Dell XPS 13 (9380)/Gaming box 2070

Discussion in 'e-GPU (External Graphics) Discussion' started by madweazl, Mar 11, 2019.

  1. madweazl

    madweazl Notebook Enthusiast

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    I do a lot of travel for work and wanted to replace an aging 17" Sager with something that I could actually use while I'm on the airplane. I also wanted to find an eGPU that was fairly small so I could do some gaming once I arrived at the destination (avoiding MXM); the Gaming Box 2070 looked to be about the best compromise.

    The initial install went well, the eGPU was recognized right away and everything worked. I was having some stability issue but was able to resolve them by installing the Thunderbolt Control Center (which was a major pain to get working). After a little help from another forum member, I was pointed towards and older Dell version (16.x). This seemed to totally clear up the connection/disconnection issues and it also allowed me to flash the H2D firmware to improve bandwidth.

    You can disconnect the cable and reconnect without issue. You can sleep and shut down without issue. When the laptop sleeps, the eGPU fan continues to run but the lights shut off (if you have them enabled). When you shut the laptop down, the eGPU also shuts down. It behaves exactly how you'd expect it to. The eGPU is a bit noisy at idle; the fan has the typical whirring noise but it's a bit louder than you'd expect for no load. Additionally, there is some intermittent, mild, coil whine. Once you're in game, the video card is all but inaudible if you have just about any volume set.

    With ambient room temps of 23°, the eGPU idles at 26° and under load while benchmarking or gaming, it will typically max out in low to mid 60° range. It has reasonable overclock potential; I typically game at +175/1125 which equates to approximately 2055/8125 max boost. I've benchmarked as high as +193/1240 (some apps will only go to +185 on the core) but it still only boosts to about 2080 on the core so +177 is likely all that is beneficial (for my card). The max temp I've seen overclocked so far is 76°. By default, the fan seems to run at about 57% for the low which seems higher than necessary given the idle temps.This makes custom fan profiles relatively useless but perhaps another utility would open up more functionality.

    GPU scores in 3dMark seem to indicate that the Thunderbolt bandwidth is good enough to produce results similar to the MXM equivalent but CPU throttling is a significant bottleneck. I did pick up significant gains after replacing Dell's thermal compound with Thermal Grizzly Kryonaut and I also added a 120x20x.5mm thermal pad over the heatsink fins (do not go thicker than .5mm). If you go this route, you'll need a #5 Torx bit to remove the back cover (the plastic clips are a pain on the bottom panel are a pain). The heatsink and pipes are held in place with four Phillips screws (it pops out as a single assembly).

    There is a little room for improvement in some of these benchmark results but I dont expect much more. All results are with an external monitor with the exception of Tomb Raider, I'll run that on the external at a later date.

    Time Spy - 6570 (Stock/Liquid Ultra/Internal monitor)
    Time Spy - 7045 (Overclocked/Liquid Ultra/Internal monitor)
    Time Spy - 6643 (Stock/Liquid Ultra/External monitor)
    Time Spy - 7338 (Overclocked/Liquid Ultra/External monitor)
    Firestrike - 14229
    Superposition - 15185
    Superposition (4k) - 7236
    Shadow of the Tomb Raider - 73fps (internal monitor and exclusive full screen selected)

    I'm playing Anthem at the moment and that is the only game I've played through the system thus far. On ultra settings (1080), it will dip into the low 30s during the more intense battles but remains very playable. So far, I'm extremely pleased with the setup and the combination is actually 2lbs lighter than my Sager (w/power adapter)! If you're a frequent traveler that enjoys gaming, this may be a good solution for you as well.
     
    Last edited: Mar 15, 2019
  2. madweazl

    madweazl Notebook Enthusiast

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    I've tried a few different thermal compounds in the XPS 13 now (left overs from desktop builds). After running it stock for about a week, I applied some Noctua NT-H1 and it worked really well; I was able to maintain a much higher clock (above 3000mhz vs the stock compound that would clock down to approx 2500mhz) for a much longer period of time before the CPU would thermal throttle. A few days later, I tried some Thermal Grizzly Kryonaut but it worked much like stock (not impressed for this application). Yesterday I decided to try some Cool Laboratories Liquid Ultra and that has produced results similar to the Noctua NT-H1 (I have to do some more testing under similar conditions to know for sure if real world performance is better but it seems likely).

    Idle temps with the Liquid Ultra were 31° with ambient temps of 23°. After running some stress tests, it typically idles at 41° for quite a while because the bottom panel retains quite a bit of heat for a longer period than stock with the thermal pad I installed. The weather for Sunday morning looks like it will be fairly cool so I can go for some benchmark runs in similar conditions to the Time Spy personal record run of 7068. Based on some quick tests, the CPU maintains a considerably higher clock through the physics test with the Liquid Ultra so I think I can up that score quite a bit; previous runs had a pretty sharp fall-off after a few seconds in due to thermal throttling but it is pretty flat through the whole test now.
     
    Last edited: Mar 14, 2019
  3. madweazl

    madweazl Notebook Enthusiast

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    OK, the Liquid Ultra made a significant difference. The room was 24.5° when I ran this benchmark as opposed to 15.5° when I ran the previous best (both on external monitor).

    Time Spy - 7338
    Comparison
     
  4. Whoflungdung

    Whoflungdung Notebook Enthusiast

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    Good job.
     

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