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Old Dec 14, 2012, 01:40 PM   #1
53x12
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External GPU via Thunderbolt?

I remember reading about an external GPU that could be hooked up via TB. Is that still vaporware at this point or has anyone heard/read anything recently about that?
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Old Dec 14, 2012, 01:46 PM   #2
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I remember reading about an external GPU that could be hooked up via TB. Is that still vaporware at this point or has anyone heard/read anything recently about that?
I am fairly sure that there is some problem with external GPUs under Mac although it has been implemented by Sony on the PC. See http://www.sonnettech.com/product/th...olt/index.html and follow the links to compatible TB cards and none of these are GPUs.
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Old Dec 14, 2012, 01:52 PM   #3
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I was thinking something like this:

http://www.tomshardware.com/news/luc...nal,17520.html

http://www.slashgear.com/lucid-thund...oost-11246826/

http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/...bolt,3263.html

I assume OSX would need to support it or the manufacturer would need to provide drivers for it. But imagine the possibilities.
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Old Dec 14, 2012, 01:57 PM   #4
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I was thinking something like this:

http://www.tomshardware.com/news/luc...nal,17520.html
.
Hey I like that. I would love to get one of those for my Mini. Stick one of my NV 560s in it and not have to worry about my gaming PC again..
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Old Dec 14, 2012, 01:58 PM   #5
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Hey I like that. I would love to get one of those for my Mini. Stick one of my NV 560s in it and not have to worry about my gaming PC again..
Exactly.
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Old Dec 14, 2012, 02:02 PM   #6
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I remember reading about an external GPU that could be hooked up via TB. Is that still vaporware at this point or has anyone heard/read anything recently about that?
It is possible and the solution can be purchased right now, but it is insanely expensive and does not bring great results. The problem is that, despite the fact that TB is pretty fast, it still does not have the bandwidth that top end graphics cards need.

Also the currently available Thunderbolt solution box does not meet the power requirements of a high-end graphics card.

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The only bummer is that Sonnet Technologies' Echo Express line-up isn't really designed for graphics cards. A lack of auxiliary power connectors limits the number of boards you can use. Mainstream cards that get everything they need from the PCI Express bus are one option. Or, hooking up your own power supply, as we did with our Radeon HD 6970, could work too. Either way, we'd like to see Sonnet incorporate at least one six-pin lead to fully exploit the Pro model's 150 W peak power delivery.

If you do end up using a card with auxiliary power connectors, pay close attention to their orientation. As you can see in the image above, the chassis is designed to exacting specifications just large enough to accommodate full-height PCI Express cards. A top-mounted power connector will force you to use the enclosure with its top popped. Of course, that's wholly a side effect of our desire to see a potent GPU sitting alongside an Ultrabook, driving a demanding AAA title faster than any mobile graphics module could muster. Mission accomplished (even if we had to use a PC power supply to get there).
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At least you don't have to worry too much about procuring a flagship graphics card, right? Our benchmarks show us that a GeForce GTX 460 is, in many cases, just as fast as the higher-end Radeon HD 6970 as a result of the interface constraints of Thunderbolt. Pinching off that bus means that, at a certain point, it doesn't matter how big of a GPU you attach to the host. The good news is that an old faithful GTX 460 fits perfectly in the $600 Echo Express.
http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/...bolt,3263.html

Adding a GTX 460 will certainly give a much better gaming performance than what the Mini is able to do now, but you have to ask yourself is it worth it, when you might as well just build a separate gaming PC.



The HD4000 is a bit faster than the HD 3000 in the charts, but it's not exactly a brilliant performer.
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Old Dec 14, 2012, 02:07 PM   #7
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I remember reading about an external GPU that could be hooked up via TB. Is that still vaporware at this point or has anyone heard/read anything recently about that?
This is all doable, but note that Thunderbolt connects to a PCIe slot that is slower than the slots a GPU would usually be seated in. So, while it can be done, it will not provide any benefits as you'll be limited to the throughput of the port and not the card.
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Old Dec 14, 2012, 02:25 PM   #8
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This is all doable, but note that Thunderbolt connects to a PCIe slot that is slower than the slots a GPU would usually be seated in. So, while it can be done, it will not provide any benefits as you'll be limited to the throughput of the port and not the card.
Isn't that exactly what I've just said. I even linked a pretty graph.
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Old Dec 14, 2012, 02:38 PM   #9
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It is possible and the solution can be purchased right now ...
Have you got a reference to mac solution of this type?
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Old Dec 14, 2012, 02:46 PM   #10
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Have you got a reference to mac solution of this type?
I see no reason why the above solution that I linked would not work in OS X, as long as you use a graphics card that Mountain Lion includes support for. You need to check out the Mac Pro sub-forum and be surprised. Unfortunately with some of these solutions you will lose the boot screen, depending on how determined you are.

