Best Laptops for eGPU - June 2020 Thunderbolt 3 Laptop Buyer's Guide
 
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Best Laptops for eGPU - June 2020 Thunderbolt 3 Laptop Buyer's Guide  

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chx
 chx
(@chx)
Estimable Member
Joined: 3 years ago
 

Sigh. Another post purporting that x4 is significantly better than x2. This very site has the benchmarks to prove it wrong at https://egpu.io/forums/mac-setup/pcie-slot-dgpu-vs-thunderbolt-3-egpu-internal-display-test/ and also notebookcheck at https://www.notebookcheck.net/eGPU-Two-PCI-e-lanes-no-problem.266658.0.html

The truth is that x2 vs x4 only matters if someone wants to use an 1070 or faster to accelerate the internal display. Otherwise, you could pick anything. I am trying to spread this information but it's an uphill battle with articles like this.

Lenovo ThinkPad 25 -- GALAX SNPR TB3 1060 -- Lenovo Graphics Dock -- Benq BL2411PT - - two PackedPixels - Dasung not-eReader backer


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itsage
(@itsage)
Illustrious Member Admin
Joined: 4 years ago
 

@chx if you get to choose between a TB3 system with x2 PCIe and another with x4 PCIe, which one would you pick?

I'm in MN and there's a lot of snow on the ground this past week. Most of the 4-5 month long winter, the roads are rather nice and dry. I don't get to see the benefits of snow tires very often. When I do, it's significantly better than all-season tires.

This article serves as a buying reference to pick the best ultrabook for eGPU use. It's not reasonable to put an asterisk saying x2 PCIe does not matter unless you plan on accelerating the internal display with more powerful GPUs such as GTX 1070/RX Vega 56. The very selling point of external graphics is GPU upgradability.

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

 
2020 15" HP Spectre X360 [11th,4C,G] + RTX 2080 Ti @ 32Gbps-TB4 (AORUS Gaming Box) + Win10 2004 [build link]  


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chx
 chx
(@chx)
Estimable Member
Joined: 3 years ago
 

There are many different considerations when picking a laptop and Thunderbolt bandwidth is only one of them and if we would tell people to not bother with that unless X then their picking would be that much easier. 

This article needs a first sentence saying "if you are using an external monitor then this article doesn't apply, all of them are the same". That's all I am trying to say.

Lenovo ThinkPad 25 -- GALAX SNPR TB3 1060 -- Lenovo Graphics Dock -- Benq BL2411PT - - two PackedPixels - Dasung not-eReader backer


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Laxlad
(@laxlad)
Active Member
Joined: 3 years ago
 

Thanks for the info guys.  I didn’t clarify in my post but the reason I was concerned about the 4x pcie lanes because I plan on connecting an ssd and Ethernet connection to the egpu (mantiz Venus).  from what I gather 4 lanes handle this better than 2.  But if I were to just connect an egpu without any other peripherals I would be less concerned with 2 vs 4 lanes.  Ownordisown in YouTube does a very good video showing the marginal difference between 2 vs 4 lanes when it comes to just using an egpu without connected peripherals.

thankyou all for the responses it’s been very informative

To do: Create my signature with system and expected eGPU configuration information to give context to my posts. I have no builds.

.

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jerry Kansai
(@joi_kansai)
Estimable Member
Joined: 3 years ago
 

Greetings 
Very nice guide. I’m newbie here, this forum helped me a lot. Now I’m just curious why should i undervolting my i77500U  (Blade Stealth) with i7500 to be able to play AC Origins on internal screen (1440p, high) on Razer Core v2 with evga 1080 sc. Is it my ultrabook CPU too weak on default setting to play it? Because  on my i7 7700 HQ gaming laptop, i don’t need to close all running apps to run AC Origins with my Razer Core. Is there any gpu recommendation for UCPU, like price for performance for example? I have also 1080Ti, and I think I would sell it, because it is too bottleneck to both of my systems.

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

 
2016 12" Razer Blade Stealth [7th,2C,U] + RTX 2080 Ti @ 32Gbps-TB3 (Razer Core V2) + Win10 1803 [build link]  


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irev210
(@irev210)
Trusted Member
Joined: 3 years ago
 

A small but meaningful typo.

TDP max on 8550u is not 15w, it can tdp up to 25w sustained while it can turbo to over 35w.

This can mean really big differences in performance when gaming on an eGPU where CPU power is needed.

Ideally, you want a laptop that can send 25w to your 8550u without power or temp throttling.  That's good for some serious performance increases depending on workload.

To do: Create my signature with system and expected eGPU configuration information to give context to my posts. I have no builds.

.

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4chip4
(@4chip4)
Estimable Member
Joined: 3 years ago
 

You're right it's wrong to say TDP max is 15W, but it's also misleading to say it can do sustained 25W, because that depends on the cooling architecture of the device. Most ultrabooks today will be doing 15W sustained with 25W Boost.

CPUs nowadays actually have three (manufacturer provided) TDP modes of operation. This is not just about changing TDP wattage in XTU and such, these are actually distinct limits/modes of operation, with different guaranteed frequencies (c in cTDP for configurable), for example for the 8550U:

(nominal) TDP: 15W (1.8GHz)
cTDP up: 25W (2GHz)
cTDP down: 10W (800MHz)

The important part to understand is that cTDP up is not a "normal" nor dynamic mode (ie it's not Boost), but rather a "full steam ahead, engines be damned!" mode - it requires extra *core* cooling, which will not be normally present in ultrabooks. In addition, Boost and cTDP are not mutually exclusive, Boost goes *on top* of cTDP up (that's how you get to 35W+ draws).

