A long time coming
External video cards for laptops have long been a dream of many PC enthusiasts, and for good reason. It’s compelling to have a thin-and-light notebook with great battery life for things like meetings or class, with the ability to plug it into a dock at home and enjoy your favorite PC games.
Many times we have been promised that external GPUs for notebooks would be a viable option. Over the years there have been many commercial solutions involving both industry standard protocols like ExpressCard, as well as proprietary connections to allow you to externally connect PCIe devices. Inspiring hackers have also had their hand with this for many years, cobbling together interesting solutions using mPCIe and M.2 ports on their notebooks which were meant for other devices.
With the introduction of Intel’s Thunderbolt standard in 2011, there was a hope that we would finally achieve external graphics nirvana. A modern, Intel-backed protocol promising PCIe x4 speeds (PCIe 2.0 at that point) sounded like it would be ideal for connecting GPUs to notebooks, and in some ways it was. Once again the external graphics communities managed to get it to work through the use of enclosures meant to connect other non-GPU PCIe devices such as RAID and video capture cards to systems. However, software support was still a limiting factor. You were required to use an external monitor to display your video, and it still felt like you were just riding the line between usability and a total hack. It felt like we were never going to get true universal support for external GPUs on notebooks.
Then, seemingly of out of nowhere, Intel decided to promote native support for external GPUs as a priority when they introduced Thunderbolt 3. Fast forward, and we've already seen a much larger adoption of Thunderbolt 3 on PC notebooks than we ever did with the previous Thunderbolt implementations. Taking all of this into account, we figured it was time to finally dip our toes into the eGPU market.
For our testing, we decided on the AKiTio Node for several reasons. First, at around $300, it's by far the lowest cost enclosure built to support GPUs. Additionally, it seems to be one of the most compatible devices currently on the market according to the very helpful comparison chart over at eGPU.io. The eGPU site is a wonderful resource for everything external GPU, over any interface possible, and I would highly recommend heading over there to do some reading if you are interested in trying out an eGPU for yourself.
The Node unit itself is a very utilitarian design. Essentially you get a folded sheet metal box with a Thunderbolt controller and 400W SFX power supply inside.
In order to install a GPU into the Node, you must first unscrew the enclosure from the back and slide the outer shell off of the device.
Once inside, we can see that there is ample room for any graphics card you might want to install in this enclosure. In fact, it seems a little too large for any of the GPUs we installed, including GTX 1080 Ti models. Here, you can see a more reasonable RX 570 installed.
Beyond opening up the enclosure to install a GPU, there is very little configuration required. My unit required a firmware update, but that was easily applied with the tools from the AKiTio site.
From here, I simply connected the Node to a ThinkPad X1, installed the NVIDIA drivers for our GTX 1080 Ti, and everything seemed to work — including using the 1080 Ti with the integrated notebook display and no external monitor!
Now that we've got the Node working, let's take a look at some performance numbers.
Subject: Graphics Cards | June 29, 2017 - 01:33 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: asus, ASUS ROG, gtx 1080 ti, Poseidon GTX 1080 Ti Platinum Edition, poseidon, DirectCU H20, factory overclocked
We've seen the ASUS ROG Poseidon before, the last one that comes to mind being the GTX 980 Ti from Computex 2015. The name refers to the hybrid cooling solution which incorporates both watercooling and aircooling, giving you the option to add watercooling to increase your thermal dissipation or to remain with aircooling. [H]ard|OCP is working on a two part review of the card, this first article covering the performance of the card on aircooling alone. The card exceeded the quoted boost clock of 1708MHz, averaging 1939MHz in the BF1 test on default Gaming Mode clocks, 2025MHz once they overclocked. That is an impressive clock but there are other air cooled cards which are able to reach higher frequencies so it will be interesting to see what adding watercooling to the card will do.
"Air cooling? Liquid Cooling? How about both, the ASUS ROG Poseidon GeForce GTX 1080 Ti Platinum Edition hybrid video card can run them both. In Part 1 of our evaluation we will test the video card on "air cooling" and overclock it as high as possible. In Part 2, we pump liquid through its veins and compare overclocks."
