mini-eGPU with AKiTiO Thunder3 & Thunder2 & Node Lite (the best Implementations)  

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nando4
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April 3, 2017 11:07 am  
Posted by: deplomb

I do have an STL, but the filetype seems unsupported for upload even as zip.

@admins: would it be possible to allow stl files?

  

As requested, zip and pdf files attachments are now enabled. Defaulting to a 2MB limit on an individual file.

eGPU Setup 1.35    •    eGPU Port Bandwidth Reference Table    •    Several builds
2015 15" Dell Precision 7510 M1000M + macOS 10.14 & Win10


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deplomb
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April 3, 2017 11:48 am  
Posted by: nando4

 

Posted by: deplomb

I do have an STL, but the filetype seems unsupported for upload even as zip.

@admins: would it be possible to allow stl files?

As requested, zip and pdf files attachments are now enabled. Defaulting to a 2MB limit on an individual file.

   

Whow, that was fast. Thank you.
Attached is the stl as zip:

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deplomb
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April 3, 2017 11:52 am  

@ SeeTheBridges
If you 3d print an enclosure please share the results.
I'd be very curious, never tried 3d printing before.

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kriskate
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April 4, 2017 2:38 pm  

Hi! If I were to use a power adapter made for Asus g46vw (19V @ 9.23A - 180W), with a 1050TI on an Akitio t2, do you think I might encounter any issues?

I've seen others using a 19V power brick, but I'm not sure of the short/long-term impact on the akitio/GPU

 

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nando4
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April 4, 2017 3:56 pm  
Posted by: kriskate

 

Hi! If I were to use a power adapter made for Asus g46vw (19V @ 9.23A - 180W), with a 1050TI on an Akitio t2, do you think I might encounter any issues?

I've seen others using a 19V power brick, but I'm not sure of the short/long-term impact on the akitio/GPU

AKiTiO Thunder2/3 takes a 12V DC jack input. Do not use any 19V AC adapter as it will damage that eGPU enclosure.

@enjoy has linked higher power 12V AC adapters in the opening post of this thread. A higher power 12V/220W Dell DA-2 is a popular choice due to low priced accessibility of s/h ebay units.

eGPU Setup 1.35    •    eGPU Port Bandwidth Reference Table    •    Several builds
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bookatechie
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April 5, 2017 6:16 pm  

I made a short video of my setup. Really pleased with it. I’m playing Dark Souls 3 on this at highest settings with 40FPS average. Evga 1050 Ti SSC card. I’m using the standard power brick, swapped out for a silent reversed fan, and got a longer T3 cable so I can keep the box on the floor while sitting on the couch. Thank you for all the help from this forum!

 

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April 8, 2017 9:54 am  

While waiting for my Mantiz which will sport a new GTX 1070, I will mod my Thunder 3 to became a mini-eGPU

Maybe with a 1070 mini or a cheaper 1050ti

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edwardsean
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April 8, 2017 5:57 pm  

Hi. Are any of you intending to use this with VR? One of the reasons I got an eGPU was to explore VR in the near future. However, Geforce Experience shows my system as not ready for VR. It displayed this with the GTX1060 and also when I upgraded to the GTX1070. To my knowledge both these GPUs are VR capable along with the rest of my system. 

Will I have a problem setting this up with an Oculus or Vive?

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SeeTheBridges
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April 12, 2017 2:50 am  
Posted by: deplomb

 

@ SeeTheBridges
If you 3d print an enclosure please share the results.
I'd be very curious, never tried 3d printing before.

   

I think I wanna try and use Shapeways to do the print, but I need to know what unit of measurement you used for the STL. Like how many units the longest edge is and how it correlates to the size in real life

Tried out units set to Inches, but it comes out a little wrong. Dimensions end up as 76x230x143mm. I want to try and make my print an exact match at 76x233x149mm so as to minimize risk of it not fitting.

Edit2: Also @enjoy, if you want you can add my implementation to this post as Ive finally gotten around to adding pictures.

