Junk Dell Latitude e6440 to 'slightly more portable' eGPU-equipped Workbox (4th gen i7 4C/8T, GT 1030, EXP GDC Beast 8.5c [mPCIe or expresscard])
nota bene: this post is still mostly a WIP, I want to see what I can do with this under linux as well
Hello wonderful folks of eGPU.io,
A neighbor of mine was moving abruptly due to a dispute with the landlord, so when he was applying for jobs he asked me to recover his data from his non-functioning Latitude e6440.
A repair was attempted, but the board (VAL90)... 'twas toast! A frame and VAL91 board with the dGPU cooler was acquired, as the rest of the unit was rather clean beyond a few scratches (not the FHD display, doesn't matter to me), and it was running!
However, that was too easy, and I still needed to replace all the screws to make every thing just sit flush (also I wanted a powerhouse not a budgetbox, really and the i5-4310M that still worked is a little dated).
While I was shopping for screw packs I decided on a whim to see what I could do in terms of an eGPU setup as well as a better processor and some other goodies. I noticed that, unless I wanted to lug around an ATX power supply (or something else modified) I would need to go with an EXP GDC Beast and a proper regulated power supply (this is intended for me to be able to work from anywhere).
Aliexpress otherwise turned up some great finds (each of these is in the build, I will add pics later):
- The Powersupply (5A will power a GT1030... but go with 10A)
- The GT1030 (by yeston, a smallish Chinese gfx mfg)
- Cheap Ram (Kllisre is my goto after G.Skill!)
- Neat Caddy for these Latitudes that exposes the Expresscard slot heh
- Goldenfir SSDs, Zheino also makes decent ssds
The Core i7-4900MQ was sourced as well (used, very good condition though).
Upon installing everything 3 full diagnostic passes were performed with Dell's OEM hardware test (good to test this unknown vintage 4th gen i7 but I trust the Kllisre sticks), no errors.
The TDP WAS NOT UNLOCKED (there is an excellent guide on this on another forum) this processor was chosen due to price at the time and that extra 2M cache...
Caveat: DO NOT USE THIS 10A POWER SUPPLY WITH A REAL CARD. This yeston unit was fine for my purposes (plays Dota 2, a russian moba that's a poorly optimized Unity game with excessive anticheat, other stuff just fine which is what I wanted) and only draws ~50W max so far (pictures coming, again, I measured the card under Linux as I haven't been on Win10 full time in about 5 years).
So then I rigged up the EXP GDC Beast via one of the spare mPCIe slots, routing the cable through the antennae slot, and out the back (pictures coming). It is rather sketch and the battery can be removed still but it's going away soon. Here is what it looks like sitting next to the cheap (but rather good, actually) power supply:
But then was presented with a predicament:
I had never done this before and could not figure out how to set the link to Gen1 speed and retrain it easily for what is intended to be a Windows 10+WSL2 workbox.
This is where Nando comes into the picture. I reviewed a few threads (I found eGPU.io through the wonders of google dorks) regarding other builds people had done using this platform and noticed that I was also going to have to disable the dGPU before Win10 loads as well, which meant of course I was willing to pay the 15 bucks for DIY eGPU Setup 1.35! (I had come this far and realistically what it does for that money it's a steal )
It took maybe 30 minutes to figure out how to do what I needed to do then wrap it up in startup.bat, the general order of operations that works for me is (stolen from Nando with some adjustments):
- Set link to Gen1, retrain.
- Run PCI Compaction (this seems to work reasonably well with this machine? it did play a game of LoL without PCI compaction, however) against the iGPU and eGPU
- Disable dGPU
My startup.bat is:
Of course, the nvidia error43 fixer was required
And after running MSI Afterburner I have to say yeston put together a quality card... these GT 1030s normally from other manufacturers are passively cooled. However, this fan and sizeable heatsink made it possible to push some extra juice out of this little low power card!