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SanderV
(@sanderv)
Active Member
Joined: 2 years ago
 

Hi everyone,

I've been reading these forums with much interest lately. I have a Xiaomi Notebook Pro arriving soon, and I think it would be very cool to try adding an eGPU to its spare M.2 port.

The thing I'm wondering most about when I look at all the M.2 builds on these forums is: what would be the cleanest way to do it? I've browsed all the M.2 builds here, and the one with the best usability factor was using an M.2 extender cable, which seemed to come out of the laptop enclosure, with the M.2 extender board velcro'd on the lid of the laptop for easy access (I would post a link, but now I can't find it anymore!)
I think it was a very clever solution to not have to take the laptop apart everytime, but to really do this I would like to see a path to an even cleaner solution.

The GDC M.2 adapter v9 seems to use HDMI cables, and there are also the cheap ones which use USB3.0 cables. Wouldn't it be possible to somehow make a nice plug-n-play connector built into the laptop chassis for these?

So basically what I'm asking:
- what would be the cleanest way to integrate an M.2 eGPU in your opinion?
- Do you think that by using an extra USB3.0 or HDMI connector/adapter in the signal path (e.g M2->tiny USB3.0 cable->adapter->cable->GPU, but everything short) would completely destroy the link's signal characteristics for eGPUs?

Thanks and kind regards!

Xiaomi Notebook Pro 15.6" (i7-8550U, MX150). Looking for a nice M.2 eGPU solution


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nando4
(@nando4)
Noble Member Admin
Joined: 4 years ago
 

A topic which is being investigated. Some tidbits to help you along:

1. EXP GDC is not Gen3 compliant. Confirmed by myself, others and noted in the Buyer Guide.

2. ADT-Link adapters like R43SL or better packaged R3G are Gen3 compliant, even when chained with extenders. Even a 100cm combined cable length is still stable.

3. As you can move the provided NVME SSD into the second M.2 (x2) slot, you have an option of either:

- cutting a hole in the bottom of the chassis and plugging in the ADT-Link eGPU adapter on demand, preferrably via a slot-protecting M.2 extender.

- thread a R44MF M.2 extender via a slit cutout on the underside of the system and mount it on top of the LCD. Then connect the ADT-Link R43SG/43SL from that point.

You may want to watch do further reading and observe progress updates of @defvs's build on a 15" Xiaomi Mi Notebook Pro:

https://egpu.io/forums/expresscard-mpcie-m-2-adapters/xiaomi-mi-notebook-pro-1060-6gb-on-m-2-gen3-x4-working/

eGPU Setup 1.35    •    eGPU Port Bandwidth Reference Table

 
2015 15" Dell Precision 7510 (Q M1000M) [6th,4C,H] + GTX 1080 Ti @32Gbps-M2 (ADT-Link R43SG) + Win10 1803 [build link]  


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SanderV
(@sanderv)
Active Member
Joined: 2 years ago
 

Thanks, that's very informative! I hadn't seen @defvs' build yet. I may stick around a bit to see how it turns out, before taking any steps myself.

I guess a hole in the cover is a good possibility. Especially if it is somehow made to allow plugging the cut-out piece back in to close it.

I was hoping for a way to integrate it entirely and have a user-friendly connector of some sort - but I just received the laptop yesterday and now I am seeing just how thin it is. No way that anything more than the bare minimum will fit in there!

Thanks for the help.

Xiaomi Notebook Pro 15.6" (i7-8550U, MX150). Looking for a nice M.2 eGPU solution


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

I'm waiting for a spare backplate for my laptop so I can tinker around, too - my M.2 slot is 10cm away from the left side of the laptop unfortunately - too close for any M.2 extender to hide neatly just behind a cut-out side panel and I'd rather not stick out a longer cable with velcro - not exactly clean/neat on a brushed aluminium chassis.

I'm thinking about either cutting a shorter hole underneath and slotting the adapter from under the laptop, or cutting the panel on the side and a hole for the screw and slide the adapter from the side like an SD card.