Here are some more Graphics Card articles from around the web:
- Corsair's Hydro GFX GeForce GTX 1080 Ti @ The Tech Report
- Radeon Vega Frontier Edition launches today for $999 and up @ The Tech Report
- MSI Radeon RX 570 GAMING X @ [H]ard|OCP
Subject: Graphics Cards | June 20, 2017 - 02:02 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: msi, LIGHTNING Z, gtx 1080 ti, factory overclocked
MSI have expanded their Lightning line with a new GTX 1080 Ti GPU. The Lightning line comes with three profiles, including one which bears the name of the family, which will set your GPU to a boost clock of 1721 MHz, 1607 MHz base. The other two modes are Gaming, which runs at 1695 MHz boost, 1582 MHz base and a Silent mode running at 1582 MHz/1480MHz.
This GPU shares the high end features appearing on many MSI cards, the TRI-FROZR cooler with TORX 2.0 fans and SuperPipes as well as Military Class 4 components and a 10-layer PCB with 14 power phases for the GPU and 3 for the memory. What is somewhat new is the RGB infection, which can be controlled by MSI's Mystic Light app to create your own personalized light show.
Check out the full PR below.
MSI is proud to officially announce the latest of its legendary LIGHTNING graphics cards. Built to be perfect, the new GeForce® GTX 1080 Ti LIGHTNING Z combines cutting edge new technology with proven features such as TRI-FROZR design with TORX 2.0 Fans, SuperPipe technology and Military Class 4 components. The GeForce® GTX 1080 Ti LIGHTNING Z is nothing short of an engineering masterpiece.
Unmatched Thermal Design
MSI Torx Fan 2.0MSI’s reputation in thermal design is well-known to be excellent. The improved TRI-FROZR design on the GTX 1080 Ti LIGHTNING Z utilizes two 10cm and one 9cm TORX 2.0 Fans combining the advantages of both traditional fan blade and dispersion fan blade, generating huge amounts of airflow while remaining virtually silent. Two 8mm SuperPipes transfer heat much faster to the fins, enabling up to a whopping 700W of heat dissipation.
Mystic Light Sync with Brilliant RGB Effect
MSI’s Mystic Light enables you tocustomize the RGB effects of your hardware to give your system a different look whenever you feel like it. Using the MSI Mystic Light software, you can even synchronize colors and effects of your graphics card, motherboard, case-fans and peripherals. Give yourself or the audience a show!
Dual BIOS and Enhanced Power Design
The special LN2 BIOS on the card provides extreme overclockers more capibility for overclocking records without special hardware modifications. By removing restrictions, the full potential of the graphics card is unlocked. The enhanced power design contains more power phases than other models to ensure plenty of power is available for record-breaking performance. LIGHTNING’s custom 10-layer PCB is fitted with 14 phases for GPU and 3 phases for Memory to ensure power delivery can handle the most extreme loads.
Military Class 4 Components
Equipped with Military Class 4 components, the MSI GTX 1080 Ti LIGHTNING Z is built to deliver the best quality and stability. The components have gone through rigorous testing by a third-party laboratory to satisfy the MIL-STD-810G standard. Featuring DrMOS 60A power phases, the highest rated available ensuring plenty of power. Hi-C CAP cores, Super Ferrite Choke, and Solid CAP, each aspect of the LIGHTNING Z ensures the best possible performance.
On-board and in control
With MSI's exclusive OC kits you're in complete control of the GTX 1080 Ti LIGHTNING Z. V-Check points allow you to accurately measure GPU, Memory and PLL voltages. Multiple Temp Monitor checks the real-time temperatures of the GPU, Memory and PLL while Quadruple Overvoltage allows you to overvolt those same components in order to achieve higher clock speeds.
