late-2016 15" Macbook Pro RP460 + mini GTX1080-8GB@32Gbps-TB3 (AKiTiO Thunder3) + Win10 [edwardsean] // 4K-3D & TB3-CPU vs TB3-PCH  

 

edwardsean
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April 30, 2017 12:18 am  

Well, I finished my journey–for now. I went from the 1060 to the 1070, and today I installed the Zotac GTX 1080 mini into my Akitio Thunder3. Pricey, but still the cheapest way to get there. I shudder at the cost of the Bizon route. As you can see, it does fit into the chassis with the enclosure, the fan, and the fan plate removed. I wanted to share some thoughts in case anyone else has their sights on the 1080. 

1) First, after taking off the casing, I took out the circuit board to keep it from getting damaged by sparks and metal dust. You just have to remove the back plate and the front grill and the screws holding the board. Then you can pop out the connector for the fan and unscrew the fan from the fan plate and pull out the LED. 

2) Now, it gets real because you have to cut off the fan plate from the chassis. I bought a cheap rotary tool do this but the cutting discs kept shattering. The chassis is not nice soft aluminum but some good hard steel. I went to Home Depot to get a stronger cutting disc and they told me that for this job I really need a grinder. My feeling is that you can probably do this with a dremel but you would need a heavy duty disc and some patience. For my part, I went to an autobody shop and the guy sheared off the fan plate with a grinder in two minutes. There were horrible noises and sparks flying everywhere and I congratulated myself on taking it to the shop. The place I went to was great and did it for free, but you might need to slip them some money.

After the fan plate is cut from the side of the chassis you have to detach the bottom from the section with the two screws that hold the front grill. As IzzardUK detailed, you simply hammer a jeweler’s screw driver in between the bottom of the fan plate and the chassis to break the weld joints. There are two of them and you can see where they are by little circular indentations. This part is easy as the joints break with a few taps and you can pry the fan plate fully off at this point. I used the rotary tool to smooth out the jagged edge from grinder cut but it’s not necessary. I wanted to use it for something. 

3) After that you’re home free. You just put the circuit board back in and reattach the back plate and front grill. The front grill holds with just the bottom screws and the top connecting plate bends up easily to accommodate the GPU. I then just taped the LED to the inside of the front grill. 

[4) Regarding power, see Enjoy’s post on pg. 5 You will need more than the Dell DA-2. For myself, I went on the high end and got a Corsair SF450 (450watts).]

5) As for coil whine, I had some on my 1070 under load, but this particular 1080 unit has none. The fans are nice and quiet too.

6). Finally, was it worth it? It really depends. As Enjoy has documented there is a serious law of diminishing returns here. The gains are not dramatic but incremental, and there is less of a jump going from the 1070 to the 1080 than from the 1060 to the 1070. In terms of price for performance, the 1070 is kind of a sweet spot. You really have to take seriously what Enjoy and Yukikaze pointed out: you’re not going to see substantial increases in frame rate as you go up in external GPUs but resolution. In my use case, I play on 4K-3D and I’ll take whatever FPS I can get, and some games just weren’t playable on the 1070. On the 1080 they do get over the threshold of playable FPS though just barely.  What is interesting is that even though I hit a ceiling on framerate, I can increase my graphics settings on 4K-3D at the same FPS, which is quite nice. 

I hope this helps answer some questions. For me, it was worth it, but there are some complications involved and I don’t know that I would recommend it unless you’re playing at higher resolutions or 3D or both.  All the best.

 

IMG 9305
IMG 0330
Edited: 3 months  ago

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edwardsean
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April 30, 2017 12:19 am  

Hi. I wanted to report back on powering the Zotac GTX1080. The Dell DA-2 kept shutting down under high load and so I thought I had a problem with my cable (a modified Kareon cable). So, I ordered the startech splitter and made a cable from scratch. I also ordered an EVGA 500W supernova G3 PSU, and once I was confident of the DA-2 cable, I ran some tests. 

First of all, I can confirm the Akitio+GPU does not like being powered by the Akito PSU combined with another PSU (e.g., DA-2). I thought I might get more power by sharing the load, but whether from a ground loop, regulation issues, or whatever this will not work stably over time. 

As it turns out, the Dell DA-2 alone can power the GTX1060, 1070, and 1080 fine–under normal operation. However, if you overclock, the DA-2 seems to shut down and crash the system. This happened more and more going up from the 1060, to 1070, to 1080. 

With the EVGA 500W G3, the system is completely stable overclocking at +175 on the core clock +750 on the mem clock with max. power/temp on Afterburner.  The only thing is that the small EVGA G3 is still a pretty large ATX PSU and so I’m going to switch it out with the Corsair SF450. This should work out just as well and that unit is quit compact. These PSUs have–way–more power than is needed, but I wanted a high quality modular solution.

Since eGPUs take a hit on performance, I need to squeeze out every bit I can get.  Though expensive, the upgrade is worth it for me.


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edwardsean
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April 30, 2017 12:21 am  

I’d like to add that, for 1080p gaming, I think Enjoy is bang on. I think the situation changes somewhat though for 4K Gaming and gets more complex. When you go from 1080p to 4K on a desktop GTX1080 fps is going to plummet obviously. For example, Rise of the Tomb Raider (at max. settings) goes from ~100+fps down to~47fps. On an eGPU GTX1080, the fps at 1080p shows a huge loss against the internal GPU at ~59fps, but at 4K, I’m also getting ~47fps on an eGPU. So, as you go up in resolution things start to even out—somewhat.