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Akitio Thunder2 w/ EVGA GTX 1050 SC and (MSI RX460 2GB presumed dead)


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iaomw
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April 12, 2017 11:00 pm  
Posted by: deplomb

 

here is one example with a GTX970 in the Akitio thunder 2
I went with the dell DA2 PSU and built the 8pin PCIe connector into the Akitio backplate right underneath the PCI bracket.
Very tight but it fits. The power supply for the Akitio itself is wired inside the Housing and soldered to the PCB tight underneath the Barrel connector.
So no barrel plug on the outside needed.

 

   

Hi, could u show me which kind if connector are u using to power up the the PCB of Akitio?

I saw there are 4pin connectors on each PCB, but how to use them?

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deplomb
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April 14, 2017 6:30 pm  
Posted by: SeeTheBridges

 

I think I wanna try and use Shapeways to do the print, but I need to know what unit of measurement you used for the STL. Like how many units the longest edge is and how it correlates to the size in real life

Tried out units set to Inches, but it comes out a little wrong. Dimensions end up as 76x230x143mm. I want to try and make my print an exact match at 76x233x149mm so as to minimize risk of it not fitting.

Edit2: Also @enjoy, if you want you can add my implementation to this post as Ive finally gotten around to adding pictures.

   

the original file is drawn in millimeter,  76x230x143mm should be correct for the exterior housing of the thunder 2.
please double check the dimensions and let us know the results. I do not have my akitio on hand to check.

Is there possibly a difference between Thunder 3  and Thunder 2 housing profile dims?

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deplomb
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April 14, 2017 6:34 pm  

Hi,

the akitio pcb is wired from the 8pin molex connector in the backplate.
(The one the dell DA-2 is connected to).
There is no extra plug, I simply soldered the two wires to the solder points of the Barrel plug.

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kogare
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April 15, 2017 8:12 am  

Can anyone confirm that I can use akitio thunder 2 with hp spectre 13 kaby lake version?

It's very difficult to get the latest akitio thunder 3 in my country, Indonesia. ;(

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jconly
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April 15, 2017 2:14 pm  

Hey guys, 

Sorry if this has been addressed already, but now that the new drivers are finally out for OS X, could someone please tell me the most powerful card I could cram into a Thunder 3 without modifying the case (aside from power pass through?)

Main use is Open CL / GL based workflow, but the occasional CUDA support is a bonus as I spend time bouncing around in CC. 

Currently running a Node w/ 980ti, but the form factor is a little large for the on-site work I do.  Need this thing to be easy to transport.

 

Thanks! 
Forgive my ignorance.  

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iaomw
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April 16, 2017 7:48 pm  

Hey, I found this method to power the GPU without break the box. The PCB of Akitio is capable to do more.

http://bbs.feng.com/read-htm-tid-10225957.html

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edwardsean
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April 16, 2017 9:25 pm  

Hi Enjoy, 

The 1070 is working out brilliantly without the casing. The thing is I play exclusively in 4K 3D and I'm coming up against some performance bottlenecks. So, I just ordered the Zotac 1080 mini to experiment with fitting it into the Thunder3 chasis. 

What I'm confused about is you and Maven said that I have to remove the top part of the metal plate holding the fan. I'm not sure what that means. I was wondering if it's enough to just pop that part open like in Izzard's instructions. I'm not going to bend it all the way back as the Zotac is not that long. I'm hoping that if I detach the fan plate and just bend it open a little I can fit in the GPU and reattach the front of the Akitio with the bottom screws. 

What do you think?

 

[Well. I just ordered a Dremel from AZ. I'm just going to bite the bullet and cut off the fan plate. ]

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eight bit hero
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April 18, 2017 5:03 am  

iaomw thats a nice find i wanna look more into that. I'm also going to make my own case to fit the 1070 and 1080 mini's better. I'm a sheet metal worker so i have access to all kinds of stuff. i ordered a akitio thunder3 to base the idea from.

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Yukikaze
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April 18, 2017 8:30 pm  

A heads up: It looks like the AMD side of the pond has finally decided to give us a small card more powerful than the RX 460. The Sapphire Radeon Pulse RX 570 ITXI can be now purchased for ~175$. The card needs extra 6-pin power, but is small enough to fit into a physically unmodified Thunder2 or Thunder3. I am disappointed by the video outputs, however. It really should have had 3xDisplayPort and 1xHDMI. DVI needs to die.