Subject: Graphics Cards | June 14, 2017 - 08:42 PM | Tim Verry
Tagged: zotac, gtx 1080 ti, factory overclocked, gp102, SFF
Zotac recently unveiled a slimmed down GTX 1080 Ti graphics card that uses a dual slot and dual fan cooler with a short PCB. The aptly named Zotac GTX 1080 Ti Mini measures 8.3” (211mm) long and will be the smallest GTX 1080 Ti on the market. Despite the miniaturization, Zotac is still offering a decent factory overclock on the Pascal GPU (but not the memory) with a boost clock of 1620 MHz versus the reference boost clock of 1582.
Zotac uses two 8-pin PCI-E power connectors to drive the card with its GTX 1080 Ti GPU (3584 CUDA cores) and 11GB of GDDR5X memory clocked at 11 GHz. The slimmed down graphics card features a metal backplate, dual shrouded fans, and a heatsink with aluminum fins and five 6mm heat pipes. The card has three DisplayPort 1.4 ports, one HDMI 2.0b port, and one DL-DVI output with the card supporting up to four simultaneous displays.
The Zotac GTX 1080 Ti Mini should enable quite a bit of horsepower in small form factor systems. The graphics card is model number ZT-P10810G-10P and Zotac has it listed on its website. Unfortunately, Zotac is not yet talking pricing or availability for the shortened card.
It appears that overclocking is not out of the question, but I am curious just how far it could be pushed especially in a small case with tight quarters and less airflow.
Subject: Graphics Cards | June 13, 2017 - 01:17 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: nvidia, gtx 1080 ti, GTX 1080 Ti GAMING X, msi, Twin Frozr VI, 4k
MSI's latest version of the GeForce GTX 1080 Ti is their GAMING X 4K and has the design features you would expect, Twin Frozr VI, Hi-C CAPs, Super Ferrite Chokes and Japanese Solid Caps. When benchmarking the card [H]ard|OCP saw performance significantly higher than the quoted 1657MHz boost speed, the average was 1935MHz before they overclocked and an impressive 2038MHz for the highest stable in game frequency. They tested both the default and overclocked frequencies against a battery of benchmarks, including the newly released Prey. The card performed admirably at 4k, with many games still performing will with all graphics options at maximum, drop by for a look.
"We review a custom GeForce GTX 1080 Ti based video card with custom cooling and a factory overclock built for overclocking. Can the MSI GeForce GTX 1080 Ti GAMING X truly deliver a consistent enjoyable high-end graphics setting gameplay experience in games at 4K finally? Is a single card viable for current generation gaming at 4K?"
Here are some more Graphics Card articles from around the web:
- Asus ROG Strix GeForce GTX 1080 OC Edition 8GB 11Gbps Video Card Review @ Bjorn3d
- 15-Way NVIDIA/AMD OpenCL GPU Linux Benchmarks Of Ethereum Ethminer @ Phoronix
- XFX RX 460 4GB Heatsink Edition Review @ Bjorn3d
- XFX Rs XXX Edition Rx 570 4GB OC Review @ Bjorn3d
Subject: Systems | June 12, 2017 - 07:00 PM | Sebastian Peak
Tagged: Threadripper, sli, ryzen, RX 580, PC, gtx 1080 ti, gaming, desktop, dell, crossfire, amd, alienware
Dell has revealed their new Alienware Area-51 gaming desktops featuring the latest high-performance AMD and Intel processors. We will begin with a look at the Alienware Area-51 Threadripper Edition, and Dell has an exclusive on pre-built systems using the new Ryzen Threadripper CPUs.
"Through 2017, Dell will be the exclusive OEM partner to deliver AMD Ryzen Threadripper pre-built systems to the market and the high-end 16-core will be factory-overclocked across all 16-cores and 32 logical threads. The Area-51 Threadripper Edition is ideal for customers who explore the world of mega-tasking, doing many system demanding tasks at the same time, and are looking for a complete, reliable solution from a trusted brand."
The systems are based on the X399 chipset and can be configured with either a 12-core/24-thread or 16-core/32-thread AMD Ryzen Threadripper processors, which are liquid-cooled in all configurations. Standard memory configurations begin with quad-channel 2667 MHz DDR4 up to 64GB, with 2933MHz HyperX memory up to the same quad-channel 64GB available. Graphics options begin with a choice between an NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1050 Ti or AMD Radeon RX 570, and max out at either dual GTX 1080 Ti or triple Radeon RX 580 cards.
