Have PE4C V4.1, any reason to buy ADT-Link R43SG?
I've been reading into eGPUs on and off for awhile now. I bought a PE4C V4.1 in 2017 as a fail-safe if and when my laptop's GTX 980M becomes irreparable, and fortunately I did not need to use it since then. Recently I discovered that the ADT-Link people pushed out the R3G, which initially appeared to me as a cheaper PE4C V4.1 with thinner, high-quality cable. I already saw the type of cable ADT-Link used given that I ordered a M.2 NGFF extender (R44SF) made by them to make the PE4C less awkward to setup, so I know what to expect in terms of flexibility and ease of routing/management.
After digging a bit further (mainly through product pages), I didn't notice much difference in PCB functionality between the PE4C and the R3G. Both has the abilities to force-power the GPU, use multiple types of power connectors, and add delays that may or may not be needed. Both also appears to use roughly the same amount of surface-mounted components, and probably general design too despite difference in PCB sizes. I also found examples of GPUs in the PE4C and the R3G running at 32Gbps here and elsewhere, so shielding is probably on par with one another. As far as I could tell, the R3G is performs the same as PE4C with the added benefits of being newer, cheaper, and more readily available. On the other hand, the PE4C has a separate PCB from the mounting plate (making it somewhat mechanically isolated from the plate flexing), and that the stacked thick cables(?) that it used is definitely more robust.
That said, am I overlooking any important performance/physical difference between the two adapters that make the R3G more desirable than the PE4C? My end goal is to have a way to extend the usable lifespan of my laptop. I'm aware 980M isn't that bad at running games at 1080p with medium settings, but I know these cards sometimes run into MOSFET issues down the line due to the way they are designed. The repair quote for my 980M was why I looked into eGPU and bought the PE4C in the first place. MXM cards a nice, but they do cost a ridiculous amount to replace/repair by factory compared to the desktop variants.
Off topic question: I saw that the R3G has a variant that comes with a NGFF to TB3 adapter. Is buying one of those adapters for use with the PE4C a financially viable alternative to getting a TB3 enclosure, given that I already have suitable power supplies and whatnot?
Originally wrote the following as a comparison of which to buy: ADT-Link R43SG or PE4C V4.1 Since you have the latter already I'd suggest just test it to see if it does reliable x4 3.0. That will depend on your notebook and video card. If you get artifacting, frame bit errors or frame surging, then consider buying an ADT-Link adapter for it's superior German interconnect wiring.
Now I can't be sure if it's the additional connectors or the EXP GDC cable that caused it, but it was glitchy. I'd get bit errors (black dots, occasional frame glitches) in Dirt Rally and lower AIDA64 bench numbers. None of those problems exists with the ADT-Link R43SG.
I also found that my Elitebook 840 G5 gave a weaker M.2 endpoint signal that other notebooks tested beforehand (Dell 7510, Spectre x360). The only adapter that gave a glitch free x4 3.0 signal was a straight R43SG. Using an extender breaks it resulting in fast/slow surges for a signal that negotiated x4 3.0. EXP GDC 9.0b wouldn't negotiate x4 3.0. It negotiated x4 2.0.
So we know R43SG is a great adapter because they are using the best interconnect cable. It also costs less than the US$160 PE4C V4.1. If can buy both and compare them so we know for sure, then go for it. If it's a bit much then the R43SG has a greater history on here for delivering good performance.
If want the lowest cost, then consider a R43SL or (better) a R42SL. Mount it on a base with thumbscrew posts so can unplug the video card (use an edge protector), detach the whole adapter and wrap it over and velco onto your LCD cover for quick mobility.
Yes, you can attach one of these M.2 adapters to a Thunderbolt 3 port using a NVME-to-TB3 adapter. I've tested it with a JEYI NVME TB3 adapter.
Thank you for the response and the info about the NVME TB3 adapter. I overlooked the possibility of artifacts when using the PE4C. The eGPU build I'm going off of for the PE4C v4.1 didn't say much about display artifacts, so I guess I'll be confirming that for myself once the time comes. I'll also keep an eye out on the P43SG if it goes on sale since there's more builds with it here than the PE4C.
Funnily enough I was sent a R42SF for my order of the R44SF (which was shipped later in response to my complaint), so I'll add it to the list of adapters to compare.
Thank you for this post @nando4, it was immensely helpful.
There is also yet another adapter, Jeyi iExtra Graphics x4. The appearance is somewhat similar to the ADT one but the price is lower. It's likely the cable quality might not be as good. It has a connector on the other side too, which is very convenient if it works but generally problematic as it could reduce signal quality. It does not have the Dell connector too, only the ATX 24-pin. One distinguishing feature is that double M.2 M key channels can be used for increased throughput. Haven't seen it tested or reviewed anywhere. In the end I went for ADT and I'm very satisfied with it.
Lenovo ThinkPad X220 w/ Exp GDC 8.5c via ExpressCard & M.2
Lenovo Y700-17ISK w/ ADT-Link R43SG-TU via NVMe [More Info]
EVGA GeForce GTX 970 SSC ACX 2.0+ (Part # 04G-P4-3975-KR)
PSU: Dell DA-2 D220P-01 (18A), Tyco CAD240121 (20A)