External Video Card?

Discussion in 'MacBook Pro' started by d4m1r, Mar 11, 2013.

  1. d4m1r macrumors regular

    d4m1r

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    #1
    Hey guys, I will be moving back home to Europe in the near future but I have a problem. My big ol' gaming desktop is here and I need something this powerful over there. However, shipping something like a desktop across the Atlantic is not easy nor cheap. I realized that my 2012 13" MBP pretty much has all the specs I am looking for in a gaming PC EXCEPT for a video card (Intel 4000 just won't cut it). Are there any good external video cards that are plugged in via USB or some other connection that my MBP would have?

    Specifically, I would use it under Windows 7 which I would install on my MBP via Bootcamp. I currently have a GTX260 that although is aged now, it is still very beefy and able to run everything I want to play just fine. If I could find a good/working/powerful external video card, I could just bring my laptop with me and dock it with a bigger monitor I can buy over there, a keyboard, mouse, speakers, external HDD,etc.
     
  2. d4m1r thread starter macrumors regular

    d4m1r

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    #2
    Update, did find 2 possible solutions....A DIY route and an actual product called a ViDock which appears to use the ThunderBolt port...Has anyone gone either of these routes or are there any others out there?
     
  3. old-wiz macrumors G3

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    #3
    usb would be far too slow. there have been thunderbolt enclosures that will accept video cards, but they tend to cost $ 250 for the enclosure and you still need the video card. Plus for windows it's unlikely you would find drivers for it.
     
  4. kensic macrumors 6502

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    Jan 11, 2013
    #4
    looking at a few videos on youtube. and i believe the Vidock uses the "pci express card port"
     
  5. d4m1r thread starter macrumors regular

    d4m1r

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    #5
    After crunching the numbers, yes USB 2.0 is too slow but what about USB 3.0? Don't 2012 MBPs have it? Also, $250 is fine especially since I can re-use my GTX260. And for Windows drivers, all you would use are the Nvidia drivers for the GTX260 which are easily available...

    @ken, does the 2012 MBP have a pci express card port?
     
  6. kensic macrumors 6502

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    Jan 11, 2013
    #6
    nope, i dont think any of the mac laptops have any express card ports.

    but i believe there's 1 enclouser out there uses thunderbolt port...but that is about $500+ on cost. and limit to 100watts power supply.
     
  7. saturnotaku macrumors 68000

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    Mar 4, 2013
    #7
    Last MacBook to have an ExpressCard port was the 17-inch.
     
  8. Mr MM macrumors 65816

    Mr MM

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    #9
  9. d4m1r thread starter macrumors regular

    d4m1r

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    #10
  10. Mr MM macrumors 65816

    Mr MM

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    #11
    there are people that output that to external monitors as well.
     
  11. d4m1r thread starter macrumors regular

    d4m1r

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    #12
    I have sent an email to the company behind the ViDock for their recommendation on what is best given my scenario. I will post back with their reponse. I hope to find a ready-to-go solution for under $300 but if non exists, I am savvy enough to build my own (but would prefer not to given time contraints).

    All I am really looking for is something to play older games like WoW or CoD4 on max settings. In some cases the Intel 4000 HD might even do the trick, but not in the quality (1920x1080 on a 22-24" monitor) I'd like...
     
  12. nando4 macrumors regular

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    Mar 21, 2009
    #13
    See my sig for an example of a Thunderbolt eGPU attached to a 13" cMBP. It's a massive performance improvement over the HD4000 iGPU.

    Unfortunately the TH05 used in the example is no longer available. Only remaining *budget* options are:

    * PE4L 2.1b + Sonnet Echo Express Pro TB-to-EXP adapter (x1 2.0)
    * Sonnet Echo Express SE TB expander (~US$320, 10Gbps = x2 2.0 + 12.5%)
    * OWC Helios TB expander (~US$320, 10Gbps = x2 2.0 + 12.5%)

    Using either expander would require running it naked (enclosure off) since a video card is double-width and full length whereas the enclosures are single width.
     
  13. d4m1r thread starter macrumors regular

    d4m1r

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    #14
    Very cool nando...Now if I purchasing the ready-to-go OWC expander, would I need any other connectors/cable/etc than what would come with it? Would it work just fine if I docked my MBP and used an external monitor? Lastly, you wouldn't forsee any issue if someone were to grab the OWC expander and use it in conjuction with a Nvidia (EVGA) GTX260 would you? :)

    It's an older but still powerful card that sounds like it would be perfect for the job...