Storage options include up to a 1TB M.2 PCIe SSD and 2TB 7200RPM SATA 6Gb/s HDD, and networking is handled by dual Killer E2500 Gigabit NICs and a choice of either Dell 1820 802.11ac 2x2 or Killer 1535 802.11ac 2x2 Wi-Fi. (A look at the other Area-51 desktop annoucement provides a more complete look at the rest of the general specifications - with a few chipset-related differences.)
Features from Dell/Alienware:
- Designed for Megatasking, game streaming and more, the new Area 51 Threadripper Edition is ready for today’s most demanding PC gaming enthusiast and supports high performance configurations with a chipset that enables up to 64 PCIe Gen 3 lanes.
- All configuration come standard with unlocked, factory-overclocked across all cores and liquid cooled AMD Ryzen Threadripper CPUs with Alienware's most powerful liquid cooling unit to date.
- Iconic triad high quality, uniquely engineered chassis built to deliver exceptional airflow, thermal management, and user ergonomics for daily use and future upgrades.
- Supports NVIDIA SLI and AMD Crossfire graphics technology, with dual and triple GPU options
- Introduces M.2 storage options to Area-51.
- Built for gaming enthusiast wanting the absolute best gaming performance played with a VR, 4k or 8k display
- Alienware Command Center includes AlienFX, AlienAdrenaline, AlienFusion, Thermal and Overclocking Controls
The Alienware Area-51 Threadripper Edition will be available beginning
June July 27, and pricing information is not yet announced.
Subject: Graphics Cards | May 29, 2017 - 08:30 PM | Jim Tanous
Tagged: Kingpin, gtx 1080 ti, gpu, evga, computex 2017
EVGA today took the wraps off its latest and highest-end NVIDIA GPU with the announcement of the EVGA GeForce GTX 1080 Ti Kingpin Edition. Part of the company's continuing line of "K|NGP|N" licensed graphics cards, the 1080 Ti Kingpin includes performance, cooling, and stability-minded features that are intended to set it apart from all of the other 1080 Ti models currently available.
From a design standpoint, the 1080 Ti Kingpin features an oversized PCB, triple-fan iCX cooler, an expansive copper heat sink, and right-edge PCIe connectors (2 x 8pin), meaning that those with an obsession for cable management won't need to pick up something like the EVGA PowerLink. The card's design is also thin enough that owners can convert it into a true single-slot card by removing the iCX cooler, allowing enthusiasts to pack more water- or liquid nitrogen-cooled GPUs into a single chassis.
The GTX 1080 Ti Kingpin also features a unique array of display outputs, with dual-link DVI, HDMI 2.0, and three Mini DisplayPort 1.3 connectors. This compares with the three full-size DisplayPort and single HDMI outputs found on the 1080 Ti reference design. The presence of the DVI port on the Kingpin edition also directly addresses the concerns of some NVIDIA customers who weren't fans of NVIDIA's decision to ditch the "legacy" connector.
With its overbuilt PCB and enhanced cooling, EVGA claims that users will be able to achieve greater performance from the Kingpin Edition compared to any other currently shipping GTX 1080 Ti. That includes a "guaranteed" overclock of at least 2025MHz right out of the box, which compares to the 1480MHz base / 1600MHz boost clock advertised for the 1080 Ti's reference design (although it's important to note that NVIDIA's advertised boost clocks have become quite conservative in recent years, and many 1080 Ti owners are able to easily exceed 1600MHz with modest overclocking).
EVGA has yet to confirm an exact release date for the GeForce GTX 1080 Ti Kingpin, but it is expected to launch in late June or July. As for price, EVGA has also declined to provide specifics, but interested enthusiasts should start saving their pennies now. Based on previous iterations of the "K|NGP|N" flagship model, expect a price premium of anywhere between $100 and $400.
