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  • Aikouka - Thursday, June 06, 2013 - link

    Don't USB-based graphics adapters already exist? Wouldn't they have the same issues when you unplugged them? Reply
  • Gigaplex - Thursday, June 06, 2013 - link

    They're extremely low performance CPU based adapters. When unplugging them, you lose the display connection, not the computational resources. Reply
  • DanNeely - Thursday, June 06, 2013 - link

    USB2 only has enough theoretical bandwidth to do 800x600x16x60hz before needing compression. In practice even that would need some compression.

    On paper USB3 has enough bandwidth for 1080p with room to spare; you'd still probably run into problems trying to game in it though. USB is designed to be cheap to implement and lacks the QoS guarantees needed for consistent low latency performance.
  • jameskatt - Friday, June 07, 2013 - link

    I run my USB 2.0 display adapter at 1920x1200x32x60Hz for video conferencing. Obviously, USB2 has enough bandwidth to do this. Reply
  • Death666Angel - Friday, June 07, 2013 - link

    It uses compression to do that. Reply
  • DanNeely - Friday, June 07, 2013 - link

    Video conferencing is **massively** compressed because most peoples upstream pipe has less bandwidth than USB1's 12 megabits. Reply
  • winterspan - Saturday, June 08, 2013 - link

    this is not for routing video signals to a monitor.. an external GPU needs a huge amount of bandwidth back to the CPU, hence the PCIe x8/x16 connections Reply
  • HisDivineOrder - Thursday, June 06, 2013 - link

    Finally, Thunderbolt will have a point for a majority of laptops. Reply
  • Dentons - Thursday, June 06, 2013 - link


    $250 will buy the core of an adequate desktop PC. Given that the GPU has to be purchased in either case, this will only offer a minimal cost reduction over buying a desktop machine.

    If this box were $49, then it might be a viable option. Even so, it seems to be a solution looking for a problem.
  • DanNeely - Friday, June 07, 2013 - link

    A decent PSU alone will run close to $50; add a decent quality enclosure and $100 seems a reasonable price point. Reply
  • Dentons - Friday, June 07, 2013 - link

    That's a decent PSU, an adequate PSU can be had for half that. An adequate case is not much more. An adequate MB - CPU combo can be had for $110 to $150. Add RAM and an HD and you'll be barely more than $250. Less if you shop for sales.

    Plop a serious GPU in such an "adequate box" and it may run better than if the GPU were dropped into this and cabled to an i7 laptop. And of course, if you build an actual PC, you have another entirely separate computer to do whatever with.
  • mavere - Saturday, June 08, 2013 - link

    "And of course, if you build an actual PC, you have another entirely separate computer to do whatever with."

    Which is actually a downside in this situation. If I wanted to build a separate computer, I'd have built one already...
  • flyingpants1 - Friday, June 07, 2013 - link

    $49 for a case, thunderbolt to PCI-E adapter, and 450W Silverstone PSU? No. Maybe more like $149-199. This version is a proof of concept, there will probably be cheaper options available in the future. Reply
  • mercutiouk - Friday, June 07, 2013 - link

    I'd be more than happy to see an external box that doesn't need to feed things back to the internal display.
    This is definitely a fine crack at making a good product though. My own setup will have the full setup (raid card, graphics card, sound card with attached drives, screen and speakers) waiting at home for a decent gaming grade laptop to act as it's base unit all attached via thunderbolt. I'm even quite happy to take the thunderbolt to PCIe bridge card (TH05 when it gets certified) and build my own chassis for it all to sit in. We just need devices like this to push things along.
  • chaosbloodterfly - Friday, June 07, 2013 - link

    There are people for whom a couple hundred dollars isn't a terribly big deal, and want the power of a desktop and the portability of a laptop.
    e.g. the people who spent $2000 on a Sony Vaio Z with the GPU dock.
  • ananduser - Friday, June 07, 2013 - link

    Meanwhile the Z no longer sells. Reply
  • jfraser13 - Friday, June 20, 2014 - link

    Since it uses Thunderbolt, there's no way that it could be $50. Just having Thunderbolt adds about $50 to the price. Besides, this type of product is mostly for Mac users(like myself). This would allow someone to use a MacBook Pro for graphics intensive programs instead of buying a desktop because there are two other options besides an eGPU: buying a PC desktop or buying a Mac desktop. Buying a PC desktop wouldn't be ideal, not just because it runs Windows, but because you'd have to use different programs and you might have to buy Windows versions of some games. On the other side of the fence, a Mac Pro desktop costs over $2500. If the T004 ships for $250 without a Thunderbolt cable, you could get an eGPU with a GTX 650 for around $400(before tax). The issue boils down to $2500 vs $400. For a Mac user like myself, this would be a perfect solution. The only issue is that Intel won't allow Silverstone to sell it despite co-branding with Asus. Intel told Village Tronic that Thunderbolt doesn't support "Host Adapters to Thunderbolt, Graphics Controller cards in external chassis and PCIe Expansion Chassis for Windows", which of course is a bunch of malarky because Magma and Sonnet already sell this type of thing for a much higher price. I already set up a petition to demand that Intel allow the sale of the T004 and affordable eGPUs in general. Here's a link to it if you'd like to sign it: Reply
  • twistedgamez - Thursday, June 06, 2013 - link

    to clarify: i put a graphics card in here, then i plug it into my windows macbook and the laptop will think it has the gpu plugged into it? like the (non grahics card designed) sonnet thunderbolt expansion thingy?

    does anyone know if thunderbolt 2 which is double speed runs on pcie 4x like thunderbolt 1?
  • DanNeely - Friday, June 07, 2013 - link

    Why is the GPU oriented the way it is? Flip it 180 and it's fans can have direct access to draw outside air for better cooling.