    EDIT: Seems like THIS is what you are talking about? Does it even support eGPUs because it sounds like it is meant for HDDs...
     
  14. d4m1r thread starter macrumors regular

    d4m1r

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    #15
    Also, I just realized the 13" only has 1 thunderbolt/mini display port that I was planning to use as an output to my external monitor (mini display to DVI adapter) so how does that work at all if the thunderbolt port is already being used by the external video card? :confused:
     
  15. nando4 macrumors regular

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    Mar 21, 2009
    #16
    The OWC Helios can be used, but there are three issues:

    1. It's too small to accomodate a dual-width card like a GTX260 . So either the board needs to be ripped out and used standalone OR use a pci-e riser to extend out of the enclosure.

    2. It comes with some basic power supply, good enough to power the slot (75W). The video card would still need power supplied to the pci-e connectors. 75W for each 6-pin one.

    3. If using the expander in MBR/bios mode (bootcamp default), there is an issue with needing to have a delayed PCI reset AND additional software (Setup 1.x) to correctly configure the pci-e config space. A user in the DIY eGPU forum modified a pci-e riser noted in (1) to do that. If using EFI mode then at least with a cMBP is plug-and-play.

    Finally, a GTX260 is OK to use but it doesn't have NVidia Optimus support, allowing it to render to the internal LCD. So you'd be stuck with using an external LCD. If you used a a GTX460/GTX560Ti or newer instead then would get NVidia Optimus support. That's providing you use a 11/13" MBA or 13" cMBP/rMBP. The 15" MBP/MBPr doesn't allow the iGPU to engage in Windows so Optimus can't work.
     
  16. Mr MM macrumors 65816

    Mr MM

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    #17
    1) for the 260 you are going to have to have a pc psu connected to it to provide power, that means leaving the case open

    2) the best gpu for it right now is the 7750, despite nvidia being the preferred maker for egpus

    3) you can output via the ports on the back of the gpu
     
  17. d4m1r thread starter macrumors regular

    d4m1r

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    #18
    Slight update, I contacted the guys behind the ViDock and this is what they said;

    It ain't cheap but it looks like the only plug and play solution to this problem on the market...
     
  18. Mr MM macrumors 65816

    Mr MM

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    #19
    do you even read what we said?

    vidock is not your solution. thunderbolt passing through express card is a fail.

    go with solutions that are already here
     
  19. d4m1r thread starter macrumors regular

    d4m1r

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    #20
    *facepalm*

    Ofcourse I did...But like I said, I am looking for a plug and play solution. I don't have time to build my own solution at this point...

    I will if I ultimately have to but I'd much rather let an establish company do all the R&D for me...
     
  20. Mr MM macrumors 65816

    Mr MM

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    #21
    again read what was said

    and the one that i forgot is the one from owc
     
  21. d4m1r thread starter macrumors regular

    d4m1r

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    #22
    And why is the "Cube" or the OWC solution better than the ViDock? I don't care either way but all those seems to either use an expresscard slot or are also only PCIe x1 like the ViDock....

    ViDock is even cheaper @ $350 (highest end module) vs the "Cube" at $600.
     
  22. Mr MM macrumors 65816

    Mr MM

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    #23
    they have more bandwidth. the gpus are bandwidth starved

    and the cube can accept your existant gpu, not to mention with vidock you are going to buy the vidock + thunderbolt to expresscard

    and no they use thunderbolt in all of them.
     
  23. d4m1r thread starter macrumors regular

    d4m1r

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    #24
    Yes, you are right about bandwidth and that is the key element I guess. However, I realized this is still all more expensive than I was hoping for. I was expecting a single box with PSU + thunderbolt port that is plug and plug for $200-300 lets say. Kinda shocked that no such solution exists...

    At $600 + the cost of a new GTX560 (GTX260 @ PCIe x4 won't cut it), it might even make it worth my while to ship my PC there and back or build something there and sell it before I leave.
     
  24. Speedy Gonzalez macrumors regular

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    Alligator Bayou
    #25
    No body said it was going to be cheap:D but yeah we need a solution like the never released msi gus 2 :)
     

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