2018 15" Inspiron 7570 (940MX) [8th,4C,U] + RX580 @ 32Gbps-M2 (ADT-Link R43SG) + Win10
I have observed these forums for nigh on two years now and only just now have consolidated the resolve to actually make an external gpu setup. Maybe its just because the coronavirus has sent all we college students home and now I do not have the desktop in my flat. Or, more likely, I just want to tinker. Before I get into it, I wanna first thank all yall for creating this forum and actually being helpful and instructive with your posts and comments. I am not a person to grow angry easily, specifically from people on the internet. But for some reason, whenever I read a post titled "Egpu? How do I do this?" or "Egpu, can I...?" and the first ten comments are some guy named "hardware professional" or "IT specialist" saying "Dont. Waste of money. Buy a good desktop." Gee, thanks, what a great idea, why didn't I think of that. I should rethink my life. Anyways, I maintain a great deal of respect for all yall on this website, specifically those of you who have been here since like 2010 when I was in like middle school still and were plugging expresscards (not gonna lie, still have never seen one) or like TB1 into there "mobile workstations". Props to yall.
SO what is my situation? I think I represent the minority here in that I was very new to these ideas, knew surprisingly little about computers (and I thought I knew alot more), and made a purchase that has long since been un-doable. Don't get me wrong, I'm not a complete nob when it comes to computers or technology, I am working towards a BSc in Astrophysics and know my way around the semiconductor lab, nor am I an unintuitive person. That being said, I purchased a laptop for college that said "4 GB of vRAM" and thought "Holy crap this is gonna be a beast." Never knew about CUDA cores or clock speeds or that laptops overheated. Two years later and I have read and read and read and read, developing a much better picture of this little world, much thanks to this particular forum.
My university's Physics and Astronomy Department had a list of "recommended" laptops for entrant students and my dad and I blindly just followed their advice.We were bamboozled. We went with the DELL equivalent (We are from Texas. Mr. Dell is from Texas. We like Dell.), the slim, light, portable, powerful, professional, prone-to-overheating Insprion 15 7570. Do not get me wrong, it is a great laptop. It does everything it says it does, it has never failed to execute any programs I have written or render and simulations we do in the lab (and we LOVE to pump data in astronomy), but it just cant pump the frames in AAA games. Yeah its not designed for that, but I paid for alot more than I needed to, and now have a professional grade laptop for like Dallas lawyers or something, not just a STEM student who wants to game. Here are the specs of the laptop:
8th Gen i7 8550U, 4-cores @1.8Ghz with ~4.1Ghz boost (don't boost, the thermal tiles on the space shuttle are warm compared to this thing on turboboost)
GeForce 940MX with 4GB GDDR5 vRAM (hey, its better than UHD 620...barely)
16GB DDR4 RAM (not full pin, no >2400Mhz but hey no complaints on the size)
Samsung Evo 512Gb M2 NVME SSD (hell yeah)
15.6" 2160p, touchscreen IPS screen (verily, I was bamboozled.)
Did I mention I paid for 4K and a touchscreen? Completely unnecessary but here I am with both like an absolute pumpkin.
Let's not talk about the purchase, just about how I am going to mess with it. Yeah, I could have functioned just fine in college with something half the price, but oh well.
So once again I am going caveat, I have ridden on the backs of yall who actually went through with these, made the mistakes, troubleshooted them, discovered more issues, fixed those, tested the speeds, and so one. I just waited and read, waited and read. Now that I am at home and want to test it out myself, I looked at my options: mPCIe (x1) or m.2-Mkey (x4)[I, like many others, was not pleased to find that you cant just "enable Thunderbolt 3 on your UBS-C"]. Now I could not justify two years ago ripping my laptop apart, but now after the hundreds of threads, the wikipedia pages on bus lanes and motherboards, and just general reading I have looked through, I know pretty wel what I am going to do and the risks associated. I have not tested anything yet, but all the pieces are coming in (well my graphics dock at least), but I will definitely update all yall as soon as I do.
I have a bit of an odd plan, but its gonna be fun. I do not really want to settle for the 1x mPCIe by popping out the WLAN card, so I will go through the m.2 slot. I am not overly concerned about looks or ease of access, and disassembling and reassembling is not that problematic to me, so I do not mind the hassle. I am a patient guy.