    I'm also wondering about the PSU; the fat multi-colored cable looks like ATX-24; which in turn implies they're using a full on computer PSU. All they should need is a pure 12V model which'd be more compact; thunderbolt itself can send 10 watts down the cable; which should be more than sufficient to run whatever odds and ends the controller board needs.
  • hansfilipelo - Friday, June 07, 2013 - link

    The GPU is oriented that way since hot air has lower density. The nature helps the fan to draw the hot air to the top of the chassis.

    If the fan would have been in the top of the chassis it would've drawn the hot air into the graphics card.

    This is like fourth grade physics.
  • Death666Angel - Friday, June 07, 2013 - link

    And by 10th grade physics you realize that with the force fans typically produce, natural convections plays a minuscule role. Reply
  • DanNeely - Friday, June 07, 2013 - link

    You're trying to flip it a different way than I'm suggesting. Spin it around the vertical axis so the cards fan is up against an exterior vent, not facing the internal volume of the enclosure. Reply
  • hypopraxia - Friday, June 07, 2013 - link

    I have wanted and waited for exactly this product. External GPU connected via Thunderbolt that feeds its frame buffer back to the internal display. -:excited:- :) Dedicated GPU at home, integrated GPU on the go. It's so... elegant. Reply
  • twistedgamez - Friday, June 07, 2013 - link

    the frame buffer is not sent back to the original display in current solutions, i am quite sure that you need to plug an external display into the graphics card, i believe the thunderbolt 1 cable essentially acts as a 4x pcie extension cable

    look at the linked MSI page and the Sonnet thunderbolt echo express and the videos on youtube of them in action

    thunderbolt currently runs pcie 4x v2 - hopefully thunderbolt 2 can is 8x v2 or 4x v3...
  • jstapels - Friday, June 07, 2013 - link

    Unfortunately, but hopefully we will eventually get to the stage where these are designed more as "framebuffer" accelerators. Reply
  • Death666Angel - Friday, June 07, 2013 - link

    Already exists in some fashion. Many people have hacked their expresscard slots in the laptop to take advantage of the x1 or x4 PCIe interface for external GPUs.
    But the problem of what to do when hot-plugging remains, I believe.
  • winterspan - Saturday, June 08, 2013 - link

    its not a hack... you can buy expresscard->PCIe shells for this very purpose. However, expresscard (1x PCIe) didn't have enough bandwidth for high-end GPUS.. I believe the one I saw had an ATI 3770 back when the 4870 was king Reply
  • Ryan Smith - Friday, June 07, 2013 - link

    A GTX 480? Now these guys are just showing off. Haha. Reply
  • Khenglish - Friday, June 07, 2013 - link

    With current thunderbolt graphics cards run on a restricted x4 pci-e 2.0 link. The bandwidth is only around 20% higher than x2 2.0. optimus will allow you to use your internal LCD screen just like if you had a dedicated gpu inside the laptop, but there will be a significant performance hit due to needing to send the frame buffer back over the small x2 2.0 link.

    nvidia has this pci-e compression that pops up when running x1 links. Would be nice if they expanded this to x2 and x4 links.

    As for the cost it'd be nice if the price went down to that of the old bplus adapter, but $250 is far more reasonable than what sonnet wanted. They should offer a PSUless option for people who already have a desktop psu lying around to cut costs.
  • jtd871 - Friday, June 07, 2013 - link

    Sorry, Ian (and everybody else at AT). I really hate to link to an external review site, but there's already this bad beast:

    Shouldn't be too hard to substitute a Thunderbolt interface. Yes, it'll still have hot plug issues.
  • Khenglish - Friday, June 07, 2013 - link

    When I used an external card through the expresscard slot "hotplug issues" that have been brought up here were a minor concern, especially when the external card is nvidia. The card is available in the "safely remove hardware" icon and you can eject it at any time. If you are actively rendering something off that card there will obviously be a problem, but after disabling/ejecting the card everything runs off the IGP like the card was never there. The only issue is that games will reset settings on you when they see that they are being run by a different gpu.

    The big problems that people have are not enough PCI config space (mostly a problem on macs and some dells), which can be solved for all systems by enabling 36-bit allocation through a DSDT override. The 2nd problem being some laptops being quirky when detecting an extra gpu on post (refusing to post, disabling the IGP, etc), and that is solved by just hotplugging the external card (the expresscard, not the pci-e slot).

    For those of you wondering about the performance on thunderbolt, look at the x2 2.0 results in what I linked above. Giant performance tables if you scroll down. x2.2 means x2 PCI-E 2.0 link, while x1.2opt means an x1 2.0 link with nvidia's pci-e compression running.
  • Sm0kes - Friday, June 07, 2013 - link

    Unfortunately, this will likely never hit the market. Just look at thunderbolt adoption (outside of Apple) and it's unclear who would even be the target market for this. MSI announced a similar product several years ago (GUS II), which is still vaporware. Reply
  • twistedgamez - Friday, June 07, 2013 - link

    apple laptops are the majority in my software cohort at uni, if they were to actually sell this then many of us would buy it to play games - we don't have the money to shell out for a full rig but $250 + $250~$450 + monitor (which we probably already have) is more reasonable Reply
  • Sushisamurai - Saturday, June 22, 2013 - link

    What graphics card would be reaching / approaching the bottleneck of thunderbolt? A 680? 650? 760? Reply

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