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Ultrabook Buyer's Guide: Best Laptops for External GPU
 

Ultrabook Buyer's Guide: Best Laptops for External GPU  

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odin
 odin
(@odin)
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Joined: 12 months ago
 

There are two more that might need consideration.

1. Samsung Notebook 9 15.

You might think this would not be a contender, but a Windows Central reviewer stated it as 4-lane Thunderbolt 3 here:

Even though it has an MX150 discrete GPU. I did a lot of investigation to try to get some clarification somewhere about this, and I found this nugget on the Notebookcheck review ( https://www.notebookcheck.net/Samsung-Notebook-9-NP900X5T-i7-8550U-GeForce-MX150-Laptop-Review.287284.0.html ). You would think with an MX150 dGPU that it would have a 4-lane implementation since that's the physical wiring, but on inspection of this review it looks like the MX150 is configured as 2-lane, possibly lending credence that they saved 4-lanes for the TB3 port.  Here is proof that the MX150 is configured in an x2 PCIe fashion:
 

There is some solid hope here that this svelte 2.8lb notebook has a proper TB3 implementation as stated. I noticed that my 1080 in my current notebook doesn't cut the lane width in power saving only the data rate, so hopefully this is hard wired to 2-lanes.  Also, since it has a dGPU in there, there's a pretty beefy shared cooling solution as the GPU and CPU are on the same heatpipe, fins, and fans. So if only the CPU is being stressed it has plenty of cooling to keep the clocks up. A repaste on this would probably help it maintain some pretty impressive boost clocks while only stressing the CPU.

2. LG Gram 15 (this was previously mentioned in the thread).
It is proven that the TB3 on the more expensive model with an i7-8550U is 4-lane. The problem with this unit is that the cooling is extremely poor and it can hamper it's use for gaming with an eGPU, as seen here: 

There is hope, however, as one user did a TIM reapplication to theirs and it no longer throttled. Seen here:

No idea what TIM was used, probably Grizzly Kryonaut. If this truly fixes throttling, it might make the LG Gram 15 a real contender. 

I'm leaning towards the Samsung, as it would kind of be nice to have the MX150 on the go, as long as we can definitively prove it's using 4-lane. But it's really nice to see that these two sub-3lb ~15" ultrabooks are possible contenders.

LG Gram 17 | Sonnet Breakaway Box 550 | Asus Strix RTX 2070 OC Edition | Win 10 Pro 1903 + Manjaro Deepin Dual Boot
Build Link


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itsage
(@itsage)
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Joined: 3 years ago
 

@odin Thank you for sharing. Once we have build guide with screen captures of AIDA, CUDA-Z and HWiNFO to confirm the x4 PCIe connection and OPI 4 GT/s we'll add them to the tables.

Best ultrabooks for eGPU use

eGPU enclosure buying guide

109 external GPU build guides


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madjester
(@veriestvarlet)
Eminent Member
Joined: 3 years ago
 

Looking at the connections on a Thinkpad X1 Tablet 3rd Gen. The root looks like a proper 8 GT/s, as is the NVMe, but the card, 750 GTX in an Aorus 1070 Box, it looks like it's connected at 2.5 GT/s.

linkpotential

Could the TB3 on these tablets be a bit nerfed? Or is the current card/box just not needing the full speed.

Early 2015 13" MBP with Thunder2 RX 470 on Windows 10 and MacOS 10.1 (Formerly)

Lenovo Thinkpad X1 Tablet 3rd Gen and 2070 RTX Aorus Gaming Box (Custom)
Web development, Video Editing, 2D + 3D animation


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itsage
(@itsage)
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Joined: 3 years ago
 

@veriestvarlet If there's no load the link speed can drop to 2.5 GT/s. Can you download and run AIDA64 to ensure it's in OPI 4 GT/s?