I'm putting together a build guide, I'll add some photos of the chassis and motherboard for stage 2 - making it neat. Extender cable + velcro unfortunately looks like the best option so far

Clevo N141ZU + Win10 + M.2 ADT R3G + Zotac RTX 2070 8GB Mini
Clevo N141ZU + Win10 + M.2 ADT R3G + Asus GTX 1060 6GB STRIX OC
Lenovo x230 + Win8.1 + EC PE4C V3.0 + Asus GTX 1060 6GB STRIX OC
Lenovo x230 + Win8.1 + EC PE4C V3.0 + Asus GTX 950 2GB STRIX OC

 
2018 14" Clevo N141ZU [8th,4C,U] + GTX 1060 @ 32Gbps-M2 (ADT-Link R43SG) + Win10 [build link]  


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SanderV
(@sanderv)
Active Member
Joined: 2 years ago
 

I'm here to resurrect this thread from the dead once more. I still haven't tried any eGPU on my Xiaomi Notebook Pro, which has a 4-lane M.2 slot available.

I am willing to tinker with the laptop, but only if the end result can meet a few requirements. I don't know if they are realistic, but if they are not, I will likely not even try. I might have found a solution, although I might very well be wrong!

My requirements:
- Plug/unplug the eGPU without screwing the backplate on/off
- No mechanical stress on the m.2 port of the laptop (that means there should be some kind of internal cable extension)
- Preferably plug the eGPU via a connector type that is reasonably well-suited for continuous (un-)plugging (I don't think M.2 fits this description)
- Reach at least Thunderbolt-like performance (let's say 16gbps, which if I understood these forums correctly, asks for 2x gen3 or 4x gen2 PCI lanes)
- No manual soldering or PCB design

The speed requirement means I need to choose the GDC Beast v9+ or one of the ADT-link adapters.

What about U.2 as an intermediate connector? If I understood correctly:
- it supports multiple PCI lanes
- Looks reasonably sturdy:

image

- There are M.2 M-key adapters available for male and female sides:
https://www.reichelt.nl/u-2-sff-8654-sata-converter-1-x-m-2-key-m-slot-delock-63953-p239722.html
https://www.adt.link/product/R47SL.html,also an ADT version: https://www.adt.link/product/R47SL.html

The second link I posted seems like a great fit for an internal adapter in the laptop, that wouldn't cause direct mechanical force on the M.2 port. I think I can fit the U.2 connector into the laptop somehow. Then externally, I could plug that into an adapter to m.2 again and the ADT-link into the adapter. Maybe the signal quality would be degraded, but hopefully 4x gen2 would still be possible.

Apart from the u.2 shown above, there is also the mini SAS connector which looks similar, see https://www.newegg.com/gigabyte-model-gc-m2-u2-minisas/p/N82E16813995047

Does anyone have any opinion about the feasibility of this?

This post was modified 3 months ago

Xiaomi Notebook Pro 15.6" (i7-8550U, MX150). Looking for a nice M.2 eGPU solution


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joevt
(@joevt)
Noble Member
Joined: 3 years ago
 

@sanderv, I like U.2 cables because they are more flexible than the ADT Link flat cables. I like the compact size of the M.2 connector though. I've never handled U.2 devices or cables though so I don't know how they feel.

U.2 can use two connectors: SFF-8643 (usually from the source) and SFF-8639 (usually at the destination). The connectors have male and female versions.
https://www.delock.com/infothek/U.2-NVMe/u2-nvme_e.html

I found these things (they are not exactly what you want but are interesting):
https://www.amazon.com/DiLinKer-SFF-8639-Cable-PCIe-Adapter-U-2-Converter/dp/B07VB6L8SJ
https://www.microsatacables.com/u.2-sff-8639-nvme-ssd-to-m.2-ngff-pci-e-adapter-with-cable-u2-1130-m2

If you use a SFF-8639 cable, then a GPU might be connected to one of these:
https://www.delock.de/produkte/G_62863/merkmale.html

