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Has anyone seen something like this? - Mini eGPU  

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Yukikaze
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December 9, 2018 3:51 am  

Stumbled across this thing on ebay today, and I was wondering if anyone has seen it before. The direction of the ports (video card connectors in one direction, and the TB3 port is on the other side) doesn't look like a TB3 to PCIe board arrangement I've seen before. The power port location and the placement of the Ethernet port are also unfamiliar. I wonder where this thing came from, and has anyone seen the source of such boards before?

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theitsage
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December 10, 2018 1:47 am  

@yukikaze This is the prototype mini-eGPU by TUL. Unfortunately it never made to production. I saw the specs sheet of different configurations. The one in this listing looks like a 180W unit that doesn't have Power Delivery. The most anticipated configuration was RX Vega Nano with 60W PD and 330W power adapter.

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Yukikaze
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December 10, 2018 2:11 am  

@itsage - Thanks. I figured you might know what that thing is 🙂

It went for over 300$ on ebay, so it was too rich to grab it to dissect out of sheer curiosity.

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Eightarmedpet
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theitsage
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December 12, 2018 5:59 pm  

@yukikaze You will see dissect photos of this mini eGPU prototype soon. 😀

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Yukikaze
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December 12, 2018 6:40 pm  

@itsage - Did you have one, or are you the one that bought it off ebay? 🙂

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theitsage
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December 12, 2018 9:26 pm  

I got it off the eBay listing. Coincidentally @nando4 and I learned yesterday there's a vendor who will offer this mini eGPU enclosure soon.

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Eightarmedpet
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theitsage
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December 13, 2018 2:54 am  

The prototype mini eGPU arrived in the mail tonight. This unit came with a GTX 1060 3GB and a 240W AC power adapter. I/O arrangement is very unique with the Thunderbolt 3 port and two expansion USB-A ports in the front. The rear would be the output ports from the graphics card.

The power plug is on the left side of the enclosure and looks like a 6-pin PCIe power receptacle. There's an Ethernet port on the right side. Removal of the side panel is very quick (three Phillips screws in the rear).

It's very compact inside. As seen below there's little to no space for anything else except an ITX graphics card. I placed this eGPU and its power brick next to the Gigabyte Gaming Box for scale.

A quick inspection of the Thunderbolt 3 mainboard showed a nice surprise. There are two Thunderbolt 3 controllers, one to host the eGPU and the other to host expansion ports. This is the same arrangement found in the premium-priced Razer Core V2. The included GTX 1060 is a generic unit with no branding.

In order to test macOS Mojave compatibility, I swapped the GTX 1060 for the R9 Nano. It fitted nicely with sone room to spare in the front. I found it very clever of TUL to utiliize the notch in front of the PCIE slot to fit the Ethernet port.

There's no cooling fan inside the enclosure. Noise and cooling performance depend solely the graphics card installed. I placed the Xbox One controller on top for scale.

The USB-C controller is TI83 so it was plug-and-play in macOS. The dual Thunderbolt controllers showed up but none of the expansion ports worked. This is likely due to this unit being a prototype. Power Delivery is a minimal 15W. The R9 Nano eGPU worked perfectly once I ran @Mac_editor's Purge-Wrangler

I booted into Windows Boot Camp and this mini eGPU worked very well. The firmware posted full bandwidth in AIDA64

When I first saw this prototype at CES 2018 nearly a year ago, I had high hope it would be a popular eGPU solution once released. The plans were to offer different configurations including both Nvidia, and AMD as well as enclosure-only options. I don't know why it never came out and this particular prototype unit ended up on eBay. The good news is, Nando and I have been in contact with a vendor who will offer a mini eGFX based on this platform.

 

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Yukikaze
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December 13, 2018 3:54 am  

Connector layout is a little weird, but it is compact, small and isn't exceedingly ugly. It would be good to have a derivative/relative of it on the market.

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Eightarmedpet
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theitsage
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December 13, 2018 2:05 pm  

The expansion port layout is to minimize the footprint as much as possible. Ventilation is good. I was running the R9 Nano hard last night and warm air exited out the top and rear vents. GPUs without a shroud like the Gigabyte GTX 1080 and RX 580 ITX are perfect for this mini enclosure. RX Vega Nano is the prime candidate here but I don't know how stable it would be running with the 240W power adapter.

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Eightarmedpet
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theitsage
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December 13, 2018 8:21 pm  

The challenge for mini eGPU enclosures is to find suitable graphics cards. Hopefully we'll have more choices from AMD soon.

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nando4
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December 13, 2018 8:41 pm  
Posted by: theitsage

RX Vega Nano is the prime candidate here but I don't know how stable it would be running with the 240W power adapter.

