(UPDATED) 2020 Dell Vostro 15 7000 (7500) + Mantiz MZ-03 Saturn Pro eGPU ( V2 ) = Unusable USB audio, strange stuttering and interesting daisy chain performance.
So, the problem was not the Mantiz Saturn Pro II or the WD19TB, but the Dell Vostro 15 7000. For whatever reason, it was significantly underperforming when connected to the eGPU. It also underperformed when I benchmarked it with a Thunderbolt 3 NVME External SSD. I am not sure why, whether it was bad drivers or firmware, or if the PCH was overheating (I had already applied thermal pads to it). None the less, I would personally not choose this laptop for an eGPU specifici application. Otherwise, the laptop itself was excellent. I have still no solution to the crackling audio.
So I recently purchased a new laptop, and after somewhat of a hiatus, I decided to build a new desk and try a new all-in-one, one cable solution. This is somewhat of an initial findings report, with a full build and review hopefully coming soon.
So my much anticipated Mantiz Saturn Pro (V2) arrived today, I installed a GTX 1660 Super from my server and I set it up with my USB DAC, USB Microphone and two Keyboard + Mouse Wireless USB receivers. Hot-plugging the Mantiz into the Vostro brought it up as two devices in the Thunderbolt Control Centre (as expected) and it began the usual Windows USB Device setup for the peripherals. Initially my external monitor didn't activate, but it came around once the automatic NVIDIA drivers were installed in the background. The drivers were out of date, and didn't match that of my (internal) GTX 1650 Ti, causing an error message from the NVIDIA control panel. This problem was fixed by updating the NVIDIA drivers, after which both the 1650 Ti and 1660 Super were correctly displayed in the NVIDIA Control Panel and NVIDIA GPU Switching Utility.
So the main issue I faced initially was stuttering and momentary freezing when doing generic tasks in Windows, such as opening a program or the notification tray. This is frustrating, as it was one of the issues that caused me to abandon my previous setup (XPS 13 + Razer Core X Chroma).
The second issue was Overwatch not opening what-so-ever, but this was fixed by disabling the Internal GTX 1650 Ti in Windows Device Manager.
Running demanding videos on YouTube (such as a 4k video at 60Hz, even when it was only being rendered at 1080) it was dropping over 10% of total frames.
Finally my USB DAC (S.M.S.L M6) is completely unusable through the eGPU. The device itself is recognised and installs correctly though Windows, but the audio is horrifically plagued with static and unbearable crackling. This is true no matter what audio format I used (Everything from 16 bit / 44.1 Khz to 32 bit / 384 Khz), what cable I used, what USB port in the Mantiz I used, or if I was running through generic Windows drivers or specific XMOS drivers. Changing application priority or enhancements did not alter the outcome. This got worse, until it would barely play any recogniseable audio at all.
When in a 3D Application such as Unigine Heaven or Overwatch, the system performed well, without any issues.
While the 1660 Super is only being used temporarily, I wanted to benchmark it against the server I took it from, and the Vostro itself.
Laptop (Internal GTX 1650 Ti):
Laptop + eGPU (External GTX 1660 Super)
Server (Internal GTX 1660 Super)
The eGPU had a small 4.4% increase over the laptop's internal GPU, and a reduction of 37.5% when compared to the server (which has mucher higher end hardware).
DAISY CHAIN PERFORMANCE
I hadn't originally planned on using an eGPU with my new laptop, and purchased a Dell WD19TB Thunderbolt Dock with it. I didn't realise that the WD19TB has full Thunderbolt daisy chain support.
Plugging all my peripherals into the WD19TB and then plugging the Mantiz into the Thunderbolt 3 Port on the rear of the dock solved my previous audio issue and simultaneously increased my eGPU performance. My DAC now runs without any audio interference whatsoever, and the WD19TB is a true one cable solution, providing the 130 watts the Vostro requires.
17.6% increase in performance while being daisy chained? Wack.
So far I am extremely happy with the Vostro, which has performed much better than I expected, which I will go into further in my full review. I am not entirely convinced that the Mantiz is going to suit me, especially after realising the WD19TB has the ability to daisy chain a GPU, I probably would have preferred to use a Razer Core X with a single TB3 controller onboard, seeing as I am no longer going to need the peripherals the Mantiz has to offer. I will continue to test, benchmark and troubleshoot this new setup.