If you use a SFF-8643 cable, then a GPU might be connected to one of these:
https://www.delock.de/produkte/G_62788/merkmale.html

Here's a m.2 to SFF-8639 adapter. I'm not sure it would be good for a laptop. You would probably want to not use the SATA power connector on the M.2 adapter. In that case you would want a SFF-8639 cable with a power input at the GPU end (I'm not sure it's possible).
http://www.mfactors.com/m2f-u-2-sff-8639-to-m-2-adapter/

 

 

Mac mini (2018), Mac Pro (Early 2008), MacBook Pro (Retina, 15-inch, Mid 2015), GA-Z170X-Gaming 7, Sapphire Pulse Radeon RX 580 8GB GDDR5, Sonnet Echo Express III-D, Trebleet Thunderbolt 3 to NVMe M.2 case


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tilchev
(@tilchev)
Active Member
Joined: 3 months ago
 
Posted by: @nando4

A topic which is being investigated. Some tidbits to help you along:

1. EXP GDC is not Gen3 compliant. Confirmed by myself, others and noted in the Buyer Guide.

2. ADT-Link adapters like R43SL or better packaged R3G are Gen3 compliant, even when chained with extenders. Even a 100cm combined cable length is still stable.

3. As you can move the provided NVME SSD into the second M.2 (x2) slot, you have an option of either:

- cutting a hole in the bottom of the chassis and plugging in the ADT-Link eGPU adapter on demand, preferrably via a slot-protecting M.2 extender.

- thread a R44MF M.2 extender via a slit cutout on the underside of the system and mount it on top of the LCD. Then connect the ADT-Link R43SG/43SL from that point.

You may want to watch do further reading and observe progress updates of @defvs's build on a 15" Xiaomi Mi Notebook Pro:

https://egpu.io/forums/expresscard-mpcie-m-2-adapters/xiaomi-mi-notebook-pro-1060-6gb-on-m-2-gen3-x4-working/

I'm thinking of going for the 5cm R44MF trough the side of my E5570. However, I am a bit worried about the warning message in the aliexpress page, because my laptop model is indeed more than 3 years old. I would have dismissed it as a regular security message if they weren't so specific about the 3 years. Should I be worried? Also do you think 5cm would be enough to get the extension trough the laptop cover and maybe wrap it around the back/front for carrying around? 

 

2015 15" Dell Latitude E5570 (R7 M370) [6th,4C,H] + GTX 1060 @ 32Gbps-M2 (ADT-Link R43SG) + Win10 [build link]  

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SanderV
(@sanderv)
Active Member
Joined: 2 years ago
 

@joevt, thanks for the input! I have dealt only with M.2 when I was replacing an SSD. The reason I'm sceptical of it is that it seems very delicate, and it seems to connect only properly when the male part is screwed down on the other end. What is your experience with that? Do you screw the M.2 part in and out every time you want to plug an eGPU?
U.2 on the other hand seems like a straightforward plug in / plug out kind of deal, although I haven't used it either.

I think the SFF 8639 type is probably preferable because although it's quite wide, it's not as high as the other one. I am hoping I can find some space somewhere in my laptop body to fit such a connector without it sticking out (much). But that will be challenging, maybe not possible at all.

But if it turns out to be possible, I was thinking of combining:
- the ADT-link R47SL: https://www.adt.link/product/R47SL.html, inside the laptop,
- then any adapter I can find from U.2 back to M.2, there are plenty out there
- then into that plug the ADT-link M.2 GPU adapter.

This way I use the tried-and-true ADT-link products that everyone here seems happy about, except of course with the two extra connectors in-between. Tonight I'll have a good look in my laptop case whether it is feasible to fit this stuff inside.

@tilchev, Yes that option looks pretty nice too. However, I am quite happy with my nice-looking ultrabook, and I would not go for anything that has cables permanently sticking out on some side.

