Hands-on with ASUS XG Station Pro Thunderbolt 3 Enclosure  

 

theitsage
(@itsage)
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January 11, 2018 4:10 pm  

ASUS started 2018 by announcing a new Thunderbolt 3 eGPU enclosure, the XG Station Pro. I'm at CES 2018 and visited ASUS suite in the Wynn hotel (part of Tech West). The ASUS XG Station Pro was displayed in the ROG section. I got in prior to the opening day rush and had some hands-on time with this new external GPU enclosure.

ASUS XG Station Pro

The first thing I located was the external power brick. It’s very similar in size to the Dell DA-2. I didn't get to to feel how heavy the unit was. It was tucked away neatly under the display area. The 330W power adapter has a proprietary connector. This Delta ADP-330AB PSU is a shared component from the GX800 gaming laptop.

The overall dimensions of this XG Station Pro are close to the Razer Core and much smaller than the XG Station 2. The outer panels are made of aluminum. The inner cage feels like sheet metal. ASUS noted they collaborated with In Win to produce this enclosure.​ Sliding the latch in the top rear of the enclosure to the right releases the top panel. Once this panel is removed, you can slide the two side panels up and out. On display ASUS had only the top panel attached. I played around with these panels. They're well-built with a sturdy feel to them.

Pressing the Power button in the back of the enclosure turns on the small status light in the front, but everything else remains off. Once there’s an active connection with a Thunderbolt host computer, the rest of the components power up alongside the LED strip under the GPU.

The cooling fans are two In Win Polaris 120mm units. They are positioned side by side, adjacent to the backplate of the graphics card, and are tasked with removing heat through the large vented side panel. I put my ears up close and could barely hear the fans. This is a drastic improvement over the XG Station 2.

The pair of 6 + 2-pin PCIe power cables draw power from the main board. The installed GPU was an ASUS ROG Strix GTX 1080 Ti. For those concerned about whether the 330W external power brick could handle power-hungry cards like the GTX 1080 Ti, this is a relief. There is a trade-off though. I noticed the laptop's second Thunderbolt 3 port was plugged into a power adapter. Therefore it’s likely this XG Station Pro does not provide any more than 15W PD.

ASUS used a ZenBook 3 Deluxe as the Thunderbolt 3 host computer. It ran the latest Nvidia drivers, GeForce 390.65 WHQL, that add better eGPU support. Right away I noticed the disconnect and connect notification at the bottom right of the taskbar. ASUS also installed a Fan Utility software that was set on Silent Mode.

I had a quick chat with Ernest Cheng, ASUS' Manager of Product Marketing. The XG Station Pro will be available in North America in Q1. Canada is to receive it first, and the US will follow shortly after. I will request a media sample after CES 2018 to find out how this new eGPU enclosure stacks up against the competition.

Best ultrabooks for eGPU use

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chinsteig
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January 11, 2018 4:10 pm  

Interesting that Canada is getting them first instead of a North American release. Does this mean there will be subtle differences in different regions?

Mid 2012 15" MacBook Pro > Thunder2 > GTX 1070 > 34" 2560x1080 Ultrawide
Mid 2017 15" MacBook Pro > Thunder2 > GTX 1070 > 34" 2560x1080 Ultrawide


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nando4
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January 11, 2018 4:10 pm  

@theitsage, can you confirm the The dimensions are 375 x 107 x 205mm (14.76 x 4.21 x 8.07in) given here? Asus have only posted a 14.8 x 4.30 spec in other release media.

2013 15" Dell Latitude E6540 HD8790M + RX580@4Gbps-EC2 (EXP GDC 8.x) + macOS 10.13.5 & Win10
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Flint Ironstag
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January 11, 2018 8:11 pm  

Very high wife / corporate acceptance factor as long as it's sub $400.

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theitsage
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jonah765
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January 13, 2018 3:39 pm  

@itsage do you think the price in the UK will be similar?


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theitsage
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January 13, 2018 3:49 pm  

@jonah765 I'm not sure but I hope ASUS keeps it closer to 300 than 400 in the UK and EU.

Best ultrabooks for eGPU use

eGPU enclosure buying guide

60 external GPU build guides


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jonah765
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January 13, 2018 3:57 pm  

@itsage yeah, me too, considering asus is such a big company hopefully they can keep it a resonable price unlike some of the other smller eGPU producers


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DANgerous25
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January 14, 2018 2:32 am  

Thanks @theitsage, I guess it may have been difficult to tell given where it was but do you have any view on the kind of noise from the power brick and the unit itself?

late-2017 27" iMac Pro RPVega64 + GTX1080TI@32Gbps-TB3 (AKiTiO Node) + MacOS 10.13.2
late-2014 27" iMac 5k R9 M295X + GTX1080Ti@16Gbps-TB (AKiTiO Node via TB3->TB2 adapter) + macOS10.13 & Win10


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theitsage
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January 15, 2018 1:36 pm  

@dangerous25 the enclosure itself and the fans were running very quietly. You can see in one of the screen captures the fans were set in quiet mode. My guess is that the GPU fans may be louder than the case fans.

