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 Post subject: My T430 with GTX 560 Ti
PostPosted: Sat Feb 07, 2015 10:34 am 
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Joined: Wed Aug 28, 2013 4:18 pm
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Location: Jasło, Poland
At the end of 2013 I have purchased T430 laptop with i5-3320m and integrated graphic card which is quite powerful for an integrated chip, however, still not powerful enough for someone who enjoys playing computer games, including the new ones. Hence why I have recently assembled external graphic card setup with MSI GTX 560 Ti Twin Frozr II which lets me play games such as Divinity: Original Sin or Alien: Isolation on maximum details. My eGPU kit consists of four parts: the graphic card itself, adapter, ATX power supply and a case to fit it all in for convenience. Of all the adapters I chose PE4L 2.1b as it has a good opinion and was already tested by many people before. For a GPU I bought GTX 560 Ti because it's a powerful but at the same time an inexpensive card. I was limited to Nvidia because ATI doesn't support anything resembling Optimus technology which would allow me to display the output of the eGPU on the laptop's internal screen instead of an external monitor. As the power supply I got Fortron FPS350-60MDN, while it's not very powerful in general, it does have a great 12V line which is all that matters for an eGPU anyway (19.5V, while my GPU is only 170W, so even a 15V would be enough, it leaves space for further upgrade to an even more demanding card in the future). Finally, I got a SilverLight SG05 Lite as the case to put everything inside so as to avoid potential damage to the hardware and a mess on a desk.

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When I purchased T430 I instantly installed Linux Mint on it and used it ever since. Which is why it was the first operating system I tried to use my eGPU in. Nvidia doesn't make Optimus technology available on GNU/Linux systems, however, there's open-source Bumblebee which serves the same purpose. I followed the instructions for Ubuntu 13.10 to install Bumblebee and executed a command:
sudo apt-get install bumblebee bumblebee-nvidia primus linux-headers-generic primus-libs-ia32
Having open-source drivers Nouveau already installed, I proceeded to test a few games. Unfortunately, the performance in all the games was extremely disappointing, regardless of graphic settings and how demanding the games were. Kerbal Space Program, Left 4 Dead 2 and Depths of Peril all were displayed with only 8-10 frames per second, while Depths of Peril, being a low-demanding game, was running fine on maximum settings on Intel HD 4000. Afterwards I installed the newest Nvidia's linux drivers (340), but there was only a slight improvement of two more frames per second. Then I tried older 331 drivers and when I hadn't seen improvement, I removed all the drivers and libraries and repeated everything with no avail.

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Because I couldn't use my eGPU on Linux Mint, I installed Windows 7 and updated it. Afterwards I installed Nvidia's 347 drivers and tested some games, but this time I had another issue - I had high frame rates but every few seconds the image would freeze for a second. The issue was present in all the games I have tried: Divinity Original Sin, Alien Isolation, Left 4 Dead 2, and so on. I tried all the available settings and nothing would help. Finally, in Killing Floor game and Valley benchmark I noticed the issue is restricted to DirectX, as in OpenGL I have a stable and satisfying performance. In the Valley I had 40 FPS with drops to 2 FPS in DirectX on Ultra details, while in OpenGL I had stable 30-35 FPS. It was a bit bewildering, but that meant the problem clearly pertains to the software and not the hardware. I installed the 340 drivers and restored the default settings in Nvidia Control Panel, then tried running Valley benchmark again - this time everything worked as it should. I had stable ~35 FPS on Ultra settings with no AA and 1600x900 resolution. Then I tested games and they were also running with high performance. A few days later I tested performance using various versions of the Nvidia's driver and this is what I found out: The best drivers for GTX 560 TI are 331. 340 gives a few FPS less than 331 (in Divinity Original Sin and Fallout New Vegas), 347 there's an issue of freezing every few seconds, and 314 works similarly to linux drivers - performance is extremely low and games run in about 10 FPS.

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I am extremely satisfied with this setup as I am able to play modern games in maximum details on my T430. With eGPU it's not really a mobile hardware, but I play games only in my room anyway, when I need to take my laptop with me somewhere else I just disconnect the external GPU and use HD 4000. After all, outside I only need the laptop for simple tasks such as writing.


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PostPosted: Sat Feb 07, 2015 10:49 am 
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Joined: Sat Oct 29, 2005 6:20 am
Posts: 5893
Location: Israel
Definitely a very neat setup. :thumbs-UP:

Out of curiosity, how does the integrated Ivy Bridge GPU handle these games?

