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[Unboxing] Sonnet Breakaway Box Thunderbolt 3 eGPU Enclosure
 

[Unboxing] Sonnet Breakaway Box Thunderbolt 3 eGPU Enclosure  

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itsage
(@itsage)
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Joined: 3 years ago
 

AMD XConnect team reached out to eGPU.io to test the Sonnet eGPU enclosure and the RX 580 graphics card. This coincides with AMD’s recent announcement of the Radeon RX 500 series GPUs and Sonnet’s announcement of its Thunderbolt 3 external GPU enclosure at 2017 NAB Show.

The test units I received are the Gigabyte AORUS Radeon RX 580 XTR 8G and the Sonnet eGFX Breakaway Box. eGFX is the same wording used on the AKiTiO Node package. Here are some unboxing photos of this new Thunderbolt 3 enclosure and first impressions:

The box says “For Windows” in bold letters. Not to worry Mac users, I’m writing this post on Mac OS running this very same Sonnet enclosure paired with the RX 580.

Sonnet states this box is a Thunderbolt 3 Expansion System for Desktop GPU and Other PCIe Cards.

It comes with a standard power cable and a .5m Thunderbolt 3 cable. The product label is on the bottom of the enclosure which is nicely fitted with sturdy rubber feet. The enclosure is clean and understated with a matte black finish and a blue Sonnet logo when active. With dimensions of 13.38″ x 8″ x 7.25″ (340mm x 202mm x 185mm), the Sonnet Breakaway is shorter and wider than the AKiTiO Node but much lighter. 

Everyone has been waiting for a close-up of the rear I/O. It has one Thunderbolt 3 port, mounted horizontally. The PSU is located behind the GPU, similar to the AKiTiO Node and Mantiz Venus.

Three thumb screws hold the top cover in place. If you’ve opened a desktop tower before, this task is a simple process. This view of the inner cage shows the three main components of this eGPU box: Thunderbolt 3 board, PSU and fan.

If you’re thinking this Thunderbolt 3 board looks very familiar, you’re right. I compared the Mantiz Venus board side-by-side, and there appeared to be minimal differences.

Here’s the top view of this board.

I zoomed closer in to identify the USB-C controller. It’s a Texas Instrument TPS65983.

The power supplier is an Akasa SFX 350W unit. It’s custom-made to have one 24-pin main power cable, one 6-pin PCIe cable, and one 6-pin + 2 PCIe cable.

I did not see any information on the max dimensions of graphics cards this enclosure would house. The smart thing for me to do was to get the bulkiest GPU I have and force it in there. It was a challenge, but the Sapphire R9 Fury Nitro barely fits this Sonnet Breakaway Box.

Saving the best for last, the cooling fan is a standard size 120mm with a well-placed mounting bracket on the left front of this enclosure. Sonnet appears to be targeting professionals rather than gamers with this box. During operation with the main cover off, I could hardly hear the PSU and case fan. 

With regards to compatibility, this eGPU enclosure works the same way as the AKiTiO Node and Mantiz Venus do. The host I’m using is a Mac Pro trashcan which runs macOS 10.12.4 with automate-eGPU script installed. I simply swapped the Mantiz Venus with the Sonnet Breakaway, and eGPU functionality works as if nothing had happened.

Upon seeing many similarities with the Mantiz Venus‘ TB3 board, I was hoping the Sonnet’s board would have similar power delivery to charge TB3/USB-C laptops. A quick check with my Late 2016 MacBook Pro 15″ shows it provides only 15W. This is the same as the AKiTiO Node.

I have yet to test CUDA-Z to confirm H2D speed, but the firmware shows 25.2 which is very new and most likely includes the H2D fix.

Testings and a full review with the RX 580 are under way. Please let me know if I left out any information you’d like to know. 

external graphics card builds
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fireheadman
(@fireheadman)
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very nice!  I'm interested to know what the mini/micro motherboard has for capabilities...  I see a handful of headers on it.


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⚡ Previous was MacMini 2011 w/AKiTiO Thunder2 | ⒼⓅⓊ:EVGA GTX 1060 3GB SC Gaming


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nando4
(@nando4)
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Posted by: fireheadman

 

very nice!  I’m interested to know what the mini/micro motherboard has for capabilities…  I see a handful of headers on it.

   

It’s using the same DSL6540C 1.0 mainboard like the Mantiz Venus and Powercolor Devil Box. The grey empty header used on these other enclosures to host the daughterboard: USB 3.0, Ethernet and SATA:

 

The Mantiz Venus internals for comparison from here and here

 

 

This comparison then begs some questions about modification possibilities:

 

1.  Mantiz tweaked their enclosure for 87W power deliver via firmware. Could Sonnet increase power delivery with this enclosure? eg: 15W->60W. If they can then this would set a new standard for this desirable feature at the ~$300 pricepoint.

 

2.  Can the Mantiz Venus daughterboard work in this enclosure (eg: not firmware locked)? There’s no chassis cutouts on the Breakaway Box for the daughterboard’s external ethernet and 3xUSB 3.0 ports but the cabled 2xUSB 3.0 and SATA connectors could be usable.  Concurrent use of those ports with the eGPU does impinge on the 22Gbps-TB3 bandwidth so while useful as a dock, not necessary for those wanting maximum eGPU bandwidth.

