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DIY Thunderbolt eGPU?

Last response: in Graphics & Displays
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September 14, 2011 1:52:34 PM

I have a new (2011) 13" MacBook Pro with Windows 7 installed for gaming... I was pleasantly surprised at how well it handles older games. But when I tried running newer games like Bulletstorm or Deus Ex HR, it would barely run them. I've been waiting for awhile for more info on Village's Thunderbolt version of their ViDock eGPU chassis, but I'm kind of getting impatient (and I don't want to have to spend $300+ for something I could build myself for much less)...
I know a lot of people have made ExpressCard versions of the product themselves, but has anyone yet managed to make a Thunderbolt version yet? If so, how? I'd really like to know so I can make one for myself. I'm planning on using a very high end GPU with it, probably a nvidia GTX 560 Ti or 570... So I'm on a bit of a tighter budget with the rest. Anyone who has done this USING THUNDERBOLT NOT EXPRESSCARD, or wants to, or is thinking about it, feel free to post here.

Also, as a side note to anyone thinking of trolling here: thunderbolt is PCI-e 2.0 x4, which is more than enough to run most modern GPUs... x8 or x16 are only really necessary for ultra-high-end cards like GTX 590 or Radeon 6990. And Win7 gaming on Mac hardware =/= Mac gaming.

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a b U Graphics card
September 14, 2011 10:15:11 PM

lol mac gaming

Sorry, had to do it.
a c 216 U Graphics card
September 14, 2011 10:20:42 PM

It's not technically Mac gaming as he has Win 7 installed, but I don't know how well an external graphics card could possible work, and obviously his current Macbook doesn't have enough power in the graphics department.

Does it have troubles with the settings turned down?
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September 15, 2011 1:08:47 AM

borisof007 said:
lol mac gaming

Sorry, had to do it.

Hey Einstein... did you read any of my post? it's a Windows 7 partition, genius. It's not mac gaming just b/c it's on Mac hardware.
Troll...
September 15, 2011 1:22:26 AM

bystander said:
It's not technically Mac gaming as he has Win 7 installed, but I don't know how well an external graphics card could possible work, and obviously his current Macbook doesn't have enough power in the graphics department.

Does it have troubles with the settings turned down?


It's a 13" Pro so it has integrated Intel HD graphics 3000... not bad at all by IGP standards, maybe equal to Radeon HD 6450 or so in a desktop equivalent...
And Bulletstorm/ Human Revolution WILL run, but in 600x800 and lowest settings. I want to basically "future-proof" my comp... the CPU is fantastic, i7-2620m, fastest dual core on the market atm... 4gb RAM... but crappy gfx. If I could do a DIY external GPU using Thunderbolt (which would work pretty damn well since most modern cards only really need PCIe2.0x4)... then it would be a few more years until I really have to replace it.
Do you know anything about what would be needed to make a thunderbolt -> PCIe adapter (and enclosure) DIY?
a c 216 U Graphics card
September 15, 2011 2:12:41 AM

I unfortunately do not know anything about that product. It may work if it runs with the bandwidth of PCIe 2.0 x4 with reasonable performance, but it will still not work at full performance. It'll likely run between 70%-90% efficiency (basing this off of reviews I've seen with internal cards), which should still be quite good.

This may be a decent solution, as you have the battery life when not docked, and power when docked.
September 15, 2011 3:00:14 AM

Friend, external thunderbolt video cards are starting to get released/manufactured...be patient and you will soon have a pool to choose from. I know you mentioned DIY, but dont you want something thats well built and in a nice finished good looking case? I heard Its coming a external videocard wich has alluminum case to match the macbook pro.

Having said that, I would sugest waiting for the next macbook pro refresh, wich is expected to occur before the end of the year. I believe if you get a new one, and sell your current one, you will be getting a even better upgrade than just adding a external card, as hard drive and CPU will also be improved, and probably for less money. To conclude, you will still have the option to add a external videocard in the future
a c 177 U Graphics card
September 15, 2011 3:33:42 AM

Thunderbolt = 10Gb/s
Pcie 2.0 x4 = 16Gb/s
x4 shows about 10% less performance vs x16. Still a pretty big performance increase as I'm sure you are aware. I don't really have any info for you but http://forum.notebookreview.com/gaming-software-graphic... this link is THE place for egpu information.
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