Best ultrabooks for eGPU use

eGPU enclosure buying guide

109 external GPU build guides


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madjester
(@veriestvarlet)
Eminent Member
Joined: 3 years ago
 

Not too familiar with benchmarking with AIDA64 but starting up a game and reran HWINFO, low and behold the connection is full speed. Looks like the Thinkpad X1 Tablet 3rd Gen is a good option. 

linkspeed underload

Early 2015 13" MBP with Thunder2 RX 470 on Windows 10 and MacOS 10.1 (Formerly)

Lenovo Thinkpad X1 Tablet 3rd Gen and 2070 RTX Aorus Gaming Box (Custom)
Web development, Video Editing, 2D + 3D animation


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odin
 odin
(@odin)
Eminent Member
Joined: 12 months ago
 

I worked with an extremely helpful person over on the notebook review forums that owns a Samsung Notebook 9 15" version with the MX150 dGPU and confirmed that the dGPU is in fact configured in x2 PCIe mode and that the x4 PCIe root port that has nothing connected to it seems to be the TB3 port. Things are getting exciting. Isn't every i7-8550U laptop that has 4-lane Thunderbolt 3 also OPI 4GT/s? I thought the 8th Gen U CPUs all used OPI by default for their 12 lanes. Intel's spec sheets seem to state this. Not sure why a 4-lane TB3 port would not use 4GT/s OPI with these CPUs. Has that been the case on any existing notebooks with these 8th Gen U CPU?

The proof:
http://forum.notebookreview.com/attachments/upload_2018-8-16_14-46-18-png.162570/

LG Gram 17 | Sonnet Breakaway Box 550 | Asus Strix RTX 2070 OC Edition | Win 10 Pro 1903 + Manjaro Deepin Dual Boot
Build Link


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(@sudeepam_pandey)
New Member
Joined: 10 months ago
 

I see that the HP Spectre x360 with an i7 processor has been mentioned in this list. I would like to buy an HP spectre but my budget allows me an i5 model only. Can someone please confirm if it would be eGPU compatible or not?

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


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itsage
(@itsage)
Famed Member Admin
Joined: 3 years ago
 

@sudeepam_pandey The HP Spectre x360 i5 model should work with an eGPU.

Best ultrabooks for eGPU use

eGPU enclosure buying guide

109 external GPU build guides


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(@sudeepam_pandey)
New Member
Joined: 10 months ago
 

@itsage, that is good to hear, thank you for helping. 😀

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


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Ziggity
(@ziggity)
Active Member
Joined: 10 months ago
 

"Intel released 8th-generation 6-core (hex) Q 45W CPUs. These come packaged in laptops with larger chassis to accommodate more substantial cooling systems, coupled with bulkier power supplies to drive them. A bigger package that packs a bigger punch. It’s definitely worth the performance advantage if you can trade portability for performance."

Can someone clarify if that is indeed the case? I've read in several places that despite the expected performance gain, 8750H based systems don't perform as well as 8550U based ones in eGPU scenarios. And if so, what might be the reason? Something related to the dGPU or perhaps a lack of optimization?

Thanks in advance =]

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


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Eightarmedpet
(@eightarmedpet)
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Joined: 2 years ago

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jerry Kansai
(@joi_kansai)
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Joined: 1 year ago
 
Posted by: Ziggity

"Intel released 8th-generation 6-core (hex) Q 45W CPUs. These come packaged in laptops with larger chassis to accommodate more substantial cooling systems, coupled with bulkier power supplies to drive them. A bigger package that packs a bigger punch. It’s definitely worth the performance advantage if you can trade portability for performance."

Can someone clarify if that is indeed the case? I've read in several places that despite the expected performance gain, 8750H based systems don't perform as well as 8550U based ones in eGPU scenarios. And if so, what might be the reason? Something related to the dGPU or perhaps a lack of optimization?

Thanks in advance =]

The power supply may be big like on Razer Blade 15 advanced model and Zephyrus S with 1070 maxq, but the cassis is not bulky like old gaming laptops body. It because both laptops supports factory overclocking feature that needs big wattage, 230 Watt ac adapter. Both device only weights around 2Kg, not too heavy but compared to 8550U laptops with lower cpu tdp yes it’s heavy. On some scenarios that I saw, graphics performance on ultrabook is better, i saw xps15, MSI stealth gs65, Blade 15 Graphics score on benchmarks like 3Dmark is lower than ultrabook. I assume that TB3 route architecture is different than ultrabook most probably due the existence of dGPU. Though it’s not hugely different. MacBook Pro 15 and Alienware with dGPU has also similar great graphics score with ultrabook like Blade stealth or MacBook Pro 13, since I heard TB3 connects directly to cpu unlike most gaming laptops (with higher tdp cpu) that go through pch first. But physical performance on 8750H that around 80% faster covered that downside. So I prefer playing games with 8750H egpu setting than ultrabook (don’t have 8550U, but 7500U) even graphically it’s better.

