2C,M] + GTX 760 @ 4Gbps-EC2 (EXP GDC 8.5c) + Win10 [build link]  

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vonthing
(@vonthing)
Active Member
Joined: 2 years ago
 

I just ended up buying a mini-ITX case. It fits my video card, my power supply, my EXP GDC and looks way neater than just having everything scattered around. Plus I have the option of buying a mini ITX motherboard, CPU etc components and upgrading to a full desktop machine down the road.

2013 13" MacBook Pro [4th,2C,U] + RX 5700 XT @16Gbps-TB2>TB3 (Razer Core X) + macOS 10.15.1 [build link]  

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