 

@itsage, thank you for the dimensions. You raise enclosure weight differences.

This detail was a requested addition to the buyer’s guide but the vendors were not disclosing the dry weight (with no eGPU installed). If you have some digital scales it would be a unique eGPU.io spec we can add to the buyer’s guide for the reviewed enclosures.

eGPU Setup 1.35    •    eGPU Port Bandwidth Reference Table

15" Dell Precision 7510 (Q M1000M) (6th,4C,H) + GTX 1080 Ti @ 32Gbps-M2 (ADT-Link R43SG) + macOS 10.13.6 & Win10


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itsage
(@itsage)
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I received a PM from a forum member in France who saw a retailer showing 2 versions of this Sonnet enclosure. This standard one with a 350W PSU is selling for $299. There’s another one priced higher and comes with a 500W PSU. That version is likely to have power delivery feature with at least 60W. Expansion ports through the the daughterboard would be a welcome feature too.

I’ll definitely try it with the Mantiz daughterboard I have to see whether it’s a firmware restriction. Getting the dry weight for these enclosures is also on my to-do list.

external graphics card builds
best laptops for external GPU
eGPU enclosure buyer's guide


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polo
 polo
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How it looks with availability on market?  when? 

P648-M+BL2420PT Arch user.


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traceq
(@traceq)
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Joined: 3 years ago
 
Posted by: itsage

 

I received a PM from a forum member in France who saw a retailer showing 2 versions of this Sonnet enclosure. This standard one with a 350W PSU is selling for $299. There's another one priced higher and comes with a 500W PSU. That version is likely to have power delivery feature with at least 60W. Expansion ports through the the daughterboard would be a welcome feature too.

I'll definitely try it with the Mantiz daughterboard I have to see whether it's a firmware restriction. Getting the dry weight for these enclosures is also on my to-do list.

   

Do you have that retailer's name ? In France I did not see a lot of eGPU retailer ... even amazon.fr doesn't have any so i'm quite interested

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


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ikir
 ikir
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Boom this is quite big news since show AMD interest in eGPU and macOS!!

Thansk for sharing mate, the Sonnet solution si pretty good too! Really hope AMD implement free sync on macOS and I will switch back to radeon the same second.


MacBook Pro 2018 Touch Bar i7 quad-core 2.7Ghz - 16GB RAM - 512GB PCIe SSD
my awesome Radeon VII eGPU
my Mantiz Venus extreme mod with Sapphire Nitro+ RX Vega 64


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itsage
(@itsage)
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I’ve been testing this box in Windows with FreeSync enabled. It’s a sweet setup.

external graphics card builds
best laptops for external GPU
eGPU enclosure buyer's guide


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ed_co
(@ed_co)
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itsage
(@itsage)
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@ed_co the front fascia is plastic. It’s matte finish.

external graphics card builds
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eGPU enclosure buyer's guide


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ikir
 ikir
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Posted by: itsage

 

I've been testing this box in Windows with FreeSync enabled. It's a sweet setup.

   

Do you think we will see free sync on macOS? can you provide this feedback to AMD?


MacBook Pro 2018 Touch Bar i7 quad-core 2.7Ghz - 16GB RAM - 512GB PCIe SSD
my awesome Radeon VII eGPU
my Mantiz Venus extreme mod with Sapphire Nitro+ RX Vega 64


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dualcore2
(@dualcore2)
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Joined: 3 years ago
 

Hi everyone!

Since there are coming in more and more Egpu Boxes I took a close look at the used boards. Here are my findings I want to share with you:

As nando4 mentions above the Mantiz Venus, Powercolor Devil Box, Sonnet Breakaway Box and OWC Helios FX all use the same DSL6540C V 1.0 mainboard. The name of the board is very simular to the name of Intels Thunderbolt Controler DSL6540 https://ark.intel.com/products/87402/Intel-DSL6540-Thunderbolt-3-Controller

Where does that name come from?

This board obviosly comes from TUL Corporation [Taiwan]

Now the thing that is most interresting: I see a lot of simularity to the Razer Core board. It looks like the DSL6540C V 1.0

is a new version of the Razer Core board.

blades 10b

 I can think of two possibilities: 1) TUL got the layout from Razer or 2) TUL developed the pcb for Razer and than continued with developing for there own product.

Mayby there's even a third party were the boards where developed???

So I estimate that the Mantiz Venus, Powercolor Devil Box, Sonnet Breakaway Box, OWC Helios FX and Razer Core all use simular boards.

Than there is Akitio (inXtron) [Taiwan]:

They use a completely different board for there Node, Thunder3 and most likely Note Lite.

I still hope for an Node Pro with USB and Ethernet Ports, but this should be done quite easy with this board.

Last but not least there is Asus [Taiwan] with the ROG Station 2:

Their board is also completely different:

So it looks like there are 3 different Typs of boards, which all come from Taipeh Taiwan. These guys do an amazing Job pioneering on Thunderbolt 3 eGPU Boards 🙂 Thank You 🙂

I wonder if there will be a product from some US Company like Dell or HP.