Best ultrabooks for eGPU use

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James
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February 4, 2018 10:11 pm  

So this was providing graphics to the internal laptop display not an external monitor? If so what was the performance like?


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theitsage
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February 5, 2018 9:43 pm  

@jdstephens it was powering the laptop's internal display. I did not have time to run any benchmarks.

Best ultrabooks for eGPU use

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(@casey_toney)
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February 12, 2018 11:54 pm  

If anyone was curious, the Pro has finally released in the US!

I honestly don't know how long it's been out. I've been checking Google, Amazon, and here basically every other day for the past couple weeks for signs of its release. The only reason I finally found out is because I checked out an ASUS Valentine's Day post that had "XG Station Pro" tagged. It had a corny ad for the product with the Newegg link.

Can't believe I'd forgotten to check Newegg the whole time, hahaha.

Anyway, I braved Newegg's ridiculous shipping prices and ordered one to arrive Wednesday. I'll be out of town this weekend and won't have much time to play around with it, but if I remember, I'll try to post some first impressions with some pics Thursday or Friday.

I'm especially interested to investigate the effectiveness of its dual-fan exhaust system, the quality of the extra long active-Thunderbolt 3 cable (its inclusion being a key part of the value, for me), and how it handles a GTX 1080 Ti (the reason I returned my Node).

I might be the only one who was eagerly waiting for this but I hope some more impressions help anyone else in the market for a new (or their first) eGPU enclosure this Spring.


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(@laxlad)
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March 1, 2018 9:21 pm  

Love the design of this, can’t wait to see some benchmarks on this.


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Eightarmedpet
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Locky28
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March 3, 2018 1:10 am  

How'd you go with your order? I'm really interested to see how this performs! Particularly whether it provides any power delivery over USBC. I know that's not in the spec, but I'm hoping it'll charge when the power load allows but they just didn't want to advertise it.

late-2016 13" Macbook Pro Non-TouchBar + RX580 8Gb@32Gbps-TB3 (ASUS XG Station Pro) + macOS 10.13.5
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cmm
 cmm
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May 26, 2018 8:03 am  

Locky28, I bought the Asus XG Station Pro and now need to sell or throw or discard it, because it does *not* charge the laptop, and I need a second Thunderbolt device on my laptop now.

As it looks I will get a Sonnettech Breakaway 650 or 550, and replace its PSU with this one https://www.silverstonetek.com/product.php?pid=797&area=en . This would achieve the same quietness profile as you get from the Asus XG Station Pro.

I will discuss this solution in a separate thread.

The Asus XG Station Pro's PSU is 330 watts, maybe its output is 295 watts, not sure. I think this may be why they chose to do no laptop charging at all. However, also, I would think that their PSU really would be able to give my laptop 45 watts and then the GPU 245 watts, as I am only doing office programs anyhow.

Thunderbolt eGPU enclosures, and Thunderbolt PCI enclosures, are a jungle. The Breakaway will be the *THIRD* enclosure I buy in my quest for a silent, useful Thunderbolt setup !!! ..


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Eightarmedpet
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May 26, 2018 8:12 am  
Posted by: cmm

Locky28, I bought the Asus XG Station Pro and now need to sell or throw or discard it, because it does *not* charge the laptop, and I need a second Thunderbolt device on my laptop now.

As it looks I will get a Sonnettech Breakaway 650 or 550, and replace its PSU with this one https://www.silverstonetek.com/product.php?pid=797&area=en . This would achieve the same quietness profile as you get from the Asus XG Station Pro.

I will discuss this solution in a separate thread.

The Asus XG Station Pro's PSU is 330 watts, maybe its output is 295 watts, not sure. I think this may be why they chose to do no laptop charging at all. However, also, I would think that their PSU really would be able to give my laptop 45 watts and then the GPU 245 watts, as I am only doing office programs anyhow.

Thunderbolt eGPU enclosures, and Thunderbolt PCI enclosures, are a jungle. The Breakaway will be the *THIRD* enclosure I buy in my quest for a silent, useful Thunderbolt setup !!! ..

I have a Sonnet 350 I would be willing to trade. If not I’d be interested in buying your Asus outright if you are ok to ship to the UK?

2017 13" MacBook Pro Touchbar + GTX1060@32Gbps-TB3 (AKiTiO Thunder3) + Win10
2017 13" MacBook Pro Touch Bar + GTX1070@32Gbps-TB3 (Sonnet Breakaway Box) + Win10
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