(also posted on egpu.io)
eGPUs! In case you didn’t know: yes, they DO work with the Framework, even though the only thing stopping the laptop from actually being Thunderbolt-compatible is Intel’s slow certification process.
Browsing the recommendations of enclosures at egpu.io will tell you that the Razer Core X is the supposed best option. But the problem is that it’s the size of an mITX PC case and weighs a staggering 7 pounds. How am I supposed to take it on the go when it weighs more than my desktop??
The Razer Core X sucks for portability in every way, and it’s also $400 new. I decided to give the ADT-Link R43SG-TB3 a try instead, which is currently listed as the 5th best option on the list for only $150 on AliExpress. (You will also need to buy a PSU for it, and the recommended one was a Dell DA-2 D220P-01 that goes for 20 bucks on eBay.)
And as it turns out- it all works great!
- Framework Laptop i5 Model (16 GB RAM, 512 NVMe storage, Win 10 Pro)
- ADT-Link R43SG-TB3 eGPU Adapter
- Zotac GTX 1060 Mini 6 GB Mini
- Dell DA-2 D220P-01 PSU
It works plug-and-play. Just connect the eGPU and approve it in the Thunderbolt menu, then go to NVIDIA’s website to download the latest drivers.
I can’t tell you how good it is for gaming since I just needed a video editing rig to take on the go for my job. Even with just using the internal display, the eGPU makes my laptop a lot easier to scrub through footage on Premiere Pro.
Unigine Valley 1.0 Benchmarks:
Here are the benchmarks that compare the performance of the GTX 1060 in comparison to a normal desktop, the eGPU with an internal screen, and the eGPU with an external screen:
Funny thing you may have noticed- the Iris Xe iGPU on the Framework actually jumps in and helps the GPU to do things! An unintended but great way to make up for lost bandwidth over the USB-C connection, I think. (I also don’t know how to disable it in Unigine Valley but modern applications can usually utilize the power of both the iGPU and dGPU, so I’ll include it.)
I was going to omit these LuxMark 3.1 scores altogether since they seem way too good to be true, but I figured I’d include them here- THESE LUXMARK SCORES DO NOT INFLUENCE ACTUAL PERFORMANCE LIKE THE UNIGINE VALLEY ONES. I have no idea why these numbers are as good as they are. (It could be that OpenCL itself is the bottleneck and not the hardware)
Need even more performance?
You can get the most performance out of this setup by using an external monitor and disabling the Intel Xe iGPU in your Device Manager. Don’t forget to re-enable it before disconnecting the GPU though, or something bad might happen. I don’t want to find out what that could be myself.
Here are some benchmarks to go with it:
How to transport it:
I bought anti-static bags to transport everything in a backpack when I fly to other parts of the country. It’s not perfect but it’s way better than the stupid giant Razer Core.
- It’s an adapter not an enclosure so your GPU is exposed and naked (not ideal for households with kids or pets)
- For use on an external screen (for maximum performance,) you will need to disable the Intel Xe iGPU in the Windows 10 Device Manager or your external monitor will stutter like crazy (and you will also need to remember to re-enable it before disconnecting your eGPU)
- Since it’s a GPU, it’s a bandwidth hog- you can only use one more high-speed USB-C device (like storage) at the same time if you connect it to the other side of the laptop, meaning you can only have two high-speed USB-C devices total (40Gbps each side)
- The Dell charger is gigantic and heavy and you’d be better off buying a smaller Flex ATX or SFX power supply instead (although this Dell brick is dirt cheap and works too)
- I am an idiot and dropped the securing thumbscrew inside the GPU and had a scare that I shorted something- BE CAREFUL with this adapter! Don’t be stupid like me
Overall a great build- eGPUs are a no-brainer to pair with the modular/repairable Framework, especially this actually portable one!