An additional 150W power using a low cost, well eGPU versed,  Dell DA-2 AC adapter

Grab a 220W Dell DA-2 + 6P-to-8P PCIe extender cable, add a "ON" jumper paperclip, thread the 8P end through the enclosure and attach it to the video card of your choice. An instant 150W more power. This enclosure's 240W AC adapter is insufficient to power an ITX RX 580 or Vega Nano, let alone adding extra power load by utilizing the I/O ports or 15W PD.

https://egpu.io/forums/psu-cables/us3-dell-da-2-pcie-splitter/

Can you add a pic of the AC adapter label in the opening post? Is it 12V? Does a PCIe 6P plug fit into the DC jack?

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joevt
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December 14, 2018 12:19 am  
Posted by: theitsage

The expansion port layout is to minimize the footprint as much as possible. Ventilation is good. I was running the R9 Nano hard last night and warm air exited out the top and rear vents. GPUs without a shroud like the Gigabyte GTX 1080 and RX 580 ITX are perfect for this mini enclosure. RX Vega Nano is the prime candidate here but I don't know how stable it would be running with the 240W power adapter.

Having cables on all four sides (or three if you ignore the ethernet port) kind of expands the footprint though. Maybe they could put the power above the USB-C port. Drill a hole, place a panel mount DC power jack socket there, and wire it to the location of the original power plug (assuming only 12V is required). There might be room in the back on the side of the grill, the top above the cards, or bottom in the gap between the two PCIe card back plates. Ideally, the Thunderbolt connector would be in the back as well but it might be difficult to get the 40 Gbps signals moved back there.

Pending: Add my system information and expected eGPU configuration to my signature to give context to my posts


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theitsage
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December 22, 2018 8:52 pm  

@nando4 The external power adapter is 12V ~ 20A. Here's the PSU label photo.

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nando4
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December 23, 2018 5:23 am  

@theitsage, the FSP270-RFAN3 240W AC pinout and key match a PCIe 6P connector:

 

How to power an iTX RX 580 or Vega 56 Nano?

The large Mac community may prefer a more power hungry AMD card  due to native High Sierra & Mojave support. Problem then is this FSP270-RFAN3 240W AC adapter might struggle to power each of these along with the I/O  port power load.

One way of increasing input power to easily would be by using an fATX/SFX/ATX PSU.

The other would be to use two of these and wire it to a 6P (75W) or 8P (150W using 6P-to-8P extender) video card connector directly. 

Even so it may be easier and more cost effective to use a supplementary 220W Dell DA-2 instead using an extender and paperclip as shown  here. Those are available for < US$20 on ebay.

We'll see if the vendor can supply additional FSP270-RFAN3 units for this purpose.

eGPU Setup 1.35    •    eGPU Port Bandwidth Reference Table    •    Several builds
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Eightarmedpet
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 chx
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January 12, 2019 1:12 pm  

I am slightly confused -- @theitsage , did you run the R9 Nano without a second brick? But it requires a 8 pin. How...?

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theitsage
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January 12, 2019 7:29 pm  

No modifications at all with powering the R9 Nano. As seen in these two photos, the 6-pin plug from power brick provides 240W to the enclosure's main board. There's an 8-pin power receptacle on this board that runs an 8-pin to 6+2-pin PCIe power cable to the graphics card.

Keep in mind this is a prototype and the Power Delivery was set to 15W instead of 45W in the production version (VisionTek mini eGFX). Therefore the max power to the R9 Nano might have been efficient.

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January 16, 2019 7:08 pm  

Thank you so much for documenting this. Was really interested in this during the CES coverage I followed, had no idea someone already had one in hand, much less did a very helpful tear-down.

Here is a link to the product from VisionTek:  https://www.visiontek.com/visiontek-thunderbolt-3-mini-egfx.html

Pending: Add my system information and expected eGPU configuration to my signature to give context to my posts


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theitsage
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January 16, 2019 7:52 pm  

@chandler_price you're very welcome. I also have a media sample VisionTek mini eGFX for review. Here's some more details on the production unit.

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January 16, 2019 8:35 pm  

Thanks for that. I have a modded Zotac GTX 1080 mini I would love to cram into this  (modded in the sense that I removed the shroud, and attached two 92mm Noctua fans to the GPU fan header) and would love to cram that thing in this. Power might be a concern, but would you see any potential blockers for this on the PCB side? If it is just an issue of case structure, I should be able to mod that. I wanted to cram my 1080 mini in the Aorus mini EGPU, but certain aspects of its PCB blocked larger cards from extending past it in length.

Pending: Add my system information and expected eGPU configuration to my signature to give context to my posts


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