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Username
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April 18, 2017 9:41 pm  

The spec says it's only 112 high but in the photos it certainly appears taller.

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fireheadman
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April 19, 2017 4:00 am  
Posted by: iaomw

 

Hey, I found this method to power the GPU without break the box. The PCB of Akitio is capable to do more.

http://bbs.feng.com/read-htm-tid-10225957.html

 

   

This post may be off topic (my apologies if so...)

Comparing to this photo:

It looks like a 4 post/pin, pronged molex connector (not sure which type) and additional capacitor was soldered onto the board.   This would change the need for a Dell DA-2 to be some other PSU brick, using only a barrel connector to supply full power.  This would definitely defeat the need for custom harnesses and give it a cleaner look.

UPDATE:  Found a few places that have them: 

http://www.adapter.cc/products/D220P%252d01-DELL-12V-18A-Charger-Power-5.5*2.5mm.html

http://www.laptop-car-adapter.com/dell-adapter-12v-18a-777.html

http://poweradaptercord.com/12v-18a-220w-barrel-5525mm-iec-c14-d22p01-p-3371.html

 


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nando4
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April 19, 2017 4:40 am  
Posted by: fireheadman

 

It looks like a 4 post/pin, pronged molex connector (not sure which type) and additional capacitor was soldered onto the board.   This would change the need for a Dell DA-2 to be some other PSU brick, using only a barrel connector to supply full power.  This would definitely defeat the need for custom harnesses

 

It is not clear what you are intending to achieve here. The referenced mod to solder a connector to J6  is based off some outtdated material where it was proposed such a mod was needed to route 75W to the slot (copied below), which has since been verified as unnecessary here.

The important point is the J4/J6 input power cannot exceed 120W.

So then the use of a soldered J6 header could achieve two things:

1. An INTERNAL method to supply up to 120W to drive the slot (75W) + additional circuitry.  That may be useful if trying to say house the AC adapter in the AKiTiO Thunder2/3.

2. J6 could be a tap off point to supply PCIe power if using say a 120W AC adapter plugged into the DC jack. 10W would be used for TB circuitry, J6 providing PCIe power via a custom lead and then provide up to 75W slot power. That could be a neat way to drive a slightly undervolted GTX1050Ti (120W TDP).

 

AKiTiO Engineer said:

Re: Development for graphics applications

Message: The board is designed for a maximum of 25W on the PCIe slot, this cannot be modified. The only option for extra power to the card is with that 4-pin connector and a bigger power adapter that is plugged into the existing DC jack.

You mentioned that you have the skills to modify the circuit board yourself, so with this drawing, you should be able to add a 4-pin connector to the pins labelled J6 for extra power. You can then replace the power adapter with a more powerful one sufficient for 75W. Having said that, the maximum power must NOT exceed 120W and as you said earlier, the modification is at your own risk.

mMwJg06.jpg

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edwardsean
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April 20, 2017 7:55 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

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vava726
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April 20, 2017 9:27 am  

Is there a complete pin-out or a datasheet of the thunder 3 PCB ?

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ed_co
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April 20, 2017 11:51 pm  

I love this mini-eGPU team, but I can't stand with an external brick! It is a pity not being able to keep it with a custom internal PSU, like the current mac mini for example!! which delivers a lot in a minimal space!!

mid-2017 Macbook Pro RP560 + MSI GTX 1080Ti Gaming [email protected] (Mantiz Venus) + macOS10.13 & Win10


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luminous0426
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April 21, 2017 4:40 pm  

Could you please post some more pictures of your setup? I just bought a Zotac 1080 mini too, and

I just bought a Zotac 1080 mini too, and I am going to fit it into the Akitio Thunder 3 just like you.

I tend to cut the outer box to let the case be closed, but not sure how much should I cut out.

If I cut out the upper side of the case and the fan plate, will there be enough space to fit the card and close it? or the card is still too long?

 

And I was thinking if the card is still too long, maybe I could change the VGA's heatsink, is it a bad idea?

Or just remove the fan, and cut a little bit of the heatsink to let the card fit in, and put a fan on the side of the outer box to cool it down?