Subject: Graphics Cards, Shows and Expos | May 25, 2017 - 07:00 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: zotac, GTX 1080 Ti Mini, GTX 1080 Ti Arctic Storm Mini, gtx 1080 ti, computex 2017
ZOTAC is claiming bragging rights about the size of their new GTX 1080 Ti's, that they are the smallest of their kind. The two new cards measure a miniscule 210.8mm (8.3") in length and in the case of the Arctic Storm mini it is the lightest watercooled GPU on the market.
You can see the size of the ZOTAC GeForce GTX 1080 Ti Mini by how much of the length is taken up by the PCIe connector, compared to most 1080 Ti's which are over a foot long. This card is not long enough to fit a third fan on.
The Arctic Storm version is the same size as the air-cooled model but opts for the worlds lightest watercooler. That may mean you want a powerful pump attached to the GPU as there is less metal to transfer heat but it means small silent builds can pack a lot of graphical power.
Both these cards will use dual 8-pin PCIe power connectors, expect to see more of them at Computex.
Subject: Editorial | May 10, 2017 - 09:45 PM | Josh Walrath
Tagged: nvidia, earnings, revenues, Q1 2018, Q1, v100, data center, automotive, gpu, gtx 1080 ti
NVIDIA had a monster Q1. The quarter before the company had their highest revenue numbers in the history of the company. Q1 can be a slightly more difficult time and typically the second weakest quarter of the year. The Holiday rush is over and the market slows down. For NVIDIA, this was not exactly the case. While NVIDIA made $2.173 billion in Q4 2017, they came remarkably close to that with revenues of $1.937 billion. While $250 million is a significant drop, it is not an unexpected one. In fact, it shows NVIDIA being slightly stronger than expectations.
The past year has shown tremendous growth for NVIDIA. Their GPUs remain strong and they have the highest performing parts at the upper midrange and high end markets. AMD simply has not been able to compete with NVIDIA, much less overcome the company with higher performing parts at the top end. GPUs still make up the largest portion of income that NVIDIA receives. NVIDIA continues to invest in new areas and those investments are starting to pay off.
Automotive is still in the growth stages for the company, but they have successfully taken the Tegra CPU division and moved away from the cellphone and tablet markets. NVIDIA continues to support their Shield products, but the main focus looks to be the automotive industry with these high performing, low power parts that sport advanced graphical options. Professional graphics continues to be a stronghold for NVIDIA. While it did drop quite a bit from the previous quarter, it is a high margin area that helps bolster revenues.
The biggest mover over this past year seems to be the Data Center. Last year NVIDIA focused on delivering entire solutions to the market as well as their individual GPUs. The past two years have seen them have essentially no income in this area to having a $400 million quarter. This is simply tremendous growth in an area that is still relatively untapped when it comes to GPU compute.
NVIDIA continues to be very aggressive in their product design and introductions. They have simply owned the $300+ range of graphics cards with the GTX 1070, GTX 1080, and the recently introduced GTX 1080 Ti. This is somewhat ignoring the even higher end TitanXp that is priced well above most enthusiasts’ budgets. Today they announced the V100 chip that is the first glimpse we have of a high end part running on TSMC’s new 12nm FinFET process. It also features 16 GB of HBM2 memory and a whopping 21 billion transistors in total.
Next quarter looks to be even better than this one, which is a shock because Q2 has traditionally been the slowest quarter of the year. NVIDIA expects around $1.95 billion in revenues (actually increasing from Q1). NVIDIA also is rewarding shareholders with not only a quarterly dividend, but also has been actively buying back shares (which tends to keep share prices healthy). Early last year NVIDIA had a share price of around $30 while today they are trending well above $100.
If NVIDIA keeps this up while continuing to expand in automotive and data center, it is a fairly safe bet that they will easily overtop $8 billion in revenues for the year. Q3 and Q4 will be stronger if they continue to advance in those areas while retaining marketshare in the GPU market. With rumors hinting that AMD will not have a product that will top the GTX 1080Ti, it is a safe bet that NVIDIA can easily adjust their prices across the board to stay competitive with whatever AMD throws at them.