 

Xiaomi Notebook Pro 15.6" (i7-8550U, MX150). Looking for a nice M.2 eGPU solution


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joevt
(@joevt)
Noble Member
Joined: 3 years ago
 

@sanderv,

you can connect a M.2 extender to the M.2 slot so that only the M.2 slot of the M.2 extender might be damaged by multiple inserts. The extender adds 9 mm in length and 2.3 mm in height. The extender is the items with the purple or grey QC stickers in the first picture at
https://egpu.io/forums/which-gear-should-i-buy/thunderbolt-3-external-drive-slot-m-2-ngff-adapter/paged/2/#post-68188

 

Mac mini (2018), Mac Pro (Early 2008), MacBook Pro (Retina, 15-inch, Mid 2015), GA-Z170X-Gaming 7, Sapphire Pulse Radeon RX 580 8GB GDDR5, Sonnet Echo Express III-D, Trebleet Thunderbolt 3 to NVMe M.2 case


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tilchev
(@tilchev)
Active Member
Joined: 3 months ago
 

@sanderv For a 'nothing sticking out' solution you may want to check out https://egpu.io/forums/custom-egpu-chassis/detachable-m-2-ngff-extension-to-egpu-setup/#post-77588 - the second combination of adapters seems like it has potential for a very clean build. I'm even considering it for my own build.

It would seem R42MF ( https://www.adt.link/product/R42M.html ) is the variant I would use for my side port idea, although I'm not sure where I would fit the 5cm cable without too much folding (my M.2 slot is like 1cm from the side, facing frontally). I'm also not sure how this PCIe x4 connector works - it has some sort of power connector - is powering it mandatory, because if it is this idea goes trough the window. I'm a total noob here and I've never handled neither M.2, nor PCIe x4 cables and connectors.

As for myself - I guess I'm not looking as much for a 'clean' build, but more of a detachable / practical / transportable one. This means I can do with a bit of cable hanging as long as it isn't off the bottom of my laptop (so I can't normally put it on a table without some weird stand (even with the eGPU connected - which is why I don't like the M.2 raiser idea as much). When it's just hanging off the side I can tuck it away (velcro solution) during transportation or make some sort of sleeve for it, so it doesn't get damaged while in a backpack or not in use in general.

@ everyone

I know this is a bit off-topic to this thread, but can anyone help ease my mind about the aliexpress warnings:

"This product does not support notebook external !!!"
"Pay attention !!!
This type is not suitable for laptop notebooks, Very dangerous, it will burning your laptop mainboard!!!
Only supports less than 3 years old mainboard. If your device is too old, it may not work."
"They are not support laptops, None of Dell's laptops are supported."

I haven't found any info about them while digging quite a bit in the forum the last 4 days (since I joined really) and no one has answered about them in this and one more thread I've mentioned them. I don't really mind if it affects stability as much, but I wouldn't want to burn my laptop over this. Although there is already a great build with Latitude E5570 which also uses an extension cable (R44SF) it's not exactly the one I plan to use (R44MF). I even emailed [email protected] about this and got "Our product is not compatible with any DELL device." which worried me even more. It is extra weird coming from sales - shouldn't they try to sell their product at all costs! 😀 What I'm asking here is why would they write these warnings if so many people around this forum are using their products and praising them?

@nando4

2. ADT-Link adapters like  R43SL  or better packaged R3G are Gen3 compliant, even when chained with extenders. Even a 100cm combined cable length is still stable.

 I've been reading some mixed information about M.2 extensions and cable length around the forum. In the E5570 build I linked above it is recommended not to go above 50-60cm total and not to use a M.2 extension at all (not just occasional bad performance, but game and blue screen crashes). This is why I'm thinking of getting only 25cm for my R43SG. But getting only 25cm could be an issue depending on what case I build around it and which side (left/right/bottom/behind) of the laptop I want to position the case in. I guess what I'm asking here is - is it really safe to go for 50cm R43SG + 5 to 10cm extension?

 

2015 15" Dell Latitude E5570 (R7 M370) [6th,4C,H] + GTX 1060 @ 32Gbps-M2 (ADT-Link R43SG) + Win10 [build link]  

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