I think there will be coming a lot more enclosures in the future and they will get cheaper over time which allways helps to get tech things to the masses!

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


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itsage
(@itsage)
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Thunderbolt development and certification are overseen by Intel team in Israel.

external graphics card builds
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Sky11
(@sky11)
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FreeSync is officially supported on XConnect on Win10 and it does work...

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


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itsage
(@itsage)
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Posted by: Sky11

 

FreeSync is officially supported on XConnect on Win10 and it does work…   

Any plans for Freesync support in macOS?

external graphics card builds
best laptops for external GPU
eGPU enclosure buyer's guide


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ikir
 ikir
(@ikir)
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Posted by: Sky11

 

FreeSync is officially supported on XConnect on Win10 and it does work...

   

Please please freesync support on macOS!!


MacBook Pro 2018 Touch Bar i7 quad-core 2.7Ghz - 16GB RAM - 512GB PCIe SSD
my awesome Radeon VII eGPU
my Mantiz Venus extreme mod with Sapphire Nitro+ RX Vega 64


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ed_co
(@ed_co)
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Posted by: itsage

 

@ed_co the front fascia is plastic. It's matte finish.

   

It is a pitty, at least is matte. Not being metal, I can't stand with it, unless it has something better than others, like performance

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


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Sky11
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Posted by: ikir

 

Posted by: Sky11

 

FreeSync is officially supported on XConnect on Win10 and it does work...

   

Please please freesync support on macOS!!

   

Guys - I always try to help with the stuff I do know, but I cannot comment or help you with anything on Mac. I am however impressed how you folks managed to get eGPU working on MacOS 🙂

What I can say here is Sonnet Breakaway as proven quite reliable and easy to work with.  And RX580 is a kick-ass midrange card, and works very well on XConnect on both Windows Anniversary Edition and Creators Update. Same applies to RX570 🙂

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


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traceq
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Any news from Sonnet about the Breakaway ? Release date ... ?

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


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ikir
 ikir
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Joined: 3 years ago
 
Posted by: Sky11

 

Posted by: ikir

 

Posted by: Sky11

 

FreeSync is officially supported on XConnect on Win10 and it does work...

   

Please please freesync support on macOS!!

   

Guys - I always try to help with the stuff I do know, but I cannot comment or help you with anything on Mac. I am however impressed how you folks managed to get eGPU working on MacOS 🙂

What I can say here is Sonnet Breakaway as proven quite reliable and easy to work with.  And RX580 is a kick-ass midrange card, and works very well on XConnect on both Windows Anniversary Edition and Creators Update. Same applies to RX570 🙂

   

Maybe you can report this to Mac team 😛 Thanks anyway! RX580 is pretty good but I want Vega 😛


MacBook Pro 2018 Touch Bar i7 quad-core 2.7Ghz - 16GB RAM - 512GB PCIe SSD
my awesome Radeon VII eGPU
my Mantiz Venus extreme mod with Sapphire Nitro+ RX Vega 64


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Sky11
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Patience, patience... 🙂

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


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nando4
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(@crisso_face)
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Hy.
I have a problem, and im hopping you guys can help me out with it.
I just purchased this item/case.
I have a bunch of 580's just sitting around with minor damage, mostly on their cooling ( the gpu's were/are used for minning ).
Anyway, I DO fortunately own a MacBook pro ( early 2013 ), but its with TB1 not TB3. Anyway, and I am planning an update/refresh some time this year,
but I wanted to start with the case for egpu,
and meanwhile im playing with this "GA-Z270-Gaming K3 (rev. 1.0)" at work since its the only bord with TB3 I have access to.

Anyway, my question to you is why the hell cant I make it work with windows 10 ( last build ) and this bord since it hase TB3 natively?
Yes, I updated the bios, yes to the TB3 controller as well, yes I've installed the drivers correctly evan thou im not sure it was necessary for win10,
and yes, obviously I've followed the instructions on sonnet's page specifically for gigabyte mobo's,
but problem is on this bord I don't have any kind of settings for PCI resources to the Thunderbolt bus.
 "Thunderbolt (TM) Configuration" > "ThunderBolt Detachable Graphics Support" > switch to "Enable"
or any kind of reservation options for IRQ or anything like that.

Olso, the case works, just to be sure, I went with it atmy local mac store,
pluged it in to a mac, lid up like exactly it was supposed to do, appeared in system report as it was supposed to.

So pls, can anyone explain to my what am I doing wrong?
Seriously, am I THAT stupd?

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


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hornedfrog
(@hornedfrog)
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The same logic board is used in the 650W model as in the 550W? Thank you.

Mac mini 2018/i7/1TB/32GB RAM
Sonnet Breakaway Box 650W. Sapphire Vega 64 - (21275-03-20G card)
OWC Thunderbolt 3 14 port hub
AKiTiO Node Duo, 1 x Patriot Scorch M.2 512G SSD PCI-E 3.0 x 2 drive.


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