ADT-Link R43SG (went with the shorter connector cable, we will see if I regret it)
Dell Da-2 220W power block with 8-pin connector (I can only find pre-owned ones, so I might switch to a normal ~400W psu if this is unstable)
ASUS GTX 1060 3Gb (from my box at uni whenever my flatmate returns with it) OR AMD RX 580 (I ordered one on Ebay, but it ended up in Indiana and, upon my email to just resend it patiently to me, they refunded me...so we will see how that works)
Old CPU fan I spliced to USB
Lots of thick cardboard and paper towel tubes
Two old PSU fan grates
^Simply, I will cut and probably superglue the cardboard and rolls, attach the fan, and jerry-rig some cooling for the CPU with now exposed on my laptop underbelly
The PCIe Bus Plan:
1. Enable USB boot in my BIOS
2. Remove m.2 SSD and place in an enclosure and reconnect via USB-C (considering I grew up on the Western Digital HDDs from 2003, no complaints about the relative loss in speed)
3. Connect m.2 M-key from ADT-Link to my now exposed m.2 port
4. Troubleshoot until it works
I haven't gotten to put it all together yet, and please yall feel free to criticize/advise, but that is the current plan, with parts coming in. I will ensure to update, reformat, and add pictures to this post, as well as some performance stats when all is said and done.
Wish me luck!
6/1/20 - Yeah so Covid messed every plan I have up, including this build, so as of yet I have not completed it yet, sorry lads.
6/23/20 - All parts came in, used Apevia SFX 300W PSU instead. All plugged in, OS boots from SSD in external enclosure, fans spin, both 3V and 12V lit, but no detection in Device Manager.
6/24/20 - Alright, after a day of research into other options I have, I decided to order a Lexar S47 Jump Drive 32Gb thumb drive, which I had intended to do anyways). What I plan to try is to load my OS onto the flash drive and boot from it whilst my SSD is in its m2 slot. Upon system sleep, I will hotswitch the R43SG in and slide the SSD into its enclosure. Maybe this way the laptop will not disable that port as it has been when booted from the usb-c enclosure. The drive comes tomorrow and I will update this when I have made some progress.
6/25/20 - Success! After booting Windows 10 from the Lexar USB drive, the eGpu registered as a Basic Display Adapter (Error Code 31). I did not even have to use DDU, I just installed the latest RX 580 drivers with AMD Software Installer. I tested both Overwatch for high and stable fps as well as Code Vein for that beautiful artistic graphics. All is well! Apparently that was enough for the motherboard or BIOS. Even booting from my original OS on my SSD in an enclosure, the adapter registered. After a minute or so of Device Manager hanging on "Basic Display Adapter", it recognized the RX 580. I ran DDU, disabled my 940MX and reinstalled the AMD Adrenaline Software.
6/29/30 - So the Apevia SFX 300W psu died after a single day. Tested with paper clip jump start --> no cigar. So I went to my neighborhood Altex and spoke to a few gentlemen there, trying to get some better quality but keeping a replacement below ~US$50. So I went with the tried-and-true EVGA F1 400W bottom-of-the-line. At the moment, its doing great! The extra 100W ceiling should keep the PSU far from its max and its quiet too. In a moment I will take some pictures of my current setup and run some benchmarks.
@travis_prochko, Welcome aboard and thank you for sharing your story! We all learn through experience and this is a great way to make something of what you got. Switching an internal Windows drive to external (via USB) will require some work. An easy procedure is a change through Registry Editor so that Windows can load USB 3.0 drivers during boot up; thanks to @sskillz who provided the instructions in his build. Without which Windows would hang at the circle dots screen.
@itsage, Thanks for the welcome and for the registry edit advice. My laptop is currently running pretty smoothly from the external enclosure. One note is I had to disable my drive encryption for some reason.
Unfortunately, I have been unable to make Windows Device Manager recognize my eGpu. I have tried various boot sequences, all sorts of combinations of SW1 and SW2 and J1 and J2 on the R43SG board, as well as messing with the BIOS drive settings. I have not been able to succeed in any sort of recognition that anything is in the m2 slot.
I have looked into Dell whitelisting and cannot tell whether or not my laptop is preventing the m2 slot from activitating since it has no SSD in it. I have noted that in the BIOS, the Drives slot shows my SATA0, SATA2, and M2 NVME drives as all empty, but enabled.
I am not really sure how to proceed. On nando's mpcie/m2 troubleshooting page he mentions hotswitching but only in the wifi-wlan mpcie case, nothing about the m2 case. As such it'd be a pain since my ssd is in an enclosure...
Any help would be appreciated.