Custom external GPU case for laptop

sed8em

2[H]4U
Joined
Apr 2, 2007
Messages
2,639
Posted this over at NBR where I got my inspiration from their DIY ViDock thread.

Thought you guys might like to see it as well:

Finished my eGPU case, designed it from ideas from Shuttle XPCs I've owned in the past.
All construction done with hand tools, a drill, and a Dremel knockoff by Black and Decker for cutting.
(click on any of the thumbnails for a higher res version)

Here you can see my PE4L settings used with the Corsair HX520 external power supply, eVGA GTS 250, connected to T420:

Along with the required T420 1.15 BIOS
I used nando's 275.33 Optimus tweaked drivers here with good results.
Please, do yourself a favor and buy a Fermi based card. I am replacing my GTS 250 with a GTX 460 once it shows up in the mail. The non-Fermi based cards apparently can't do the x1.opt link so performance suffers.

Cutting the plexiglass sides (0.25" for the sides and bottom, 0.13" for top and front/back):


Cheap hand saw blade, good thing I had replacements:


Gluing the L-bracket braces onto the base:


Drilling ventilation holes, using the Cooler Master notebook cooler as a template:


Making sure everything fits, measure twice, cut once:


More gluing:


Everything fits!


Top view:


I put an adjustable speed Thermaltake 80mm fan in there for additional ventilation, don't think cooling will be an issue:


Power supply side with its ventilation holes:


Shot of the rear:


Put a 1" cable grommet in the bottom for the USB cable to power the Thermaltake fan (you can see its adjustment knob) and the mini-HDMI cable to connect PE4L to my laptop:


Completed product:
 

sed8em

2[H]4U
Joined
Apr 2, 2007
Messages
2,639
:eek: Really awesome job, performance gain must be Huge

Thanks man.
Huge gains, went from being unable to play SC2 at all really to 1280x720 on High settings and completely smooth.
Once the GTX 460 comes in that supports the external x1.opt link, I'll be able to use the full potential of the card.

Love this setup, get the mobility, cool temps, and 8hr battery of the T420, and when I want to game, plug it in and get gaming performance. Best of both worlds.
Gaming laptops like the Asus G series and Alienware's just aren't for me.
 

joekaveh

Weaksauce
Joined
Dec 6, 2010
Messages
72
Yeah don't blame your dislike of the asus G series, LOTS of issues with those. This way you spend a bit less money and get better performance than a mobile graphics card as well. Plus the freedom of not carrying around a 10-15lbs laptop if you don't have too.
 

sed8em

2[H]4U
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Apr 2, 2007
Messages
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Finally got the GTX 460 in the mail today, 3dmark results:


CPU max was 68 C, GPU temp max was 62 C in the enclosure.
 

holinger

Limp Gawd
Joined
Nov 30, 2008
Messages
335
I'm very interested in doing this so I can bring my laptop up to college with me instead of my entire desktop. Do you have a guide that you followed? Or can you link me with all of the parts you used?

thanks, looks great!
 

sed8em

2[H]4U
Joined
Apr 2, 2007
Messages
2,639
Oops, haven't checked this thread in a bit, sorry.

Jbort, I used a kit made around the hwtools PE4L, which is a PCIe x1 converter to my T420 expresscard port using a 4 foot mini-HDMI cable to interface the two.
Harmonic Inversion Tech sells them here in the States.

They also sell a PE4H model that connects PCIe x16, but there was only an x1 port available to use when I scanned my hardware with AIDA64, so paying the extra price wouldn't be worth it. Plus, I'm pretty satisfied with the performance of x1 so I didn't bother paying more.

There is a PCIe 2.0 model coming from Harmonic Inversion later this year for more bandwidth. I'm running the PE4L in x1.opt mode, which means x1 with Optimus enabled. With Optimus tech from nVidia enabled, you get like a 300x increase in performance versus running in x1 mode alone.
Someone over on NBR gaming forums explained it better than I can.
 

antok86

[H]F Junkie
Joined
Feb 26, 2006
Messages
8,372
amazing..didnt know you can even do that. so how is it connected to the laptop?
 

sed8em

2[H]4U
Joined
Apr 2, 2007
Messages
2,639
An expresscard (hwtools model EC2C) adapter that attaches to the PE4L via mini-HDMI cable.
Its just a dummy mini-HDMI connection on the EC2C that connects one expresscard port to another, nothing more. You can't attach a Xbox or something to it and expect video input on the EC2C.
 
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