Seagate FireCuda Gaming Dock Thunderbolt 3 With Expandable NVMe
 
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Seagate FireCuda Gaming Dock Thunderbolt 3 With Expandable NVMe  

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itsage
(@itsage)
Founder Admin
Joined: 6 years ago
 

In my search for unconventional Thunderbolt 3 eGPU solutions, I found some intriguing options. The first one in my list was the WD_Black D50 Game Dock [discussion link & build guide]. Another fun choice was the Seagate FireCuda Gaming Dock. These two Thunderbolt 3 docks share many similarities, but the part I like the most is a full x4 PCIe 3.0 NVMe M.2 slot and Intel JHL7440 Thunderbolt 3 controller. They allow us to build Thunderbolt 3 eGPU through a M.2 adapter such as ADT-Link R43SG to reach a max throughput of 3,000 MB/s.

Unlike the WD_Black D50 Game Dock, the FireCuda Gaming Dock does not have upstream Power Delivery (only 15W) to charge laptops. It's also a lot more bulkier than the D50 Game Dock. This was due to a larger footprint to accommodate a 4TB 3.5" SATA hard drive. To extend that footprint even longer, Seagate had the NVMe M.2 slot protruding to the front of the enclosure which then shielded by a metal cover with LED boards and connection pins for RGB. This piece is a nice feature for adding a M.2 SSD as well as M.2 eGPU adapter.

I quickly learned the dock does not turn on unless the metal cover is installed. The power-on circuit is open without the LED boards being connected. Not wanting to break anything, I decided to use my trusty putty knife to take this RGB metal cover apart. There's no screw holding the 3x main components together. The gap is very minimal so it takes patience and a very thin putty knife to pry this thing apart. I bought this tool more than 15 years ago to open the first generation Mac mini G4.

Once the LED frame is separate from the inner frame, I could close the power-on circuit to use this FireCuda Gaming Dock. It's not a perfect opening to install the ADT-Link R43SG M.2 adapter. The flex cable sits at angle, but that's not an issue with the eGPU connection so far. I connected this arrangement to my 2018 Mac mini. This computer already has an RX 580 eGPU (Gigabyte Gaming Box) powering an LG 4K monitor and an HP 5K monitor (three DisplayPort cables). The ASUS 15 FHD portable monitor is through a USB-C cable from the back of Mac mini.

The Radeon Frontier Edition was plug-and-play in macOS through this arrangement. Here are some screen captures of System Information and CL!ng in macOS. Sleep and wake from sleep work well in the past three days of testing. I will try Windows 11 in Boot Camp next.

 

The FireCuda Gaming Dock gives the Radeon FE a clear advantage over the RX 580 in the Gigabyte Gaming Box. Although there's no PD, it pairs nicely with a Mac desktop like the 2018 Mac mini. You'd get a 4TB drive for external storage, 5x USB 3.1 Gen2 ports, 1x downstream Thunderbolt 3 port, 1x DisplayPort 1.4, 1x RJ45 ethernet network port, 1x 3.5mm audio-in/mic port, and 1x 3.5mm audio-out port. The only missing I/O is an SD slot.

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2021 Gigabyte Z590i Vision D [11th,6C] + RTX 3060 Ti @ 32Gbps-TB4 (Gigabyte Gaming Box) + Win11 [build link]  


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Boltoway
(@boltoway)
Reputable Member Moderator
Joined: 4 years ago
 

@itsage

Very cool.

When you do the Windows 11 testing, could you do some benchmarks comparing the real-world gains from this vs direct TB3 eGPU? Would be insteresting to see how the bandwidth translates to performance. 

 

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