 

If only it were that simple. The thing is these performance deltas seem to vary a lot over different titles and applications. So, for ROTR, I think I’m getting somewhere around the numbers that a desktop GTX1080 is getting at 4K. Well optimized games like Battlefield 1 have me approaching 60fps at 4K, maxed out! I think that’s insane for an eGPU. I have to be clear, that I’m heavily overclocking, and also that this can only be done with a really good power supply. But, nevertheless, this all makes me feel the GTX1080 was worth it. On the other hand….

 

Badly coded titles bring the dream of a GTX1080 in an eGPU down to a depressing slog. Enjoy showed graphs for Andromeda. Andromeda is just the worst, for so many reasons (and yet, I still want it to be good). Just as Enjoy was writing his post I was trying to get Andromeda in 4K-3D to be playable at any settings, and I couldn’t. Seeing 12fps come out of a GTX1080 really takes the wind out of your sails. In the end, I had to use med. settings and scale resolution to 80% just to get it to 20-24fps. In this case, I’m sure I could do way better if I just threw my components into a mini-ITX build. So, if you’re thinking of a GTX1080, you really have to consider your specific application. 

Edited: 10 months  ago

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edwardsean
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April 30, 2017 12:21 am  

Hi guys, hope you’re having a nice weekend. I’m going to move this off the main thread, but first I was wondering if I could get some feedback on something. 

As I posted before my results with the GTX1080 have been mixed. It’s awesome to have this kind of power in an eGPU, but I wonder how much performance I am leaving on the table. From what I’ve read it seemed like putting a GTX1080 in an eGPU may be a bit of a waste. I always balanced this out with the consideration that, at 4K, performance between an internal and external GPU starts to even out. Still, weak performance on titles like Andromeda, Quantum Break, Arkham Knight made me think I am just not getting what this card has to offer.

I started to toy with the idea of transferring the card to a mini-ITX build, and found a fantastic case in the NFC S4 mini. We all like small, or we wouldn’t be here, and that case is a work of art in miniaturizing. But, before I sink that kind of money into this I had to get serious about tracking down my performance bottleneck. So, I finally just installed Unigine to get a bead on some reference benchmarks. 

What I found was this: At 4K, I’m getting the same performance as a desktop GTX1080 within a couple frames–I think anyway. I’m not sure which is why I’m asking for help. What it looks like is that my sometimes disappointing fps comes down to my insisting on 3Dvision. (3D can cut numbers up to half whether you’re on an internal or external GPU.)

On the eGPU score in Heaven thread, I posted my 4K Unigine tests and links to internal GTX1080 benchmarks. I found desktop GTX1080 reviewers running Heaven at 4K and repeated their tests on my eGPU. To summarize:

1) 4K|Ultra|8X-AA|Tessellation: extreme. Internal GPU:  27.3/ eGPU: 27.1

2) 4K|Ultra|4x-AA|Tessellation: normal. Internal GPU: 32/ eGPU: 30.2

3) 4K|Ultra|No-AA|Tessellation: extreme. Internal GPU: 34.8/ eGPU 33.3

(By the by, overclocked, I get that couple of frames back)

If this is right, there’s no need to spend another $1,200+, double up on components, and add extra bulk. The performance loss over a full desktop build is nominal. The GTX1080 is not wasted in an eGPU implementation at 4K, and it’s for these higher resolutions that you would want the 1080. I am brand new to all of this though, so I wanted to ask those more experienced, which is, you know, all of you. Can this be right? I know the bandwidth delta between even Thunderbolt3 and PCIe is massive by multiples. Did I miss something here?


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votehart407
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April 30, 2017 2:52 pm  

I am using a Titan X Pascal and the results have been much better VS a Razer Blade and MSI GS 40. I cannot say for certain what is causing the increased performance but it has salvaged the EGPU set up for me. 

 

My my issue is I cannot stabilize the boot process. I have gotten it to work by using the “disable FaceTime Root bridge camera and disable then enable the GPUs root bridge” but it is not consistent. These forums look a little Greek to me. 

 

What method did you use to stabilize the boot process?

late-2016 15" Macbook Pro RP460 + Titan Xp@32Gbps-TB3 (Razer Core) + Win10


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nando4
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April 30, 2017 3:02 pm  
Posted by: votehart407

 

I am using a Titan X Pascal and the results have been much better VS a Razer Blade and MSI GS 40. I cannot say for certain what is causing the increased performance but it has salvaged the EGPU set up for me.

 

We anticipated that a late- 2016 15″ MBP’s TB3-CPU architecture would outperform TB3-PCH architecture found in the Razer Blade and MSI GS 40 which can suffer DMI bottlenecking [ pictorially shown here ].  Your anecdote proving the point further. Wish we had some comparison benchmarks between the two different architectures to see the performance differences.

eGPU Port Bandwidth Reference TableeGPU Setup 1.35


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votehart407
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April 30, 2017 3:10 pm  

MBP 2016 3dMark Ultra – 6190

Heaven 4.0 – Ultra 4xAA 2560×1440 – 112 FPS – Score 2829

 

GS40 3DMark Ultra – 5989

 

10-15 fps improvements in most games.

 

Now, how do I stabilize? 😉 

late-2016 15" Macbook Pro RP460 + Titan Xp@32Gbps-TB3 (Razer Core) + Win10


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