EXP GDC TH3P4G2 Thunderbolt GPU Dock Review
 
Notifications
Clear all

EXP GDC TH3P4G2 Thunderbolt GPU Dock Review  

 of  2
  RSS

Boltoway
(@boltoway)
Reputable Member Moderator
Joined: 3 years ago
 

Introduction

CloudHero and EXP GDC recently released their first Thunderbolt eGPU adapter - the TH3P4 Thunderbolt GPU Dock: a compact and affordable eGPU that offers daisy-chaining support and a modern Thunderbolt controller. Now the pair have kindly provided an updated version, the TH3P4G2, for review.

 

Design and Features

The TH3P4G2 is a compact and feature-packed device. Measuring 164mm x 97mm x 160mm it consists of a single printed circuit board with a two-piece aluminium enclosure and a steel bracket for mounting an SFX PSU and bracing the graphics card.

 

The rear interface has a USB Type A 3.0 Port, the Primary Thunderbolt 3 port with 60W Power Delivery, and the Secondary Thunderbolt 3 Port with Daisy-Chaining support. The 'internal' interface has an ATX 24PIN and ATX 8PIN Power Input, 4Pin Fan Header with a low and high speed switch, a 5Pin FBSL-5P (Front Panel) Header and an unsoldered 4Pin USB Header.

 

It uses the same JHL7440 Thunderbolt 3 Controller Module found in the TH3P4, which is attached to the PCB by two M.2 connections. This Thunderbolt module unfortunately did not come with a dedicated heatsink, however a small 1mm thermal pad can be installed to bridge the controller to the aluminium enclosure, creating a simple and effective heatsink with little effort. On the underside of the PCB is a relatively large heatsink, which is presumably resposible for cooling the power delivery components.

 

Setup and Installation

Setting up and installing the TH3P4G2 is relatively simple. The steel bracket is mounted to the underside of the device with two included screws. An SFX PSU can be attached with 5 x 6-32 screws, which were unfortunately not included with the device but are easy enough to come by. A graphics card can be installed into the full-length PCIe slot and secured to the steel bracket with two more screws. I used a SilverStone SX500 and a Gigabyte GTX 1060 Mini OC. My host device was a ThinkPad L13 Gen 2 with an i5-1135G7 and 8GB of RAM.

 

Turning on the SFX PSU will cause a blue LED labelled 'Standby' to activate. Once plugged into a host device a second green light labelled "START" will activate and power will then be delivered to the GPU. Hot plugging the device to my ThinkPad L13 Gen 2 initially caused an error in Device Manager, however restarting the laptop with the eGPU attached removed this error and Windows began installing the automatic GPU drivers. Once Windows has installed the drivers, the device is essentially ready to use, however I would recommend installing the latest drivers for your installed GPU and following this guide for advanced setup configuration.

The TH3P4G2 will cut power to the GPU when the host system is shutdown, however it will remain active if the host is only in sleep mode.

 

Performance

The JHL7440 Thunderbolt Controller often reports slightly increased bandwidth over older controllers, which can translate to better performance.

 

Unigine Heaven Ultra Settings Internal Screen (1366 x 768) and External Screen (1920 x 1080):

 

3DMark TimeSpy Internal Screen (1366 x 768) and External Screen (1920 x 1080):

 

Usability

One of the best features of the TH3P4G2 is the inclusion of both a USB A port and a second Thunderbolt Port. This enables the user to use the eGPU as a hub and attach additional Thunderbolt devices downstream of the eGPU. I had positive results when stress testing all the available ports. I did this by attaching a Samsung T5 Portable SSD to the USB A Port and an Acasis FA-TB34 Thunderbolt NVME Enclosure to the Second Thunderbolt 3 Port. I installed and ran Unigine Heaven off of the Acasis while simultaniously benchmarking the Samsung T5 with CrystalDiskMark. I used Cuda Z to monitor the H2D and D2H bandwidth, which fluctuated by ~500MiB/s during the test. Furthermore, I installed Overwatch and Call of Duty: Warzone on the external NVMe enclosure and while having a wireless mouse plugged into the USB A Port. Both games performed very well from the daisy-chained device and I didn't appear to suffer from any stuttering or freezing of the wireless mouse. As can be seen, pushing the bandwidth of all these ports results in a performance deficit.

