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Best motherboard with proper Thunderbolt implementation for eGPU
 

Best motherboard with proper Thunderbolt implementation for eGPU  

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Danthemanz
(@danthemanz)
New Member
Joined: 6 months ago
 

So while my heavy computing based life is slowly moving towards laptops and thunderbolt based devices, im not ready to give up the CPU performance of a even slightly overclocked and well cooled desktop machine.
I currently have an X299 based i9-7900 machine full of high-end gear (without a video card ATM) sitting there hardly being used.
I want a world where for my photography and gaming stuff i simply plug my eGPU setup into my desktop (Ideally smaller than my usual large ATX cases) and run my large ultrawide screen almost as if the GPU was in the PC.

For some stupid reason my Asrock X299 board, with it millions of PCI-E lanes, supports an add-on TB3 card that is connected via the chipset and not the CPU PCI-E lanes!
I dont know if this is a misprint or something but it seems like a ridicicualas afterthought, im really sick of TB3 being treated like an onboard sound card and something they can tick off a spec sheet without thinking it through.
I would rather not buy a Mac Mini, well thats not true, i would love one, but its not going to give me the same level of CPU performance and then in two years im not going to be able to upgrade the CPU.

Surely there is a M-ATX motherboard out there, Eg. Z390 based, where they havent just run the 16 PCI-E lanes to the main slot and forced everything onto the chipset over the slow DMI.
Or, a motherboard that supports putting the thunderbolt card into the main PCI-E slot and using those lanes.
Ideally i would love a board i could run two TB3 controllers (not just ports) on so if i wanted to plug other accessories into it i wouldnt have to share bandwidth, but this isnt important as i can obviously still run SSDs and 10Gb LAN etc internally if required which makes many of my other TB3 accessories moot.

Im thinking Z390 mainly due to onboard graphics which would allow the machine to boot etc and then cut over to the external monitor connected to the eGPU without another card and potentially other driver issues. Certainly open to X299 though, which in my mind makes even more sense given the bandwidth the manufacture has to play with...

These days its harder and harder to even find a proper motherboard block diagram to see how everything is connected which makes it harder to know who has put a x2 connection off the chipset and who has run x4 off the CPU.
Id love to hear from someone who has done the research or even a build for a eGPU based desktop like this.
Id love to hear about any other issues anyone has run into as well.

FYI, im thinking of getting a Radeon VII down the line as many of my machines are Mac and it would likely provide the best compatibility for a single high-end eGPU for all my machines.

Thanks in advance for your help!

Pending: Add my system information and expected eGPU configuration to my signature to give context to my posts


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itsage
(@itsage)
Famed Member Admin
Joined: 3 years ago
 

@danthemanz I hear you about the lack of information on Thunderbolt 3 support on desktop motherboard. If you already have the i9-7900x, I'd recommend taking a look at Gigabyte Designare X299. It should have the Thunderbolt 3 controller attach directly to the CPU through x4 PCIe lanes (best routing possible). While I have not used it, I have put together a TB3 test bench using i7-5960x + Designare X99 that has one Thunderbolt 3 port. The newer X299 with two Thunderbolt ports is nicer for multiple devices. The dual DisplayPort INs can power high-resolution monitors (requires capable dGPU).

This post was modified 5 months ago

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joevt
(@joevt)
Reputable Member
Joined: 2 years ago
 
Posted by: itsage

The newer X299 with two Thunderbolt ports is nicer for multiple devices. The dual DisplayPort INs can power high-resolution monitors (requires capable dGPU).

I think this is the first motherboard I've seen that has two DisplayPort In ports. I guess it makes sense because the motherboard has two Thunderbolt 3 ports and X299 CPU's don't have integrated graphics.

Pending: Add my system information and expected eGPU configuration to my signature to give context to my posts


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itsage
(@itsage)
Famed Member Admin
Joined: 3 years ago
 

@joevt3 I handled it at Gigabyte suite during CES 2018. It's an impressive motherboard. Most people don't care much for multiple Thunderbolt 3 and DP-IN but I agree with you this maybe the first and only board with such arrangement. I'm not in a position to switch to using X299 platform, when I do this X299 DESIGNARE EX is definitely the motherboard of choice.

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