_________________
Current: X220 4291-4BG, T410 2537-R46, T60 1952-F76, T60 2007-QPG, T42 2373-F7G, X61 7673-V2V
Collectibles: X32 w/ IPS Screen, A31p w/ Ultrabay Numpad
Past: Z61t 9440-A23, T60 2623-D3U, X32 2884-M5U


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PostPosted: Sat Feb 07, 2015 12:26 pm 
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Location: Window Rock, Arizona
Very nice of you to share your experience with the setup! :thumbs-UP: Before I had finalized my decision to build my desktop I had considered a similar setup. I then weighed all the pros and cons relative to my situation and decided an mATX would be the way to go. I do have a question- if you run the games on an external monitor versus the internal monitor is there a perceptible improvement in game performance?

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PostPosted: Sat Feb 07, 2015 4:31 pm 
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Joined: Wed Aug 28, 2013 4:18 pm
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Location: Jasło, Poland
dr_st wrote:
Definitely a very neat setup. :thumbs-UP:

Out of curiosity, how does the integrated Ivy Bridge GPU handle these games?

Which ones? I didn't even attempt to run DOS or AI on iGPU as I'm pretty sure they would be unplayable. Probably the same with FNV. KSP runs fine on medium details on HD 4000, not going below 30 FPS at any time, so eGPU just allows me to change settings from medium to high (I'm way more limited with CPU in this game as it's very demanding in that regard!). DoP runs on high on iGPU. L4D2 runs good too, but only on low details (high on eGPU). KF is unplayable on iGPU (while running great on eGPU) as it has annoying drops.

emeraldgirl08 wrote:
Very nice of you to share your experience with the setup! :thumbs-UP: Before I had finalized my decision to build my desktop I had considered a similar setup. I then weighed all the pros and cons relative to my situation and decided an mATX would be the way to go. I do have a question- if you run the games on an external monitor versus the internal monitor is there a perceptible improvement in game performance?

I don't have external monitor to test it, but in theory there should be in some cases. Anyway whether there is loss in performance and how great it is (in comparison with desktop) depends on the game, there's a limit of data transmission CPU<->GPU through Express Card slot (and it's twice as limited when using an internal monitor), so games that require constant streaming of textures from CPU to GPU will lose performance, games that just load them at once will not or not much. In short, generally open world games will have disappointing performance while games that are divided into areas will run fine (note that Fallout New Vegas and TES games are not open-world games from a technical viewpoint as they just load areas in chunks, even if it's not noticeable).

Here's also a video how Serious Sam 3 runs on this setup:
http://youtu.be/tBeSykzECx4


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PostPosted: Sat Feb 07, 2015 11:53 pm 
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Joined: Sat Oct 29, 2005 6:20 am
Posts: 5893
Location: Israel
kony wrote:
Which ones? I didn't even attempt to run DOS or AI on iGPU as I'm pretty sure they would be unplayable. Probably the same with FNV. KSP runs fine on medium details on HD 4000, not going below 30 FPS at any time, so eGPU just allows me to change settings from medium to high (I'm way more limited with CPU in this game as it's very demanding in that regard!). DoP runs on high on iGPU. L4D2 runs good too, but only on low details (high on eGPU). KF is unplayable on iGPU (while running great on eGPU) as it has annoying drops.
Thanks. I was mostly looking for frame rate comparisons for a few given games (doesn't matter which ones) on the same settings, as to judge the relative power of the GPUs.

_________________
Current: X220 4291-4BG, T410 2537-R46, T60 1952-F76, T60 2007-QPG, T42 2373-F7G, X61 7673-V2V
Collectibles: X32 w/ IPS Screen, A31p w/ Ultrabay Numpad
Past: Z61t 9440-A23, T60 2623-D3U, X32 2884-M5U


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PostPosted: Sun Feb 22, 2015 11:00 am 
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Joined: Sun Feb 22, 2015 10:57 am
Posts: 1
Location: aachen, germany
Thank you for posting your investigations. I had the same hickups with my gtx460 connected to my x230 after installing the latest nvidia driver.
I didn't even get the idea that this might be driver related and changed the PSU. I even suspected a faulty graphic card.
After I found this thread and installed the older driver version 331, everything works fine. Thanks again!


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PostPosted: Sun Feb 22, 2015 3:55 pm 
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Joined: Wed Aug 28, 2013 4:18 pm
Posts: 113
Location: Jasło, Poland
yell wrote:
Thank you for posting your investigations. I had the same hickups with my gtx460 connected to my x230 after installing the latest nvidia driver.
I didn't even get the idea that this might be driver related and changed the PSU. I even suspected a faulty graphic card.
After I found this thread and installed the older driver version 331, everything works fine. Thanks again!


You're welcome! I'm happy it was useful to someone.


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