I decided to push the daisy-chain even further by adding more devices. In total I had three Thunderbolt devices (including the GPU and an NVMe SSD) four USB Devices, three audio devices and a monitor, all through one cable. Results were very good, and under general usage the system performed flawlessly. I was even able to play Overwatch, loading from the Thunderbolt NVMe Drive, without any stuttering or mouse freezing. Only when I attempted to play the nutoriously unoptimised Call of Duty: Warzone with this setup did I run into mouse freezing. However, this was illeviated by attaching the wireless mouse dongle directly to the laptop. There were no other issues with peripheral stability on the chain, and game-performance could potentially be increased in this scenario if I had output the monitor display directly through the GPU instead of via the dock. Performance was again impacted by the expansion of the chain and saw a decrease in H2D bandwidth, averaging 1600 MiB/s, with dips as low as 1300 MiB/s during heavy load. Overall the bandwidth management and overall stability of the TH3P4G2 is excellent, and produced a one-cable-solution almost as good as when daisy chaining through a Thunderbolt 4 Dock.

 

Conclusion

The TH3P4G2 is an excellent option for an all-in-one eGPU docking station solution or platform for a custom eGPU enclosure. The compact design enables the use of SFX power supplies, without limiting GPU length or power requirements. Furthermore, the USB hub, daisy-chain support, power delivery and internal fan header combined with the superior JHL7440 Thunderbolt Controller results in what is probably the most feature-rich eGPU available on the market.

While SFX power supplies are readily available, they are more expensive than their ATX counterparts and are not easy to come by second hand. Furthermore, even the shorter SFX PSU cables are an eye-sore without an enclosure shielding them. Aesthetics have always been a downside of an open design.

Much like the original TH3P4, CloudHero and EXP GDC have made the TH3P4G2 more affordable than purchasing an eGPU from mainstream manufacturers and can be found on AliExpress for ~$150 USD.

This topic was modified 2 months ago

TH3P4 Thunderbolt GPU Dock Review
TH3P4G2 Thunderbolt GPU Dock Review
Wikingoo Thunderbolt GPU Dock Review
DIY Portable Custom Water Cooled Thunderbolt 3 eGPU
Thunderbolt 4 Docks, eGPU Daisy Chaining and the One-Cable Dream
Windows 10 Solutions for eGPU BSOD, Crashing, System Freezing and Stuttering
Adding Advanced Power Management Options to Windows Laptops for Performance, Thermal Throttling & Power Management

 
2021 14" Lenovo Yoga Slim 7i Pro (MX450) [11th,4C,H] + GTX 1080 @ 32Gbps-TB4 (Wikingoo eGPU) + Win10 21H1 // Custom Loop Water Cooled eGPU [build link]  


itsage, goalque and nando4 liked
ReplyQuote
Boltoway
(@boltoway)
Reputable Member Moderator
Joined: 3 years ago

ReplyQuote
Badea Cosmin Gabriel
(@badea_cosmin_gabriel)
Active Member
Joined: 1 year ago
 

Somewhere available for buying ? 

Simple and useful review.

2021 14" Lenovo Yoga Slim 7 [11th,4C,G] + GTX 1660 Ti @ 32Gbps-TB4 (CM MasterCase EG200) + Win10 20H2 [build link]  

ReplyQuote
Arbystrider
(@arbystrider)
Eminent Member
Joined: 5 years ago
 

Thank you for the review.

The most obvious difference from the previous TH3P4 is that the user is now expected to use an SFX PSU, as shown by the SFX bracket and 24-pin connector. This eliminates the need for the weird 24-to-8 pin adapter that has been included with EXP GDC's previous eGPU products, going as far back as the BEAST on Expresscard.

It is good that the TH3P4G2 has an official USB PD spec of 60W. Perhaps 100W would be better for higher-powered laptops?

I would also like to see how the community could develop a chassis around this eGPU adapter, replacing the provided steel bracket. This could be very close to the ideal single-cable portable eGPU dream.

Though, it is worth mentioning (AFAIK) that the Cooler Master EG200 has a dedicated TB3 link to the eGPU as all its other periperhal devices (including its SATA connector) are routed through a separate USB connection. This provides more consistent eGPU performance at the expense of having one more cable connected to the host device. If a chassis could be designed that makes the TH3P4 more compact than the EG200, then it would be a very compelling option.

