eGPU – Connecting an external video card to a notebook (DIY implementation)
First thing, like already mentioned on the previous page, we need a notebook with Thunderbolt support. We are going to use an Asus ROG notebook from G750 series, a 17 inch gaming machine, featuring an Intel Haswell i7 4700HQ CPU and a discrete graphics card like Nvidia 765m.
Asus G750JW model features a Cactus Ridge DSL3310 Thunderbolt chipset, capable to power a single Thunderbolt connection port. For the PCI Express Expansion board, I’ve opted (at that time) for a Sonnet Echo Express SE.
It comes in an aluminium enclosure and is bundled with a 12V adapter to provide up to 60W of power for the Thunderbolt chip inside and for the PCI Express card that should be installed.
The Sonnet Echo Express SE solution is based on two boards, a daugherboard featuring a PCI Express slot with a 8x width and the main board with the Thunderbolt chipset soldered on it.
While the PCI Express slot/socket should allow one half-length (up to 6.6″ long), single-width, full-height x8 PCIe 2.0 card, the electrical connection is limited to a x4 PCIe 2.0 (because the actual electrical bandwidth of Thunderbolt is x4). The slot is not allowing us to install a full length x16 board like a modern video card, because the end of the slot is closed. Such an issue can be avoided by using a PCI Express riser, or using some tool like a sharp knife to carve in the plastic to make the card slide in properly.
Hey! Told you this is a DIY project, right?