http://forums.macrumors.com/showthread.php?t=1496925
http://forums.macrumors.com/showthread.php?t=1440150
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Old Dec 14, 2012, 03:35 PM   #11
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Isn't that exactly what I've just said. I even linked a pretty graph.
Sorry, sorry. I was being slow and pokey when I responded and yours wasn't there when I hit reply.
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Old Dec 14, 2012, 04:21 PM   #12
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It is possible and the solution can be purchased right now, but it is insanely expensive and does not bring great results. The problem is that, despite the fact that TB is pretty fast, it still does not have the bandwidth that top end graphics cards need.

Adding a GTX 460 will certainly give a much better gaming performance than what the Mini is able to do now, but you have to ask yourself is it worth it, when you might as well just build a separate gaming PC.
Thanks. You make some good points and I didn't realize how expensive it could get. ~$600 for enclosure and $350-400 for GPU. However it would still be an option for someone wanting iMac performance but wanting their own monitor(s).
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Old Dec 15, 2012, 12:20 AM   #13
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However it would still be an option for someone wanting iMac performance but wanting their own monitor(s).
So, for $2900 (including two "cheap" monitors) you get a 2.6GHz mini and your GPU is limited to 4x PCIe lanes of performance.

But $2400 will buy you a 3.4GHz iMac with a GTX680MX with $500 left over for a "cheap" monitor.

Where was the value/logic in your idea?
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Old Dec 15, 2012, 02:11 AM   #14
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Because Thunderbolt expansion chassis are bound to drop in price. When that happens it becomes a possible option, when instead of costing $600 they are $200-300, for those with a mini or laptop and only integrated GPU but want some more GPU for games.

The question is why do you care?
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Old Dec 15, 2012, 04:26 AM   #15
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when instead of costing $600 they are $200-300, for those with a mini or laptop and only integrated GPU but want some more GPU for games.
So.....You'll have $200 for a monitor. If you give up the GPU or CPU upgrade, you're back to $500 and its still far more powerful for the same price.

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The question is why do you care?
Oh, I'm sorry, I thought you posted a question in an open public forum? Did you not? If you don't want anyone to criticize dumb ideas then don't post them.
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Old Dec 15, 2012, 07:49 AM   #16
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Thanks. You make some good points and I didn't realize how expensive it could get. ~$600 for enclosure and $350-400 for GPU. However it would still be an option for someone wanting iMac performance but wanting their own monitor(s).
You don't need to spend that much on the GPU - it's a waste of money anyway due to the limitations of TB and the fact that you would have problems supplying the power to a high-end card. You can pick up a 460 for like $90, but it is a very old card. A more sensible solution would be to use something like a desktop 640 or 650.
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Old Dec 15, 2012, 10:58 AM   #17
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You don't need to spend that much on the GPU - it's a waste of money anyway due to the limitations of TB and the fact that you would have problems supplying the power to a high-end card. You can pick up a 460 for like $90, but it is a very old card. A more sensible solution would be to use something like a desktop 640 or 650.
That is a good point regarding something like the 650 or even 660. Both of those would give a nice bump over the Intel 4000. Probably not something I would consider until the expansion chassis drops in price. But even then it would be a nice upgrade over the iGPU.
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Old Dec 16, 2012, 11:48 PM   #18
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So.....You'll have $200 for a monitor. If you give up the GPU or CPU upgrade, you're back to $500 and its still far more powerful for the same price.


Oh, I'm sorry, I thought you posted a question in an open public forum? Did you not? If you don't want anyone to criticize dumb ideas then don't post them.
What you are forgetting is that for many on here the iMac is not a valid option. Many on here that have a Mac mini or are interested in one aleady have their monitor(s) from their current or previous setup. So they won't have to buy a new monitor. As a result your pricing estimates are wrong. By already having monitors from their previous computer the cost to upgrade to a Mac mini is cheaper than a iMac where they get a monitor they don't necessarily need or want. For many the all in one computer system is not a good fit. For others the Mac Pro is a dream however cost prohibitive. That is why the mini is a good fit. Decent cost: value ratio.

So the cost of a max mini + external GPU is still a better value for many on here than a iMac.
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Old Sep 20, 2013, 10:40 AM   #19
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FYI I am selling a very fast external Thunderbolt GPU rig (ViDock 4 Plus, Sonnect Echo Pro, NVIDIA GTX 670) that works great on my 2011 MacBook Pro (in BootCamp Windows 7). Check it out :
http://cgi.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll...m=190907502259
And the setup above can be used with os x as well for those who might wonder. I'd be interested in it but I have the same setup haha
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