eGPU Compatibility Report: Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Excessive + Aorus RTX 2070 Gaming Field (Overview)
Ever since I Jury-rigged my XPS 15 9550 to the primary Razer Core again in 2016, I’ve made use a couple of completely different of Thunderbolt three eGPU setups over time. I’ve finished fairly a bit of blending and matching of varied eGPUs (Razer Core, Mantiz Venus, Aorus Gaming Field) to completely different computer systems, from dual-core NUCs to hexa-core laptops, so I believed I’d share my experiences with completely different mixtures of eGPUs and laptops to evaluate their compatibility. I can be beginning off with my present setup: An Aorus RTX 2070 Gaming Field and a Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Excessive (Gen 2 evaluate right here).
I’ve been utilizing the Aorus Gaming Field for a few 12 months now and have used it with a number of laptops in that point, however primarily the ThinkPad X1E/P1. As these sorts of setups are fairly advanced by way of trendy PC peripherals, we’ll be dividing this evaluate into three elements: The Aorus RTX Gaming Field itself, eGPU compatibility with the X1E/P1 chassis/mainboard, and an total analysis of the setup. The main target right here is totally on the general expertise relatively than efficiency, as I consider efficiency of eGPUs over TB3 is pretty effectively established.
The Aorus Gaming Field
The Aorus RTX 2070 Gaming Field is without doubt one of the smallest eGPUs available on the market, and that’s as a result of it makes use of a customized “mini” single-slot-sized Nvidia RTX 2070. Regardless of it’s tiny measurement, there’s a good quantity of enter together with three DisplayPort 1.four, 1 HDMI 2.0b, four USB three.zero, 1 USB-C (VirtualLink for VR headsets), and 1 Thunderbolt three cable (for connecting the PC and powering it with as much as 90W, I consider ). Impressively, the facility provide continues to be internalized within the case, as effectively. Its compact design and dimensions make it a superb selection for a touring setup. For different pluses, the followers usually are not too loud each when idle and gaming, and you may configure the enclosure’s LED lighting with software program downloaded from Gigabyte (in case you’re into that type of factor).
Efficiency with the GTX 2070 is simply what you’d count on for an eGPU. At 1080p, you may count on round 80% the efficiency of a “common” RTX 2070 laptop computer, with the efficiency hole narrowing the extra the GPU is taxed. As notebookcheck notes, when working 4K video games or benchmarks, framerates between the RTX 2070 eGPU and a direct RTX 2070 connection are inside ~5% or so of one another.
Sounds excellent then, proper? It’s tremendous small and transportable, has loads of ports (which perform with out connection points, I ought to add), and isn’t that costly contemplating you get every little thing within the package deal collectively. There’s only one downside with the Aorus Gaming Field, and it’s an annoying one:
Whereas my Mantiz Venus by no means did not activate and performance completely with any laptop computer upon inserting the TB3 cable from the eGPU to the host machine, the Aorus Gaming Field appears to have a frequent downside connecting after being disconnected for any motive. Whether or not you safely disable the exterior GPU or hot-unplug it, the subsequent time you attempt to plug the eGPU in, nothing will occur. This has been documented intimately at eGPU.io however the common consensus is that it could be brought on by a small capacitor built-in into the wiring of the facility cable. In an effort to get the eGPU to reconnect, it’s essential to tug the facility cable out from the eGPU for round 15-20 seconds first. Upon totally biking the facility of the eGPU (there isn’t a swap, it have to be unplugged from its energy provide), it would reconnect to the host gadget.
When you perceive tips on how to repair the difficulty your self, it isn’t that unhealthy. However it’s nonetheless fairly irritating to must do now and again after placing your laptop computer to sleep or shutting it down, and it successfully makes it much less of a “plug-and-play” resolution and extra of 1 that you simply’ll must tinker with a couple of times a day not less than.
One other unlucky facet of the Gaming Field is that plainly Gigabyte/Aorus have little curiosity in fixing this bug with a firmware replace, because the final updates have been launched in March of 2019. For a tool that also sells for ~750 USD, Gigabyte wants to indicate a greater dedication to supporting such an costly product that suffers from such a broadly reported and inconvenient challenge.
The Lenovo ThinkPad X1E Gen 2
It’s no secret I really like the design and ethos of the ThinkPad on the whole and I rated the X1E Gen 2 as top-of-the-line laptops I’ve ever owned. Nonetheless, from the standpoint of an eGPU person, there are some points with the platform that have an effect on its usability with eGPU setups. For the file, these points have reared their heads on the X1 Carbon Gen 6, P1 Gen 1, and X1E Gen 2, however appear to be most prevalent on ThinkPads with devoted GPUs. In comparison with machines just like the Dell XPS 13/15, I believe this may occasionally have one thing to do with Lenovo having much less expertise making BIOSes for machines that have been designed to run with eGPUs than Dell. In distinction, Dell’s lengthy historical past with the Alienware Graphics Amplifier could have given their engineers a working begin by way of eGPU compatibility.
What sorts of issues do I run into? Firstly, there’s the easy challenge of getting an error in case you plug within the eGPU with out disabling the inner GPU first. If you happen to don’t try this, the machine appears to have a problem allocating sources. It’s not too massive of a problem, however it’s a required step. You possibly can’t simply go away the inner dGPU disabled, both, as in case you achieve this you’ll expertise a continuing energy drain whereas on batteries.
Secondly, after switching from the eGPU to the dGPU, I get an “Error 43” each time and must go to the gadget supervisor and uninstall the graphics drivers for the cardboard that isn’t functioning. As soon as the drivers reinstall themselves robotically, nonetheless, the cardboard will work simply nice with out having to restart.
The third challenge is that of graphical “hitching” that happens on my exterior show hooked up to the eGPU at any time when the inner show is off. All graphical output freezes for a break up second no matter app or content material. In an effort to resolve the difficulty, I must go to the gadget supervisor and disable then re-enable the Intel HD630 graphics gadget. The issue reappears after waking from standby or restarting the pc, nonetheless.
I just like the tiny measurement and have set of the Aorus Gaming Field, however the connectivity points that cease it from being actually “plug and play” are irritating once they forestall the graceful operation of your computing/media setup. The entire thought of an eGPU setup is which you could take your laptop computer with you rapidly and simply whereas additionally permitting handy single-cable connection to a large-screen gaming or media setup at house. When the Aorus Gaming Field works, it really works effectively, however I’ve to advocate the Mantiz Venus as an alternative for what’s a setup that all the time “simply labored” for me.
The X1E Gen 2 is a good laptop computer by itself, nevertheless it’s additionally not the perfect candidate for an eGPU setup due to the problems outlined above. These points at the side of the Aorus Gaming Field’s quirks imply you need to do a little bit of fiddling every time you disconnect/reconnect it. If you happen to’re on the lookout for a laptop computer that can be extra appropriate with eGPUs on the whole, you’ll most likely need one which doesn’t have a dGPU so that you received’t want to fret about disabling and reenabling units. The Dell XPS 15 (although it has a dGPU) and XPS 13 are my picks for extremely appropriate eGPU notebooks, with the XPS 13 being essentially the most dependable of the 2.
What’s your eGPU setup and the way has your expertise been with it? Be at liberty to remark under along with your experiences and ideas.