Late 2016 17" Alienware 17 R4 + GTX1070@32Gbps-TB3 (AKiTiO Node) + Win10 [theitsage]^
I admit this is a wild attempt to see how far one could go with an external graphics card setup. There's an ASUS G20AJ gaming desktop in my household with a GTX 1070 so I thought let's find a Thunderbolt 3 and GTX 1070 equipped laptop to get this show on the road.
A quick search showed my local Best Buy store had an open-box Alienware 17 R4 in stock. It has the all right specs (Nvidia GTX 1070 and Thunderbolt 3) I was looking for. After a quick swap of GPUs, I was up and running with an AKiTiO Node GTX 1070 eGPU hooked up to the Alienware 17 R4 with another GTX 1070 inside.
The Thunderbolt 3 Controller in this Alienware 17 R4 has a Device Hardware ID of 15D9. Intel Thunderbolt Software shows it has support for external GPUs right off the bat. Therefore, my task was simply plugging a Thunderbolt 3 cable in for this setup to initiate.
Based on my past experience connecting different Thunderbolt 3 computers to this AKiTiO Node, I was anxious to find out how the Alienware 17 R4 would handle it. Within seconds, the second GTX 1070 showed up in Device Manager. No errors or complaints from Intel Thunderbolt Software.
Thunderbolt 3 eGPU just works when every component in your setup is blessed by the mighty eGPU god, Intel.
I ran HWiNFO64 to see additional information on Thunderbolt 3 port arrangement on this Alienware 17 R4. My struggle now is to figure out how I could set SLI in Nvidia Control Panel (missing this SLI option currently). In theory, if this GTX 1070 eGPU setup was successfully paired, it would be one of the most powerful laptops available.
I will run CUDA-Z soon. I read somewhere the newest gen of GPUs doesn't require a bridge. I have a triple Crossfire RX 480 in my Alienware Area 51 R2 running well without a bridge.
Nice work. First important point. Pls run CUDA-Z and post the results. Require confirmation you are getting full 32Gbps-TB3 bandwidth.
Doesn't SLI still need the bridge connector between two alike video cards?
Before Pascal's release there was quite a margin in performance between desktop and mobile variants of a video card. Now, not very much at all. Consider the following desktop vs mobile GTX1070 score:
So in this case, the eGPU isn't adding much to the system's existing performance. Add a future GTX1080Ti or Titan, or get SLI working may pep owner's interest or at least give an upgrade path.
Just a note: This is because in the GTX10XX series, nVidia is pretty much placing the desktop versions of the graphics chips right into the laptops. The chips are binned better, so their power consumption will be lower, and their clocks can be reduced to further drop the power requirements, but by and large, the desktop and laptop Pascals are the same thing. In a relatively bizarre twist, the mobile GTX1070 has MORE CUDA cores and TMUs than the desktop GTX1070 version, but it is clocked lower. For this experiment, this also means that the two GTX1070s are detected as entirely different devices, so they are not likely to SLI easily. There are a couple of projects that try to get SLI to play nice with different video cards, but that requires modifying drivers. You can try this.
"Always listen to experts. They'll tell you what can't be done, and why. Then do it."- Robert A. Heinlein, "Time Enough for Love."