2017 HP Spectre x360 15 i7-8550U GTX150 + GTX970@16Gbps-TB3 (HP Omen Accelerator) + Oculus Rift + Win10 (no guide)
HP Omen Accelerator Thunderbolt 3 enclosure legs stand removal walkthrough
Employed by HP, but my posts and opinions expressed on this forum are my own.


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irev210
(@irev210)
Trusted Member
Joined: 3 years ago
 

Right, completely depends on the OEM implementation.

I recommend that egpu.io start adding laptop tdp and performance stats as the difference is striking.

Check out notebookcheck's recent roundup - https://www.notebookcheck.net/A-performance-comparison-of-all-new-ThinkPad-notebooks.286486.0.html

The one laptop can pull 44w of tdp, crushing all other laptops.  Just amazing.

When selecting a laptop for egpu, proper tb3+proper power and thermal designs are required.

To do: Create my signature with system and expected eGPU configuration information to give context to my posts. I have no builds.

.

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4chip4
(@4chip4)
Estimable Member
Joined: 3 years ago
 

Even those short bursts of 44W don't come for free - you can see that the CPU hits 100C within seconds. Performance-wise, that's fine, but it definitely won't help silicon (and especially battery) degradation, and makes for a nice lap-warmer Smile

In practical terms, if having a "cTDP up" device with x4 lanes is so important, what you're saying is "I want a HQ chip" - where you get all the goodies - tons of cores, tons of PCI lanes, high minimum clocks. U chips never were about raw performance, but striking a good balance between battery life and performance. The main reason we're having this discussion is because chips like the i7-8700H have not started selling yet. Why cook a 8550U at 44W, when for the same draw (and money), the 8700H can have 6 cores at ~3Ghz under full constant load.

2017 HP Spectre x360 15 i7-8550U GTX150 + GTX970@16Gbps-TB3 (HP Omen Accelerator) + Oculus Rift + Win10 (no guide)
HP Omen Accelerator Thunderbolt 3 enclosure legs stand removal walkthrough
Employed by HP, but my posts and opinions expressed on this forum are my own.


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irev210
(@irev210)
Trusted Member
Joined: 3 years ago
 

@4chip4 - you make some good points, here are my thoughts

Even those short bursts of 44W don’t come for free – you can see that the CPU hits 100C within seconds. Performance-wise, that’s fine, but it definitely won’t help silicon (and especially battery) degradation, and makes for a nice lap-warmer

  • Are you saying that Intel doesn't properly design their CPUs or that lifespan will shorten if they are used this way?  I'd love to see any data you have showing that designing Intel CPUs around Intel's own power/thermal limits will result in shortened design lifespan.
  • I am also assuming that the majority of people on eGPU.io are looking for CPU performance while attached to a eGPU, so battery isn't really used nor is it on your lap.
  • Please note that the new Dell XPS 13 9370 bottom runs much cooler than many of its competitors, despite using more power, so it doesn't really make for a nice lap warmer vs. its 15w peers

In practical terms, if having a “cTDP up” device with x4 lanes is so important, what you’re saying is “I want a HQ chip” – where you get all the goodies – tons of cores, tons of PCI lanes, high minimum clocks. U chips never were about raw performance, but striking a good balance between battery life and performance. The main reason we’re having this discussion is because chips like the i7-8700H have not started selling yet. Why cook a 8550U at 44W, when for the same draw (and money), the 8700H can have 6 cores at ~3Ghz under full constant load.

  • First off, you can't cook a 8550u, you will temp throttle.  You can have a 15w TDP cpu and a 25W TDP cpu that operate at the exact same temp or have the 25W TDP cpu run even cooler/faster than the 15W TDP cpu
  • For example, look at the XPS 13 9360 vs the 9370.  The last generation actually runs hotter despite only taking the 8550u to 15w TDP vs. the new 9370 which runs at ~25w TDP and operates at lower temps.  It also runs cooler than the HP Spectre 13t and 13" x360
  • What I am saying is, if you had two equal choices, it is more logical for eGPU users to pick the laptop that has more performance, particularly since in gaming CPU can really improve the overall gaming experience.  Unfortunately, Dell priced the XPS 13 9370 at a very high price, so the choices aren't very equal.
  • I don't want a HQ chip, look at the smallest form factor you can get a HQ chip... it's not 2.6 pounds.
  • The U is about TDP parameters.  Just because the processor can work well at 25W sustained and not leak power like crazy when you are on battery life doesn't mean it is a bad choice.  CPUs have evolved and we are seeing some really unique offerings.

I get what you are saying but it's pretty ridiculous to suggest that by an OEM offering a 25W solution in a 13.3" package will somehow cook the silicon when I clearly just demonstrated that 15W solutions can and do run even hotter.  The key takeaway here is that you can plug it into a power source, get 20% extra performance for "free" without any loss of portability/battery life.

The last thing we want at eGPU.io is for someone to buy a 8550u that steps down to 7.5w and they are completely confused why their very expensive setup is not performing like other 8550U setups OR if someone is asking about a 8250u vs a 8550u that they understand under a heavy workload, both are going to be power and/or temp throttled anyway so it doesn't really matter what they choose.  The last thing I'd want to see is a potential eGPU gamer to spend the extra money on an 8550u cpu when they will end up being temp/power throttled and they should have spent the extra 200 on a different laptop that offered better cooling or maybe a better eGPU box.

We just need to understand the capabilities of the different offerings on the market to help people select the device that will best meet their needs.

To do: Create my signature with system and expected eGPU configuration information to give context to my posts. I have no builds.

.

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