This post was modified 2 months ago

ThinkPad X230t, i7-3520M @ 2.9 GHz, Windows 7
EVGA GTX 1070 Hybrid, 2113 MHz @ 1043 mV
x1.2Opt, PE4C V3.0, 4Gbps-EC2


ReplyQuote
Boltoway
(@boltoway)
Reputable Member Moderator
Joined: 3 years ago
 

@badea_cosmin_gabriel

I don't believe it is currently available to the international market, but hopefully it will make its way onto AliExpress or similar global market, like the TH3P4 is. 

@arbystrider

Exactly! I quite like the original TH3P4's ability to use a standard 12V DC plug, however the TH3P4G2 is a much more refined, all-in-one solution.

100W would be ideal, but 60W is enough for the majority of ultrabook users and is really nice to have in a non-mainstream eGPU. 

Absolutely. Looking at the design, it would be extremely easy to make a chassis out of either sheet metal or 3D printed plastic, even with the included SFX power supply brace attached to the device. 

I think the biggest advantage the TH3P4G2 will (hopefully) have over the EG200 will be price. I have also updated the review with more daisy-chaining performance analysis. 

 

TH3P4 Thunderbolt GPU Dock Review
TH3P4G2 Thunderbolt GPU Dock Review
Wikingoo Thunderbolt GPU Dock Review
DIY Portable Custom Water Cooled Thunderbolt 3 eGPU
Thunderbolt 4 Docks, eGPU Daisy Chaining and the One-Cable Dream
Windows 10 Solutions for eGPU BSOD, Crashing, System Freezing and Stuttering
Adding Advanced Power Management Options to Windows Laptops for Performance, Thermal Throttling & Power Management

 
2021 14" Lenovo Yoga Slim 7i Pro (MX450) [11th,4C,H] + GTX 1080 @ 32Gbps-TB4 (Wikingoo eGPU) + Win10 21H1 // Custom Loop Water Cooled eGPU [build link]  


ReplyQuote
joevt
(@joevt)
Noble Member
Joined: 5 years ago
 

Too bad they didn't add DisplayPort inputs to use the downstream Thunderbolt port for Thunderbolt displays powered by the eGPU, like what the Blackmagic eGPU and Sonnet eGPU Breakaway Puck 5500 XT/5700 do.

 

Mac mini (2018), Mac Pro (Early 2008), GA-Z170X-Gaming 7, Sapphire Pulse Radeon RX 580 8GB GDDR5, Radeon Pro W5700, Sonnet Echo Express III-D, Trebleet Thunderbolt 3 to NVMe M.2 case


ReplyQuote
wildfear
(@wildfear)
Estimable Member
Joined: 2 years ago
 

Nice review and eGPU material.

Available on aliexpress : EXP GDC TH3P4g2

 

This post was modified 1 month ago
2022 16" ASUS Zephyrus M16 (RTX3070Ti) [12th,14C,H] + RTX 3080 @ 32Gbps-TB4 (WD_Black D50 * ADT-Link R43SG) + Win11 // inc MSI GS66 12700h numbers as bonus [build link]  

Boltoway liked
ReplyQuote
Boltoway
(@boltoway)
Reputable Member Moderator
Joined: 3 years ago

ReplyQuote
DXPHeGPUio
(@dxphegpuio)
Eminent Member
Joined: 8 months ago
 

Has anyone ever tested the performance of the JHL7440 in actual games and compared it to enclosures with older Thunderbolt controllers?

2019 15" Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Extreme Gen 2 (GTX1650) [9th,8C,H] + GTX 1080 Ti @ 32Gbps-TB3 (Razer Core X Chroma) + Win10 21H2 [build link]  

ReplyQuote
bootz
(@bootz)
Trusted Member
Joined: 5 years ago
 

This may be against the spirit of the design, but are there any 3d printed cases available for this device?

iMac 4k 2015 - 21.5" (iGPU only)
i5-5675R @ 3.10 GHz
8 GB RAM
Aorus Gaming Box 1070 via TB3 > TB2 adapter
...also 1 successful session with 3060 Ti, honest!: /> Windows 10.0.17134


ReplyQuote
 of  2