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edwardsean
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April 21, 2017 5:46 pm  
Posted by: luminous0426

 

Could you please post some more pictures of your setup? I just bought a Zotac 1080 mini too, and

I just bought a Zotac 1080 mini too, and I am going to fit it into the Akitio Thunder 3 just like you.

I tend to cut the outer box to let the case be closed, but not sure how much should I cut out.

If I cut out the upper side of the case and the fan plate, will there be enough space to fit the card and close it? or the card is still too long?

 

And I was thinking if the card is still too long, maybe I could change the VGA's heatsink, is it a bad idea?

Or just remove the fan, and cut a little bit of the heatsink to let the card fit in, and put a fan on the side of the outer box to cool it down?

   

Whew! Brother, if you're thinking about all of that–you know way more than me. I'm brand new to all of this and Enjoy was kind enough to warn me not to be too risky. Because of my inexperience, there is a good chance at the end of this I'm going to fry my system and electrocute myself in a puddle of my own tears. 

Luckily, you don't need to touch the heatsink. Once the Akitio fan and fan plate are removed the card fits just fine length-wise. You can then reattach the front grill. The upper screws no longer have the fan plate to screw into, but the bottom screws hold it well enough. That's it. If you do want to cut the top of the case as Maven did, it will close without any more modifications.

I don't have any more pictures to take and post really, as for me that's as far as I went. I didn't touch the case enclosure, and I rather like the look of it open with the Zotac logo lit up.  As far as the internal chassis, it really is just the fan and fan plate that must be removed. Once the case is closed though, I do worry about thermals without a side vent or an external fan like you're considering. As it is, the Zotac in the open air is cool and quiet. 

All the best to you. 

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edwardsean
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April 25, 2017 3:31 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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eight bit hero
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April 25, 2017 3:53 am  

that is an absolute beating lol after i just ordered all my stuff for the da-2. figures that would happen and i was on the fence of just buying the node and making my own mini case for it with the power supply and everything it came with. i got a gtx170 gigabyte mini with the thunder3 on its way. your telling me this setup is not going to work now?

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eight bit hero
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April 25, 2017 4:01 am  

yeah but like Edward said we loose juice on these cards through thunderbolt so ya kind of wanna push them to every bit you can from them 

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edwardsean
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April 25, 2017 4:47 am  

Eight Bit Hero, I don't want to mislead you. The DA-2 will generally power the 1070. I had more issues with the 1080. The DA-2 is usable for this class of GPUs. My opinion, and I'm no expert, is just that the higher you go the less you can push it. The graphs I've seen online seem to bear that out. 

The DA2 does work with the 1070 pretty well with some overclocking with some games. Also, there are variables in play such as how good a "slice of silicon" you get in your particular unit. 

Having said that, there were other titles that could only be pushed a little or not at all. To be honest, my system is performing so much better now with a high quality PSU, both in terms of stability and overclocking. My personal experience has been that, with overclocking, the DA-2 was okay for the 1060, strained with the 1070, and underpowered for the 1080. 

 

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eight bit hero
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April 25, 2017 4:53 am  

thanks for the info Ed much appreciated i wanna also add that my setup is with a skull canyon nuc with a asus 1ms 144h monitor rather then a laptop does that make a difference?

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eight bit hero
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April 25, 2017 4:54 am  

i should at least get 60fps at 1080p out of most games right?

Soon I will add my system & eGPU details or a build link to this my signature to give context to my posts


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edwardsean
(@edwardsean)
Trusted Member
Joined: 2 years ago
Posts: 53
April 25, 2017 5:07 am  

EBH, again, and I can't stress this enough, I'm no expert. But, yeah, I don't think the NUC vs. laptop will make a difference one way or the other. The fact that you're gaming at 1080p should make a huge difference though.

I'm at 4K-3D and the loss from going external on the GPU is really hurting me. I'd lower quality settings to gain FPS, but eGPUs don't work that way, I'm finding out. That's why I'm trying to push the overclocking as much as I can. 

For your purposes, with the 1070, I actually think you'll be alright. 

Soon I will add my system & eGPU details or a build link to this my signature to give context to my posts


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