Razer Blade 15 2018, i7 8750H 16gb ddr4 2666mhz 1tb 970Evo
Razer Blade Stealth 12,5 2016 i7 7500U 8gb ddr3 1866mhz 500gb 970Evo
MacBook Pro 13 mid 2012 i5 3210M 12gb ddr3 1600mhz 500GB HDD
Razer Core V2 rtx 2070 Black 2040mhz Boost clock
Previous setting: rtx 2080ti Asus Turbo, rtx 2080 xc gaming, rtx 2080 Fe, Zotac Mini 1080ti, Evga 1080 FTW2 gaming.
Dual Monitor Predator XB241YU 165Hz 1440p, LG l24UD58 60Hz 4K
Portable Monitor Magedok 1440p HDR 60Hz usbA/C monitor


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itsage
(@itsage)
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Joined: 3 years ago
 

@eightarmedpet Yes that was a reference RX Vega 56 with the Core V1.

Best ultrabooks for eGPU use

eGPU enclosure buying guide

109 external GPU build guides


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Eightarmedpet
(@eightarmedpet)
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Joined: 2 years ago

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(@zhubaohi)
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Joined: 8 months ago
 

@itsage
Very nice guide! I'm wondering if it is ok for me to translate this guide to Chinese and post it on chinese forums? Information of eGPU is very rare in Chinese community, and they could really use this well written guide. Of course I'll leave the link to this page, give you the whole credit, and will not use it for business purposes.

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


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Mobi
 Mobi
(@Mobi)
Joined: 6 months ago
 

One important thing to mention is that the CPUs on Macbook Pro are rated at 28W, compared to the 15W on other Windows PCs. This means a significant performance difference. Just go to CPU benchmark by PassMark and search for i7-8550U and i7-8559U and see what I mean.


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Austin
 Austin
(@Austin)
Joined: 5 months ago
 

Hey guys,

I have been on this site quite a bit as I plan to buy a new laptop soon. I have a few questions about this post's content I'm hoping you can answer:
1) are the laptops listed above for the model year 2018 or 2019?
2) I'm sure there are an infinite number of possible eGPU configs, do you know if there is a cost estimation tool to compare buying a laptop with a powerful GPU vs. an ultrabook + eGPU? For example: the MSI GS65 Stealth with RTX 2060 - 6Gb is $2300 vs. putting that money towards a different ultrabook combo.

Any and all help is very much appreciated! I think your website has opened my mind up to a whole new world of portable gaming possibilities!

Cheers,
Austin


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Matt
 Matt
(@Matt)
Joined: 5 months ago
 

Hello, could you tell me if the new Dell XPS 13 is compatible, model number 9380? Also could you provide model numbers for the rest of the laptops, the amazon links are not clear as to the editions and newer versions. Thanks!


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Pat
 Pat
(@Pat)
Joined: 5 months ago
 

Also, the DELL G3 models are missing.


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abner
 abner
(@abner)
Joined: 3 months ago
 

huawei matebook x pro 2019 is a good choice.


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Brandon
 Brandon
(@Brandon)
Joined: 3 days ago
 

Great article, and I keep coming back to it when considering ultrabook/eGPU builds. However, it's a little outdated, as the newest Whiskey Lake-U chips (i5-8265U/i7-8565U) actually have 16 PCIe 3.0 lanes, and should be able tohandle a full TB3 @ x4 and dGPU @ x4 at the same time. It would also be good to update the page to mention the model #/years/size on the recommended laptop list above. For example, the Lenovo Yoga 730 that this page suggests is the 13.3" (730-15IKB), but that isn't obvious from just reading it. There's also the 730-15IKB w/ GTX 1050 doesn't have full 4-lane TB3, whereas the 730-15IWL (Whiskey Lake) should, since the CPU supports 4 more PCIe lanes. Personally, I think it would be a helpful edit to include more specifics (e.g. Spectre x360 13.3" vs. 15.6" vs. 2018 or 2019) so people don't go out and invest in a laptop with sub-par specs for an eGPU config. Hope this helps the article stay up to date and even more useful!


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