It is interesting to look back when AMD was shopping around for a graphics firm and wonder what could have happened. Hector Ruiz was in charge of AMD and tried to leverage a deal with NVIDIA. Rumors have it that Huang would not agree to it unless he was CEO. Hector laughed and talked to ATI who was more than happy to sell (and cover up some real weaknesses in the company). We all know what happened to Hector and how his policies and actions started the spiral that AMD is only now recovering from. What would that have been like if Jensen had actually become CEO of that merged company?
Specifications and Design
When the GeForce GTX 1080 Ti launched last month it became the fastest consumer graphics card on the market, taking over a spot that NVIDIA had already laid claim to since the launch of the GTX 1080, and arguably before that with the GTX 980 Ti. Passing on the notion that the newly released Titan Xp is a graphics cards gamers should actually consider for their cash, the 1080 Ti continues to stand alone at the top. That is until NVIDIA comes up another new architecture or AMD surprises us all with the release of the Vega chip this summer.
NVIDIA board partners have the flexibility to build custom hardware around the GTX 1080 Ti design and the EVGA GeForce GTX 1080 Ti SC2 sporting iCX Technology is one of those new models. Today’s story is going to give you my thoughts and impressions on this card in a review – one with fewer benchmarks than you are used to see but one that covers all the primary differentiation points to consider over the reference/Founders Edition options.
Specifications and Design
The EVGA GTX 1080 Ti SC2 with iCX Technology takes the same GPU and memory technology shown off with the GTX 1080 Ti launch and gussies it up with higher clocks, a custom PCB with thermal sensors in 9 different locations, LEDs for externally monitoring the health of your card and a skeleton-like cooler design that is both effective and aggressive.
|EVGA 1080 Ti SC2||GTX 1080 Ti||Titan X (Pascal)||GTX 1080||GTX 980 Ti||TITAN X||GTX 980||R9 Fury X||R9 Fury|
|GPU||GP102||GP102||GP102||GP104||GM200||GM200||GM204||Fiji XT||Fiji Pro|
|Base Clock||1557 MHz||1480 MHz||1417 MHz||1607 MHz||1000 MHz||1000 MHz||1126 MHz||1050 MHz||1000 MHz|
|Boost Clock||1671 MHz||1582 MHz||1480 MHz||1733 MHz||1076 MHz||1089 MHz||1216 MHz||-||-|
|Memory Clock||11000 MHz||11000 MHz||10000 MHz||10000 MHz||7000 MHz||7000 MHz||7000 MHz||500 MHz||500 MHz|
|Memory Interface||352-bit||352-bit||384-bit G5X||256-bit G5X||384-bit||384-bit||256-bit||4096-bit (HBM)||4096-bit (HBM)|
|Memory Bandwidth||484 GB/s||484 GB/s||480 GB/s||320 GB/s||336 GB/s||336 GB/s||224 GB/s||512 GB/s||512 GB/s|
|TDP||250 watts||250 watts||250 watts||180 watts||250 watts||250 watts||165 watts||275 watts||275 watts|
|Peak Compute||11.1 TFLOPS||10.6 TFLOPS||10.1 TFLOPS||8.2 TFLOPS||5.63 TFLOPS||6.14 TFLOPS||4.61 TFLOPS||8.60 TFLOPS||7.20 TFLOPS|
Out of the box EVGA has overclocked the GTX 1080 Ti SC2 above reference specs. With a base clock of 1557 MHz and a GPU Boost clock of 1671 MHz, it has a 77 MHz jump on base and an 89 MHz jump on boost. Though moderate by some overclockers’ standards, that’s a healthy increase of 5.3% on the typical boost clock rate. The memory speed remains the same at 11.0 Gbps on 11GB, unchanged from the Founders Edition.
I’m not going to walk through the other specifications of the GeForce GTX 1080 Ti GPU in general – I assume if you are looking at this story you are already well aware of it features and capabilities. If you need a refresh on this oddly-designed 352-bit memory bus behemoth, just read over the first page of my GeForce GTX 1080 Ti launch review.